Telephone +44(0)1524 64544

Perl Marketing Redux - part four

A neat meet to greet and tweet

Thu Jul 16 12:00:01 2020

This week (14th July) the Perl Foundation marketing committee had our first meeting after the Perl and Raku conference, and our first official meeting of the revised steering group. As I discussed in the previous parts of this series we have had a regeneration - revolution - redux - reformation recycling - remind-me-to-stop of the marketing team and of many parts of the foundation. Part of my strategy going forwards is to report on the things we discuss and share our ideas and any plans.

So you know who was at the meeting, in attendance were:

  • Mark Keating (Chair)
  • Nic Evans
  • Stuart J Mackintosh
  • Jess Robinson
  • Nige Hamilton

We had a broad set of topics on the agenda. Because this was our first meeting we also had Stuart J Mackintosh join us and give us his thoughts for the direction, goals and objectives as he saw them for TPF, Perl and Raku branding.

A Sideways Note on brands

A little piece of information should be shared. We have come to think, in the committee, that there needs to be a clarification about the different aspects of our community. This was discussed before, after and is ongoing. One of the major points we will be discussing going forwards is how we talk about these. So we have agreed that what we have is several brands, not one. We have several identities, goals and purposes, strengths and weaknesses associated with those brands (I may devote a future post to brand on its own). These brands might also be thought of as the products.

The most senior brands are:

  • The Foundation (currently called the Perl Foundation but the actual company is Yet Another Society, and in regards to brand and identity that is an easier way to think about it as it separates it from another of our brands).
  • Perl Language. Which can be subdivided now into:
    • Perl 5+
    • Perl 7+
  • Raku Language

But we do have other brands and we should perhaps reach out to them and how they are related to the foundation and the languages. Some of those are:

  • Mojolicious
  • Dancer
  • Catalyst
  • Cor
  • Bailador
  • Perldoc
  • Perl Monks
  • Perl Mongers
  • CPAN
  • MetaCPAN
  • CPAN Testers
  • Strawberry Perl
  • RPerl

All of these brands have goals, and identities. All of them are part of our wider community and how we relate to each other. We should respect their individuality as much as we celebrate how they are related.


Our agenda had 13 items on it. This would have been tight to discuss in our allotted hour meeting (we actually ran to seventy-five minutes and had a further discussion in Slack). It was not helped that we needed to do introductions, discuss initial goals. We also had to quiz Stuart for his vision, which took up some time at the beginning.

However, we didn’t waste any of the time we set and managed to cover over two thirds of our topics, shifting the others to the next meeting. I am going to quickly talk about the items we discussed and our responses.

1. Developing strategy - moving forward part one

We pretty much determined that it would be really nice if we had a strategy. We need to think about the changes that are happening in Perl, as it develops Perl 7. We need to understand the needs, goals and direction that the Raku community and language have. We need to decide on a set of deliverables that are approved by the Foundation board and reflect the desires of the community.

This is important as we will be defining not just a strategy but a budget plan. The Foundation is willing to raise and direct funds at targeted objectives that increase the appeal of the brands it works with. So a goal, strategy of delivery and list of needed resources is required.

So we need to look at what Perl, Raku, and the many frameworks, have to offer.

  • Why choose them? How do we make that choice easier?
  • Why not to choose them? Why would they be bad for you? Let’s not encourage negativity by being the wrong choice.
  • Clear message about what each thing offers.
  • What do we provide in the broader world?

We need to be seen for strengths that we provide, and that each brand provides. We can then define what makes it quality (these are actually the quantitative elements) and professional (oddly these are the qualitative elements).

The Central Goal

Part of this is what was described (by Nige) as knowing the central goal and defining things in relation to that. It is also wise to think of the 3-stage lifecycle of most products. And, as a marketing team, we have to define the brands we have as our products when we think about them and how we best serve them.

The 3 stages can broadly be seen as:

  • Incubation: a new product that is being developed, just been developed, or newly launched.
  • Maturity: a product that exists and is adopted by the market.
  • Legacy: A product that is fully matured and undergoes little change. Steadfast, solid, but no longer evolving at any great pace.

If we looked at some of our brands we might say: Raku has come out of Incubation and is starting to develop into a mature product; Perl 5 is fully matured and has begun the long existence of the legacy product; Perl 7 is undergoing a swift incubation and has enough legacy to make a strong and stable maturity. Each of those are different processes, each of them have their own nature and we should make sure the perception of them reflects their place in this lifecycle.

Initial Strategy

Our thoughts are that the initial strategy has to be a focus on Perl as we travel from Perl 5 to Perl 7. We need to clarify what the Perl community has in regards to resources. We need to make sure that there is a consistent brand and message about the Foundation and community and to have a level of hegemony amongst central resources. We must have a strategy for the marketing/promotion of the language.

At the same time we need to develop and understand how we best benefit Raku. We are not as conversant in how we can best work with them. We have already started as a Foundation to help with grants and legal matters. But as a marketing team we are sadly lacking. Our hope is to start a dialogue and to get feedback from the Raku developers and broader community so that we do a much better job in promoting their brand.

This also works in a wider context in regards to the frameworks, projects, organisations that make up the wider community. How do we show them as part of the same broader community. How do we make sure they are well represented and shown as being integral to our community.

An issue I keep trying to state, is that in my view, the TPF should be seen as a controlling organisation that only provides what is required, and demanded, by the broader community it supports. (Again not the head of a ruling body but the linking chain between many gears).

2. Recognised resources

One of our initial deliverables is to be the recognised resources. What we have learned is that it is confusing to learn about Perl from the outside. This will be one of our initial deliverables

A recognised resource is broadly what the Foundation recognises as delivering the right message and right tools that show the best of our brands. It is a ‘Who is recognised and how they are recognised’. Why have we chosen this as a deliverable?:

  • It is a short term win. We should be able to start recognising these fairly quickly.
  • An issue might be that we will likely upset the most amount of people, we are going to define and say what is and is not recognised. We also will be making suggestions to style and brand to deliver a consistent message and identity. We should be conscious and maybe sensitive to making sure this isn't perceived as malicious or a criticism.
  • Create criteria for compliance (should be part of the Style Guide and SEO), but will establish, and then enforce by association, a brand.
  • This list of tools/sites/resources can be linked to a 'New to Perl' button (see below) this might also be known as the Perl FAQ.
  • We want to try to avoid overlap. Perl suffers from too many half finished resources, or repeat information, that isn’t consistent or up to date.
  • Anything that is a recognised resource will have to follow the Foundation CoC.
  • Grants and bursaries should be made available to bring sites up to the same standard and to help people who need it transition to having the same brand identity.
  • This is about maintaining a quality and an initial base standard. It should showcase the best of the brands that are linked directly to the Foundation. This is not to act as a monitor, it is a moderator. Not all sites need to have this, but those that are recognised resources should. We should have sights affiliated that are not part of the brand message. But we should also maintain a consistency and standard in those that are.
  • At the same time we should look for those resources that are detrimental. Such as:
    • Negative use of assets
    • misuse of tools
    • abusive attitudes, or exclusionary principles
    • sites not compliant with minimum industry, societal, standards

3. TPF -> YAS

After conducting a brand audit, Nige considers the foundation to have an issue with how it conveys and reflect its central message. The organisation by name association excludes some of the brands it is meant to represent. A discussion has started as to either returning to being known as YAS or to be known as something else. We see the TPF having a broader role than its name suggests. However a couple of points were made:

  • Not enough validity in changing the name at this point. A brand change of a name is a lengthy, and costly process. We have to have an open and frank discussion across the community about this before we move forwards. Then we must develop a clear strategy for handling the transition if it were to happen.
  • At this point it is perhaps best to clarify the message about the Perl Foundation.
  • We need to sort out a lot of other issues before we change the name, there are fundamental and foundational changes.
  • Core part of the Foundation has to protect the brand(s), and the licence(s) of those elements we market as products.

4. Raku support

Raku is currently being offered assistance in a range of things from the Foundation. It appears as if the Foundation is acting as a custodian. We need to have an idea of what is wanted to represent, or does represent Raku. How they want us to be seen.

There is also an issue where we don’t know who to discuss our concerns, and hear the concerns, in the Raku developers/community (just to note the Raku community is also the Perl community. They cross over, the usage here is to imply we are all sub-communities identified by brand/product of a larger community).

Without a clear idea of who has the ability to talk on behalf of, and guide us on what they need, or require from us, we cannot help them properly. We also want to avoid damaging what they understand as their core values and goals.

5. SEO - first steps

We skimmed this topic and decided that we should not ignore the traffic value that can be created from good SEO, and will cover it in more detail in the next meeting.

7. Style guide

Another topic where we had a short discussion but didn’t labour. Our brief thoughts are that we will produce a style guide and have it approved by the Foundation. This is part of the broader brand and resources that are discussed above. The guide should show:

  • How to use Logo and Names ;
  • Style of sites (colours, logo use, fonts especially in regards to any trademarks or copyrights);
  • Minimum levels of compliance (SSL Certificates, GDPR compliance, PCI (if needed), Disability Access, Cookie Warnings, mobile responsiveness, speed) - for this we should provide a list to links and resources;
  • How it falls within the TPF CoC.

9. Logo for Perl

I mentioned this in an Marketing Redux part two. I still feel that it is an important matter that we will have to sort out. However we didn’t get to discuss it at this meeting. It will be tabled for discussion at the next meeting.

10. Conference Q&A outcomes

Most of this agenda item was covered in our initial chat with the Foundation President (Stuart J. Mackintosh). However to repeat what were the major points:

  • The representation of Perl/Raku outside the community should be more defined;
  • The quality and appropriateness of sites and resources should be a part of a core TPF concern;
  • We should be more open and easier to navigate for people new to Perl:
    • Should it be 'New to Perl' or a 'Perl FAQ'? Or do we make it appropriate to both?
    • We should promote professional resources already available such as: Andrew Solomon’s Geek Uni; Dave Cross’ Perl School and Gabor Szabo’s Perl Maven

11. The issue of communications

Briefly mentioned in an online text chat but bumped until the next meeting.

12. Moving forward - part two

At the end of the meeting we summarised our strategy and this is what we came up with:

  1. Conquer the Recognised resources - identify them and find out how we bring them into the style. Identify other resources that are affiliated but not recognised. Define what we offer the owners and maintainers as part of these resources being associated with the brand. a. Main resources; b. Other resources (affiliates); c. Community resources (social media and other channels); d. Professional services (trainers (Gabor/Andrew/Dave), companies (active state etc.)); e. Foundations and Frameworks.
  2. Have a Style Guide
  3. Create the Perl FAQ/New to Perl site/page and buttons/banners that link to it.
  4. Think about using a Perl Toolbar once again that would work on any site.
  5. Brand and Image needs to be much clearer than it is now - this should be part of the proposal we put to the Board of Directors: a. audit the brands and find their message and values; b. Define our brands: Raku, Perl, Perl Foundation, Perl Mongers, Mojolicious, catalyst, Dbic etc. c. Define what are the values we share and should share?

13. Next meeting?

Finally we discussed the date of the next meeting which will be Thursday, 23rd July. We have already started the discussion into identifying brands and making up a report for the strategy. The style guide will be started for the next meeting and our discussions continue online.

As always I welcome any feedback and opinions. You can join in the general marketing discussion on Slack (it is an invite channel but you only need to ask to join and we will add you.). The channel is intended for people who are willing to discuss and help solve the challenges as well as share information. So if you wish to stay a casual watcher, please just follow these posts and the news that drops out of the official channels.

Thanks for reading :)

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