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On Jul 22, 2007, at 12:33 PM, Terri Oda wrote:
On 20-Jul-07, at 8:39 AM, Barry Warsaw wrote:
I've looked at a few lurker archivers and I wasn't blown away by its user interface. That's apparently highly configurable though.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about interface, and I'm coming to the conclusion that something more like a web bulletin board is probably the way to go, given that people use them all the time without much trouble and with a fairly minimal amount of whining. ;)
I like this for several reasons. I've long wanted a bridge between
the traditional mailing list and a forum because to me they're
related along a spectrum of emotional investment.
What I mean is this. For the subjects and projects I care deeply
about, I join the mailing list. I want to be intimately involved in
the day-to-day collaboration that being subscribed gives me. I care
enough about that that I'm willing to put up with the pain that comes
along with mailing lists, such as the overhead for subscribing,
deleting topics I don't care about, the occasional spam, the overhead
of going on vacation or leaving the list, etc.
But there are even more topics or projects that I have only a
fleeting interest in. Say I find a bug in some X program, or wake up
and decide to learn how to use setuptools, or find that some recent
update broke my Linux server. In all those cases, I might want to
start a thread of discussion or ask a question, and be very involved
in that thread for a week or two. Then, my interest wanes, or I get
my question answered, or other projects pique my interest. Mailing
lists are pretty bad at managing those kinds of fleeting involvement,
but forums are quite nice. There's usually fairly low overhead (and
probably even less if OpenID and such were in widespread adoption)
for joining, and when I lose interest the forum doesn't fill up my
inbox. OTOH, forums seem good for short 'instant' messages, but not
so good (IMO) for free ranging, detailed discussions. So there's a
I'm trying to use interfaces to things like comment systems (which are often threaded -- picture the slashdot stuff, maybe?) and popular boards like phpbb (which isn't threaded beyond separate topics) as guides to how people usually deal with conversations on the web.
It'd actually be fairly easy, at that point, to just put a posting interface into the archives (yes, you'd have to be logged in, and yes, this means your password becomes that bit more valuable because someone having it can pose as you to the list... but they could do that by spoofing your email address so I'm not too concerned). But then people who don't like email or just want to pop by and check the list quickly could actually use mailman like a web board, which is something I'm pretty sure would get used (I know my users have asked for it in the past).
Heck, /I'd/ use it, so what more justification do we need? :)
I've been drafting simple prototype interfaces in my head, trying to keep potential architectures in mind. I'm hoping I'll have time this week to code some up HTML and see how well they actually work when they're not just inside my head. :)
I'd love to see the prototypes once you've committed them to HTML.
The one important thing is that the individual postings will need the
equivalent of a stable archive URL (i.e. permlink) that could be
passed around, added to web pages, etc.