|Do you know where your variables are?|
Part of it is the XP -- that's the hook that kept me coming back at the beginning. Gradually the allure faded, and now that my XP is up there (I was #65 the last time I checked), I come back to visit a little less often.
But I think the answer's already been given -- because Perl awakens a need for community in people, and while Perl is a very cool tool for geeks to use, it's also about the community.
The community aspect of it is a big deal. Think about a YAPC event -- lots of geeks who under normal circumstances don't make eye contact except with their laptop, instead are cruising around and chatting with their neighbours. I got a chance to go over to talk to Larry Wall for a bit at the YAPC 19100 dinner; he's a totally down-to-earth guy. Folks are helpful; it sort of like a meritocracy.
Another angle that's also been mentioned is that there are a lot of bright people around. Reminds me of starting university -- the professor would crack a rather esoteric joke, and unlike high school, where me and a few friends would get it, half the class would laugh. It's really stimulating being around so many bright people.
I find SlashDot amusing; it has a simpler voting process: nodes max out at +5 and min out at -1. Ones 'karma' is related to the nodes one posts .. I was on my personal page on SlashDot a while back and saw that my karma was 'excellent' .. that's nice. SlashDot is interesting, but some of the posts are duplicates and some are just plain misguided, but there's enough interesting stuff that I go back every once in a while.
I like to help out, stay in touch with a few people so that when I have a question, there's somewhere I can go. Beats banging my head against the wall for an hour. With PerlMonks, I can cut that down to ten minutes, then I clean up the broken drywall and spilled coffee and post my query.
Alex / talexb / Toronto
Life is short: get busy!