On PicoLisp’s Wikipedia woes and the process of promoting a language

It seems we’re having some problems with Wikipedia when it comes to creating a entry for PicoLisp there.

This prompted Alex Burger (the language creator) to write the following on the mailing list:

Besides this, I’m extremely frustrated. I think I wasted too much time
on communicating (instead of using) PicoLisp during the last 8 years.

From now on I’ll concentrate on my own work. I won’t write any articles,
or propagate PicoLisp in any way. I’ll answer questions in this mailing
list, though.

Well as long as you’re active on the list I’m happy 🙂

Putting Wikipedia and other places aside, apart from personally enjoying helping people what could motive a language creator to help adoption (not counting pride and glory)?

Financial gain of course, in mainly the following areas:
1.) Creation of libraries that will help him in his own endeavors, thus minimizing his own workload.
2.) Successful projects using the language might need his professional help.
3.) When other people gain more knowledge they might be inclined to help other people, thus offloading the creator.
4.) The derivative effect, ie the persons he is helping might induce someone else to actually accomplish #1, #2 or #3.

With that in mind what could maximize the chances of either #1 or #2 happening, or otherwise getting across the threshold when the language creator can simply sit back and watch the popularity accelerate without much further effort on his part?

Helping people like me on IRC must be one of the least effective ways (although very nice for me), the mailing list is orders of magnitudes better since the information stays out there for all to see.

Having an entry on Wikipedia would unfortunately lend a lot of credibility for people who are shopping around for a new language to learn. As it happens it seems Alex managed in the end anyway because the article seems to be there now (although if not more secondary sources are added it risks being deleted in the future apparently).

If the goal is to popularize PicoLisp what might be the way forward from here then? Looking at Python and Ruby I see two popular web development frameworks, Django and Rails. Especially in Ruby’s case the Rails framework has been instrumental in that language’s popularity.

As it happens PicoLisp has its own web development framework but it has everything to do with database administration and very little to do with the kind of problems a normal web developer faces in his/hers daily work of working mostly with a mix of administrative interfaces and content distribution and presentation.

So that’s what I intend to do, an alternative more general web development framework in PicoLisp, I just need to get a handle of a few more aspects of PicoLisp in particular and Linux in general, so hang in there Alex!

Another thing that’s somewhat missing is more library functions for performing common tasks, it should be easier to create than in many other languages though since getting stuff done in Lisp is easy.

Finally, without a lot of good documentation a language will get nowhere no matter how good it is. As it happens as of PicoLisp 3.0.1 the reference is now better than ever. Parts of it will still seem cryptic to beginners but a new wiki is in the works.

I think 2010 will be a very interesting year for PicoLisp.

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