There's been quite a few postings lately about Perl branding and the relationship between the Perl 5 and Perl 6 projects. From what I can gather it seems there's frustration on the part of some people that the existence of the Perl 6 is somehow hurting Perl 5. The argument seems to go that people outside the Perl community are dissuaded from learning / using Perl 5 because they either think that Perl 6 is about to obsolete Perl 5 (so why bother learn it) or the fact that Perl 6 has been baking for a long time is generally harmful to the Perl branding. As someone that spents a lot of time talking about Perl to people in management and people from outside the Perl community, I've heard a lot of things and thought I could share what I've heard, be it anecdotal or whatever.
Broadly there's two groups I speak to Perl about: Management Types (Director level and above) and Out Community Peers (programmers and systems folks that have heard about Perl but are using Python, Ruby, etc.)
When I speak with management types, the thing I hear in terms of negative branding for Perl is that 1) Perl is hard to hire for, 2) Perl is not really suitable for big application development. I never get questions about Perl 5/6 or anything like that, it is just not important to this group.
For part 1) I think there's a truth there, however I think the problem is partly due to the nature of the way many companies build Perl applications. Perl has for a long time lacked broad community consensus on the best way to handle a lot of common development problems, such as deployment of code and the most common infrastructure over the past 10 years (mod_perl) is rather difficult to work with. As a result every company I have worked for using Perl had built a rather unique snowflake and this makes hiring hard while discouraging programmers since it is not clear to a lot of people exactly what it means to be a Perl programmer (i.e. what do I need to learn to become a master and earn the big salaries). Luckily this is changing, Plack and some other toolchain projects such as Perlbrew, local::lib and the various systems for creating local CPAN mirrors are starting to form a sort of standing approach to the broader problems development (those problems beyond just writing code). I believe this will help with the hiring problem since projects that follow these basic and documented best approaches are easier to learn. So my hope is that over time the increasing ease of learning will bring more people into the community.
For the second part of the Management objection, I think the fact that Perl is starting to show up in more external projects (such as Dotcloud and Activestate's Stackato) is really the best sort of help. That's why it is important when you see a new company promoting it's RESTy API and Python/PHP client language bindings, we have to help them get Perl on that list. The more people outside the community see the word "Perl" the better.
Now, for my out community Peers, most of the younger ones don't complain about a lack of clarity between Perl5 and Perl6. Rather, they just heard negative things about Perl and they don't want to use it. They used Python or PHP in school and have several years experience using those languages. What I've found is that showing off some of the newer Modern Perl stuff (again, Plack, local::lib, Perlbrew, etc.) is the best way to turn that around.
So, from my perspective any branding issues that Perl is having has very little to do about confusion between Perl5 and Perl6 projects. I've never once had a Python or PHP programmer say to me, "I don't want to use Perl5 because Perl6 is going to make it obsolete so my bother?" What I hear instead is, "I have 5 years experience building applications in PHP, why would I want to learn Perl?" And I hear, "Nobody is really using Perl to build websites, and I need to have a job, so I want to stick to PHP because there's lots of PHP jobs." And for management types, they just want to be able to hire programmers when they need them and they want a sort of standard system that is easy to train new programmers on.
I do see jokes about Perl6 on slashdot from time to time, but those are mostly trolls, not people really working as far as I can tell. I guess it is not ideal but I don't think that stuff is really swaying people so much.
Fixing ^^ would go a long way toward achieving our goal of world domination.