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Site facelift?

by locust (Sexton)
on Nov 17, 2010 at 18:44 UTC ( #872033=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

I was wondering if anyone has thought about giving this site a facelife to make it look modern. I know perl is great, and way better than php. However, having the #1 perl site look like something from 1995 only helps give credence to the "perl is dead" talk that's been going around. I even fell for the talk.

Not only that, but the site is incredibly slow. Which, again, only makes perl look bad. It doesn't make mod_perl look very fast. I'm pretty sure this may have to do with the free web hosting. The server probably doesn't have the juice needed to make it zippy.

Let's make 2011 the year of perl.

I'm willing to contribute. Anyone else?

I'm sure if we pull our collective resources together we can come up with something pretty amazing.

~locust

Comment on Site facelift?
Re: Site facelift?
by JavaFan (Canon) on Nov 17, 2010 at 19:07 UTC
    However, having the #1 perl site look like something from 1995 only helps give credence to the "perl is dead" talk that's been going around

    Which, again, only makes perl look bad.

    Let's make 2011 the year of perl.

    How Perl is viewed does not depend on your opinion how far the web was in 1995 (Netscape 1.0 was released on 1995, same year Microsoft released IE), nor on how Perlmonks is perceived. I'd be surprised if even 5% of the Perl programmers out there have even heard of Perlmonks, let alone visited it (nor does the vast majority of the Perl programmers have any interest in "the community").

    I doubt there's a significant number of people who decide to stop programming Perl because they thought this site looks like something from 1995.

    Now, I just found this flashing site mentioning COBOL. I'll be burning my Perl books later tonight, and be switching to this exciting new language!

      That's a bit harsh considering that just changing the default theme to Perl-Blue would be a huge improvement!!

      Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks

        I definitely agree. I use Perl-Blue, and setting it as the default theme would probably be an easy first step (for newcomers eyes :) ).

        Oh. My. God.

        I didn't know about the themes.

        Perl-Blue is indeed a huge improvement!

      You're name says it all.

      Anyhow, chief, I was a software engineer about 10 years ago, working with Perl when Php was in it's infancy. Now I live in a "tech" city, and am pretty hard-pressed to find anything where Perl is the primary language used for development. Most of it are legacy systems.

      The bulk of employers want php right now..at least in my market. I love Perl and would like to see more jobs available in my market.

      So, yeah, I am right. Image is a lot of things in this world. I don't like that, but it's true. So, don't shoot the messenger.

      Also, I don't know what the ratio of perl programmers to perlmonk users actually is, but this domain has been around for at least 10 years or so. It's referenced all over the place, and is on the 1st page of a Google search for 'perl', so I don't know what the heck you're talking about.

      This site, in part, represents the perl community, just by association.

      Like if I queried 'ahole' on Google, and your face came up, then, even though you're not an ahole, everyone would probably think you were. Get it?

        You're name says it all.
        You don't know fuck about my name, grasshopper.
        Anyhow, chief, I was a software engineer about 10 years ago, working with Perl when Php was in it's infancy. Now I live in a "tech" city, and am pretty hard-pressed to find anything where Perl is the primary language used for development. Most of it are legacy systems.

        The bulk of employers want php right now..at least in my market. I love Perl and would like to see more jobs available in my market.

        So, yeah, I am right. Image is a lot of things in this world. I don't like that, but it's true. So, don't shoot the messenger.

        And your point is? I did not make any statement on whether Perl is "dying" or "thriving", or what language is favourite with the "bulk of employers".

        What I'm saying that whether Perl is dead by Christmas or the one true language doesn't depend on whether this site looks like someones wrong memories of the web of 1995.

        Or do you think the bulk of employers, when deciding between PHP or Perl make the decision for PHP after visiting Perlmonks and think "Nah, this looks like what I remember of 1995", let's go for PHP?

        Also, I don't know what the ratio of perl programmers to perlmonk users actually is, but this domain has been around for at least 10 years or so. It's referenced all over the place, and is on the 1st page of a Google search for 'perl', so I don't know what the heck you're talking about.
        Hmmm, I said less than 5% of the Perl programmers have ever visited Perlmonks. You, who has been, according to your profile, using Perl professionally for several years, has only signed up 5 days ago. Not exactly figures that really disprove my statement.
        This site, in part, represents the perl community, just by association.
        So what? According to your earlier statement, it's employers deciding on PHP now. I doubt such employers are part of the Perl community.

        Do not overestimate "the community" (which in itself is a very vague term), which is just a subset of the pool of Perl programmers.

        Your argument seems reasonable, And I completely agree with you on that Perl not being used for new projects part. I have noticed that too.

        For Perl to not go down the awk way, it must be used for more than throw away scripting. And most importantly in new projects. From what I've seen and heard across the industry, the mood is use Perl if and only if there is no way out and never for a new project. If new projects don't get written then students and newbies feel no need to learn it and thats how slowly things become irrelevant.

        Perception management is important, some things get sold just by word of mouth of advertising. A lot of it is due to buzz. Frequent mention of Django and Ruby on rails on forums like reddit/HN/Stackoverflow is more than sufficient to convince clueless programmers that Ruby and Python are good even if they are not. They just go by the advertising and when they visit their websites, shiny stuff and beautiful GUI's only strengthen their beliefs.

        The issue is Perl doesn't even get a mention these days, thats how bad things are at the moment.

Re: Site facelift?
by hominid (Curate) on Nov 17, 2010 at 19:31 UTC
    I'm here for the content.
      Nothing better than naked hominids.

      Err. Umm. Nevermind.

      Cheers,
      Matt

Re: Site facelift?
by roboticus (Canon) on Nov 17, 2010 at 20:06 UTC

    locust:

    As far as how the site looks: There's plenty of flexibility available to you if you want to tune up your stylesheets. I wouldn't want any serious changes in looks, though. I'm pretty happy with it as-is.

    Speeding things up would certainly be nice, though. I don't have enough time left in the day to learn the inner mechanics of the site to try to speed things up, though, so I won't complain about it. I've seen several suggestions for speeding things up a bit (such as turning off the nodelets on preview) so I expect that some tune-ups here and there will probably percolate through as time permits.

    Since I've seen several requests like this, I'm just curious: Just what is it you want to see? If you leave the structure alone so that the site basically works as-is, then I'd expect you to propose:

    1. Color schemes: I wouldn't mind this at all, but it's already available to you.
    2. Fancy graphics: A waste of bandwidth, in my mind. (Yes, even though the browser can cache the images and keep the bandwidth low.)
    3. JavaScript widgets: This could be a complete pain in the butt. I really don't want to have to enable JavaScript to use the site. I wouldn't mind it if it didn't get in the way such as for minor visual effects, but would balk at more than that.

    Without concrete suggestions for actual improvement, it just sounds like change for changes' sake. (In other words, a lot of work for no benefits.)

    ...roboticus

    UPDATE: One minor note: One reason I don't care for more "modern" designs is they tend to stuff plenty of whitespace on the screen to make things pretty. I have a couple large monitors on my home machines, and I still wish they were larger. If I'm digging for information, I just want as much as I can get on the screen. The bells and whistles are nice for things like watching videos and such, but I'm not here for that. As hominid mentioned, I'm here for the content.

    That doesn't mean that I think PM is a pretty site, it's just that I think making it more attractive will make me scroll more, and that's a big turnoff. Having said that, if you post a style sheet to make stuff purty, I'll give it a try and offer suggestions on it, if you like.

    --roboticus

    Update: Struck out the bandwidth complaint: Now that I'm monkeying about with a style sheet on my box, I've started looking at the text of the pages PM is sending me, and there's a huge amount of stuff to support style sheets. Thus, I don't think a few K here and there will impact the bandwidth as much as I initially expected.

      Roboticus,

      I just wanted to get a "friendly" discourse going and see what others might come up with.

      I figure there are plenty of people who come to this site and love perl who have different talents. I'm sure there must be someone who is really good at design that may feel the same. I'm not trying to dump the responsibility on anyone else. I'm just trying to get a discussion going. I'm not suggesting that you do something tonight or within the next month. But, perhaps, we could map it out.

      I'm willing to contribute my time and money to helping, because I'd like for Perl to get the recognition it deserves. As a community, we could pull our resources together...or maybe not.

      Wouldn't it be nice to spread it around more and have people come to the site? What if this is their first look at Perl after hearing something negative about it? It may just confirm that.

      And that guys is correct in that I just signed up for an account a few days ago. That's because I just got a job where I get to use Perl again.

      But, I used this site about 10 years ago when I was working as a Perl programmer professionally. Then the bubble burst and I moved to Austin. I can't find crap around here for Perl jobs. There all PHP on Craig's List. I've learned some Php. Hey, it's pretty cool. But, it just not the same as Perl.

      So yeah, I came back to the site after not really using it for years and it still looks the same. Everyone now a days has social media built into their sites. That is where the sites are going today. Not only that, but even the more technical sites still have nice graphics and gradients, like perl.com. They make it look like an O'Reilly book or something like that.

      So, I'm not trying to be a know it all or anything like that. It just pisses me off how Perl has been pushed to the side in favor of php. And, after using mod_perl and setting it up, I can say that perl can do the same stuff. I don't have the benchmarks, but I do like the language better. And, Perl has so many more uses. Anyhow, do I really need to make this argument on perlmonks.com? Shouldn't this be the place where we are biased in favor of perl?

      Much respect

      Color schemes: I wouldn't mind this at all, but it's already available to you.

      I think the point that locust was trying to make was that its all about first impressions on visiting a site.

      PerlMonks is a very traditional site and I think that having a more modern interface may very well attract more new programmers to PerlMonks and then hopefully they will stay with PM and perl, because without New Blood, well we all know what will happen then!

        without New Blood, well we all know what will happen then!

        Yes, the vampires will starve!

        HTH,

        planetscape
Re: Site facelift?
by luis.roca (Deacon) on Nov 17, 2010 at 21:22 UTC
         I'm willing to contribute. Anyone else?

    Both $ (Speed) and graphic design (CSS + Images).

    I understand the apprehension some may have with changing a web community they have been a part of for many years but it doesn't have to even be that drastic. As Argel mentioned earlier, just making Perl-Blue the default for first time visitors and Anonymous Monks alike would be a nice improvement. Simple as it is, I like the design of Perl.org. I'm not suggesting we copy it, merely that a design refresh does not have to be so dramatic and upsetting to it's users.

    All of the UI could stay exactly where it is. Maybe simply making the site look less ahem tabular? We could even try it as a style theme so monks can test it out.

    I don't think people will switch to language XYZ because of a community's dated website design. The content and members will always be what's most important but a set of nice drapes and an area rug could go a long way to making it more welcoming.

    Who knows, we may even crack 5% brand recognition ;)


    "...the adversities born of well-placed thoughts should be considered mercies rather than misfortunes." Don Quixote

      A couple of things..

      One, I'm not concerned with the majority of perl hackers abandoning perl. I'm more concerned with the number of jobs that have been over taken by php, and how this has led to a misconception of perl not being as valuable. If you go to the php forums, you'll see that by and large, they look a like better than this one. My point isn't to criticize this site for the sake of hurting anyone's feelings, but because I think the community as a whole needs to asses the reality of what's going on and do what it can to encourage others to pick perl over php (in particular). I know most of you all could care less, but you're already here and know how wonderful perl is. What about the guy that's trying to convince his dipshit manager that perl is the way to go? His manager would look at this site and probably not take it very seriously.

      I hate marketing as much as the next guy. I agree with Bill Hicks, that if you're in marketing, you should kill yourself. But, hey, we live in a world where appearances are important. Why not revamp the site and make it look better for marketing purposes?

      I totally expect to be flamed for this post, but whatever. I know my intentions are good.

      2) I'm not much of a web designer. I don't think that warrants a "well, don't say anything if you can't fix it" kind of response either. There are plenty of good UI and Web Designers out there that can skin this thing.

      Maybe a fund drive where we can donate enough money so a web designer can be paid to make it look better...or, if we have someone here in the community that can make it look pro, then there you go.

      3)I like the idea of making it look more how the perl.org site looks. Something modern and tasteful.

        Personally, I'm fine with a lot of what you said except...

        Marketing != Graphic Design
        Please don't lump me in with those guys :)

        Having come from designing sites using PHP and PHP frameworks I'm not really worried about the look of this site driving someone to PHP. PHP serves a certain group of people. When it doesn't they go elsewhere. (I came to Perl.) Everyone learns a language for certain reasons. When a language doesn't meet those reasons they will look elsewhere.

        Again, that doesn't mean we can't make this site a little more visually welcoming. I would be up for working on the design (alone or with help) if that's what the community asks me to do. It's the least I can do for what this site has done for me.


        "...the adversities born of well-placed thoughts should be considered mercies rather than misfortunes." Don Quixote
        You seem to have the strange notion that Perl is only used for web development. I've use Perl, professionally, almost on a daily basis since 1995. But my current job is the first gig I've had where having Perl skills were mandatory to land the job. Remember, there's more to IT than being a webmonkey.
        What about the guy that's trying to convince his dipshit manager that perl is the way to go? His manager would look at this site and probably not take it very seriously.
        Yeah, really. The first thing a "dipshit manager" is going to do is look up perlmonks, and dismiss a language based on the appearance.
        I like the idea of making it look more how the perl.org site looks.
        I guess "dipshit manager"s never look at perl.org, but only look at perlmonks. Because, it used to be that perl.org looked "like 1995 all over again" as well. Now, after its makeover, there wasn't a sudden influx of "dipshit manager"s going for Perl instead of PHP because of the shiny new looks of perl.org.

        What evidence do you have that indicates that "1995-ish" appearance of perlmonks is bad for perl, which also explains the new look of perl.org (and perl.com) didn't change anything?

      I don't think people will switch to language XYZ because of a community's dated website design

      Well to be frank and blunt appearances account for major reasons why somebody chooses to use something. Most programmers use some stuff because everybody else is using it. Few put in the effort to analyze and use, everybody else goes by the buzz.

Re: Site facelift?
by Anonymous Monk on Nov 18, 2010 at 01:27 UTC
    Many have thought about it, many improvements have been made .... super search
Re: Site facelift?
by Anonymous Monk on Nov 18, 2010 at 03:32 UTC

    How you project yourself matters!

    BSD systems may be far more stable, secure and better than Linux. But still it gets only a fraction of due what Linux gets, because PR works. Projecting Perl as a age old technology supposed to run only on Ugly looking web pages, may suffice a bunch of life long Perl loyalists but that sends a different message to new people who walk into the tent from outside. Imagine yourself as a manager who comes to these kind of forums to ask some help or search for help, what impression will one get looking at a slow ugly web page. Will you even consider using some other language if it looks the same?

    Some of us may argue that we must cut the flak and focus on Perl's technical side of things. That doesn't work in the practical world. The iPhones and Pythons of the world sell because they look attractive, how they work is irrelevant in the real world. And trust me people will just use them because of the news and 'My colleagues uses that' feeling.

    A modern perl monks perhaps?

      Totally. Just look how Ubuntu has skyrocketed. And what if Google were called Poochie? Would you run a search on poochie.com? I don't think so.

      ;-)

Re: Site facelift?
by moritz (Cardinal) on Nov 18, 2010 at 08:07 UTC

    I'd welcome a cleaner looking design any time -- as long as it doesn't sacrifice any usabilty.

    Despite it's old-fashioned look, the perlmonks interface is very usable, once you know your way around. I don't want that to change.

    People sometimes think the perlmonks UI suck, and want to improve it. Those people often aren't here long enough to have learned which parts matter, and many of their proposals would lead to a nicer looking design with decreased functionality. (That's not always the case, I just want to make you aware of that trap).

    Others are longer here, and recognize the value of the current UI. Those often implement small, incremental improvements, for which I'm very grateful.

      I have been reading perlmonks for more than 7 years, and IMO the OP is right. It's slow and I can think of some (optional!) javascript functions that help following the threads (I can think of it because I implemented it in my own software. You know the software, is it more complicated to use than perlmonks?)
      The problem is that the software here seems unmaintainable and that the server has some problems that have to do with a combination of OS and database. And of course with a lack of time that people have. But why do people here react almost offended when somebody tells the truth? At least the slowness is a fact, although it seems impossible at the moment to do something about it.
        But why do people here react almost offended when somebody tells the truth?

        A newcomer stops by, and tells the old guard they're old, ugly, and they are doing it wrong, and they're in need of plastic surgery, and they're almost offended? Maybe its because

        • they're not robots
        • its not the truth
        • its at best a quasi truth
        • its already known
        • it was expressed in a rude manner
        • it makes assumptions and implications, and jumps to conclusions
        • all of the above in the name of buzzwords
        • didn't even search for previous suggestions

      I've been here for quite a long time, and frankly, I never thought that perlmonks usability was that great; it's slow, the default theme is a pain for the eye; then it misses things that people consider a given now, like a real time preview of your posts, support for MarkDown-style formatting... it looks like it isn't even properly indexed by search engines, and OK, SuperSearch was pretty cool the year before google went out, but nowadays it feels really painfully complex, and did I mention it's slow as molasses swimming in syrup? Ah yeah.

      perl.com perldoc, and many other perl sites were nicely rehauled recently. I think it's largely past time for perlmonks too.

        perl.com perldoc, and many other perl sites were nicely rehauled recently.

        IMHO perl.org looks better than before, but I still haven't figured out what that annoying, fixed toolbar on top of the perldoc site is supposed to do for me. I can't remember using it a single time, and yet it eats up a sizable portion of my screen, and is annoying by not behaving like the rest of the site.

        Which is exactly what I meant with not sacrificing usabilty for a new UI.

        Yes, perlmonks is slow. I've never denied it, and it sucks. If somebody changes that substantially and with long lasting effort, I'll buy them a beer at the next YAPC we both attend. Every effort on performance is very welcome.

        Yes, a modern UI would be nice. If it doesn't introduce annoying stuff just to be modern.

        perl.com perldoc, and many other perl sites were nicely rehauled recently
        If I go to perldoc.org, I see Last updated on 13 August 2009. Not a sign of being "recently rehauled". Furthermore, the homepage also says The code generating this web site is based on the code that was generating perldoc.perl.org as it was released by Jon Allen on 24th December 2008. An indication it was worked on for half a year, then abandoned.

        On top of that, perldoc proundly presents "Perl version 5.8.8 documentation". 5.8.8 was released January 2006. Perl has seen 6 releases, of which 2 major, since.

        But hey, if that works, great! All we need to do overhaul perlmonks, delete the last 4 years of articles, remove the ability to post new content, and Perl will eat PHP before Christmas.

Re: Site facelift?
by locust (Sexton) on Nov 18, 2010 at 08:58 UTC

    Here's an idea to get the site revamped

    We have a t-shirt contest on the site. The purpose of the t-shirt is to promote Perl and move away from the "Perl is dead" crap that's going on.

    For example:

    • Perl's not Dead
    • $truth =~ s/\<php\>/perl/ig
    • <? I Suck ?>
    • <? Perl is Better ?>

    Then have perlmonks.com on the back or something...

    We set a goal of however it might cost to hire a pro UI & Web Designer to revamp the site and show a meter on the front page. Once the goal is reached, then we can get it done and launch the new version.

    I think this could work!

    Oh yeah, the winner of the contest get's their shirt sold on the site, and these proceeds fund the project

      Perl is like an eldest kid in the family who was loved by everyone when it was the only kid in the family. The problem is now there are many siblings of Perl coming out there, hence its not loved with the same intensity as that when it was a kid.

      What will bring Perl back to glory are not those old childhood chubby looks. But adapting to the latest trends in the market like getting standard syntax defaults, a good packaged distribution which will work out of the box, Shiny and easy to use help sites like these, Keeping release promises and delivering on time. Currently the complains lie on the lines confusing and too many syntax module options, a difficult to configure and maintain production distribution unique to each project. Also frameworks on par with stuff like RoR, Django, Twisted.

      A sooner production ready(by common definitions), stable, spec compliant Perl 6 will help.

Re: Site facelift?
by Corion (Pope) on Nov 18, 2010 at 12:01 UTC

    I would welcome a re-styling of Perlmonks. Most of what's needed can be achieved by "Just" applying a nice(r) CSS stylesheet, as most of the themes available are implemented through stylesheets anyway. If you find elements that cannot be (conveniently) styled, adding id tags it hasn't been a major obstacle in my experience. So if you have (access to a person with) graphical/design skills, it sould not be hard to restyle the site and make the theme the default for Anonymous Monk.

    Making the website rely on Javascript (jQuery) by default would be undesireable for users on mobile connections, as I don't consider surfing Javascript-heavy sites with mobile phones desireable.

      I know that you know, there is nothing that needs javascript :)
Re: Site facelift?
by wazoox (Prior) on Nov 18, 2010 at 12:13 UTC
    Guys, locust is dead right. Heck, didn't you see where Merlyn and Brian d Foy spend times nowadays? NOT on perlmonks. Why is that? Because our beloved perlmonks is actually losing steam. Why is this? Because it's butt-ugly and slow, while stackoverflow is nice and quick. Denial doesn't help anyone, friends. So how about working on it instead of bemoaning?
      briad d foy never spent much time here

      merlyn spends time everywhere, then stop visiting

      there is no denial

      there is no bemoaning

      its being worked on, you want more, send cash

        merlyn spends time everywhere, then stop visiting

        I used to spend really a lot of time on perlmonks, and I know that he used to be much more present.

        its being worked on, you want more, send cash

        I'm ready to contribute, I'll send cash if cash is needed. I'll rent a server if a server is needed. I'll hire a graphic designer if one is needed. But it annoys me to no end to see people pretending that really everything's great and why change anything?

Re: Site facelift?
by zentara (Archbishop) on Nov 18, 2010 at 13:06 UTC
    I don't know about you, but I feel a Camel looks about the same, before OR after a facelift. :-)

    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth.
    Old Perl Programmer Haiku ................... flash japh

      "a Camel looks about the same, before OR after a facelift"

      Doesn't that depend on how long you have been in the desert!

        Doesn't that depend on how long you have been in the desert!

        Oh, you are thinkinking about the other end of the camel... :-)


        I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth.
        Old Perl Programmer Haiku ................... flash japh
Re: Site facelift?
by luis.roca (Deacon) on Nov 18, 2010 at 14:42 UTC

    Here's my portfolio

    If it's decided to go ahead with a redesign again, I'll do it. If you want someone else certainly no hard feelings. Either way I would like to see this happen. :)

    I am certainly biased about this. I've spent my entire career (art school and professional) working toward improving perception, functionality and organization through graphic design. This site HAS a design and the design says something to everyone that visits.

    To me it said:
       "There are some hardcore old-school programmers that probably know a lot about Perl." That's good.

    But it also said
       "We are sticking with what we know and are comfortable using and wont change no matter what." Not as good.

    Those are not exactly correct (especially the second) I don't actually think the site's made up of a bunch of grumpy old men who can code circles around those young PHP whipper-snappers. This site, in terms of content and interaction, is anything but that. It just doesn't look that way when you first visit.

    My intention is NOT to offend anyone remember I use and love this site too. I would love it if others did as well. I know designers that unfortunately wouldn't look past the site's appearance and would look elsewhere when researching developers for their interactive projects. I know other designers that would give the site a shot just because of it's retro coolness. I know it's wrong and unfair but it's true. Neither of those are positives for the site.

    But hey what do I know. I put a premium on design and yet here I am a year later because at the end of the day I wanted to learn and meet good people who shared an interest in Perl.

    P.S. I actually like grumpy old men and aspire to be one someday soon. I also REALLY enjoy seeing those said grumpy old men coding circles around PHP/Ruby/Python whipper-snappers. ESPECIALLY if they call them "Whipper-Snappers" while they're mopping the floor with them. No offense was intended. :-)


    "...the adversities born of well-placed thoughts should be considered mercies rather than misfortunes." Don Quixote
      Here's my portfolio
      Tastes differ. But if perlmonks looked like your site, I wouldn't have stopped long enough to read even a single article, let alone answer one.

             Tastes differ. But if perlmonks looked like your site, I wouldn't have stopped long enough to read even a single article, let alone answer one.

        That's a little dramatic, don't you think?

        "...the adversities born of well-placed thoughts should be considered mercies rather than misfortunes." Don Quixote
        Howdy, come on. These examples are for media companies and advertising websites, nobody thinks perlmonks should look like that. Someone competent and talented propose to work for the website, and you just diss him? How about getting constructive?

        Did you not see his giant yellow robot theme?

Re: Site facelift?
by steve (Deacon) on Nov 18, 2010 at 15:55 UTC

    Perhaps we could have some submissions (mockups) for different design ideas and then use our voting system to present and assess them. We could even include an option for the current design for those who think we should not make any changes. Maybe luis.roca et al can make a few samples.

      I could make a few simple PNG/JPEGs of the home page. A thread can be created where a link to each design gets it's own post. This way, as you suggested, we can let members use the voting system.

      As much as everyone ahem loves polls, maybe we could create one to gauge how to move forward. I don't mind volunteering my time for this but I think I (and anyone else looking to throw their hat in) would like to know a good amount of the community supports at least exploring a redesign.


      "...the adversities born of well-placed thoughts should be considered mercies rather than misfortunes." Don Quixote
Re: Site facelift?
by raybies (Chaplain) on Nov 18, 2010 at 16:01 UTC

    Been said, but:

    This site is very slow. please don't update the look, if it adversely affects the site performance in the least.

    There's so much great content here, but it does no one any good if it takes ten minutes to load it.

Re: Site facelift?
by mje (Deacon) on Nov 18, 2010 at 17:47 UTC

    I'm mostly here a) for the content and the wealth of knowledge the people who use this site have and b) to try and help others using Perl when their problem is in an area I feel comfortable to help with. I've been using Perl Monks since 2005.

    The Perl Monks site does look a bit "old fashioned" but that does not put me off using it and I don't believe anyone is holding it up as an example of why Perl is good. I am a programmer and not a graphic artist and in general aesthetics don't interest me much.

    A few things which do put me off this site (although not enough to stop coming here and none of them are meant as criticism) in no particular order (and there may be solutions I don't know about for some of them) are

    1. This thread demonstrates something which makes Perl Monks a little annoying to use and that is when the comment level indentation gets too deep you end up with only a few words per line
    2. When someone posts without code tags it often destroys the page layout and I end up scrolling right for miles just to find the login box. A minor glitch but still a little annoying.
    3. I see a severe error in the Chatterbox once or twice a week and a similar number of times when I click on a node it takes ages before just displaying http://www.perlmonks.org/? with no content.
    4. The default Chatterbox is difficult to use, slow and you can only see a few words you type at a time. I know there are other chatterbox clients and even an irc channel but I'd be more likely to take part in the chatterbox if the default one on the site was more usable.
    5. Nodes aren't always that easy to read or follow due to the way they are laid out. I find the nodes on stackoverflow easier on the eye and easier to read and follow.

    6. The site is often slow (not always) but often enough that I click on a node link wait 10 seconds or so and when the page has not displayed I move on to do something else and come back to it later.
    7. UPDATE I also find ordering newest nodes by date annoying and wish they could be grouped by parent node as it would take me far less time to scan the nodes I am interested in.

    None of this is meant as criticism, it is just my observations. I would not object if someone had the time, ability and inclination to "jazz" it up a bit but that would make little difference to me and I doubt the way Perl Monks looks puts people off Perl or Perl Monks. If changes were made I suspect most people who have stayed around here any length of time would be most worried about losing functionality.

    However, I know the speed of the site does put people off as I know some people who've said to me they can't believe I still hang out here as it is so slow. If rejigging the site to make it look nicer/different slowed it down further that may be the final nail in the coffin for me.

    The big sell for this site is the content and the knowledge of the people who hang out here. If the content was a little easier on the eye and easier to read/follow without slowing it down that would be an improvement I'd greatly appreciate. I appreciate the efforts of all those people who have worked and continue to work on Perl Monks as this is still a great site but a few small lessons learnt from other successful newer sites like this could make it a whole lot nicer to visit in my opinion.

      UPDATE I also find ordering newest nodes by date annoying and wish they could be grouped by parent node

      Try Recently Active Threads instead of Newest Nodes.


      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
Re: Site facelift?
by locust (Sexton) on Nov 18, 2010 at 18:32 UTC

    It's apparent to me, after looking at all the comments, that some of you wold like to see the site updated while others do not.

    Perhaps we should create a poll that's on the front page and let the community vote on it. Maybe at first we could create a poll that let's people rate the site:

    1. Awesome!
    2. Meh
    3. Blows

    I don't know, something like that. Run that for a month or two. Once those results are tallied, then you can figure out how to raise money to get the site revamped or find a designer that's willing to take on the project.

    The mock ups could be voted on by the community as well with another poll, or offer some different style sheets they can choose from. Maybe even keep this one around named "retro", but I wouldn't use it as the default.

      Good idea. I definitely think we should at least have a pole. It could be as simple and direct as:

        Do you think the design of Perl Monks needs to:

      • Be Refreshed
      • Stay As Is

      That's it. Two choices. If the community decides on a redesign we can talk about a direction. If not... then, well nothing.
      Can someone with the appropriate powers put this up?


      "...the adversities born of well-placed thoughts should be considered mercies rather than misfortunes." Don Quixote

        To me, that reminds me of the reasoning that leads to people asking in the chatterbox, "Can anybody answer a Catalyst question?"

        It is pretty useless to get a feel for how for or against members are to site changes in the abstract. And trying to gauge a mandate, solicit contributions, form a committee team, and come up with a new design sounds like a perfect way to make no progress.

        If you really want a change in site appearance to happen, then sit down, look at the details, and produce a new appearance and then offer up your concrete, real, precise, can-be-tried-out suggestion of an improvement / alternative. Then we can gauge how people like or dislike that (and all can make concrete suggestions about how to improve it). Heck, much of the time we don't even have to do that, we just make it available as an option.

        This is how the "Perl Blue" theme came to be.

        One minor request from me. I think it'd be great to change the default theme, especially in fairly minor ways. But I'm somewhat reluctant to make the default be the "Perl Blue" theme. Changing the default theme to be the same as the most popular not-currently-default theme means that a lot of people will have a harder time telling when they somehow got logged out. I'd like to have a new theme that is more likely to appeal to casual visitors and at least one additional new theme that has some features that would appeal to more "serious" members where those features are likely to be noticed more than the <h1><blink> warnings that we have added. ;)

        Update: (Yes, I should do this as a new reply. Sorry, I'm not going to.) And, if you want a new "look" to be the default, then you can't use fixed sizes for elements. I'm so sick of the ubiquity of CSS page designs that throw in "width: 600 px;" for no reason.

        - tye        

        Agreed.
        If the community decides on a redesign we can talk about a direction.

        Nothing happens because some subset of a community who cares enough to vote casts votes. Things only happen because someones do them.

Re: Site facelift?
by hangon (Deacon) on Nov 19, 2010 at 05:19 UTC

    A lot of us like to debate over minutae, I often find myself guilty. However, for practical purposes this thread can be boiled down to two questions:

    1. If locust, luis.roca or others would like to design additional themes for the Perlmonks site, should their work be accepted and added to the theme options?

    2. Should a different theme be used for the site default?
      design additional themes

      There was a time — long years ago, when vroom was still lord of the manor — when themes were the One Way to style your PerlMonks experience, and new theme contributions were actively solicited. Themes Design Quest

      Thankfully, those days are behind us.

      A Better Way to style PerlMonks to your liking is to use CSS. See your Display Settings.

      Note that PerlMonks provides a couple of levels of manipulexity for custom CSS styling. One is to start with a theme selected and then tweak things via your custom CSS. The next level is to forego virtually all styling provided by PerlMonks and Do It All Yourself. For the latter, select "No Theme" from the themes picklist.

      That is what I do. I also select all of the "Lay out X as <div> instead of <table>" options.

      Then I go to town with the fun and fabulous CSS.

      I also put some javascript code in my Free Nodelet to hack up some additional nodelets and move things around on the screen.

      The result looks something like this.

      There have been threads in which people have shared their custom css. It's actually quite easy to share your css via a link people can paste into their Display Settings: Put the css in a <code> block in a post, then refer people to the "download" link. Like so.

      It is also possible to use the URL of the css pages associated with each of the "themes". For example, Red Theme CSS.

      There have been some pretty nice threads in which users have shared CSS tips and code. See especially PerlMonks CSS HOWTO and User CSS Repository.

      What is the sound of Windows? Is it not the sound of a wall upon which people have smashed their heads... all the way through?
Re: Site facelift?
by fisher (Priest) on Nov 19, 2010 at 07:02 UTC
    In a few words: I personally dislike fancy graphics and javascript and yes, I prefer simple text interfaces; but I think this site needs redesign, it's ugly and slow. Just keep an option for people like me - to see the things as simple as it possible.
Re: Site facelift?
by james2vegas (Chaplain) on Nov 19, 2010 at 23:19 UTC
    I would like the bikeshed to be ultra-violet!
      The Monastery has a bike shed?

        Not yet: It's on hold until we decide on the color...

        ...roboticus

Re: Site facelift?
by petecm99 (Pilgrim) on Dec 10, 2010 at 15:26 UTC
    From my own experience, I started using Perl about five years ago. Found this site almost immediately, but didn't join at that time because (1) it's slow, and (2) I read some replies to posts and was turned off by some of the contributors who have a 'God' complex thinking that everyone's questions are inane or beneath them (there are a couple of those in this thread - don't have to look far).

    However, this site did not turn me off of Perl, and here I am 5 years later, a member, and absolutely loving the wonderful community here (just have to ignore the grumpy people, and realize that sometimes it takes forever to refresh).

    My point is, I doubt that a large percentage of new Perl programmers look at PerlMonks, then decide that PHP is a better way to go because PM is cloogy. Developers typically use a language because they get a job where the language is already used (forced into it), or because they learned it in school and go get a job that requires it. I seriously doubt that this site is ever going to make someone run screaming for PHP. It's the content, functionality, and the contributors that matter. I am constantly amazed at how many Perl experts paddle around in the PM pond, and that will keep me coming back almost every day until I get a job where I have to use C# or some other less-desirable language!

    Very long story just plain long, make the site as spiffy as makes you happy - we could get a few extra shallow users who are easily impressed by bling, but the really important work should be to improve the site's usability/functionality.
Re: Site facelift?
by tw (Acolyte) on Jan 03, 2011 at 05:21 UTC
    I've only been on here for a day but have found the site very slow. I think some of the replies I have got were quicker than a refresh. I wouldn't normally comment after only a day but others are saying the same thing. Perl-Blue is much better!
Re: Site facelift?
by tospo (Hermit) on Feb 01, 2011 at 10:12 UTC
    Difficult one because on the one hand it would be wrong to offend those who devote their time to maintaining this site but on the other hand it can't really be denied that this site looks and feels pretty dated.
    The community here is one of the best on any programming-related site I have come across yet but when it comes to the UI I think nobody can say that this is intuitive. I have been around a while but I still don't quite know exaclty how to do all the marvellous things that are apparently possible on the site.
    If you compare PM to a more recent site like stackoverflow.com then I think it is difficult to argue that PM is more useable. Better community - yes, more useful - yes, but in terms of useability, it's not that great.
    Again, no offence meant to those who maintain this but it seems that there are people around who would be willing to contribute to an overhaul, so why not use that potential?

      Can't this site be based on twiki?

        Um.... No.(?) This site is based on what it's based on. Another site could be based on twiki. Feel free to build it. If it's good, they will come. :-)

        What is the sound of Windows? Is it not the sound of a wall upon which people have smashed their heads... all the way through?
Re: Site facelift?
by hsinclai (Deacon) on Feb 04, 2011 at 18:51 UTC

    I have been here for about 9 years I think and continue to be very appreciative of the resource and recurring personalities who share their knowledge inexhaustibly. There are times when I haven't visited for months, and times when I hang out and read every day for months -- this seems directly correlated to the frequency of freelance work coming in at any given moment:)

    The entire site is not slow, just some of the complex pages, but it is slow enough to turn people off, who are not interested enough to wait that extra second. However I am not one of them, and in light of the complexity of the entire PM application/platform, I am more thankful to those who continue to maintain it, rather than critical of the slowness.

    1. I have no issues with the "1995" interface. I think it works and agree with moritz's post
    2. with better speed performance in page loads, searches, and perhaps some change to the CB not requiring an external client, I'm positive visitors of all programming ability levels would overlook the site Look and Feel in deference to the quality of content and speed and quality of replies to daily questions
    3. I am sure the maintainers have re-architecting ideas but not necessarily the budget or time to carry these out - let's act in deference to their efforts in this regard
    4. since when did stackoverflow become the yardstick for anything - it's a funded company http://stackexchange.com/about/hiring, isn't Perlmonks a volunteer effort? These are apples and oranges, there are no ads on Perlmonks, and surely SO will have them sometime in the future, VCs monetize eventually (or something)
    5. while I do find the facelift suggestion a little bordering on frivolous given the actual content of Perlmonks, I do think that raising the performance (or lack thereof) discussion is a healthy thing (as mentioned by tinita )
    6. for those who mention formatting errors on pages due to OPs not formatting correctly, you probably haven't been around long enough to actually notice the level of moderation work that does take place

    I believe some fundraising effort should be considered if it leads directly to speed related architectural improvements. I think the original page design ideas still have legs, are less confusing than most "modern" sites, and keep the focus on the content and quality..

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