Some ideas for improving the community - The ANA initiative

The following is posted on behalf of Roman Filippov and Al Newkirk, kindly share your thoughts on the mentioned points.

I would like to propose the following items for discussion, in no particular order. This is just a brain dump of the ideas I have been thinking for a while now.

  • Perl ecosystem needs better branding and a style guide. It needs to be more iconic and recognizable. Possibly we need to crowdfund a campaign to hire some agency to design that. E.g. maybe overhaul the logo, provide logo style guides, color guides, language, etc. We need to make Perl sexy, and not boring and old-looking.
  • Provide a front end framework based on above style guide. Possibly base it on Bootstrap or similar other framework, but drastically different look, so it doesn't look very boilerplate. This will allow tool developers to quickly get started to advertise their creations in a digestible and pleasant manner. Too many Perl community sites are dry, boring and look like they are form 90s, which they probably are. This IMO makes the whole community look old and not "up to date". And I am not saying we need to use the cutting edge JavaScript front end carousel plugin and make everything animated. But we definitely need a facelift for most of the community. The only good looking Perl project site I can think of PearlBee.
  • Then major resources (,,, metacpan, etc...) need to be visually re-designed with that style guide in mind. I am not saying they need to look identical and boring like government sites, but at least have a common theme/thread. Look like they belong in the community.
  • We need a defacto, easy "get started" guide, which is also easily accessible, like "perl.(com|org)/start" (which can of course redirect to a wiki entry somewhere). This would list all authoritative resources and easy instructions how to get going with "Modern Perl". E.g. how to instal plenv, how to get cpanm. And I know Perl motto is TIMTOWTDI, but here we really need to cut that down to digestible easy to get started guide with as least choice as possible. Later on users are free to learn the rest. We need easy way to get into the door. At the end we also need to provide an FAQ for newbies (common pitfalls).
  • We need to get rid of "Not invented here" anti pattern in Perl community. Lets be honest - current state of affairs for Perl open source platforms/tools is very poor. I am talking about CMS, blogging, wikis, and other platforms. Lets permit ourselves to use tools written in other languages, at least for now, until we have our own that is just as good, or at least covers everything we need. Right now, Perl blogs are ugly and unsexy.
  • We need a web based forum. Many newbies might be intimidated by IRC and it is to as easy to get started with that. You need a client, you need to configure it. Mailing lists are even more ugly and horrible. We need a modern forum with general topics, but also sub topics for major modules/communities (Catalyst, Dancer, DBIC). I guess we could mirror some of the IRC channels. And then we need a bot that will re-post new threads to the related IRC channels so people get answers. This will also provide some good Perl related content for search engines.
  • We could come up with a course outline and eventually prepare an entire course with slides on Modern Perl that teachers from schools, colleges and universities can use entirely, or as a starting point. This will get Perl back into the institutions hopefully.
  • We need a well thought out PR campaign to promote Perl to nurture the growth and business acceptance. We might need to outsource that as well. At least outsource the planning stage and then key community members can execute the plan.
  • We need to jump on some bandwagon trends and contribute to other communities. E.g. now is a good time to write some Perl tools for Docker. Docker is exploding. I feel like Perl is a really good match, and it is still a standard package on most Linux systems. It is also a great sys admin tool and greatly used by many sys admins. Think of it as "guest posting" or being a guest on a radio show. We write tools for other communities, other communities get involved with Perl and it is a win/win. We need to identify these future trends.
  • We need to proactively collect potential user emails for marketing. That is how many alternative communities grew so large. Esp ROR. We need to get their emails and send them mailing lists with useful information about Perl. E.g. news, conferences, new projects, etc...
I guess that's all I can remember. But I am sure there is more to come :)


You'll probably also want to head over to Reddit to see the comments there.

As I see your tagline says Trying to promote Perl in India.. My thought is that you might have more success if you tried to focus your energy locally. You know that space much better than most of the people involved in the Perl community.

So let me try to give you some numbers from the Google Analytics of 4 web-sites and and the click-through count of the Perl Weekly.

The % of visitors from India   11.02%    8.37%       6.17%       4.93%    2%

Plenty of people to work with.

BTW I wrote about Perl and India earlier. There were a few interesting comment.

Then major resources (,,, metacpan, etc...) need to be visually re-designed

Leo Lapworth has been working his way through the Perl web sites - massively improving the look of the ones that he has worked on. From your list, has already been done (I think it was the first one he did). I don't know what his plans are for the others.

You appear to misunderstand how open source works. "we need" is irrelevant. Actions speak louder than words. Patches speak louder than suggestions. Some of the things on this list are a good idea, some aren't. However none of them will get done unless somebody does them.

If you want to achieve something meaningful, do something instead of expending time and electrons blogging that something must be done.

A few years back, I asked the sysadmins why there was no public repository and what I could do to arrange such a thing. Now there's a github organisation, and the site got a substantial facelift (and before you shit on the current design, I'm just going to say "you should've seen the old one, seriously"). Not a single one of the people who started off from "we need" even thought to ask.

You want a forum? Cool. Set one up. Give it a mailing list or NNTP interface and I'd be happy to contribute (we don't have web forums because most of the people actually doing things hate web forums; any plan that doesn't take this into account will fail).

You think there should be perl+Docker code? Write some. Once you ship it, I'd be happy to review it.

What we need is people who care enough about perl to actually DO THINGS; more backseat drivers with blogs is just sound and fury, signifying nothing.

-- mst, out.

I am impressed how much I totally agree with this post. Getting organized and building a great experience is hugely important.

Its totally legitimate to say "if you see a problem, then fix it" - alas that isn't in and of itself empowering.

Consider as evidence, the circumstances that exist such that metacpan and exist.

Building some frameworks around co-operation is hugely helpful in encouraging contribution. Github's business plan is based upon that, and is why its taken over from sourceforge (etc) so quickly.

TPF should consider grants to develop and then execute these goals. GSOC projects should be chased to get needed features and fixes addressed.

Is there a perl-advocacy list? Somewhere for people to get organsied?

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About Chankey Pathak

user-pic Yet Another Perl Lover. Trying to promote Perl in India.