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Re: First draft of the Emacs website

From: John Yates
Subject: Re: First draft of the Emacs website
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 2015 17:17:10 -0500

Who is your primary audience?  There is no point preaching to your choir.  (Here your choir consists of you yourself, Emacs users and Lisp fans.)

I would argue that the site should be focused on persuading those who know little or nothing about Emacs to give it a try.  Such a person is likely to be someone who has been weened on a combination of GUI and command-line tools.  (My assumption is that anyone who does not already have some exposure to the command-line is a lost cause, but I would be happy to be corrected.)

Do not pitch as virtues aspects that a newbie most likely will perceive as a barrier to entry:
* Hence any mention of Lisp seems inappropriate.  We had better hope that Emacs' Out-Of-Box impression is good enough to motivate - in time - an interest in Lisp, rather than presume it.  Even more off-putting are the fine points of various Lisp dialects and Lisp extensions.
* Displaying Lisp code is probably not a great "come-on".
* The parenthetical "M-x list-packages" makes sense only to someone already familiar with Emacs.

Do not pitch as virtues packages that actually compare poorly to the competition:
* Notably Emacs' support for gdb pales before most IDEs.
* Newbies likely have a long, long road to travel before they will ever consider discarding their current GUI / WYSIWYG / web-based productivity tools for Emacs' text-only calendar, mail project planning packages.

* Generally brevity is a virtue.  The text below the circular icons tends to be wordy.  It feels like you are trying to persuade me by overwhelming me via "featuritis".
* Excessive use of 'including'.
* "Content-sensitive editing modes, including syntax coloring, for a variety of file types including plain text, source code, and HTML." (Awkward and - with two use of 'including' - hard to parse. What is a 'mode' to a newbie?)
* "Complete built-in documentation, including a tutorial for new users."  (Those are two separate items.)
* "Full Unicode support for nearly all human languages and their scripts." (Language support is a bit of a stretch.  The distinction between language and script is unnecessarily technical.  I would mention support for editing of bi-directional text and support for additional encodings beyond Unicode (e.g. DOS code pages, ISO-8859-*, etc).)
* "Highly customizable, using Emacs Lisp code or a graphical interface."  (A casual reader might take that as claiming we have a configuration GUI.  Customize is really little more than a text-based forms package.  It is better than nothing but I would avoid over-selling it.)


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