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Perl Marketing Redux - part two

Being on Brand

Thu Jul 9 11:00:01 2020


In part one I spoke about the redux of the marketing team for the Perl Foundation. In this part I want to focus on my take away experience from the session on Brand (Improving the Perception of Perl) at TPRCiC. Most of what follows is taken from my personal notes on the session. We will discuss in part three what the initial direction is that the marketing committee of the TPF have chosen to pursue.

Notes from the Night

The panel discussion, which was held on Friday evening, 26th June, 20.00 UK time, felt like a success for the Perl Foundation. We heard quite a lot of opinions and had a lot of feedback in the text channels on both Slack and Zoom. It did follow the format and feeling of other similar BoFs held at events over the years. The difference was that this was a scheduled talk session, it was videoed and we had a on-going channel (#marketing on the Perl Foundation Slack) to continue the discussions.

Brand Identity comic from XKCD

Brand Identity:

These last two elements are important. BoF sessions at conferences are a good place to openly discuss, but they can often lead to a lot of conclusions with no forward actions. We didn’t want this to be the same. So by recording the talk and feedback, by supporting that with a channel for continuing discussion we hope to keep some of the momentum. There is another part to this which I will discuss in part three of this series which is the plan going forwards.

The first part of the talk, on the evening, was a presentation by Stuart J. Mackintosh (TPF President) on behalf of the Perl Foundation. Stuart had collected some objective opinions about the current perception of Perl. An essential component was that Stuart had a person outside the community search for some keywords related to Perl and Community projects and give feedback on what they found.

The Perception of Perl on the Internet

The findings from the outside observer were interesting, and not that surprising. We begin with the fact that there is no index of sites that is easy for the newcomer (and others) to find or follow. I feel this could be handled by an index landing page on the main Perl Foundation site.

Or perhaps a better idea is a page on any affiliated site, this could be linked on the front page with a button, or banner, and clearly aimed at the newcomer to the Perl community. What could be shown to them? Perhaps a ‘New to Perl’ link that then explains and points them at pages and resources. Some of the other take away points are:

  • There are too many sites with no clear direction of how they link to Perl.
  • It is fragmented to the newcomer.
  • It is too difficult to know where to go to chat.
  • It is too difficult to get onto Slack and other community sites.

It is clear that sites need a clear message in their opening chapter of what they are and how they link to Perl and the broader community to clarify. More detail could be on the about pages or on the “New to Perl” link.

The next big issue is that the SEO of individual sites and linking between sites is currently very poor. We need to ensure that we optimise contents and links. The sites not only do not link to each other, but they don’t optimise content and keywords to link them to the broader community. So we do not appear high enough in searches for our own frameworks and languages.

I think we also need to have Google Structured Data, Graph and Twitter Cards optimised so that any search engine returns appropriate content as do Social Media pages. This could link in to our marketing of YouTube videos, photos and other media.

In response to this I think we will have to have a plan of which sites to optimise and in what order. A plan of how we link and what we encourage in indexes and search related queries.

Having an independent view of the Perl world as presented on the internet was useful, it gave a good starting point for the next part of the discussions.

Responses from the Audience

The second part of the talk gave the audience a chance to pitch in with questions and comments. I was delighted at the quality of the conversations. We had a lot of interesting ideas and general support for people. There was also healthy discussion in both the comments on Zoom and in the various channels on Slack.

Style Guide

In regards to the look and feel of Perl websites we spoke about the style, colours and logo. Should there be a style guide for sites that are considered core/supported Perl resources? Should this be enforced, or should it be optional? The take away questions in regards to style and websites for me were:

  • What are the Core Sites?
  • What does a Style Guide look like?
  • Is it voluntary to use or do we insist on certain rules to have?
  • Is there an approved by the Perl Foundation status?
  • Do we give help to people to achieve the look?

We then went on to discuss the logo for Perl/the Perl community. We have several that are used and it feels like they all come with too much historical weight, or issues.

  • Onion is confused with Tor.
  • Raptor has negative imagery and associations for many people.
  • Camel has issues with O’Reilly and their trademark.

So do we need a logo that doesn’t have any issues? Does this mean a new logo or a logo chosen by the community?

A Few More Things

A couple of other interesting points were raised. Firstly what is the principal marketing message that we should be using or promoting? How do we link that with having a marketing team that is steered by the marketing committee? I answered some of this in part one of this series and I will be talking about the future message in part three.

We were asked about a focus on fixing It was suggested we take a look at how Python/Java/Javascript/Golang have done this. I think this is a task that needs a fairly urgent response. We have to have a good platform for discussion pieces. What should it be? Should it link to other Perl article sites in some way?

There should be a representation of where Perl is used? We currently do not show much about who is using the languages, where they are being used. How Perl is a part of the broader communities. Should we show all the major sites, and minor sites, to show the prevalence of the language.

  • Would this be a curated list?
  • Is it voluntary? If not, can we show someone who chooses not to be recognised?
  • How do we display it alongside/with the sponsors?


There is a lot to think about in this. It is clear that there needs to be a strategy to start to address some of the initial big issues we have with perception. We look confused and that isn’t a good starting place for those new to Perl. It isn’t approachable and we need to be easy to approach if we want to broaden our appeal.

In part three I am going to discuss what we think are the first steps.. Please remember that you can give me feedback at your leisure. Feel free to send me your comments.

[Don't forget that you can join in this conversation by tweeting at @shadowcat_mdk].