Last week's reader survey drew just about 1000 responses
approximately 25% of our entire subscriber base. We appreciate the time
you all took to tell us what you think about LWN. Fully digesting the
responses will take some time, but there are a few things which jump out
About 90% of those who responded were individual subscribers. As it
happens, almost 25% of LWN subscribers get their access through group
subscriptions, but fewer of them took the time to respond. Perhaps people
on group subscriptions tend to be more busy, or perhaps fewer of them
follow LWN every week. In any case, the opinions of group subscribers
were somewhat underrepresented.
A full 50% of the responses came from Europe, compared to 39% from North
America and 5% from Australia and New Zealand. It has been a while since
we had accurate statistics of where our readers are coming from - the
current LWN server isn't up to the task of recording all that information.
Once upon a time, North Americans and Europeans made up approximately equal
parts of our reader base. It would be interesting if the Europeans have
now pulled ahead.
There were few surprises in the responses on which parts of LWN readers
enjoy the most. It seems maybe we'll have to keep the Kernel Page after
all. Seriously, though, the most interesting result may have been the
relatively low scores given to the weekly Announcements Page. One of the
things we have noticed over the years is that a surprising number of items
from that page end up being mentioned in the annual LWN timeline feature.
Important stuff goes on that page, but it is currently set up as a sort of dumping
ground at the very end of the Weekly Edition. Some changes may be called
Quite a few readers were surprised to discover the index of kernel articles. The
index was prominently announced on the Kernel Page when it was created, and
it's linked at the top of the kernel
subsection page. But, clearly, it is not easy enough for people to
a number of respondents suggested that the time has come for a site
redesign. Trust us, we know that. The current design is mostly unchanged
since its unveiling in June, 2002, but it really dates back to January,
1998, when LWN first hit the net. Our purpose was to create a clean,
easy-to-read, text-oriented site, and the result has served us well for
some time. But it is definitely time to rethink things. That will be a
slow process, however.
Complaining about comment quality has been a popular activity in recent
times, but there was not a great deal of interest in either of the proposed
comment filtering mechanisms. A few readers really do want a blacklisting
capability, though. Instead, there were a number of requests for a
feature which would highlight comments posted to an article since the last
time one looked. Both blacklisting and highlighting (and many other
potential features) run into one practical problem: the single
1300 MHz Duron processor which runs the entire LWN site is already feeling
a little stressed. The more complicated content - weekly edition pages,
long comment trees, etc. - is aggressively pregenerated and cached; adding
per-user rendering would defeat that caching and force those pages to be
rendered on the fly. For various reasons,
upgrading the server involves far more expense than just buying a new box.
The day when we have to make that leap is coming, though.
There was a suggestion that the entire LWN archive be closed to
non-subscribers. That is not a step we expect to take. Closing the
archive would make LWN disappear from the net for all practical purposes,
with little in the way of expected benefit. It is also very much our goal
to increase the amount of useful information available to the community as
a whole, and that runs counter to the idea of a closed archive.
For those who called for more Grumpy Editor articles:
you have been heard. Those articles are a lot of work, and times have been
busy, which is why they have been relatively scarce recently. There
are a couple of topics queued up, however, so expect the Grumpy Editor to
make another appearance here before too long.
In summary: the information you have provided is useful - we are most
grateful. We will be looking at it closely as we ponder changes to LWN to
help make it more successful in the future. What will not change, however,
is our commitment to high-quality writing and high-quality coverage of the
Linux and free software community from within.
to post comments)