First people, please dont get all angry about my suggestion...please hear me
> I really hate on-line forums. They're difficult to track because I
> must remember visit them daily.
OK this is the first issue - 95% of people who need MySQL info do not need
it daily. Mailing lists are a poor tool for them.
> And I can't use them while disconnected.
Hmmmm...seems like some Yahoo! employee has never used Yahoo! Groups ;)
There is plenty of web discussion software (like Yahoo! Groups, although I'm
not necessarily recommending that one) where you can still have all of the
features of a mailing list, yet also have all the features of web
discussion, so there really is no reason to have a mailing list only, except
to be old-school.
> > A web discussion board is a much more powerful and flexible tool for
> > this type of community.
> Hmm. E-mail has been around for a long, long time. I'm skeptical of
> this claim.
Just because its been around longer means its better? Or should never be
augmented? I'm just saying that usenet groups and discussion forums solved
the problem of belonging to too many mailing lists. If every package I used
involved a mailing list for discussion, I would need to track about 40 of
them. Right now the only mailing lists I really am stuck using is MySQL and
ImageMagick is the worst, as there is no archive (well, there are monthly
gz's - big help - gah) and requires subscription. If you want to ask a
single question, you are obliged to subscribe and suck down all the daily
traffic (more traffic then MySQL) until your thread is dead. I guess my
hatred for mailing groups has more to do with that list then this one.
Every time I want to get involved I have to go figure out - OK, hmmmm trying
to remember do I need to subscribe? Whats that process?
> > Thread tracking, archiving, searching
> E-mail gives you all of those.
Unless you have the entire history of the mailing list downloaded to your
mail spool and have a very powerful, feature-rich, and most importatly very
fast email search tool, you cant both search archives and post messages with
the same piece of software.
Email is ok for thread tracking if subject integrity is maintained, but most
email clients cant reliably collapse and expand threads.
> > Cant we convert this into a discussion board or better yet just make
> > the usenet group mirror postable from google groups?
> I believe there is already a read-only NNTP mirror of this group.
The NNTP mirror is actually a double-edged sword - yes it takes care of
archiving and searching (via Google Groups), I will agree, but it misleads
infrequent users into thinking posting actually does something meaningful.
> > There are 4 lists like this one where I have to continuously
> > subscribe and unsubscribe throughout the year when I want to
> > participate.
> Why must you subscribe and unsubscribe to participate? There's no
> membership requirement to post here. And you can always read the
> messages on-line. There are at least 2 web archives of this group.
> You've seen those, right? I know that Google has.
Sorry, I didnt realize that I didnt need to subscribe to post - but again,
this is one of those rules for each mailing list that you must remember,
which is a PIA. Yes, if you live here, it is not a problem of remembering,
but 95% of people who use MySQL dont require that level of involvement.
> > Also emails get mirrored on google groups for convenient spam
> > harvesting - its really a pain in the butt.
> How would using a web forum help that?
Because most modern web forum software has an option to hide your email
Also a web forum has a lot of other advantages:
-Easily break discussion into sub-categories (especially for MySQL, where
SQL questions are combined with everything else, would be nice to break that
-Sticky posts with general, important, and first-timer information
-Better threading, allowing subject change and collapsing/expanding threads
-Web Forums have the search box and a link menu to other resources at the
top (source downloads, documentation, related sites) rather then needing to
switch between web and email applications to integrate resources.
-Dont break long URLs.
-Heavily quoted emails easier to read.
-Thread listings can show #replies, views, age, even have ratings and show
-Facilitate private messages without using email.
Also, a lot of people are adverse to web collaboration because most free
discussion software is crap. It is either not very powerful, poorly
designed, or difficult to install and/or maintain. There is very powerful
stuff out there that is very well designed, you just need to kick down for
FuseTalk seems like an excellent package.
FatWallet.com uses it. I'm sure there are more relevant implementation
examples as theirs is kinda hokey and fun, which isnt specific to the
software package itself, but the features are astounding and very useful. I
love its ability for users to rate thread quality.
SourceForge is a great idea, but a poorly designed system.
Obviously a package designed by an engineer, its a mess.