From my perspective the haters were winning the war in 1999/2000
My perspective is actually the complete opposite. At the Y2K, Perl was pretty much at its zenith. It was attracting some of the best minds, was widely deployed, CPAN was expanding apparently exponentially and mod_perl (v1) was arguably the jewel in the crown of IT at the time. The only "haters" in evidence were the ColdFusion advocates as their baby was being utterly thrashed by mod_perl.
It was later on that Perl started to fade and division and hostility emerged. After the release of 5.6 there was a bit of a brain drain as some of the brightest were lured away to work on P6. The Perl core stagnated for a good few years (although not completely - unicode and threads made some good gains but those were mostly considered esoteric by the majority of the then perl user pool unfortunately) and PHP, the great pretender, achieved FPM and started the takeover. It wasn't until the release of 5.10 that we started to get the impetus back in terms of development but by then a lot of the user base had left. The opportunity had gone - maybe forever.
The future of Perl is that it will continue to improve in terms of efficiency and features but that fewer and fewer people will care. But I will still be one of them.
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