There's a lively discussion going on over at one of Ovid's post, "Perl7".
I sorta feel like we are not getting the problem at all. I don't think what version is associated with Perl is that important, most people I ask (outside the Perl community) don't even know of the Perl6 project anymore. The CTO and CEO of my last company didn't even know about the controversy or that the project even existed. My last boss (at my previous company) had not heard of it either. Its no longer the branding problem we think it is.
I do think for better or worse the delay around Perl6 and the lack of our community's ability to make it a relevant project did hurt us for a while, but I no longer think so. Based on my admittedly anecdotal experience if we did a poll asking people about Perl6 I'd bet they'd be confused for the most part. So I think the damage there is done but mostly over and gone. Even Duke Nukem Forever shipped a crappy version and the company that owns the title is free to do something better next time, if they want.
When I talk to recruiters and CTOs and Directors, or to venture capitalists and related investors they have heard of Perl. Perl, period. Version 5 to 6 is not particularly relevant. Changing the version number is not going to impact how people outside our community see Perl. Here's what I hear and I speak to a lot of people:
Recruiters: "I have a hard time filling Perl jobs". (and we can't just say, "good programmers are hard to find", we've been saying that for 10+ years. Filling Perl jobs is a special category of HARD for recruiters.)
CTO, D-level engineering or software directors: "I have a hard time filling open Perl positions, and I hear NOTHING GOOD about Perl from my peers. I have no reason to risk my career going to bat for Perl, even if our company is making money using it." There's a certain amount of self fulfilling prophecy here, and honestly I have often felt I had a boss coming from outside the community that was looking for some sort of rational excuse to argue against Perl, but this is what I hear.
Younger programmers looking to get started: "Perl, WTF? People still use that? Oh, you tell me recruiters have more jobs then they can fill, cool, where's all the great docs and tutorials so I can learn how to become a PerlFu master and get one?"
Peers around my own age in industry, "Perl is ok I guess but there's a lot of better options for solving the kinds of problems we have in 2010+. Glad you still have a job though :)"
Now a lot of ^^ is bias, but there is some rationed basis for it, everything from hiring issues to documentation, to how well Perl is suited for the kinds of jobs we have today. Its not totally BS. And a lot of the pros that Perl has, like CPAN and the worldwide CPAN testers system, well that is cool, but similar systems in other languages are not too bad, so we can no longer claim its a killer application for us. Most languages come with a standard library that does enough as to render half of what I use CPAN for unnecessary, for example. And online services like Github and integration with Travis continous testing meet a lot of what CPAN and distributed testing acheives for us. Yes, I know. Its not the same. Its not as good. But it crosses the line of just good enough for people that they'd not feel any upside to what Perl does better, given the fact they would have to use Perl to get it!
To me, that is our community big problem. AFAIK the only valid reason to move version numbers so dramatically is if we are breaking some backward compatibility. So I really see very little point in thinking rebranding the Perl name is going to help us. Maybe calling it version 18 next time around might make some sense, since it seems like we will just continue to evolve Perl5, so lets do that if it will get people to stop having this argument every quarter or so, and then we can start to concentrate on our real problems. Its time to stop mumbling about Perl6 and realize we own Perl5 and its destiny.