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Re: Perl is dead

by grinder (Bishop)
on Oct 22, 2007 at 09:51 UTC ( #646409=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Perl is dead


One Sunday afternoon does not a sample make. You can downvote Cop all you like (and I wish people would stop doing that, it's pointless, and merely pollutes $NORM), but (s)he does have a point. Perl is in decline, at least if you care to analyse some more meaningful statistics from the Perlmonks website itself.

Here are some statistics upon which to meditate: the number of top-level nodes created each year (where a top-level node is a SoPW, CUFP, Meditation etc.) I've drawn a bar graph as well, to make the trend more obvious.

yearTop level nodesx500 posts
20077950 (est).****************

So the site is clearly in decline. To state the contrary is to confuse desire with reality. The question to ask, though, is how well can this be mapped to the overall health of the Perl community? I think the answer is... poorly. There are small but vibrant discussions over at use.perl, there's loads of traffic on all the Perl mailing lists I read, and there's a considerable volume of new CPAN releases each and every day.

That said, I've been coming here for seven years and it's still my favourite site on the web. I've become a much better Perl programmer, and a programmer in general, as a result.

• another intruder with the mooring in the heart of the Perl

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re^2: Perl is dead
by ctilmes (Vicar) on Oct 22, 2007 at 11:11 UTC
    So the site is clearly in decline.

    Clearly our efforts to educate new users into using search to find previous answers rather than reposting the same questions are paying off!

      I've been using Perlmonks fairly often over the past few weeks -- more so than I have in prior months. However I have been using the search, and every single question I've had has been addressed already. Obviously I can't speak for everyone, but your observation is spot on for me.

      If we've answered all the questions that relate to the base language then that means that the base language is indeed dead. Just as the science of physics was "dead" at the end of of nineteenth century. Then something new comes along -- be it relativity, quantum physics, Perl 5.10, 5.12, or 6.0 -- and the new features stimulate new ideas, new idioms, and new discussions. If the resurrection has been successful the these ideas act as the catalyst for still more ideas (i.e. we shouldn't need a subsequent kick-starts).
      Opinions my own; statements of fact may be in error.

        I would not call something that doesn't make the headlines anymore "dead". You speak about things that are new (or those you hate), you don't speak about things you use every day. And the number of questions often depends more on the quality and availability of the documentation, than the quality and usefullness of something. The worse the docs, the more confusing the interface, the more questions.

Re^2: Perl is dead
by andyford (Curate) on Oct 22, 2007 at 11:29 UTC

    My guess to explain the drop would have been that there's so many questions already answered here that there's a reduced need to create more nodes! Yes, plenty of questions are asked over and over, but even I use the search functionality occasionally.

    To get more top level nodes, just invite the maintainers of some modules to move their support forums from mailing lists to perlmonks.

    • Specialized questions about specific modules are the ones that often go unanswered here anyway.
    • It's a waste of energy to sign up for a mailing list just to ask one question about a module.
    • Many module mailing lists are so lightly trafficked that it's sometimes hard to get an answer to a question. At perlmonks, you can at least get a educated guess from someone that might spark a new direction of thought.

    non-Perl: Andy Ford

      To get more top level nodes, just invite the maintainers of some modules to move their support forums from mailing lists to perlmonks.

      I personally believe that this is not a bad idea in and of itself. But if implemented plainly like thus, it would be a real mess: PM currently is not an infrastructure apt at that kind of service. You know, for example, the Monastery's opinion on the creation of new sections. Said this, something that would work better in practice and I somehow long for, but with a desire most probably deemed to stay unsatisfied, is a series of alternative interfaces to the Monastery, beyond the web one.

      Since you mentioned mailing lists, indeed the kind of alternative interfaces I was thinking of would be by mail and through nntp. In fact this has come out quite recently in clpmisc -in a thread (link @ GG) in which I manually "syndicated" a post from here- and quite expectedly there have been disagreeing opionons: Uri Guttman, for example wrote:

      i am not there because of the web api (why no news/email gateway?)

      implicitly implying that he would welcome such a gateway. But when I replied that "I would dream of such a beast," Tad McLellan commented:

      Your dream is my nightmare. :-(

      Several others agreed.

      (Sad?) truth is that that newsgroup and this web forum are actually different media, with quite differing philosophies: they serve complementary purposes for people with different tastes. But as a general rule they're not in competition. And at least one clpmisc regular has recently become a monk too, thanks to that much controversial thread of mine!

      So, at least in principle a dedicated newsgroup, mailing list and web-based forum even of the complexity of PerlMonks could be made to integrate nicely each other. But that would have been better planned in advance, rather than as an aferthought. Granted, there would be some obstacles requiring careful thought anyway. For example, the voting system: which may be implemented in the text-based gateway by means of a custom header or an especially formatted line in the body of the message -e.g. a '++' all on its own line-. More complex, even: of course on the web we have rich formatting, and some simple import routine may automatically put <p> tags around paragraphs from pure text and <code> tags around indented text which generally people uses for code. But there are potential problems, and more complex still: how to render the html formatted posts in the pure text environments? Well, many people use html-capable mail clients, but many don't and don't want to, and in usenet it's "no way" anyway. (Did somebody ever think of "nnhttp"?) One may adopt some translations that ought to work in most cases. In the long run such a circumstance may even have positive effects: it would put pressure on people using the web interface to use regular enough markup that it be translated easily to the pure text media, and on people using the latter, to conveniently break the text into paragraphs and indent the code by, say, two spaces.

      End of brainstorming, for now...

Re^2: Perl is dead
by fenLisesi (Priest) on Oct 23, 2007 at 15:14 UTC
    I think tye made some changes to site policy with respect to robots a few weeks after Are monks hibernating?. Would it be possible to compare the last three months, say, with the same period last year and previous years?

    Update: Here is that information, number of top nodes for each month May-Sep, obtained from jcwren's PTAV (as referenced by grinder in Re: Are monks hibernating?), followed by the same data normalized to the month in 2002:

    Sep 665 650 958 921 966 951
    Aug 802 733 995100010221149
    Jul 722 7251024101011761203
    Jun 651 7581046103810951037
    May 673 735108810209721142

    Sep6968100 96101100
    Aug6963 86 87 88100
    Jul6060 85 83 97100
    May5864 95 89 85100
    SUM6465 93 91 95100

    I am sure to have made some mistakes, but the general idea should stay in the same ballpark:

    • There was a steep drop (by one third) going from '05 to '06
    • No change this year compared to last year, though the meaning of last year's numbers depends on the state of the robots file at that time
    Perlmonks top nodes frequency is only one indicator of interest in Perl. Other indicators include job postings and tiobe. Cheers.
Re^2: Perl is dead
by Gavin (Bishop) on Oct 22, 2007 at 10:40 UTC
    For a more accurate figure traffic / postings would need to be measured over the more popular Perl sites.
    The figures quoted only show a decline in postings here.
    That may not be the case elsewhere.

    Long live Perl.
Re^2: Perl is dead
by stefp (Vicar) on Oct 22, 2007 at 10:34 UTC
    I would not fault Perl when taking declining perlmonks stats. Even if it is a social site, perlmonks is _so_ web 1.0. I hope some bright guy will use Perl6 and the Conway Perldoc spec to design a new shiny perlmonks.

    -- stefp

      I personally believe that PerlMonks in 1.0 times was more 2.0ish than quite a lot of other sites. Actually it was and still is different from most other fora out there - in a positive manner IMHO. Now that we're in 2.0 times I would say it is 1.5ish, but speaking as a person who's generally fond of 2.0's typical doodads, bells and whistles, I don't see any of them as being particularly fitting for PM nor do I see the latter to benefit in any particular way from any of them. Put it in another way: were PM "2.0", it wouldn't pretty much be PM anymore.

      Granted, it's not such a black/white situation: occasinally I wish PM supported asynchronous votes and had collapsable nodes and nodelettes, perhaps with dinamically loaded info. But little more. OTOH there's been at least one attempt to bring such goodies to PM without touching its basic structure.

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