I've received some early results from Sys Admin magazine's
most recent editorial survey. As I've mentioned in the past,
we do not use an external service to perform this survey; we mail
them and tally the responses ourselves.
Overall, the survey results were gratifying in that we seem to
be providing the information readers are looking for. The responses
indicated that the technical level of articles is right on target.
They also indicated that we provide an appropriate amount of coverage
of readers' favorite topics, which are: security, performance
tuning, scripting, and OS-specific administration. User account
maintenance and integration articles are of less interest. Specifically,
for the second year in a row, respondents found Amy Rich's
Q&A column the most useful of all the regular features in the
Readers are supporting more users than previously. 22% responded
that they now support 100 or more users, and 32% (up from 23% last
year) support more than 500. The most widely administered UNIX operating
systems are (in order): Linux (mainly Red Hat), Solaris, AIX, HP-UX,
BSD (mainly Free BSD), MacOS X, Irix, and Tru64. Some of the duties
that fall within readers' job descriptions are: security, systems
installation, programming/development, education, database administration,
management, Web administration, and engineering and design.
We asked how often readers program in various languages. 94% program
in shell; 79% program in Perl; 51% program in C/C++; 33% write Tcl/Tk
programs; and 28% program in Java. Other languages used are PHP,
Expect, Fortran, and COBOL.
Many of the write-in answers requested larger issues with fewer
ads. Note that a symbiotic relationship exists here -- the ads
in Sys Admin and its supplements directly support our ability
to provide editorial content. Thus, more advertising means more
Respondents liked the "conciseness", "technical
depth", "variety", and "very specific information"
provided within the magazine. There were many requests for more
Perl coverage. Those readers who don't use Solaris would like
to see less Solaris coverage. Suggestions for making the magazine
more useful included: "more product reviews", "more
code examples", "OS-specific columns", "dating
tips", and just plain "more" of everything.
One survey question asked a) whether you subscribe to the Sys
Admin email newsletter, and b) if yes, how useful you find it.
Interestingly, 96% of respondents currently do not subscribe. Those
that do, however, generally find it useful. The monthly email newsletter
provides a preview of the issue -- allowing subscribers to read
the feature article and columns before the print issue arrives in
the mail. If you're not familiar with our newsletter, please
check it out. You can subscribe through the Sys Admin Web
site at: http://www.sysadminmag.com/newsletters.
I thank all of you who took the time to respond to this survey,
and I invite those of you who did not receive one to email your
comments, complaints, and suggestions to me. I'll consider
them all -- I doubt that dating column will happen though. I'm
sure there are more qualified sources out there.
Editor in Chief