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Perl mailing list activity

by Steve_BZ (Chaplain)
on Feb 14, 2013 at 22:34 UTC ( #1018809=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Hi Guys,

I was just looking at the Perl mailing list activity statistics:, and I'm looking at the graph on the right.

It seems to me that that usage between Jan 2003 and April 2010 was relatively stable. Maybe there was some overall decline in activity, but not greatly. Up to April 2002 there was clearly a lot of momentum and since April 2010 there has been a noticeable and accelerated decline in activity.

What happened in 2002 and 2010 to cause theses changes of trend line?

I guess I feel a little disappointed to see usage of my favourite language falling off like this.



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Re: Perl mailing list activity
by Anonymous Monk on Feb 14, 2013 at 23:47 UTC
    Stats about mailing-lists indicate only a decline in the general use of mailing-lists, not a trend with regard to the subject (formerly...) being discussed thereby. Have no fear. The rumors of Perl's death are greatly exaggerated.
Re: Perl mailing list activity
by moritz (Cardinal) on Feb 15, 2013 at 08:29 UTC

    Measuring the quality of communication by the number of emails is like measuring the quality of code by its number of lines. And I guess you know the comparison to aircrafts :-)

    I know first hand what happened to the perl6-language mailing listPerl 6 matured, and the mailing list didn't. I asked about how some few methods are named, and some of the replies suggested to rework the complete object system. So the discussion moved away from the mailing list (to IRC, blogs, nopastes, the bug tracker of the perl6/specs repo on github, real-live conversations and so on).

    So to me, the decreased number of emails on this mailing list indicates a shift in communication, not a decline.

    I also have the general impression that some of the mailing list discussions have moved to blogs and twitter.

Re: Perl mailing list activity
by luis.roca (Deacon) on Feb 15, 2013 at 21:45 UTC

    Others have addressed the usefulness of relying on mailing lists as an indicator of a language's activity. I won't add to that.

    I do think it's worth noting in this conversation of "Is Perl in decline?" a few articles in the last month or so. Two were from Dr. Dobbs: "The Rise and Fall of Languages in 2012" by the site's editor and the response from a Perl advocate's perspective by guest editor, Sammy Esmail with "Why I Use Perl...and Will Continue to Do So"

    In the first article posted last month, using Google trends, Tiobe and Ohloh data to base at least part of his findings, Perl is described as:

    In general-purpose scripting languages, Python continues to grow slowly, JavaScript and Ruby are treading water, and Perl continues its long decline. According to Google trends, the number of searches for Perl is 19% of what it was in 2004. Its declining role in open-source communities further cements the perception that it's in an irretrievable tailspin. One should always be careful pronouncing a language dead or dying, because rare resurrections have occurred: JavaScript and Objective-C being two stand-out cases. However, Perl is unlikely to see such a new lease on life because of direct competition from Python, which is considerably more popular (whereas Objective-C and JavaScript had no direct equivalents when they came back).

    A much smaller, focused but interesting observation done in a post last month on the blog {anonymous => 'hash'}; "Improving Perl’s New Programmer Outreach" compared the activity in 2012 between Ruby and Perl Meetup groups in San Francisco:

    • SF Ruby
    • Members: 5588
    • 2012 Training Events: 40
    • 2012 Hacking Events: 66
    • SF PerlMongers
    • Members: 380
    • 2012 Training Events: 0
    • 2012 Hacking Events: 1

    The comparison to a Ruby group is interesting particularly given the Dr. Dobb's report's description of the language as "treading water" in 2012.

    This all may still seem like a lot of hand wringing to those of us who don't have much need for these observations and just want to get things done in our favorite language. I'll let those in a better position to address their vested interest in Perl's long term health as to whether or not the amount of existing and/or new Perl programmers is an important discussion to have.

    I'll end with an anecdote from this week while chatting with a few friends (all programmers with years in the field) who are not exactly fans of Perl:

    $person_1: "I just spent the last $very_large_amount_of_important_TIME trying to figure out what the Hell $a, $b are and what they do. It's this kinda crap that reminds me why I don't use Perl."
    $person_2: "I've used Perl three times in the last twelve years and am quite happy about that fact."
    $perlmonk = 'me': "It's been a long while since I used Perl and I'm just a graphic designer but did you try print $a or look them up in perldoc perlvar? :)"
    $person_1 $person_2: "..."

    Have a great weekend monks :)

    "...the adversities born of well-placed thoughts should be considered mercies rather than misfortunes." — Don Quixote
      <blockquoteAccording to Google trends...

      I stopped reading the article you quoted there, because the author of that article does not understand statistics.

      The comparison to a Ruby group is interesting particularly given the Dr. Dobb's report's description of the language as "treading water" in 2012.

      Not that much :) all this tells me is that meetup (whatever that is) is "popular" among those interested in "ruby", whatever that means, and that the creator of Ruby lives in San Francisco

Re: Perl mailing list activity
by naChoZ (Curate) on Feb 15, 2013 at 03:15 UTC

    I agree with Anon. There may be a decline in mailing list traffic, bit I'm definitely seeing an upswing on sites like the stack exchanges. It's not like you see friends on Facebook hitting each other up about the hot new listserv they found or starting a Like button for majordomo.

    Makes me feel like doing my best Bill Cosby... "When I was young, we didn't even have email addresses, we had bang paths, 85 words long, uphill, both ways, and we were grateful!"


      They've still got IRC chat ... they just call it Twitter® now.

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