in reply to Is CPAN usable now?

Like you I once thought a ranking system for CPAN modules was a great idea. Then I read the CPAN FAQ where this idea is addressed by referencing this article. After that I was cured. Maybe you will be too?

As far as whether CPAN is rendered less useful by a proliferation of modules providing similar functionality... My opinion is that this is a strength not a weakness. Imagine a CPAN where there was no competition for the solution to a particular problem. Would the one module be the best module? Or would it meerly be decent?

In particular, I think you have to ask why there are so many CGI/Templating modules? My answer is simply that this is a hard problem without a really good general solution. For the same reason, why does DBI have almost no competition? Because it is a really good general solution. Maybe someday CGI/Templating will have a DBI and all the rest will disappear, or maybe not. But just saying that having 30+ modules is bad doesn't get us closer. Neither would everyone voting for the current top 5 and acting to prevent a possible DBI-level solution from gaining users.


Update: Whoops! I took this serriously! Looking at your popularity list I see it must have been a joke. "Unicode" is the most poplular module followed by "HTML" and "User"! Hah!

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Re: Re: Is CPAN usable now?
by markjugg (Curate) on Apr 27, 2002 at 04:58 UTC
    I also feel like CPAN needs a user interface improvement and I've also read the articles that Sam references. I would still like to see a ratings and comment system added to the site.

    When I have to dig through a lot of similar options, I'm wondering "but which modules are other people using, and why?". A ratings and comment system would answer that question for me. I think this model has been established through sites like,, and The comments are important in addition to just having ratings, because the comments explain _why_ a module is rated highly. Maybe a module is rated highly, but for reasons I dislike. I could also take into account that a module that's rated highly from a pool of 4 people is not as meaningful as a module that's rated highly be 40 people.


      I honestly see no benefit in any sort of ratings system. The code is free and easy to peruse. If it is not easy, and lacks documentation, throw it away and try another module with similar functionality if available. Rinse. Repeat.

      Other than that, I would say in order the important attributes for choosing a module are:

    • It does what you want (duh)
    • You like it
    • It isn't overboard for the job
    • You've heard of it / Other people like it
    • --
      perl -pew "s/\b;([mnst])/'$1/g"

        If we put some more work to Module Reviews, it would also help choosing between popular modules. More than one review per module would even be better