Hang on, that should be Vim vs Emacs right? No.
I have been blogging for the Perl community I have been writing Perl blog posts for around 6 weeks now. Prior to that, I wrote mostly Emacs related blog posts for around 18 months. My vast experience puts me in a great position to compare them.
Back when I wrote about Emacs I averaged a couple of posts a week and around 200 visitors a day. Better still, I got several comments for each post, pointing out things I had got wrong, things I could improve or alternative techniques.
200 visitors isn’t many, but it was plenty for me. I was paid for my blogging effort in comment currency.
I suspect the reason I got the comments was that I never had much competition in the emacs hints and tips space. The main ones were:
Of these, only emacs-fu kept grinding out the handy tips, week in week out.
Interestingly, emacsblog reports 3379 readers by feedburner which indicates a decent level of interest in emacs hints and tips.
There was only one real place to pick up emacs news – Planet Emacsen. My posts would hang around for a week or more and I would pick up pretty much all the readers who were interested as well as probably quite a few who weren’t.
With my Perl blog posts, I struggle to keep 100 visitors a day and I need to post every other day to get that many. Why the difference? I suspect it is a combination of things.
- If you want to read about perl, you can read the gurus in the community – the Miyagawas, the Tim Bunces, the Curtis Jewels. And there’s hundreds more perl gurus blogging. Okay, maybe 10 more.
- There are multiple perl news sources. I listed a few here.
- If you want to improve your perl-fu there is IRC or Perl Monger groups. Emacs in contrast had fewer options.
- There are more perl bloggers, so your post disappears off the Ironman aggregation pretty quickly.
- Six weeks may not be enough to build up a following.
- There are more areas of perl to be interested in. Maybe no-one else wants to know about writing AnyEvent TCP servers.
It could also be that the quality of my writing is poor. But one of you guys would tell me, right?
Why does this matter?
Blogging has to have some value to me, otherwise I might as well watch TV. I do get something out of it even if there are no readers – I’m able to find my fantastic code snippets as long as I have access to the internet. But the lack of input means this doesn’t really offset the effort to write a story around each post. And these days with github et al there are easier and better ways to get your code out there.
Okay, no worries, you’re thinking, if Jared stops blogging about perl (not that I’m thinking of doing so) no-one loses anything. But maybe my experiences is why the level of blogging activity is low compared to the relative size of the community.
And maybe it just doesn’t matter.