How do I reach occasional and non-Anglophone Python programmers?
February 13, 2018 6:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm working on a project (link in my profile) that affects probably 50-80% of people who use the Python programming language, and will want to spread the word super-wide (a) when we're in beta, to get testing and (b) when the big switch happens, to alert them of why things are changing and adjustments they may have to make. How/where should I advertise to reach programmers who don't or rarely read English, and programmers who only use Python occasionally?

We are also already accumulating a list of ways to get the word out to the world of Anglophone Python enthusiasts/frequent Python users. But since the new website looks and feels different from the old one and has different wording for some stuff, I figure it's a good idea to particularly notify and listen to programmers who aren't as versed in Python-world or will have a slower time reading labels, messages, documentation, etc. Their problems will feel more confusing to them so I want to give them ample chance to let us know about that confusion.

I'm interested in hearing about, e.g., popular newsletters, podcasts, fora, Twitter accounts, and other programming news/discussion sources and places in, for instance, Spanish, English, Chinese, French, Kannada, Japanese, Russian, Italian, Arabic, and German. I am also planning on reaching out to the regional PyCon organizers and regional and language-specific Python mailing lists.

I do know that a ton of programmers who live in non-Anglophone places are fluent in technical English, and if the answer for some languages is "basically all the [language] programmers do all their technical work in English anyway" then I'll be grateful for that answer.

I figure there are a bunch of people who mostly program in, say, JavaScript or Ruby or Java or other languages, but have a little Python somewhere in their world, and I would like to give them a heads-up and an opportunity to tell us what is confusing for them in the new site.

I anticipate that at least the "please test this" promotional push will be within the next few months (maybe March or April), and the "we flipped the switch" announcement will be within a few months of that. This schedule is tentative and I ask that you treat it as such, if this affects you. :) But it means that options with, e.g., a six-month lead time are probably not workable for us.

If we find it's necessary to translate our announcement(s) into multiple languages, I can probably find money to pay translators for that. I could probably scrounge up some budget for paid advertising if necessary, and my team includes people who can guest-speak on podcasts, present at conferences in North America and the UK reasonably easily, and guest-post on blogs, newsletters, etc. And I'm probably missing an entire medium and would welcome edification.
posted by brainwane to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure how to help with the language part, but I can tell you as an occasional Python user, I don't remember enough of how it used to be to any more confused than any other day.
posted by advicepig at 8:01 AM on February 13

It'd be interesting to know if occasional users of Python ever visit the PyPI website deliberately, I say that as a fairly heavy Python user, and while I find PyPI absolutely invaluable and I use the 'backend' of it every day (pip install x), I can't recall visiting the site in the last few months.

So are you mostly looking to target people who are doing packaging, or users wanting to consume that packaging? If the former-- then I know we just accepted Dustin's talk for PyCon USA (May) on packaging, it'd be great to reach out to him (he's a maintainer too, I believe?) to mention a call to action during his closing remarks-- or persuade him, or anyone, to present a lightning talk (5 minute talk) during the event to reach a larger initial audience which include a good collection of people from outside the USA.

For the consumers of the packaging, that's harder-- and perhaps it's useful to reach out to groups like PyLadies who have meetups worldwide for their input on problems they've seen with introducing packaging to newcomers.

I guess the friction for a newcomer, in my opinion, is all the assumptions we make for knowledge-- Let's take the Flask page-- which is better then most, they include a good description, with example code on how to get started with their project. But if I were a real beginner, I want to install it right? There's no install button. So I'd probably click 'Download Files' first, maybe download the wheel then cry myself to sleep.

Having a bit more of a 'Need Help Installing?' under the copy/pastable pip text, or a full navigation area called 'Install & Use' which pulls in the info from the help pages in the nicer PyPI styling might make things a little more smooth.

It's a hard problem, bless you all! :)
posted by Static Vagabond at 11:35 AM on February 13

Static Vagabond, thank you for your reply! I don't want to threadsit so I'll try to give sort of an infodump here to give you and others more context.

Yes, the project is the new PyPI (Python Package Index). Here's the development roadmap and here's a bit of background on the current grant-funded effort.

There are a few ways our users (packagers and package consumers) interact with PyPI, including:
  • pip install and similar pip commands
  • searching, browsing, uploading to, downloading from, etc. the website via their browser
  • various other command-line tools, e.g., twine
  • searching, browsing, uploading to, downloading from, etc. the website via their own custom tools that talk to PyPI's API(s) and RSS feeds
and we care about reaching (at least samples of) all of them, at different phases. We'll be rolling out "hey please test this" calls to some limited groups of active package maintainers (packagers) in a few weeks, and then to some limited groups of end users (consumers) perhaps a few weeks or a month after that, and then to everybody at our publicize-the-beta milestone.

The grant-funded team includes Dustin Ingram and I just talked with him about this stuff today :) and at least some of the team will definitely be at PyCon North America, including the sprints. A lightning talk sounds like an excellent idea, in addition to Dustin's regular session talk. And we are getting some further contribution from folks who live in other areas and perhaps I can encourage them to present about PyPI at their local conferences.

Thanks for the PyLadies suggestion, the "need help installing?"/"install & use" suggestion, and the point about assumed knowledge. I'll pass that on to our designer and you may well see some GitHub issues open based on that.
posted by brainwane at 1:27 PM on February 13

I can't count the number of times I've pip installed this or that, but it's generally because I Bing!ed up something and it told me that's what I should do. I would never have thought to search the official package index.
posted by advicepig at 7:19 AM on February 14

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