When we were first kicking around the idea of Linux Journal, we decided that a survey posted to the comp.os.linux news group on Usenet would be the best way to find areas of interest. In April, 1993 we posted that survey to the Internet and tabulated the answers.
The initial answers told us two things:
Linux Journal was needed
People knew what they wanted to see in Linux Journal
In order to make sure we were still on track, we posted the same survey to Ascent in December, 1993. The letters column comes from answers to question two of the survey, “Are there any other topics you would like to see covered?” The table below shows average responses to question one of the survey.
Survey question 1 answers:
Rate your interest in the following features:
(1=not interested, 2=possible interest, 3=interested, 4=very interested, 5=that's my subject!)
Based on the results of this survey, we have tailored the content of LJ and will continue to tailor it based on reader feedback.
With regard to advertising (question 3), about 90% of those who responded supported the policy. People who felt we should let anyone advertise outnumbered those who felt that having advertising was a mistake. Many of the readers felt that advertising would help them locate new products and saw that as an advantage.
Virtually everyone who returned the survey said they would like to subscribe and about 10% offered to write articles. Interest in advertising was lower (about 3%), but that was to be expected. We thank you all for your support.
When we first started getting subscribers, about 85% were from the United States. Survey results were running more like 65% from the US. We then made an offer of free copies of LJ for user groups to give out to their members and, the response was about 50% non-US.
Our conclusion was that our higher non-US subscription rate was the problem. So, we negotiated with international distributors and now offer the same subscription rate ($19/year) anywhere on the planet. We expect this change will get our subscriber base more in line with the survey results.