One of the things I’ve been doing, in my current state of unemployment, is pondering the world of Perl blogs.
A month or so back, I happened to google for perl blogs and found almost nothing of use on the front page. Then I googled ruby blogs and found that most of the first page were, indeed, Ruby blogs, and good ones at that.
The Perl community has, for the most part, done its blogging activity on use.perl.org, a site set up in 1998 by Chris Nandor (Pudge) using slashcode (the software that runs slashdot). Early articles on use.perl.org included Perl 5.005 hits the streets and an announcement of the founding of comp.lang.perl.moderated.
Since its foundation, use.perl.org has also provided journals for any Perl developer who wants to share their Perlish musings. Here’s mine.
Unfortunately use.perl’s getting a bit long in the tooth now, and is missing some of the things we expect from a modern blog. Its content, too, is aimed at existing members of the Perl community and while it does a good job of disseminating Perl Monger meeting announcements, minutes and summaries from the various Perl mailing lists committees, and other news by and for the Perl community, it’s not very welcoming to those who might not already be immersed in Perl culture.
Alexa, for what it’s worth, shows a steady decline in use.perl’s popularity since the start of the year. (Use the “Page Views” option rather than “Reach” to get a clearer view.) A similar traffic dropoff can be seen for O’Reilly’s perl.com, though, so we can’t just blame use.perl.org. It just seems that people are tired of the existing Perl news/blog/journal sites, and are turning away from them.
Enter Perl Buzz, a new blog set up by Andy Lester and myself. I think of Perl Buzz as “the shiny, happy Perl blog”, and I’m not ashamed to pimp it out with every web 2.0 gimcrack and widget we can find. We’ve got yer tagcloud, “digg it” buttons, embedded YouTube videos, you name it. More importantly, we also have interesting articles you’ll actually want to read — we hope.
We’re not sure why Perl’s existing blogs (news sites, journals, whatever) are losing readership, but I’m guessing it’s a combination of:
* Tiredness. Readers are tired of the existing sites, which have changed little in 5-10 years.
* Owner burnout. The people running the sites are a bit tired of them too.
* Self-centredness. The community is talking amongst itself, and ignoring those outside, which leads to…
* Natural attrition. Old readers are falling off but new ones aren’t coming in.
* Web 1.0. The old blogs aren’t harnessing the social networks and semantic web features that could drive traffic to them.
I’m not saying that Perl Buzz will solve all these problems and bring about World Peace, but I will be interested to see whether setting up a blog that’s new, speaking to the broader community, and taking advantage of newer Web 2.0 features can succeed.
If you’re interested in setting up yet another Perl blog, whether general or specific in nature, I’d like to really encourage you to do so. Blogs are not a limited resource and I firmly believe that the Perl world will benefit from having a strong, diverse ecosystem of blogs filling every possible niche. Please do it, and let me know so I can add it to my own feed reader. You might also want to add yourself to the list of Perl blogs on the Perl 5 wiki.