I saw someone on Twitter posing the question:

"How many people around the world use GNU #Emacs? Could it be over a million?"

It struck me as a very interesting question and got me thinking about how large the community actually is! I came up with two data points:

Based on the 2016 Stack Overflow Survey, 5.2% of 46,613 responses (of 56,033 respondents) used Emacs as a development environment. Stack Overflow indicate that they estimated 46 million people visited SO in January alone. If the survey respondents were representative of visitors, that would suggest ~2.0 million users of this sort visited SO in January 2016 (or at least 2,425 users ;-).

In 2015 they asked about preferred text editor. 4.1% of 16,778 resonses (of 26,086 respondents) indicated Emacs or XEmacs. At the time they estimated 32 million people visited SO monthly. These numbers suggest that ~840 thousand users of this sort were visiting SO in February 2015.

They acknowledge both surveys are:

...biased against devs who don't speak English, or who don't like taking English-language surveys.

(and they likely offer a high estimate for their amount of unique traffic)

What other data might shed some light on this question? Maybe the Debian package popularity contest?

  • 18
    I think there are only 42 unique users - that looks like the right answer. But many aliases.
    – Drew
    Apr 15, 2017 at 3:54
  • 3
    I have my doubts all visitors would have filled in that survey, I surely didn't. Whether the group that does is representative of the whole stackoverflow community, I don't know. Another point to keep in mind is that many of those questions allowed naming more than one editor, so it could have included people using Emacs along with something else, like for Org only.
    – wasamasa
    Apr 15, 2017 at 8:04
  • 1
    Re the google trends, the queries are likely highest for new users on the curve. Not as many new users doesn't necessarily mean the old users have died. Aug 4, 2018 at 8:47
  • 2
    Many users don't need a search engine(like Google) to answer their questions about Emacs :) Also there are more search terms related to Emacs like org mode and other packages which don't add up to Emacs itself. Oct 23, 2018 at 4:17
  • 5
    Also Take a note that 'the decline' is because some people migrated to DuckDuckGo.
    – azzamsa
    Feb 9, 2019 at 11:04


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