I like the Perl community. We have a open, tolerant and helpful community. Looking around to other languages, I do think we’re in a much better shape then most people seem to realize.
I loathe the Python community’s snobbish and hostile attitude to newcomers and outsiders. Maybe I’m biased by having to counter FUD in people who have been exposed to the Python community, but I can’t call it anything else. I wouldn’t be the first to suggest that’s the main reason they never took over even when they were otherwise in a much better shape than we were. They threw bricks into their own windows and I am somewhat doubtful they’ll get a second chance.
PHP did the exact opposite, and behold: they’re more popular than sliced bread. That seemed to be a double edged knife though: it seems to attract more people who have no idea how little they know than any other language, resulting in the PHP community being completely dominated by amateurs. Don’t get me wrong - I don’t dislike newbies, in fact I have more friends in this category than any of the others I’m discussing here - but there has to be a certain ratio of capable versus incapable programmers for a community to remain healthy. Perl once was in that same position and we’re still recovering from it a decade later. Despite its current popularity I don’t envy the position they’re in. Maybe they’ll have their own renaissance ten years from now.
I’m hearing some early signs Ruby (or Rails in particular) is going to get the newbie carrot next. Maybe I’m being cynical here, but if I were a member of the Ruby community I’d worry about how to handle them. Growth is nice but how do you keep it sustainable? That may prove to be an interesting challenge for them.
Meanwhile, I’m comfortable and warm in the Perl community. It’s healthier than most and that’s more important than being the coolest or the most popular kid on the block.