It sounds like you are reaching a stage of Perl programming
maturity where the appeal of the novelty of it all has whithered somewhat and you would like to get some work done. As personal advice I would say that yes reading the docs and a book should be helpful at this time.
Regarding the question of whether online fora have any value I would say that they most certainly do. When a complete newbie it can actually help to have someone refer to RTFM since you may be unaware of the FM. I recall tutoring someone who had been taking a Perl programming class at a nearby institution of higher learning. That person had already invested 6 weeks of his time (and I do not know how much money) into the course material. In order to get our session started he lead off with a simple question. Rather than answering it directly I opted to show that person how to find the answer in the online reference (perlfunc.pod). I was then shocked to find that the person had no experience with either the Unix perl man pages, perldoc, or Shuck on the Macintosh. It was surprising to me that his professor had apparently not bothered to mention these valuable resources. Oh sure they had purchased, through their campus store, the O'Reilly book Learning Perl which was a great text to be using. But the prof had not yet mentioned the wealth of online docs, how its organized, etc.
The nature of aquiring technical knowledge can undergo strange contortions. There are Perl pod pages that are simply reference material (e.g. perlfunc). There are Perl pod pages that are more tutorial in nature (e.g. perlreftut). There are Perl pod pages that are more Q&A style (e.g. perlfaq$n).
However none of the aforementioned pod docs are of the immediate human communication nature. I would venture that perhaps a course at a community college or meeting folks face to face at a Perl Mongers event would be helpful to you. There is something about the lack of anonymity in meeting folks in person that induces more politeness and respect than is typically the case online. So try forming/attending/organizing a Perl Mongers group in your area. When you are ready try giving one of more talks to the group. There is nothing quite like preparing a lecture to force you into learning the various aspects of a technical subject :-)
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