An objective criteria for deprecating community platforms

Perl has been around for a couple of years longer than Python and Linux. Perl 5 was released in 1993, the same year as FreeBSD and NetBSD.

In the 90's for Open Source projects the "community platforms" where Usenet newsgroups and mailing lists run on Listserv or Majordomo (Mailman didn't show up until 1999). IRC was used for text based chat but without SSL!. CVS was the open source version control system of choice or you might have been unlucky enough to use Visual Source Safe at work, whilst Subversion wouldn't show up until 2000.

But the 90's are more than 20 years in the past and IPv6 is actually seeing meaningful adoption now. Many of the above technologies are as completely foreign to people with 10+ years of industry experience as Compact Cassettes, VHS, LaserDisc and maybe CDs or even DVDs.

As people have embraced Git and even now IPv6 - we too can and must embrace newer platforms that offer a better experience for us humans as we work together on Perl related projects.

This will mean making some difficult and dispassionate decisions to deprecate long cherished platforms, as we embrace contemporary alternatives.

I think a reasonable decision criteria would be:

1. Will a newcomer have a satisfactory experience?
Which includes more than:

1a. How discoverable is it?
1b. How high/low is the barrier of entry?
1c. How familiar is the interface to newcomers?
1d. How intuitive and effective is the user interface?
1e. Will questions be taken seriously and answered in a timely manner?
1f. Is the platform providing reasonable privacy and moderation controls?

2. How much time will admins spend maintaining the platform compared to maintaining the community on the platform?

3. Would it be set up now if it didn't already exist?

Mailing lists are a good example which we can compare to my criteria.

If you can find the right list, you subscribe and send your question. Your email address is blasted out to all subscribers which aren't visible to you, whilst your inbox is already being filled with all discussion on the list even if you're not interested- assuming there is any discussion.

Good luck finding old questions or discussions to contribute or update on.

Once something is sent it can never be edited or removed from recipients. Users have each others email addresses so can contact each other without moderation. You can set up filters in your email if you care to, but this is an inconsistent user interface that is user dependent and you're still having to maintain the folder's unread messages. Emails themselves become dominated by reply text, making reviewing threads high effort and low signal compared to interfaces like reddit or even a classic but inferior webforum layout.

If I started a new community I wouldn't create an email list.

Run IRC through the above criteria and its even worse! To have a good experience users need to connect continuously or set up something that does. Then try to sift through the stream of content to find some signal. If there's any significant activity, questions and comments will get lost in the stream or conflated with other discussion.

So let's not, metaphorically speaking, hand new Perl programmers an audio cassette saying "this really is the best way to listen to music" and then expect them to take Perl seriously or to conclude that it is anything other than a dead language.


You're the same guy advocating the Perl Facebook group, right? The group is private, inside a walled garden, not indexed by search engines:

There is modern approach to the mailing list, namely the public-inbox software (the same that powers With it you have both web interface and NNTP interface to the mailing list, and you can post using the other.

That avoids filling the inbox with unrelated discussion, adds access to the history, adds searchability and being indexed.

Still not for everybody, but in my opinion overall a better experience.

Fun fact: public-inbox is written in Perl!

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About Dean

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