[Mailman-Developers] Mailman Usability

Tobias Eigen tobias at kabissa.org
Fri Mar 4 14:54:21 CET 2005

Hi all,

I'm glad to see this thread continuing. I agree completely with Terri,  
Fil and Joost. I'm really impressed with Googlegroups.. I used it  
recently and it works well from a usability standpoint. I think Joost  
has hit the nail on the head about how Mailman works well if you want  
to understand exactly what it is doing and how it works - most people  
(as shown by Yahoogroups) don't need this anymore and can expect to be  
shielded from it. Likewise the passwords in the welcome message.

It sounds like through changes to the email interfaces/templates, new  
wrappers (liked that idea very much) and a toggle for expert/newbie  
interfaces, as well as integration with forums for discussion lists, we  
*can* make Mailman more usable by ordinary people.

BTW, for those (like Kabissa) considering non-open source options, I  
see that Jive Forums has an "email gateway" that can handle Mailman  
integration and MBOX importing. http://www.jivesoftware.com - they have  
a nonprofit license option that is in the realm of the affordable.  
Something for the FAQ?

So yes, Terri, count me in! I have a ready group of Kabissa members and  
list owners who would be willing to help out with usability testing. We  
also do training regularly and have training partners in Africa, so  
could possibly take advantage of that to do usability testing with  

Waiting for MM3 might be too long for me - I am in the process of  
overhauling Kabissa's interfaces and integrating them, and need to be  
making more rapid progress on making Mailman work for me or replacing  
it with something easier.



On Mar 4, 2005, at 5:50 AM, Fil wrote:

>> Same here.  I am considering writing a wrapper in front of the admin
>> pages, with _lots_ of buttons removed.  (Don't hold your breath for
>> that, though.)  Perhaps a newbie/expert toggle on the interface would  
>> be
>> helpful.  Lots of listadmins at the site here are overwhelmed by the
>> sheer _amount_ of buttons.
> Most people don't care about options. On my site I have tried to  
> streamline
> the registration process: there is a popup window where you can type  
> in your
> email, and sub/unsub (whether you are or not already subscribed).
> See for instance http://listes.rezo.net/popup/ (click on the first  
> link).
> But the second most important place for usability is the welcome  
> message,
> which is loaded with options and jargon. I have replaced it with (in  
> French):
> <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
> ----------------------------------------------------------
>  %(welcome)s
>  Votre adresse est inscrite sur la liste %(real_name)s@%(host_name)s
>  Merci.
> ----------------------------------------------------------
>  Pour vous désabonner, une page vous est réservée
>  %(optionsurl)s
>  %(umbrella)s
>  Ce mot de passe empêchera quiconque de vous
>  désabonner contre votre gré : %(password)s.
>  Autres informations sur la liste %(real_name)s :
>   %(listinfo_url)s
> But I still find it too complex; we should get rid of the password  
> thing.
> People just nedd to know where they can see more options.
> As for the web interface, from what I've seen I think GoogleGroups has  
> got
> the slickest interface for the moment.
> -- Fil
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Tobias Eigen
Executive Director

Kabissa - Space for Change in Africa

* Kabissa's vision is for a socially, economically, politically, and  
environmentally vibrant Africa, supported by a strong network of  
effective civil society organizations. *

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