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Participate in the Popularity Contest July 16, 2006

Posted by Carthik in administration, applications, packages, ubuntu.

The popularity-contest (popcon) package in Ubuntu lets you vote on your favorite, most-used apps and packages every week. This is an automated process, so once you set it up, you will never have to worry about it again. Below is a description of the package:

Vote for your favourite packages automatically. When you install this package, it sets up a cron job that will anonymously inform the developers about your most used packages.
This information helps us make decisions such as which packages should be promoted and so be in standard installs.

The results are available to everyone at popcon.ubuntu.com. Seeing as there are less than 2000 i386 (pentium) users that currently submit popcon information, I thought we could do better. So setup popcon and start submitting info about your usage of applications now – this is vital feedback for those who architect the distro – not to mention a lot of fun for everyone.

Here’s how you set it up. It is already installed, but inactive:
Execute the following command to reconfigure it:
$sudo dpkg-reconfigure popularity-contest

You can choose to submit stats via http, or via email. Both are automated processes, and I’d choose http for the convenience. If, however, you do choose email, note that you might have to take a small additional step to enable postfix to send the email properly. You can follow the instructions to setup a “smarthost” in postfix to ensure that your email gets sent and received without problems. I have my popcon set up to use the http protocol to send information. Since it is anonymous, it is not a threat to your privacy. So go ahead, and give ’em some feedback.


1. mwarden - July 16, 2006

This obviously only works with applications that are already in the repository, correct? I know a number of my applications (e.g., Gaim2) do not have packages.

2. ubuntonista - July 16, 2006

That’s right, mwarden.

3. meneame.net - July 17, 2006

Participa del `popularity-contest´de Ubuntu (todas versiones)…

un concurso que permite votar por las aplicaciones y paquetes mas usados semanalmente ( $ sudo dpkg-reconfigure popularity-contest les permitirá votar por los paquetes automaticamente)…

4. pragmatico - July 17, 2006

Popularity-contest has been in Debian for a relatively long time. However, I have never used it because I think it is a flawed system. I don’t want to have to set up email accounts on my computer just to participate. I would rather prefer to have my participation in some other protocol which requires no configuration, such as HTTP operations.

5. kOoLiNuS - July 20, 2006

OK, done this too … thanks for the tip

6. bensKnowledgeBlog / Popularity Contest of Ubuntu Packages - July 21, 2006
7. precinto - July 25, 2006

I activated popcon and I couldn’t get http to work. So I had to deactivate it.

8. bob - January 23, 2007

I was completely unaware that this existed until I did an update of the system and saw that popularity-contest was going to be updated to a newer version.
Well, after having read as much as i could on this package, i was really peeved!
A while back Microsoft had to remove their version of popularity-contest, because of complaints of it being spyware which it was. I don’t remember the name of it but it began with an “A”
nonetheless, it was installed by default without the user’s knowledge or permission.
Although this popularity-contest has to be enabled by the user, I frankly don’t see the difference!
It is potential spyware regardless of the rationalization of the developers that this is to just to let them know what apps are being used the most to see what they do and do not have to continue to work on. If they want to know then create a web page and let people vote.
I understand that the developers of these apps want to know if they need to work on unused apps, but frankly who cares what they need to know. That cannot be the reason for this, here’s an example, the develpers decided, without user input that gnome-screensaver was permanently going to replace xscreensaver. i don’t recall any of the developers being concerned that the majority of the users didn’t like gnome-screensaver, and when the complaints started coming in their reply was “It is there and it will not be removed” Xscreensaver is more popular than gnome-screensaver, so where is the logic behind popularity-contest?
NO! get rid of this from ANY default install, Debian, Ubuntu , etc.

9. Occasional Developer - February 10, 2007

> It is potential spyware

Actual spyware is used to know what *you* do (e.g. with your banking account), popcon is used to get statistics on a group of users, not individuals. And actual spyware doesn’t wait for until you explicitly ask it to “spy” on you…

> I understand that the developers of these apps want to know if they need to work on unused apps

Get real. Developers don’t work on apps “so that a lot of people will use them”, for developers most users are a millstone around their necks who just whine about RTFMs and waste time that could be used for making the application better.

It’s distributions that are interested about that kind of statistics. If package is not used at all, why to continue to support it (include it into distro, follow its upstream updates, backport and publish security updates etc)? It just takes resources out from supporting packages that are actually used…

10. pa55iveagre55ive - April 3, 2007

Popcon is not the way to determine what to include in standard package configurations. That should be done with a user survey.
“anonymous” data collection of this sort is neither anonymous nor innocuous. It is an invasion of privacy.

Won’t someone please make it go away?

11. David Precious - April 19, 2007

“anonymous” data collection of this sort is neither anonymous nor innocuous. It is an invasion of privacy.

If it doesn’t collect/report any data unless you explicitly set it up to do so, then I don’t think you can call it an invasion of privacy.

If this “popularity-contest” util was set to automatically report data back without your knowledge and consent, *that* would be an invasion of privacy.

12. end popcon - August 11, 2007

How can I set Synaptic to banish this downloadable and never again offer it to pollute my desktop?

I agree, it is spyware. I left the Windows workd because of crap like this. It is nobody’s business what apps I use on my computer, whether the data is anonymized or not.

13. Alan - December 21, 2007

Spyware? How can you claim spyware? Do you specifically know what it spys on? Do you have proof of “spying” activities…NO! Get your overreacting head out your tails and just help out the Ubuntu community with figuring out what they should keep and what they should do away with on the repositories…thats ALL this package does..thats ALL this package will EVER do! PERIOD! THERE IS NO FURTHER DEBATE ON THIS! I am QUITE aware of what these programs do as I am a beginner team member of the Ubuntu Forums. Do not make claims that you cannot back up…PERIOD! This is a crap discussion!

14. Vadim P. - April 20, 2008

This is disabled by default.

15. markus - November 13, 2008

that this is no spyware was discussed exhaustively – a) disabled by default b) doesn’t send any personalized data if enabled.

but i want to throw some thougts about the philosophy of open source into this (not senseless imho) discussion. have you critics ever thought about why this kind of software is mostly such a usable, bleeding edge and secure thing – even though or perhaps even because it’s free? it’s (asides thousands of committed developers) because of a strong community of millions of users who are really interested in supporting their developers in making this stuff even cooler. i’m talking about a give-and-take situation. please stop whining and begin filing bug-reports and blueprints, posting your ideas about new features in the dev-forums/mailinglists/channels, tell them what you like or not (perhaps supported by such an automation like popcon) or…

…go and buy an apple, perhaps?

16. porno sikiş - September 27, 2010

OK, done this too … thanks for the tip

17. sex sikiş - September 28, 2010

I activated popcon and I couldn’t get http to work. So I had to deactivate it.

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