I'm failing to understand why it has to be an either or scenario. Will improving the design take away from the content? Do you think that people will stop contributing to the site? If I and/or a few others volunteer our time to work on this would it ruin your perception of the site? Would you stop using it?
No, I'm not saying that at all. Please start reading from the top of this thread.
All I'm saying is that the appearance of this site is insignificant when it comes to how often Perl is "picked over PHP". Even if I were to believe there's an earth shocking "decline of Perl" (which people have been claiming for at least a dozen years - even before Perlmonks existed), I still do not think the appearance of this site plays any role in that. People will not ditch Perl for PHP if perlmonks becomes slower, or started used blink and pre as the only markup. Nor will Perl gain any noticeable marketshare if we'd all agree on what the best appearance is, and it would be implemented overnight.
Do whatever you want with the site. Just don't pretent this site is that important. That's what I'm arguing about, the feel of self-importance.