I'm very sad to hear you're disappointed with the current state of the magazine. You're one of the people we take particular notice of in the forums - sort of like a compass, as it were, as you're generally in tune with what we consider readers are after. So if you're unhappy, it means we have serious problems!
Would it be possible for me to talk this matter of with you by email? I should very much like to be able to canvass your opinions and see where we're going wrong. If this is OK, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I'll write back.
Anyway... regarding what you've said so far:
Early LXF was nichie, informative and worth reading from cover to cover. Now it seems we get articles such as CLI vs GUI and MDK vs SuSE, a constant barrage of the latest revision of the three biggest distros, how to develop KDE and I am sorry to say, more and more pages get skipped each month. Some of the articles even seem to be written by non-specialist journalists.
I think it's safe to say that everyone agrees LXF has become less niche, but equally it's safe to say that Linux has become less niche also! But that's not to say we should abandon our original aims: we still want to get all the niche information we can, and if we're not doing that then we really need some re-adjustment (hence why I'd love to email you directly).
It's my personal opinion that the versus features have been a success - some issues go by when we only get a handful of letters in, of which many just say that LXF is great and we should keep up the good work. While every letter is valued, we generally know when we hit the right mark because we get a flood of letters - and the versus features are just that. People are re-evaluating why they have always used KDE, and I think that's a great thing.
KDE development isn't for everyone, but again we try to cover something for everyone. LXF70 has a Beagle howto, LXF71 will have a database tutorial, etc... we just keep trying new things, along with our regulars (*cough* PHP *cough*
In 128 page magazine, I'd like to think we could get readers enjoying 50 or more. That might sound low, but when you think about it 50 pages of reading is quite a lot - our reader survey showed LXF readers spent more time going through their mag than every other magazine we knew of. That either means the general page readership is high, or our writing is dreadful
Articles from non-specialist journalists... well, we do try to keep that to a minimum. Often the writers are specialists, just in a very unusual field - such as backups.
Now this is not to say there is not good in LXF for there is, just this good seems to becoming thinner on the ground. Some of the articles are wonderful and I learn, am drawn too and encourage me to expand my horizons. From LXF69, PERL and PhP tuts, marvelous, the retro games, read the first series but enjoyed it, Alan Cox's interview, different but what a portfolio.
Well, that means from LXF69 you read and enjoyed about 25 pages - not a lot! That's something we need to work on. We have been looking to retarget our reviews: I picked up on a forum post where people were asking for an Arch Linux feature, and acted on it - we now have a revised list of distros we should be covering. That's totally my fault: I've handled the reviews on LXF for a long time, and our distro review system changed a lot - and not in a good way. We're going back to basics there... I sent out a list of the 15 distros we should be reviewing to all our contributors, and hopefully we'll be able to keep that up. Watch this space - but the moral is that posting to the forum (thanks, VLegacy and co!) works.
<< However, the hot picks are constantly "you need Qt or GTK...", why do we need Gnome/KDE? How about more low depenadancy software? >>
It's interesting you say this - Mike is one of our most talented writers, and he is usually has his finger on the pulse of what people want. Here's an idea (posted here so that I don't forget to tell Mike tomorrow!): how about a Qt/GTK-free HotPicks issue? That is, one issue where all the HotPicks don't need those toolkits? It's tricky to do long-term, though: we already have a box for HotPicks Revisited, and we recently added the Games box... not sure there's enough room to add a "Low Dependency" box, but if enough people want it we can certainly try. Mike?
<< The letters/problems published seem to be very similar month on month (that may be just the choice LXF has) >>
Sadly we don't have control over our readers. That said, our mind control device is nearing completion. And you thought the orange website colouring was just bad style......
<< and the magazine is becoming, from my humble opinion, ever more like M$ press I am sorry to say. >>
<< Niche writing is fantastic. Please review more non Qt software. Endless articles on KDE/Gnome/SuSE/RH-Fedora/Mandriva or Linux being ready for the desktop is not so good. >>
Well, this is all very helpful criticism, and I promise we'll look into it. LXF is "premium priced" (ie: it causes new readers to a double take at the checkout
, which means we need to do all we can to justify your expenditure. I know you say money isn't an issue, but I think it is: we shouldn't rest on our laurels.
So, what I'm understanding so far is:
i) Less "Look, shiny new SUSE release!", more upcoming distros.
ii) Less long series on programming, more relevant, niche, and new pieces.
iii) More interesting letters.
You may need to write in to help out with #3
Thanks for taking the time to write in - I guess you could have just cancelled your subscription and said nothing, so it's very nice of you to give us some guidance. You'll have to trust me: it isn't easy getting the balance right!
We're currently putting the finishing touches to LXF70, and I think it's a particularly good issue. LXF71 is already virtually set in stone also, which means the first chance we'll have to really put your comments into action will be LXF72, but I hope to be in touch with you (Erin) soon to talk over what you've said to make sure I understand you right.
<< Regards and thanks to the LXF staff, I am trying to be honest and not slate what you are trying to achieve, just offer a view. >>
Thanks again - it really does help when we receive honest feedback with specific points.