Few pieces of software are more universal than text editors. Many flame wars have been fought between groups insisting that their editor of choice is the paragon of editing perfection, and insulting the others. Most participants in these arguments recognize that it is (largely) tongue-in-cheek. Unlike the related battles over operating systems, programming languages, and even source code indent style, choice of editor usually only affects oneself.
Editor wars are usually fought between the devotees of the two most popular editors on Unix-like systems: vi and emacs. The arguments usually focus on modern implementations of these two editors, the most popular of which are vim and GNU emacs. Most users of these systems are familiar with both programs to some extent, knowing them well enough to at least do some basic text editing, and therefore feel they are well-placed to make judgment calls as to which is "better". Both editors are extensive and extremely powerful tools, and have rather steep learning curves, so users invest a lot of time in getting to know the editor they use. This necessary time investment results in more opinionated users.
A 1984 interview with vi creator Bill Joy revealed that he himself used ed, which led Emacs proponents to the saying, "even Bill Joy doesn't use vi anymore.
The Church of Emacs, formed by Richard Stallman, is a joke, and while it refers to vi as the "editor of the beast" (vi-vi-vi being 6-6-6 in Roman numerals) , it does not oppose the use of vi; rather, it calls proprietary software an anathema. ("Using a free version of vi is not a sin but a penance.) It has its own newsgroup, alt.religion.emacs, that has posts purporting to support this parody religion.
Here is a typical post:
Truly, our responsibility to spread the Gospel of the Gnu is weighty. Cleave to what is good. Remember the words the prophet Stallman brought down from the Mount MIT, graved in Lisp on tablets of crystalline lambda calculus.
Only this true: Emacs is pure. All else is false. Do not be misled by false gods like Vi, the Editor of the Beast. Do not be seduced by Word, the Scarlet Woman of Babylon. Do not be driven to madness by Xcode, the Blind Priest of the Children of Asherath.
When the wild winds of chaos blow, stay pure. When the universe collapses in shards around you, stay holy. When the gibbering hobgoblins of apostate Editors attack with shards of broken syntax, seek the crystalline stillness within you.
Brethren, ensure that you (Meta-x-say-hallel-to-Emacs) daily for otherwise you will be lost. When the Beast comes, only Emacs can save you.
This was brought to you as a public service by the Holy and Ineffable Church of The Mighty Emacs. SUPPORT THIS CRUSADE WITH YOUR DONATIONS. EMAIL THE STILL BEATING HEART OF A VILE VI USER TO emacs-highpriest@god-hates-vi-users
Stallman has jokingly declared himself to be St IGNU−cius, a saint in the Church of Emacs.
vi supporters have created an opposing Cult of vi, argued by the more hardline Emacs users to be an attempt to "ape their betters".
Regarding vi's modal nature, some Emacs users joke that vi has two modes – "beep repeatedly" and "break everything". vi users enjoy joking that Emacs's key-sequences induce carpal tunnel syndrome, or mentioning one of many satirical expansions of the acronym EMACS, such as "Escape Meta Alt Control Shift" (a jab at Emacs's reliance on modifier keys). Others have posited that this acronym in fact means "Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping" (in a time when that was a great amount of memory) or "EMACS Makes Any Computer Slow" (a recursive acronym like those Stallman uses), in reference to Emacs's high system resource requirements. Another often quoted and recursive acronym is "EMACS Mallocs All Core Storage". The more modern humorist uses "Eventually Mallocs All Core Storage" as his or her future-proof witticism. Those who have a particular beef with the GNU flavor of EMACS (perhaps an XEmacs fan) may propose "Generally Not Used, Except by Middle-Aged Computer Scientists" as the proper expansion.
As a poke at Emacs’ creeping featurism, vi advocates will describe Emacs as “a great operating system, lacking only a decent editor”.
O'Reilly, a company which sells Vim and Emacs tutorials say the Vim one sells twice as many as Emacs. This has been taken by some to suggest that around twice as many individuals prefer Vim over Emacs. However, it is noted that many advanced programmers use Emacs and its various offshoots, including Linus Torvalds who uses MicroEMACS.
In a Q&A session with nine prominent programmers, when asked what their favorite tools were, six of them mentioned Emacs.
In addition to vi and emacs workalikes, pico and its free software clone nano and other editors often have their own third-party advocates in the editor wars, though not to the extent of vi and emacs.