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Zed_Lopez, thanks for the thoughtful real-world overview of the languages being used out there, at least in your very practical experience.
As a person who is in the "branding" business by trade, your post got me to thinking about the possibilities of branding Perl. Branding is more than logos (camels in this case). In short, branding is the sum total of all the perceptions one's audience has about the branded entity. Unfortunately, the FUD of which you speak is part of Perl's brand. On the positive side there is CPAN, Perl's unique features (name spaces), and, of course, the Monastery;^)
Branding takes lots of resources, both in time and money. We can all do our job, as I think most Monasterians are inclined to, by using good coding practices, talking up the virtues of the language, refining it make it more approachable or friendly, addressing or deprecating it's weaknesses, and writing applications that gain more universal notoriety (imagine a PerlMyAdmin gui or PerlBB Forums).
We all know that intrinsically Perl is a great language, but for some reason it doesn't feel as handy to the larger audience of Web programmers (my arena) as PHP. Who is to blame....or get the credit for that? I reach for Perl everytime because I have a good grasp of it and it feels familiar. What can be done to bring PHP (or ASP or JSP) coders to that same point? Where has the Perl community let the opportunity slip away, and what can be done to regain the edge?
In summary, doesn't sound like a language problem as much as a perception problem. What can we all do to change that? Rhetorical, but worth pondering.
"Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up." G. K. Chesterton