Repeating a reply I posted over at http://journal.dedasys.com/2009/01/08/angry-perl-users :
I found this searching summize.com for Perl. I try to answer people's Perl questions and clarify things for them, and do so without descending into advocacy. I used to be a fierce Amiga advocate -- we were a legendary breed. Commodore died anyway, and after some time, I realized that that had everything to do with Commodore screwing up and nothing to do with people giving them free advertising.
http://use.perl.org/~Ovid/journal/38010 -- Ovid, a very well known name in Perl circles with many years of service to the community under his belt, agrees and presents other numbers plotting Perl's declines.
Larry Wall has been quoted as saying "there's nothing in this world worth being a snot over".
The message is pretty clear... if you're trying to defend your favorite language from perceived attacks, you're not making yourself useful. If you're creating things people want or helping to do so, then much more likely, you are useful.
Not to shift blame, but talking about language popularity, you're going to attract these sorts. Regardless, I wanted to go on record as renouncing these idiot tactics.
As you said, Ruby is having some growing pains. I sincerely wish Ruby the best. Java came out as a model of cleanliness but then pressure mounted for such things as autoboxing and generics, and the internal architecture started to creak a bit. Tcl had serious growing pains moving from "everything is a string" to "some things are numbers" in its internal representation which peeked through to its syntax. Perl had serious growing pains growing from a better sed+awk+bash into an OO-ish (if you squint just right) language with closures and other fun stuff. Each language has its own story and they're all a hell of a lot more interesting than trying to quantify it down into a continuum of good/bad sucks/rules.
Data is fun to play with, and I hope you continue to enjoy playing with it despite the frothing.