|Do you know where your variables are?|
One of the problems that you're describing is the fact that the programmers B&M when you install a new perl version over the old one, and you wonder why they aren't using the latest and greatest in features and avoiding those that have gone by the wayside.
This attitude makes the sysadmin look like a jerk.
A sysadmin must be able to communicate with the users of a system, not only to inform them of upgrades and changes, but to also listen to users who need certain features. Just because you know the root password does not allow you to act like you are their manager.
At nearly every site I've been at with shared machines, the sysadmins would announce major changes to software at least 2 weeks in advance if not sooner (with several reminders in between). If the software was a minor change, it would usually be installed right over the existing one, while major changes would involve shuffling directories and scripts from the sysadmin end to make sure that both the old and new versions were usable. In cases where old versions had to be dropped (as supposed any more than 2 major revisions of software is a pain), the users were given several months of time to prepare, and in rare cases, the old version was installed on a specific low-use machine for those users that could not abandon it.
In nearly all cases, there was also a way to access the cutting-edge versions of programs as well, but you had to ask the right people. But as with the old versions as well as these versions, the sysadmin flatly stated that no tech support will be available beyond standard problems.
And to the best of my knowledge, the sysadmins worst complaints were that people didn't know what pine's "Reply to All?" meant, and why it was on by default (in reality it wasn't, but users always hit 'y' anyway for this).
In addition, this doesn't just apply to perl. C, C++, Java, and major applications all have similar possible problems with new features and outdated functions. Perl might be a faster moving target than those, but the same ideas still apply: the sysadmin must be in communication with their users at all times in order to do an effective job, instead of acting like a god that does magical things when they feel like it.
Dr. Michael K. Neylon - firstname.lastname@example.org || "You've left the lens cap of your mind on again, Pinky" - The Brain