After this weeks discussions about naming a shovel a spade, and how that would increase sales in the hardware store. I hope to start a substantive discussion around promoting Perl.
Dear Reader, please don't let the above metaphor become a stumbling block. Your ingenuity is desperately needed.
The first hypothetical question I would pose is:
- If you had $10,000 to promote Perl - what would you do with it?
Please don't get lost on the dollar figure. This is intended to be an exercise in stretching the imagination.
Another question pair is:
- What meaningful metrics could be used to measure Perls growth? (github stars? ithub commits? cpan releases? others?)
- What activities could be co-ordinated and performed, that would increase these key metrics?
A quick Google search (or, DDG) provides many peoples thoughts about growing open source projects:
- Finding Users for Your Project
- How to self-promote your open source project/li>
- How to promote your Github project
- How to promote your open source project
- many many more
Reading through them all, they have many of the same themes:
- The Project being useful and high enough quality to be taken seriously
- Great documentation
- Open to contributions
- Content creation and Syndication
In reference only to Perl 5, i think point 1 of the above can be ticked off. Certainly, the recent deprecation of CPAN in favor of MetaCPAN has done much to add to point 2 (Great Documentation) - and no doubt more can be done in this area. There is after all, no perfect introduction of explanation - difference people will "get it" from one perfectly good introduction but won't from another.
Lowering the barrier to contribution and regular contribution (point #3) is a topic covered frequently at YAPC's. Tools like Dist::Zilla have helped enormously in making contributions to CPAN. Similarly, Github has helped perl as much as it has helped every language, in making contributions more straightforward. I would be very interested to learn about tools and platforms in other languages as effective as dzilla+cpan+cpantesters+etc. That said, maybe we as a community need to talk about them more... much more.
Which leads to point 4, which after all the above waxing lyrical, is the area I hope there can be more discussion.
To answer my own hypothetical question as to what I would do with $10k - I would hire a PR firm to push content out there. Publications (digital and print) are desperate for high quality content and contributions. In contrast to a marketing firm (which runs ads) a PR firm looks for ways to get the client's name out there through opportunities to be seen - so provide quotes, to provide content etc.
Alternatively, I would use the CPAN PR Challenge as an inspiration of sorts to run Blogger of the month / year awards. Of course there can be various categories, which would allow more people to be recognized whilst steering content creators to provide a variety of diverse content. Awards ceremonies are also an excuse to dress up, get together, (drink), and get lots of media coverage.
Both might be used together - generating content, then pushing it out as far and wide as possible.
A related option, would be to have grants around improving the websites, tutorials, introductions (even Docker containers) of key Perl software.
There may also be some easy opportunities to improve tooling, to automatically shout out to social media and news websites about new releases. Once upon a time, the dist::zilla twitter plugin kept #perl busy - i think twitter hates API's now (and frankly, Twitter is dying). But new perl releases don't get a mention on sites like Phoronix (whos purpose is to get clicks by curating release notes in to news articles), lwn, even slashdot.
What are people's thoughts?