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By Michael McCarthy

December  1995
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Are you the kind of person who likes to put in your two cents? The SunWorld Online Reader Advisory Board is looking for you. (800 words)

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We've been publishing this magazine for Unix professionals, in one form or another and under one title or another, for many years now. We work hard to understand the information needs of our readers -- that reader survey you see in every issue is one source of feedback. We also get unsolicited e-mail advice from readers, which we appreciate (sometimes through gritted teeth, but appreciate all the same).

But in a new medium such as this Web publishing, there's still lots we've got to know and understand but we have to guess, experiment, and ask lots more questions. Is the magazine usable? Useful? Does the layout work? Are we making it as easy as possible for you to get the information you need, in a timely manner? Should we do this? Or should we do that?

Reader surveys, with their "yes, no, maybe" click-and-answer format, can only go so far. So I'm relaunching the Reader Advisory Board -- readers who volunteer to help us by answering questions I e-mail them at random intervals.

We tried this under our previous title, Advanced Systems, with great success. The members of the Advisory Board had a wide variety of experience, both exotic and mundane. They advised us about products they're using or interested in hearing about, and what overly hyped topics they were sick of. They set us straight on lots of issues, and especially, they gave me long answers to short questions that just don't have short answers. I miss that.

So will you join my Board and offer me the benefit of your advice? You can help influence the direction of this pioneering computer magazine, while making sure we write about things you care about, on your terms, in your language. And of course you get the inestimable satisfaction of telling people you're on the Advisory Board of the all-but-renowned SunWorld Online. (Last time we had some people put it on their business cards.)

Are you interested in joining? If so, e-mail me right away at I sure do appreciate your help.

SunWorld button on the Sun

You may have noticed something we're mighty proud of: We now have a permanent logo button on the Sun Home Page. Previously we were mention as a cover line or otherwise in passing. Now with a permanent home, we're already seeing readership figures rise. Sun's is one of the busiest sites on the Internet, and having a button at is like setting up a storefront on Park Avenue.

Meanwhile, Sun Microsystems is busily upgrading their hardware and connections. New server software and a bigger pipe mean visitors can get to the Sun site faster and more easily. That's good for us, too, since Sun is kind enough to host us on their system. It's quite a trick staying one step ahead of the bottlenecks, since Sun's visitor traffic grows at a phenomenal rate every quarter.

At SunWorld we estimate our monthly readership at 50,000 individuals, who read an average of four articles. We serve up about 5,000 articles a day, and growing. Meanwhile subscribership is jumping too -- we've got nearly 7,000 registered readers as I write this. Registered readers get regular monthly reminders that the issue is in -- you don't have that thud of a magazine hitting your in box each month, so you need a periodic alert. The registration form also helps us define our readership so we can sell advertising to pay for this thing. If you haven't already signed up, right now is a good time.

As our first six months in the Web publishing business draw to a close, we thank you for reading SunWorld Online and hope your new year is prosperous, peaceful, and rewarding in every way.

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Performance Q&A: Cockcroft answers reader questions.

Feature: The many hats of the webmaster.

Sysadmin: Harden your networks.

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Last updated: 1 December 1995

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About the author
Michael McCarthy is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of SunWorld Online.

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