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domm (4030)

domm
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http://domm.plix.at/

Just in case you like to know, I'm currently full-time father of 2 kids, half-time Perl hacker, sort-of DJ, bicyclist, no longer dreadlocked and 33 years old

I'm also head of Vienna.pm [pm.org], maintainer of the CPANTS [perl.org] project, member of the TPF Grants Commitee [perlfoundation.org] and the YAPC Europe Foundation [yapceurope.org].

I've got stuff on CPAN [cpan.org], held various talks [domm.plix.at] and organised YAPC::Europe 2007 in Vienna [yapceurope.org].

Journal of domm (4030)

Thursday May 21, 2009
11:31 AM

Spending money to help Perl?

[ #39013 ]

During our annual meeting I asked Nicholas a small question ("When will we get 5.10.1" - ok, not a small question..), which resulted in some interesting ranting and discussions. Of course, we didn't find any silver bullet, but I'd still like to get some feedback from whoever cares...

So, say you have a quite bigish amount of money, let's say 25.000 Euro [0]. How would you spend it to help Perl?

  • Splitting it up in small grants is a lot of work, already done by TPF, and usually projects funded this way do not affect Perl as a whole.
  • Hiring somebody to work full time seems like the best option. But who of the "Perl seniors" would quit his/her job for an amount of money that pays for one year max (more likely half a year)? Would you? And even if you would, what would you be able to do?
  • Hiring "juniors" should be cheaper, but they need guidance, which takes time and is not fun.
  • Maybe we should get a non-programmer as a cat herder [1]? But some/most of the cats don't want to be herded. Plus, the cat herder wouldn't have a stick (and neither a carrot)
  • Most of us code for fun, and leave out the non-fun parts (documentation, screen design, sometimes even testing). Maybe we should hire people who are good in this field to free more time for the fun stuff?
  • Or maybe we need a first-level support person (or team?) for p5p, who goes through all the bug reports, classifies them, discard the crap/resolved/duplicate tickets and assigns the rest to the right person(s)?
  • ...???

In the end, most/all of the people who could do the hard things (like working on Perl internals, releasing new Perl versions, ..) have jobs (and persumably are happy with their job) and no time [2]. So money does not actually help here. Plus, most of this proposed 'jobs' involve some kind of control from the paying party, and e.g. I don't want to spend even one hour a week with such boring administrative tasks.

Anyway, if somebody comes up with a convincing plan, it might be realised if we can get the needed money (but see [0]!

 

0: as you might know, Vienna.pm actually has that much money earmarked for "advancements of Perl", so this post isn't that hypothetical.

1: read 'project manager'

2: Of course there are exceptions like Jonathan who are a) exceptionally well suited for their "community job" and b) actually have some time they can trade for money.

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  • As long as the recent proposal for TPF to fund Richard Dice for 6 months is approved, the cat herder post is already covered.  That would make this an auspicious time to provide funds for numerous small projects.  (Of course, I'm just assuming that Richard will want to have his time be volunteered in this fashion - you'd of course have to discuss it with him.)
      • As long as the recent proposal for TPF to fund Richard Dice for 6 months is approved, the cat herder post is already covered.

        Actually, if I read that revised proposal correctly, the cat herder post is not covered, as the first 6 months are now tied directly to 1 2-month and 4 1-month deliverables. So, unfortunately, the positions of "project manager", "line manager", "mentor" and "recruiter" are still vacant.

        • Nick is correct - my original proposal had room for this kind of work but the new version of the proposal that the TPF board wanted is much more tightly focussed. Though in theory I still have the latitude to help with some of these items, to the degree that I spend time on them I will jeopardize success on my grant deliverable items, as time given to that work will take away from from working on deliverables. As such, I don't plan on doing this kind of work again, at least over the next 6 months. (This
    • If the numerous small project approach is to succeed, it needs to work because the recipients are self-motivated. I completed my grant without anyone nagging me or setting deadlines, and that should be the rule.

      If people don't do the work they promise, they shouldn't get the money. Hopefully the money + getting shit done is a sufficient carrot.

  • There has been a lot of grousing lately about there not being a uber-slick place (Web 2.0-ish) where Perl people can blog. It would be nice if some monies could go towards creating such a place.

    • I've been playing around with some ideas at my job [plusthree.com] that might lead to such a place. Give me a few more weeks and maybe I'll have something to share come YAPC::NA
      • Oh please, whatever you do: Try to build on and improve what use.perl.org gives. There's a significant and influential community on use.perl, and THAT is the real vallue we need to keep and grow.
  • But who of the "Perl seniors" would quit his/her job for an amount of money that pays for one year max (more likely half a year)? Would you?

    Sure.

    And even if you would, what would you be able to do?

    Write large chunks of the Perl 6 core libraries.

    • It strikes me that that could also be funded by a Hague grant [perlfoundation.org] - have you considered that route for funding? (Note, I have nothing to do with applications for or authorisation of grants from either source.)

    • Like Nicholas I also think that Perl 6 development is way better funded (or the funding works better) than Perl 5. For example, Vienna.pm already funds a week a day of Jonathans Rakudo hacking. And AFAIK some of the Hague grant money is spend (or was spend?) on other Perl 6 / Parrot / Rakudo projects. So I'd rather spend money on Perl 5... (but that's only my opinion, not Vienna.pm's!)
  • One project I'd love to see is a community-authortitative way to manage micro-donations and micro-grants.

    • A bug/feature bounty system, integrated with rt.cpan.org and search.cpan.org. Need a bug fixed? Put some money in into it.
    • Developing set of official minimum requirements for software maintainablility, so that only projects that make an effort to be maintainable can join the grant/bounty system
    • A public project management website, for tracking who is doing what, the completion criteria, what they'll get f
    • But do you love it enough to help (try to) create it? There doesn't seem to be a shortage of initial good ideas, but there does seem to be a shortage of people with the time and motivation to drive an idea forwards to become a functional system. Without them, ideas fester.