There is an interesting thread going on in the CiviCRM forum: CiviCRM is scary. This thread started off on the Progressive Exchange mailing list. You can view the archive here ( you need to be sign up to view the archives). However, some of the initial mails from that list are on the forum.
This has come up in the past and I do agree with Chris when he states that Addressing the concerns about unwieldiness through the ongoing development choices, and sharing successful case-studies to change perceptions may be important steps to increase adoption..
So how do we go about doing so? Chris feels that making the website more friendly to developers not familiar with CiviCRM and to non-technical staff of organizations is one step forward. He also feels that having a more visible presence at Drupal based events might seem high value. So far, we've tried to remain CMS agnostic and avoided building deep ties to any CMS. However we are at a stage where building deeper ties into a specific CMS is needed by the community and by our clients. Good examples include organic groups integration, membership linked to drupal roles and CiviNode. The 2.x series will have even tighter integration with those modules and a few more.
David and Xavier have slightly different opinions, but are well worth a read (on the forum).
What do you think? How should we go about changing the perception that exists in some part of the community? Your ideas, thoughts and comments are welcome either on the forum or on the blog. If you do think CiviCRM is scary, please do let us know on why you think so? You can always email me (lobo at yahoo dot com) if you'd rather not post.
Update: From an idea on the forum, we have introduced a new topic: What part of CiviCRM are you having difficulty with right now? for people to raise their concerns / give us usability feedback.