12.1 In Conclusion
There are many reasons why I use and prefer Perl to other languages; having recently returned from the Open Source Conference and its embedded annual Perl Conference, I am reminded once again of an important one; namely, the quality of the people involved in the development and promotion of Perl. You don't need to attend a conference to experience the pleasure of interacting with these people (although it's certainly the most direct way of doing so); there are various online methods, some of which I will enumerate. A complete list would fill a book in its own right.
12.1.1 Mailing Lists
See http://lists.perl.org/ for a list far too lengthy and dynamic to reproduce here. Worthy of mention is the beginners list, whose charter is to answer questions from Perl beginners without flaming.
The main Usenet newsgroups for Perl are the following:
The main newsgroup for Perl postings, sees about a couple of hundred postings a day, including not a few heated discussions. Many Perl experts hang out here.
A low-traffic group (fewer than a dozen postings a day) with a high signal-to-noise ratio. Postings need to be coherent and not asking FAQs in order to be approved.
Low-traffic group for questions and answers about using and writing Perl modules.
Very low-traffic moderated group for announcements about some new module releases and other significant events.
Just for users of PerlTk, the graphical user interface.
Fewer than a dozen postings a day, but very few experts compared with comp.lang.perl.misc.
At least 20 regional groups.
In addition, every mailing list hosted on perl.org is also bidirectionally gatewayed to a newsgroup on nntp.perl.org, which is how I prefer to access the lists.
12.1.3 Portals Allowing User Content Creation
This site is based on Slashdot code and hosts lots of up-to-date news and reactions thereto. This is the best place to post news stories (which will be moderated). A free daily mailing list is also available.
This site has lots of visitors, and features Q&A discussions and real-time chat. It is an excellent place to get help fast and hone your skills at helping others. The rapid exchanges on topics of new interest mean that Perlmonks threads are often cited elsewhere.
Jasmine Merced's site offers many useful forums for all kinds of Perl questions, including job searches.
12.1.4 Other Web Sites
O'Reilly's gateway to numerous current and archived articles about Perl and their voluminous book catalog. Free mailing list.
The community's portal to all things Perl; useful as a "Perl Home Page."
Easy interface to every piece of documentation that came with the current and previous versions of the Perl core back to 5.004.
Worth calling out explicitly from among the many perl.org specialized sites, this one is for people looking for work and people looking for workers.
Also worth noting explicitly, this site is designed to help people learn Perl.
Randal Schwartz has written hundreds of articles for magazine columns and placed them online here; this site is a treasure trove of valuable and interesting examples.
Mark-Jason Dominus is incredibly prolific and has placed hundreds of informative articles online. Some (e.g., "Coping with Scoping") have become the de facto citations for answering certain common questions.
The web site for this book.
Look for Wiki sites to spring up now that Brian Ingerson has made them so easy to create with CGI::Kwiki. A list of Kwikis is maintained at http://www.kwiki.org/index.cgi?KwikiSites.
12.1.5 Chat Channels
On just about any Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network, #perl will be populated by Perl people and usually also purl, a "bot" or program (the appropriate term is agent) capable of answering various questions, learning from the conversation, and interjecting ad hoc comments. If you're wondering what language it's written in, you haven't been paying attention.
12.1.6 User Groups
There is a worldwide Perl user group society known as the Perl Mongers, based at http://www.pm.org. Quite likely there is a group within a reasonable distance of you, and if not, you can easily start one, as I did. Publishers and other vendors have special deals for Perl Mongers, and there is also a natty line of clothing. pm.org provides web servers and mailing lists for groups on demand.
Two periodicals devoted exclusively to Perl are both available online:
The Perl Journal, http://www.tpj.com/. Monthly PDF download; $12 for a one-year subscription.
The Perl Review, http://www.theperlreview.com/. Free PDF download; donations accepted.
In 1997 the first Perl Conference was produced by O'Reilly and Associates in San José, California. In 1999 the rest of the open source world caught up and the conference was expanded to include them. Now the annual Open Source Conference includes—as its largest component—The Perl Conference, and is held every summer on the west coast of North America. See http://conferences.oreillynet.com/oscon/.
In 1999 some Perl Mongers decided they wanted a low-cost alternative, and held the first Yet Another Perl Conference (YAPC; http://www.yapc.org) at Carnegie-Mellon University. Since then YAPC has expanded to conferences in Europe (http://www.yapc.org/Europe/), and 2003 saw the first YAPC in Israel (http://www.perl.org.il/YAPC/) and the first truly Canadian YAPC (http://www.yapc.ca/). The home page of the original North American YAPC is http://www.yapc.org/America/.
12.1.9 The Perl Foundation
The nonprofit organization called Yet Another Society (YAS; http://www.yetanother.org/) promotes, among other projects, the YAPC events. A YAS affiliate is the Perl Foundation (http://www.perl-foundation.org/), which exists to collect donations and fund worthy projects. Current and past benefactors include Larry Wall and Damian Conway. If you're looking to donate money to advancing the progress of Perl, this is the place to send it.