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Success stories - Was: Re: "NASA Uses Python"

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From:
G. Wade Johnson
Date:
April 5, 2008 09:56
Subject:
Success stories - Was: Re: "NASA Uses Python"
Message ID:
20080405115556.57cd5289@sovvan
On the topic of success stories, there are a couple of issues that you
might want to take into account. I don't want this to sound like a
criticism of your idea. It's more of an observation.

1. Writing up the success story takes a fair amount of work.

I actually did a couple of these for O'Reilly some time ago. Writing
this stuff is hard for several reasons. Some are political:

 - Company doesn't want to publish info about "proprietary" processes.
 - Company doesn't want to be associated with "old, non-hip" technology.

A good success story is more about marketing than it is about technical
content and some of us find that very difficult.

2. Good success stories are harder to find.

In addition, most of the best successes I've had with Perl have not
been things that are easy to write up. There's a lot of plumbing and
"grunt work" that is done in Perl that makes things run but doesn't
make a good "success story".

There are also a number of "one off" scripts that we've all seen
recover from a disaster, that would also not make a good success story
(even if the company would let us publish about it).

When you finally do get a good success story, your company may not want
to let the cat out of the bag. (See the point above.)

All in all, I would really like to see more Perl success stories, but
I'm actually not surprised that we don't.

Unfortunately, Perl does not seem to have attracted or retained the
kind of "cheerleader" or "evangelist" types that find this kind of
writing and such easier. Hopefully, you will have some luck restarting
this process.

In the meantime, I use Perl as a tool to get some of my work done and
promote it as a tool to solve problems where I can.

G. Wade

On Sat, 5 Apr 2008 19:11:40 +0300
Shlomi Fish <shlomif@iglu.org.il> wrote:

> Hi all!
> 
> First of all let me apologise if you think my letter was phrased in a
> too negatively or with a negative criticism. Read below.
> 
> On Saturday 05 April 2008, Jan Dubois wrote:
> > On Sat, 05 Apr 2008, Shlomi Fish wrote:
> > > If you go to http://www.python.org/ you'll see at the top-right
> > > corner a picture of an astronaut with the title "NASA uses
> > > Python...". Now, to the layman or beginner it might sound more
> > > impressive, but let's get our facts straight.
> >
> > If you look closely you can see that they are just pointing to one
> > of the many Python success stories on their site:
> >
> >   http://www.python.org/about/success/
> >
> 
> Great, the picture has a link. I couldn't tell it had one nor could I
> think of it. Most people won't follow the link. They'll just think
> "Wow! NASA uses Python! Python must be the cat whiskers". Or if they
> know better (like me) they'll think "Yes, they're using Python. So
> what? They're using a lot of things too.".
> 
> I know too much about UI design and web usability (and a bit about
> marketing) to know the layout of this particular element is
> misleading.
> 
> Regarding success stories - yes, it's good that the Python site has
> them. And yes, it's bad that the prominent Perl sites do not have
> more testimonials. I've tried to remedy the situation by including a
> "Testimonials" page at:
> 
> http://perl-begin.org/
> 
> But it's my site, and not with too high a page rank, and I don't have
> control or access to the other Perl sites. I'm not trying to complain
> that I should have (again...), but I think the front page of the site
> should be designed with a marketing persepctive in mind. See:
> 
> http://www.sparkthis.com/2006/02/slides_the_hack.html
> 
> > > However, I'd still like to see this removed from the Python
> > > homepage, because it's a statement that is misleading to the
> > > uninitiated and lacks integrity. I thought about consulting you
> > > people on my own turf about the best course of action from here.
> >
> > I completely disagree with you there. I think this is legitimate
> > information on their page, even backed up with a full write-up of
> > the application. Please leave them alone!
> 
> Fine, would you be happy if I added a "NASA uses Perl" box to 
> http://perl-begin.org/ with the same or a similar picture? I'd rather
> not have this escalate into an arms' race. I pointed out why it was
> misleading, and you did not address any of my main points or evidence
> to the contrary. 
> 
> Perhaps I should buy http://www.fortran.org/ and say "NASA Uses
> Fortran" with a picture of an Astronaut there, so the uneducated will
> think that Fortran is used by leet hackers.[1]
> 
> [1] - Thinking about it, it would make a great parody site, but not
> of http://www.python.org/ in particular.
> 
> Note that I don't mind having a NASA success story as a success story
> for Python. That's perfectly OK. I'll also be happy to publish NASA
> successs stories of Perl on http://perl-begin.org/ . But I'm not
> going to make it stand out like http://www.python.org/ does because
> it is not unique to Perl (or Python) and because I may eventually
> make a fool of myself. It's misleading, and in a bad way.
> 
> >
> > If you want to advocate Perl, then you should try to get more Perl
> > success stories published, not try to suppress other languages
> > successes. 
> 
> See above.
> 
> > Here is a similar list of stories for Perl: 
> >
> >   http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/perl/news/success_stories.html
> >
> > But look at how many stories were published each year:
> >
> >   1999 -  4
> >   2000 - 11
> >   2001 -  4
> >   2002 -  9
> >   2003 -  4
> >   2004 -  2
> >   2005 - none
> >   2006 - none
> >   2007 - none
> >   2008 -  ?
> >
> > This is the real problem, not that Python can point to a NASA
> > project that uses Python.
> >
> 
> I agree it's a problem. I don't think we ran out of Perl success
> stories, I just think that the one responsible for them has become
> too busy or distracted. I volunteer to renew the effort or at least
> serve as a mailbox for new success stories. (Possibly under a
> different location). I believe I tried emailing the list requesting
> such success stories/testimonials, but I received no reply. I also
> tried asking on IRC, but so far did not get a reply either. 
> 
> I admit I haven't tried too hard so far, having been distracted with
> other stuff. I could try
> use.perl.org/perl-buzz/perl.com/perlmonks.org or different high
> profile Perl sites.
> 
> I should note that I'm not such a good copy-editor, and may miss some 
> spelling/grammatical/syntactical/phrasing/etc. errors. But I can
> still concentrate the effort.
> 
> That put aside, while it is important that we get and organise new 
> testimonials for Perl, I still think the "NASA Uses Python" point I
> made smells bad, and that the Python people should remedy it. So this
> thread should go into two directions:
> 
> 1. How can we better solicit more Perl success stories?
> 
> 1.a) If you have a success story or a different testimonial - send it
> to me.
> 
> 2. What should we do, if we should do anything about the "NASA Uses
> Python" box in http://www.python.org/ ?
> 
> > Cheers,
> > -Jan
> >
> > PS: Yes, I don't know the years the individual Python stories were
> > published, so they may actually be seeing the same trend. But that
> > is besides the point I was trying to make.
> 
> True. 
> 
> Regards,
> 
> 	Shlomi Fish
> 
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Shlomi Fish      shlomif@iglu.org.il
> Homepage:        http://www.shlomifish.org/
> 
> I'm not an actor - I just play one on T.V.


-- 
A tautology is a thing which is tautological.

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