Measurable objectives for the Perl ecosystem

As I already wrote about it, there was this annoying question on the Marketing BOF at YAPC::EU 2009 on how can we measure success of the promotional or marketing project we are planning to do.

It is still unclear to me what are the objectives of others and I am sure some people will even say, that Perl does not need any promotion but the presence of those who came to the Marketing BOF confirmed that I am far from being alone in my thinking that Perl needs promotion.

I think I am also on the ambitious end of those who think we need more marketing. Some would say I am just a dreamer. So let me do just that here.

We need some measurable objectives and a time frame to achieve those. I mentioned some of the general objectives in my previous post, let me try to describe a few specific and mostly measurable objectives along with a target date. We can of course add more such objectives and discuss these too and set all of them to some reasonable value.

As we cannot really be sure which of the following is achievable at all IMHO we should say that by a certain date we would like to achieve some of these objectives.

Let's say by end of 2012 we would like to achieve at least 3 out of the following targets:

Perl as an approved corporate programming language

  • Turn Perl into an approved corporate programming language by 10% of the Fortune 1000 companies
    I wonder how many of those companies have a list of approved languages and which are those languages. Before we can actually set an objective like this we should try to find out this and also try to find out how we can check this. To make it clear, this means that Perl has entered in the short list of supported and recommended languages of the organization. To refine this we could say 10% of those that have any approved languages list.
  • The same with the Fortune Global 500 so it will be clear our efforts are global.

Increase number of job posts

  • Double the number of jobs as listed on JobStats.
    Currently I see the following data:
    Skill 30 days 90 days 1 year
    Java All Jobs 5,430 15,502 84,736
    PHP All Jobs 2,150 6,395 35,772
    Perl All Jobs 1,342 3,859 22,229
    Python All Jobs 666 1,841 9,134
    Ruby All Jobs 333 1,023 4,871
    Doubling these numbers for Perl would be a nice achievement.
  • Increase the number of job posts on that have "perl programming" in their description. I could not find the data for the baseline.
  • Increase the monthly number of job posts on to be 500 per month This is three times as many as the peak was and about 8-9 times of the current numbers. See the stats.
    The increase here can come from both an increased number of overall perl jobs or by more companies and recruiters knowing about this site. Someone could try to "game" the system by contacting all the companies looking for a Perl programmer and suggesting them to post on this site as well. I would say such a behavior is most welcome. That would be part of the promotion of Perl to make sure companies are aware of the services the community can offer them.

Increase the number of Perl book sales

  • Increase the number of Perl book sales to be the number 5 group in the O'Reilly report. The latest report from July 2009 indicated a decline in the whole market but I think I saw real numbers on in an earlier report from February 2009 Based on that I have this slightly rounded data on 1000 units sold for some of the languages I found relevant.
    Visual Basic72100
    As an objective we can say that we would like to see the number of Perl books sold to reach 60,000.

Get some major web-sites proudly display a "using Perl" logo

  • Have 15 of the top 500 websites (as listed by Alexa) proudly display a "using Perl" logo.
    For this first of all we need to figure out which companies are making heavy use of Perl that are listed among the top 500 websites. Then we should contact them and encourage them to display a logo. Of course they might want to have a nice logo to display and they might want to link to somewhere, so we have to make sure there is a web-site they would be ready to link to. We could use this opportunity to try to understand why are they reluctant to put up a link - if that is the case - and see if we can change that.

Increase traffic on major Perl web sites

  • Looking at Alexa again I searched for perl and found the following numbers:
    9,605 cpan.org92%, 5.4%, 2%
    18,458 went to 18% went to see)

    In order to compare I searched for a couple of other keywords and found these:


    I am sure we have to invest more energy in locating other representative web sites and in analyzing this data. We then should set a target ranking for the perl related web sites. Getting two perl related web sites in the top 5000 sites should be a good target.

Increase traffic on IRC channels, web forums and mailing lists, blogging sites

  • I have not looked for data on this, someone should see if we can have statistics on number of posts, number of (new) users, number of threads etc.

Publish at least 100 articles about Perl

  • Publish at least 100 articles about Perl in important magazines and on important web sites. This might be more of a tool in our quest than an objective and I don't heave a ready made list of important journals but I think we can easily put together an initial list and we can measure the number of articles.

Improve the perception of Perl

  • I guess if Ovid and others can manage to run a market research now that will help us analyze the state of the market and the perception of the world of Perl outside the community we could set some targets based on those data. The achievements then could me measured later by running a similar research again a few years from now.

Increase the number of contributors to the Perl world

  • During YAPC::EU we saw some encouraging numbers in terms of number of new CPAN uploads and number of new authors. (See the blog post of Mark Keating about Perl is alive, kicking and stronger than ever!
    That seems to mean that there is disconnect between what the people in the Perl community do and what happens outside of the community, in the more general user-base.
    Ohloh indicates that number of Perl projects and the number of commits are increasing but their percentages are sharply dropping.
    I wonder if we can set some objectives in either of these metrics too?

No conclusion yet

We need to invest more energy in finding metrics that we think can be interesting and we should decide on some objectives that are reasonable to reach in a few years.


Updated on 19 August 2009:

I found the link to Job Trends by Indeed

Published on 2009-08-12 by Gabor Szabo