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Re: Changes for emacs 28

From: chad
Subject: Re: Changes for emacs 28
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 2020 11:45:27 -0700

On Sun, Sep 13, 2020 at 3:31 AM <tomas@tuxteam.de> wrote:
But the argument "it's more popular, so it must be better" is too naive, I think.

As conversations progress, details get dropped because context builds up. That said, I think it's important to realize that "it's more popular, so it must be better" isn't the argument that brought up this (current wave of this periodically-recurring) discussion; rather, the argument is "people try emacs but go (back) to VSCode, because ...". Usually, that sentence ends in some form of "it's much easier/more intuitive to get started" or "it's quick/easy/obvious how to get it to 'it just-works'". 

In other words, the popularity is a symptom, not a cause. It's worthwhile to remind ourselves of this now and then, but it's not the central thrust of the original argument (even if it is sometimes used as evidence for subsequent points).

Similarly, this point:

On Sun, Sep 13, 2020 at 3:59 AM Göktuğ Kayaalp <self@gkayaalp.com> wrote:
We’re asking "why people aren’t coming to Emacs in hordes" too much,
when "why are people using Emacs in the first place" is the more
important one.

The argument that started (this wave) is more about how and why people `bounce off of Emacs' so often. While there are always new people with unique viewpoints, I have personally seen many, _many_ potential emacs users (including programmers, scientists, and other professionals who very much understand the concept of investing time in mastering tools) try emacs, and give up, often very quickly. This has been happening for decades -- For example, way back when I was an undergrad, I used to work user support for students, faculty, and staff. Emacs was the default text editor, and still we saw lots of people try emacs and give it up for other choices, even when those options were known to be less powerful, buggier, and not officially supported.

My point here is not to call anyone out in the discussion, but to remind (reassert?) that Emacs' "approachability" has always been a concern, and that issue has gotten more intense as the baseline of computer familiarity and competence has increased dramatically. This issue doesn't concern "market share" or "general popularity", although that has some obvious upsides -- it's about the large numbers of people who understand that Emacs should be especially interesting to them, and invest some effort into trying it, and don't get very far. In addition to the fringe benefits of network effects, there are a bunch of potential hackers, maintainers, porters, documentation writers, editors, and the like that bounce off of emacs. I think it's clear that it would be very helpful to the project to have more of those people bounce off less quickly, at least.

Hope that helps,

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