When you install this package, it sets up a cron job that will anonymously e-mail the Debian developers periodically with statistics about your most used Debian packages.
This information helps us make decisions such as which packages should go on the first Debian CD. Also, we can improve future versions of Debian so that the most popular packages are the ones which are installed automatically for new users.
Andre L. writes:
The Debian Popcon website has interesting statistics on Debian usage. It looks at things like which packages users have installed, which packages have been used in the past week, and which architectures people are using.
The information is provided by users who have popularity-contest installed. This package sets up a weekly cron job to email in data about your machine. Reasonable precautions are taken to protect the privacy of those who participate.
The summary statistics are used by Debian developers while preparing the next release. The data are used to determine which packages belong on the installer CD and which should go on supplemental discs. Popcon may be consulted when deciding whether or not to remove a package from Debian. When several packages have similar functionality I have used Popcon to decide which to install.
You should be aware of several sources of bias when interpreting the Popcon data: Users who haven't configured a working email system on their machine can't participate. Self-compiled software, e.g. in /usr/local, is not included. Most Debian users don't know about popularity-contest, so the statistics are skewed towards advanced users. The architecture detection code was only added post-Woody, so instead of Stable most Popcon participants are running Testing or Unstable. It wouldn't be too hard to submit forged data.
Nevertheless, Popcon is the best source of information on Debian usage we have. To improve the sample size please consider installing popularity-contest on machines you admin.
Well said. It's a good thingTM.
More information on this package can be found on the Debian web site.
(If there is a package you would like to see featured here, go to the userinfo page and follow the directions there to submit your entry.)