A Perl Community Dashboard

In this weeks TPF Marketing Committee meeting I made an elevator pitch for a "Perl Community Dashboard". It was well received so I have taken the action item to expound upon the idea here to gather more input. Understand this then as the minimum viable product to go from 0 to 1, something achievable that we can build upon.

The Goal:

Create a central web based "Dashboard" (think Grafana-ish) the brings together metrics from key Perl related websites (hereafter, mastheads) and potentially other channels such as social media or irc.

What is the "Business Outcome"?

The marketing committee can use those metrics to set goals and measure the effectiveness of marketing activities. By including many mastheads we can get a picture of activity levels over time, how people move between the content, and which content is the most important.

Being able to dive & explore this data will also be valuable to the marketing committee and to other TPF committees. This could guide everything from blog posts, to conference talks, to book ideas, to training classes.

What would be included:

Acknowledging many of these are not "owned" by TPF, the mastheads I want to be included initially would include:

  • perlfoundation.org
  • news.perlfoundation.org
  • perl.com
  • perl.org
  • blogs.perl.org
  • jobs.perl.org
  • perldoc.perl.org
  • metacpan.org
  • cpan.org
  • rt.cpan.org
  • perlconference.us

What is needed from each website?

Initially this would just be a javascript snippet to instruct web browsers to send the various metric data.

More detailed analytics could later be added, for example I am very interested to learn more about what people are searching for and downloading from (meta)cpan.

This is far less complicated and gives richer data than shipping http access logs.

What analytics platform would we use?

We should use something off the shelf, ideally something SaaS so we don't have the overheads of running the infrastructure. The downside of someone else's cloud analytics platform is there may be resistance to it, compared to self hosting the data.

Without getting lost entirely in selecting a solution, a brief taxonomy of key products:

  • Adobe Marketing Cloud (once Omniture) is the market leader and is consumed as a cloud SaaS product. Adobe offers discounts for 501c3's like TPF (YAS) although pricing isn't public
  • Matomo (was Piwik) is a very capable FOSS alternative with a Freemium business model that offers both cloud and self hosting. Paid add-on features add up quickly compared to the nominal fee for their cloud offering.
  • Others that community members suggest in the comments

Adobe as the market leader would allow us to most easily engage someone to assist, I can't find modules in CPAN for it and having used it in past $work we just used our own client API.

Matomo has modules on CPAN and some of them look recent.

No matter what we select, hopefully we can help create, publish, and enhance the client API modules for the various Perl frameworks.

Prior Art?

I have not seen any other FOSS project or foundation do something similar, though no doubt they use Google Analytics.

Pre-emptively addressing concerns

  • I don't like tracking people. You should use browser features or plugins to block it, as you would on other websites.
  • You should just use access logs. Shipping access logs is far more complicated and gives very few details, referrers especially are removed by search engines.
  • Privacy Concerns. Using an existing platform with GDPR already sorted is a good start. We absolutely must respect peoples privacy
  • This is pointless. Hopefully people can see that having metrics to measure the outcomes of marketing activities is of benefit. A reward of all work (paid or volunteer) is being able to see clearly that we (you) did something and people responded positively - let's provide that.
  • Platform X is stupid, use platform Y. Please note your preferred products in the comments, it would be great to learn more
  • This is great! I want to get involved! Let us know in the comments or contact the marketing committee

Whats next?

For me is sharing this pitch with more people in the community and fleshing it out in to a proposal - So please share your thoughts in the comments.

I am very interested in your experiences with different platforms and successes you have had using them with the various Perl frameworks.

It is my hope that many people will be able to build on this work in many directions.


Great idea ++

Can you measure use of tags like 'perl' on common blogging and other techie platforms such as dev.to and Stackoverflow?

So you're planning to count user visits to the listed websites, not what happens on those sites (e.g. modules released, posts published, etc)?

Can you measure use of tags like 'perl' on common blogging and other techie platforms such as dev.to and Stackoverflow?

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About Dean

user-pic I blog about Perl. I am now in California