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Re: Distribution statistics for ELPA and EMMS

From: Yoni Rabkin
Subject: Re: Distribution statistics for ELPA and EMMS
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2023 10:02:16 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/28.2 (gnu/linux)

Philip Kaludercic <philipk@posteo.net> writes:

> Eduardo Ochs <eduardoochs@gmail.com> writes:
>> On Thu, 13 Jul 2023 at 17:55, Yoni Rabkin <yoni@rabkins.net> wrote:
>>> I want to start the talk with the claim that Emms is a popular music and
>>> video package for Emacs. However, I have absolutely no numbers or
>>> statistics to back that claim. Is there a way to find out? Are any
>>> statistics collected by ELPA?
>>> Is there a way to answer the question: how many times was Emms installed
>>> in 2022?
>> Hey, thanks for asking that!
>> I'm the author of an Emacs package that is in ELPA and that I don't
>> have any idea how many users it has - I mean, besides the ones that
>> I've interacted with - and I was planning to start my talk about it
>> in the next EmacsConf by saying that it has "at least 10 users"... =/
> Then again, if you go by download counts like MELPA, you will severely
> overestimate the number of users, since AFAIK they do not distinguish
> between downloads and updates, nor do they know if someone just
> installed a package and then immediately removed it.

I don't think that's important since we are not selling copies of the
software, nor trying to drive advertisement. Instead, what I had in mind
is a way of gauging activity. I'm thinking simply of the number of
installs and/or updates, even if that number is normalized to the most
"active" package.

A developer who wants insight could visit the ELPA page for their
package once in a while, note the change in the numbers, and draw their
own conclusions.

I think that seeing your package being installed and/or updated would be
a great way of encouraging people to continue developing. Developers,
especially of niche packages, could otherwise feel like they are "vox
clamantis in deserto"; shouting into a great empty wilderness.

> There was some discussion about updating the protocol that package.el
> uses, in which context thinking about some reliable yet privacy
> preserving method of estimating the user count would be nice to have.

I see no pressing reason to identify unique downloads as opposed to
simply downloads/updates, so I don't think privacy will be a concern.

Currently we have two developers who have voiced that they would like
this feature in ELPA. Perhaps if others chime in then it should be

   "Cut your own wood and it will warm you twice"

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