Perl Twitter Feed

Last August, when I was writing my talk Proud to Use Perl for YAPC::Europe, I wanted to get a feel for what real people were actually saying about Perl. It’s all very well claiming that people say Perl is dead, but I wanted to get some real quotations to use in the talk. I came up with the idea of using Twitter. I set up a Twitter search feed for tweets containing the word “perl” and monitored that for a couple of days. I quickly got all of the quotations that I needed.

But I found the feed fascinating, so I continued to read it. Sometimes the Perl community can be a little insular, so it was interesting to read what other people were saying about Perl. I still read the feed today.

Over the year, the feed definitely feels like it’s getting bigger. I mean, there are more mentions of Perl. I don’t have any concreate figures because I read the feed at random times of the day and sometimes don’t touch it for a couple of days. It’s tempting to think that more talk about Perl is due to things like the Ironman initiative, but we shouldn’t jump to that conclusion. Firstly, more talk about Perl could just mean more people saying that Perl is dead (I don’t think this is the case) but secondly more talk about Perl could just be indicative of more talk on Twitter in general. Certainly the number of users on Twitter is still grwoing quickly, so that could probably explain the growth in Perl talk.

But over the last week or so, I’ve gradually realised that a lot of the increase in tweets mentioning Perl is due to the increase in spam (or, at least, spam-like) tweets mentioning Perl. I see a huge number of posts from accounts like @e_host which do nothing but advertise web hosting companies. I suppose we should take it as a positive sign that they think Perl is a feature worth mentioning in these adverts. There’s also been an increase it tweets that are reposts from hire-a-freelancer sites. For example, this morning I saw dozens of copies of this “Need Perl Expert” post.

I’m seriously considering dropping the Perl Twitter feed from Google Reader. It’s just becoming such a slog to go through it. I estimate that about a third of it it currently interesting – and that signal to noise ratio is only going to fall.

I do think, however, that it would be useful and interesting (and pretty easy) to set up an application which monitors the feed and records the data. If we just counted the number of posts, that would be interesting. We could even consider pushing the text through some kind of analysis to pull broad types of information from it (“is this a positive or negative mention of Perl?”). The sooner we start, the more data we’ll have to play with.

I think I’ll set something up tomorrow.






7 responses to “Perl Twitter Feed”

  1. Avatar

    It would definitely be interesting to see what data you get.
    I just looked at the feed and there is so much noise!

  2. frioux Avatar

    Would it be too hard to set up some kind of Bayesian thing like spam assassin to remove the Spam?

  3. Avatar

    How about using the Twitter “advanced search” features to simply skip posts about hosting and so on, like so?

  4. lathos Avatar

    Here’s another article on monitoring programming language tweets for attitude. No surprise, but Perl turns out to be the one with the most positive userbase.

  5. psema4 Avatar

    Searching on the #perl hashtag instead might yield cleaner results. 🙂

  6. Dave Cross Avatar
    Dave Cross

    Searching for the #perl hashtag will certainly give fewer results. But I don’t think it’ll give me what I want. The number of people who use a hashtag when they’re talking about something is relatively small. I want everyone who mentions Perl, but in a non-spam context.

  7. mikecanzoneri Avatar

    I agree. Using the hashtag is almost useless and doesn’t help get other perl community terms. I have a similar search that I run using TweetDeck. My term is something like ‘perl OR yapc OR cpan OR rakudo’. I agree that there is a lot of spam but TweetDeck can filter it out.

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