Befriend a Novice


Around half of all attendees to a YAPC have never attended a YAPC before.

As of today, 7680 people have uploaded a distribution to the CPAN.

Several hundred people -- over a thousand -- have credits in the source code to Perl 5.

In any given yearly period, a few dozen people have contributed more than a single patch to Perl 5, Rakudo, or Parrot.

PerlMonks has a couple of hundred very active users.

It takes months of effort to get a dozen potential students for each year's Google Summer of Code for Perl.

A new edition of the book Programming Perl may sell hundreds of thousands of copies. A new edition of Learning Perl may sell tens of thousands of copies.

A controversial or active Perl blog most may get a dozen comments.

There may be a million people in the world who've wrote more than one line of Perl code for some purpose. Go find a novice, encourage him or her to continue learning Perl, and -- most importantly -- introduce him or her to the community. You don't have to file a bug on or or fix the XS documentation in the Perl 5 core or help bootstrap the Parrot JIT or organize a conference or volunteer to mentor a TPF grant. Yet you'll get much, much more out of Perl if you add your little bit to the wider Perl community.

If we are to improve our community to welcome more participants (and we should do that), we should also actively recruit new participants. Don't wait for them to come to us. Let's go find them and invite them and make them feel welcome that way, too.


If you are or know of a university student that wants to be a Google Summer of Code student with The Perl Foundation, feel free to join the mailing list : and/or come find us on IRC at #soc-help on .

how true. I am a perl/open source novice; I have no idea how to contribute or where I might go to join this perl community you speak of. Do i join one of the cpan mailing lists? Perl monks? source forge? Where do I start?

Coding on someone else's project sounds perfect: small pieces and direction. Just what i need to get better. But again, where do i start?

My wife was just at a university alumni event where the nametags of all first-time attendees had a specially-colored ribbon attached. Prior attendees were asked to look out for them and make them feel welcome. I thought it would be great idea to adopt for YAPC's and other Perl events.

-- dagolden

Ahhh yeah. This was the idea behind my zombies game... besides being a more interesting Urban Dead, players who "beat" the game and maxed out everything got the privileged of becoming a "wizard" and having access to the code (in some combination of read and write). This was based on the LPMUD model. I should make some effort to figure out how to get that to critical mass.

Obviously people who selected the Perl community are good targets for interest of the Perl community but I wanted to cast an even wider net. Back in the day, we turned so many English Lit magers into CSci drones it ain't funny.


Just the other day I was thinking to setup a wiki-page with a list of Perl projects where "beginners" are welcome meaning some people will be ready to mentor them.

I put "beginner" in quote as various projects will still set different requirements to people. Some will require you to understand OOP, others will be ready to take you on with the knowledge level after Learning Perl yet others will only require you to be enthusiastic about the project and will direct you to the fist steps on learning perl.

7680 is the number of people who have _registered_ as CPAN authors. The number of people who have actually uploaded is about half (though I can't find a reference right now). I can tell you that ~450 people upload distributions each month.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by chromatic published on September 14, 2009 4:01 PM.

Aspects of a Novice-Friendly Distribution was the previous entry in this blog.

Tiny, Void Context Core Optimizations is the next entry in this blog.

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