The poor English skills struck me too. Yes, there are surely non-native-English speakers in the field, but we're still talking about very educated people. When I deal with educated people in other fields who have learned English as a second language, they'll occasionally get tripped up by an odd preposition usage or something, but in general their grammar is solid. Their English will strike me as stilted, but never sloppy.
So my guess is that at least some of these questions come from contracted programmers who got stuck with a Perl task despite having little or no experience with the language. If the researchers are hiring large coding companies, the work may be farmed out to wherever they've been able to find the cheapest coders this week. Even a well-respected company like IBM is starting to develop a reputation for high turnover, under-qualified coders, and poor communication skills, because they've made earnings-per-share (and thus cost) their primary concern.
So that's my guess: some guy who hasn't had his job for long and is already looking for a better one gets passed a task because he mentioned Perl in his job interview, and now he's stuck. He doesn't have the time (or incentive) to spend a few weeks really learning the language. He doesn't even have a few days to try things and wait for the back-and-forth here as people help him fix his errors. He just needs the code.
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