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My observations for the popularity of PHP are this:

1) It's old. You're alternatives to PHP 12 years ago are all bad. The most popular alternative was perl CGI scripts.

2) Since it's templated, it feels more like markup . Someone with absolutely no programming background can go: HTML -> HTML with a javascript "onclick" handler pasted from the web -> HTML with a bit of PHP pasted from the web -> writing my first original PHP code

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