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What exactly counts as "Perl News"?

by mr_mischief (Prior)
on Oct 13, 2010 at 15:21 UTC ( #865102=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

I've noticed a disturbing (to me, anyway) trend starting lately in the Perl News section of the site. This isn't CPAN, yet some people seem to think that every module release -- initial or in some cases even update (of theirs, of course) -- deserves a manual entry on the site as a newsworthy development. Isn't this what http://search.cpan.org/recent is meant to be? To my eyes, that makes self-promotion of module authors in Perl News here look redundant (and tacky).

I think self-promotion is fine, but I don't think pushing a press release on everyone for everything you do is a proper way to do it. One can put RFCs in Meditations asking for advice on a module before submitting it to CPAN. One can ask for people to look over it once it's released via private messages, in the chatterbox, or maybe in Meditations. Singling out your module for a thread as news is not self-promotion. It's noise which I must dig through to find the real news. If it makes me think anything about the module's author who posted it as news, it'll make me think less of them rather than more.

I think updating the community on things like a well-known and oft-referenced site moving or changing URLs is news. I think a book release is news, or the launch of a new and useful site about Perl is news. Conferences about Perl, lectures about Perl at wider industry conferences, and releases of transcripts, video, or slides from such talks are newsworthy to me. A link to a great article about Perl or about a program written in Perl somewhere else is news, especially if it isn't in the major Perl community sites (Perl.com, Perl.org, CPAN.org, PerlBuzz, http://perl.oreilly.com, Perl Is Alive). Even a recent jobs available announcement I found newsworthy, not because it was a jobs post, but because the company in question was expanding their rolls by forty Perl programmers. I think in the current economy that's news.

If the release of a module or an update to a module is really newsworthy, then I don't think the author of the module would have to be the one to relay that information from the usual places to the Perl News section of PerlMonks. A very commonly used tool like the DBI, CGI, or XML::Twig modules or the whole Moose, Catalyst, POE, or Padre projects might be written up by some interested third party. If that's the case, it's probably rare and there is probably something actually newsworthy about the new release. Even though such may be newsworthy, I don't see Tim Bunce, Lincoln Stein, or Michel Rodriguez posting every update manually to Perl News for their projects (or themselves and their names).

Am I being crotchety? Never mind that. Am I just being crotchety? Shouldn't the topicality for a news section involve newsworthiness? Isn't that especially the case when the information in question is already available at a well-known automated feed?

Comment on What exactly counts as "Perl News"?
Re: What exactly counts as "Perl News"?
by RyuMaou (Deacon) on Oct 13, 2010 at 15:48 UTC
    Well, I'd always assumed that "Perl News" was meant for actual news stories. The one time I added something here was an article from a network admin news feed that I figured everyone else might not have seen, since not everyone here is an admin, like me.

    That being said, though, I honestly don't see a big problem with the other stuff getting posted, too. Sure, there may be other places for it, even other places that are more appropriate, but as the traffic seems relatively light, I don't see the harm.

    Of course, if enough people feel the way you do, I also don't see anything wrong with restricting it more, either.

      The traffic being light is my main (if not explicit) point. If more and more people start throwing out a "news" update every time they update a module, Perl News will not be a place of light traffic. It will be a mess of duplicated data which already has a home drowning out the truly novel and important news. I wanted to comment on what I see as a negative trend before it becomes a bigger problem than it already is.

Re: What exactly counts as "Perl News"?
by Your Mother (Canon) on Oct 13, 2010 at 16:34 UTC

    News is as news is received. This is the current rep of the last node that did what you describe:

    Reputation: -12 (+7 -19)

    It's rare and it's usually clobbered so I wouldn't worry about it taking root. I would certainly be willing to post on a major change to a package I thought was important to circulate.

Re: What exactly counts as "Perl News"?
by moritz (Cardinal) on Oct 13, 2010 at 16:42 UTC
    I too found those announcement of new version of perl modules (without a huge user base) annoying.

    I don't care where the stories come from, if from a large community site or a small blog -- as long as the content is interesting.

    If somebody feels the need to tell the perl community about new features in smaller releases of some modules, they can always start a blog on http://blogs.perl.org, or somewhere else, and have it listed by one of the numerous blog aggregators (http://perlsphere.net/, http://planet.perl.org/, http://ironman.enlightenedperl.org/).

    Perl 6 - links to (nearly) everything that is Perl 6.
Re: What exactly counts as "Perl News"? (interesting)
by tye (Cardinal) on Oct 13, 2010 at 18:50 UTC
    yet some people seem to think that every module release -- initial or in some cases even update (of theirs, of course) -- deserves a manual entry on the site as a newsworthy development.

    Uh... Strawmen? Did somebody move all of these release announcements to some other section? I don't see a single person doing what you describe, much less "some people".

    I found one person who posted twice about the same module. Neither of those postings was simply "I released a new version" (so your "Isn't this what http://search.cpan.org/recent is meant to be?" doesn't apply). The first included "A few days ago I released version 2.10", the second "I have just uploaded version 3.13". There were several uploads to CPAN of that same module between those two versions so your "every module release" also doesn't apply.

    It's a freakin' forum site. The point is for people (even "little people") to post stuff to it. If you post uninteresting stuff, you get little out of it. If you make a habit of that, you lose XP. The AP does not have to be interested in any of it, even if the word "news" is applied to some of it.

    http://search.cpan.org/recent does not provide "Here's some discussion about what went into the new release of the module and here's the type of feedback the author is looking for" nor a place to have a conversation with the module's author.

    The section was called "Perl News" because it originally just aggregated other news feeds. No, posting to it does not (and should not) require anything be "newsworthy". "Interesting" is good. One common use of that section is posting pointers to stuff written by other people, but that isn't the only use for it. It makes perfect sense to me for that section to be used to point at stuff I released somewhere else, especially when that "somewhere else" doesn't provide features to allow me to try to start a discussion about the release.

    To my eyes, that makes self-promotion of module authors in Perl News here look [...] (and tacky).

    It is so tacky for people to upload their own modules to CPAN (a world-wide network of computers). Such blatant self-promotion. If the module is worth something, some interested third party could be found to upload it for them. Surely famous module authors have better things to do with their time than manually uploading their own code to have it promoted to the Perl community.

    I would love to see Tim Bunce post to Perl News about a new release of a module of his. Because that is (even if he does nothing other than mention the new release) an invitation to take part in a discussion. Even beyond that, I'd expect a release announcement written by Tim Bunce to be much more interesting than one written by a third party. A release announcement from a third party is less likely to include insights that I couldn't get myself by looking at the release.

    I think your eyes should stop looking for "self-promotion" and trying to intuit motives (especially if the next step is "take offense at the motives"). If I'm forced to guess at motives, my first guess is going to be "seeking feedback" over self-promotion.

    Most people do a pretty bad job at seeking feedback. The best way to get feedback about a new release of a module is to write some interesting commentary on what you did in the new release and why and what about it you are most interested in getting feedback on and why. However, the typical method used is closer to "I did this (*points over there*). I'm looking for feedback."

    So I'm not going to discourage people from announcing their own module releases to Perl News. And I'm not going to encourage them to have a third party do the announcement. I encourage authors to post interesting release announcements, when they have something interesting to share about a release. And if you really want some feedback about a release, the best way to get feedback is to say something interesting about the release.

    - tye        

      It is so tacky for people to upload their own modules to CPAN (a world-wide network of computers). Such blatant self-promotion. If the module is worth something, some interested third party could be found to upload it for them.

      That's an interesting logical fallacy for someone calling my reporting of my perception of the issue a strawman.

      I also think you need to stop assigning me motives when you're telling me to stop assigning other people motives. I wasn't going into sections of the site 'looking for "self-promotion"'. I was annoyed by something, and decided to ask others about it. You know, that whole discussion in a forum thing, in this section called "PerlMonks Discussion", where I thought it would be on-topic to discuss PerlMonks.

      I made no distinction about "little people" or "big people" or what someone may have achieved regarding Perl or any other part of their lives. Those are your words. I simply mentioned that I think modules used by more people would be news rather than noise to more people. Those mentioned by name are, in every case, the authors of modules I mentioned as examples of widely used tools.

      I think that if one wants more feedback, Meditations might be a better place to post as discussions there seem (I don't have the stats) to garner more feedback than in Perl News. I also think that people have come to expect Perl News to be a low-traffic part of the site for particular kinds of nodes. This may be a mistaken expectation and it may even only be my expectation. For those of us who read by section and plan which sections to read based on time available, finding things in surprising places can be disruptive to our reading habits. Maybe I'm alone in that regard. Maybe I'm not.

      If your solution is to say that "Perl News" is a misnomer and people shouldn't follow the stated advice of:

      For the latest news on what's happening in the Perl world, check out these sites:
      If you have a Perl news item, please consider posting it on one of the above sites. Otherwise, you may post it in this section. Please try to avoid duplicating news.
      then that's fine, and I'll just quit expecting people to follow the stated advice, too. Perhaps making the forum description clearer about what belongs there would be more helpful, though, than stating one thing then recommending that people ignore it.

      The whole issue with the label of "news" is that it connotes that something is objectively reported. Very few people can objectively report on their own actions. What you get when you release subjective material as news isn't really news but propaganda. Yes, I include most web journals, TV shows, newspapers, radio shows, or whatever that do the same thing as the same thing. Either it's news, it's commentary, or it's propaganda. If you want a generic word for all of it, "reports" or "happenings" come to mind. "News" carries information with it that your description of the section simply doesn't seem to me to support.

        The whole issue with the label of "news" is that it connotes that something is objectively reported.

        No, "news" refers to descriptions of events. I believe that releases of modules do not qualify, depending on how important the change to a module is to how we use Perl. The identity of the person doing what you're complaining about -- conflating "Perl News" with "CPAN activity" -- does not enter into this judgement, in my opinion. I would not recommend being frightened by self-promotion, rather than by lack of participation or ability to parse the names of the sections of sites such as this.

        You seem to have confused the word "news" with the word "journalism" (def'n 3). "Did you hear the news? I got engaged!"

        news: "1. New information of interest" or "2. Reports of current events broadcast via media such as newspapers or television". Clearly this isn't a TV station nor a newspaper. IMO, it isn't much like either of those. So I say we go with def'n 1.

        [Full disclosure, I was not involved in the production of the Wiktionary page defining "news", nor did I consult it nor any other source as to the definition of "news" when I wrote that I thought the important characteristic here should be for it to be "interesting". So the suspiciously strong correlation to the definition's "of interest" is merely suspicious. And, yes, Wiktionary was the first (and only) resource I subsequently checked.]

        Further, the individual words used to describe in section titles here have repeatedly been shown to not be of paramount importance to the purpose of the sections (usually when somebody focuses on one such word too intently).

        In the case of Perl News, I think the purpose of the section has been trying to find itself and the site documentation has not really declared that discovery a success yet. So my comments are based on what I see the section being used for, how I see others (to some small extent) approving and disapproving of said uses, and what I think would work well.

        Certainly, an interesting release announcement (that shares insights) could be placed in Meditations. But, given that the (usually rather uninteresting, usually even "dry") release announcements for Perl itself usually end up in Perl News and that release announcements are very much "time based", I like the idea of things that are primarily release announcements being put into Perl News for the small gain in consistency. A node that is primarily sharing insights but that also, secondarily, includes the announcement of a release, I would somewhat prefer to end up in Meditations.

        I certainly agree with you that it would be inappropriate (rather pointless) for a release announcement that contains no more than what is provided by http://search.cpan.org/recent (the name, version number, module "tag line", and author (encoded in the URLs)) to be posted to Perl News. The more interesting the additional material included, the less inappropriate it becomes.

        And I agree that posting for the sole purpose of self-promotion is a bad idea (such a bad idea that it doesn't happen much).

        But I don't want to try to require the practicing of journalism nor require that something be "of sufficient interest to the public or a special audience to warrant press attention or coverage" (newsworthy -- the wikt:// def'n frankly sucked).

        - tye        

      If you make a habit of that, you lose XP.
      I thought XP wasn't suppose to matter? And that Perlmonks actively promotes to not cast downvotes?
        I thought XP wasn't suppose to matter?

        And indeed it doesn't matter, if one creates a new account for each post (as happened in the cases discussed here).

        Perl 6 - links to (nearly) everything that is Perl 6.
Re: What exactly counts as "Perl News"?
by Argel (Prior) on Oct 13, 2010 at 23:43 UTC
    I just took a quick glance through the first two pages of Perl News, which takes me back to May. That's right, the month of May!! Given the light traffic, it's hard to escape the conclusion that you are tilting at windmills.

    Regarding other Perl sites, just because they exist does not mean everyone is reading them -- I mostly hanging out here, and I doubt I am the only one.

    Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks

      Thanks for the link on the assumption I've never heard of Don Quixote at all. That's hilarious. I guess you think I've never read any books at all? Please continue to link to the most common allusions. It shows your arrogance quite nicely.

      Of the last 15 nodes which is one page, there are things that concern me. Pity I might be concerned about something you consider insignificant or imagined, like one third of the most recent page being the type of thing I'm talking about. Yet that is life, and I will go into examples just for you since you so like tedious and pedantic references.

      Now, for the issues I see. Five of them (consecutively) are project release notices without much info beyond that something has been released. They don't mention other alternatives, the rationale for the projects, the pros and cons of the project, the central ideas held or interesting choices made during development, or anything else. One third of the most recent page may denote a young trend, I think.

      BTW, five out of fifteen is one third. One third of the most recent page is just this sort of announcement. I just assumed you'd need to be told where I'm getting the one-third number, so there's your reference. :-/

      One of those projects is about a new web-based game, which I guess is interesting here simply because of the mistaken impression people outside the community have that new large projects don't get done in Perl. It's not apparent the poster was on the development team, and kind of implies the opposite, so I wouldn't expect a lot of the background information in the post. It does give the information that it's new, it's done in Perl, and where to find it. That's not too bad. It even links to a technical document, but that's a 43 megabyte PDF file with no quick rundown alternative.

      One is clearly by SFLEX AKA Shaka_Flex AKA $h4X4_|=73}{ continuing a flame-riddled thread that was originally under Meditations before he left (asked for his account to be disabled) claiming he'd never be back before coming back as an AC and then as Shaka_Flex (account disabled), and now as $h4X4_|=73}{ instead. At least there is some listing of additions and improvements from earlier versions, but I can't bring myself to care under the circumstances.

      mshipper does mention one other module and the target audience for the module being announced. That's not too bad, but it could be better. It feels like a rushed announcement to me, but it is a decent seed for feedback.

      One is an announcement of a particular person's first Perl6 program. Okay, that's cool. It's a Cool Use For Perl, and might call for some Meditations. It seems more of a personal journal entry to me than news for the community, but if everyone else in the community cares about the first program each of us writes in Perl5, Perl6, PASM, with Moose, using List::Utils, or whatever dialect of the language I'll be entirely supportive of a section for just that.

      One is about an application to manage database backups with PostgreSQL with no discussion at all about previous solutions or telling any requirements. It's just a "please use this code I dumped somewhere and give me feedback" request with no rationale for why someone would find it useful in their own workflow. It's just a typical, "test it for me" blurb linked to the CPAN entry for the application and its sparse but perhaps adequate documentation.

      So, if five in a row of the last 15 posts to the section isn't indicative of a trend towards small blurbs of project release announcements, I'm not sure what a trend is.

      For a counter example of a good notice of a project release in the same section, note the detail in the PDL announcement, the KinoSearch announcement a few pages back, the DBD::Sybase announcements, or any of the Perl 5 or Rakudo announcements. Here are some examples of things these good project announcements include:

      • who is the targeted audience for the version
      • links to instructions for installation and configuration of the project when it is a potentially complex task
      • lists of important changes or references to where to find those
      • digests of the files you are to download to use the projects
      • lists of remaining shortcomings of the project that are still being targeted for future work
      • where to find more information

      By your reasoning that since it is a low-traffic section of the site that any post is okay, we need to stop reaping the spam cheap prescription drug offers. They aren't scrolling the forum much, so who cares?

      So, not all the poor examples are entirely awful, and not all the good examples are perfect. Still, I think that a post to the news section should be somewhat more thorough and well-thought than "U can haz My::Module 0.02!". (That is in "lolspeak" BTW, in case you needed a link to the reference.

        You probably should have hopped on over to that Wikipedia article (emphasis added):
        Tilting at windmills is an English idiom which means attacking imaginary enemies, or fighting unwinnable or futile battles.

        Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks

Re: What exactly counts as "Perl News"?
by raybies (Chaplain) on Oct 19, 2010 at 18:44 UTC

    I vote for crotchety. :)

    Of course there're solutions to the problem. Like allowing truly significant Perl News to float to the top of the list, or relegating perl module updates to a special subclass of news.

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