[Mailman-Users] Automatic subscription based on e-mail subject

R. Diez rdiezmail-temp2 at yahoo.de
Fri Feb 1 03:14:49 EST 2019

 > [...]
> I will ask you how much you are willing to talk to a person who
> basically interrupts, says they aren't really interested in the general
> conversation, so isn't really listening, but if you go out of your way
> to answer in a special way they will hear you. (Which is one way to
> describe what you are doing),

I do not understand why you are misrepresenting my actions. This is the second time in this list, but I have noticed this pattern elsewhere.

I am not interrupting anything. That is a silly thing to say in this context. A mailing list is not a conversation that can get interrupted. 
A mailing list revolves around "topics". That is why people sometimes ask to start a new thread if the subject changes. That is how you skip 
the things you are not interested in. You cannot follow everything.

Most mailing lists labelled as "users" explicitly state that users are welcome to ask questions. I have participated in many such mailing 
lists, mostly for a short time, because I am using a lot of open-source software. I have not (really) subscribed to any of them. But I am 
listening, at least to my subjects. I am participating in this matter.

It is unrealistic to expect general users to subscribe to every mailing list and read many messages before they ask the one important 
question for them today. It is unrealistic to hope that this will help grow a community.

I am not asking for people to "go out of their way to answer in a special way". I am saying that Mailman should do it automatically. See below.

If you think users like me, who do not subscribe and read everything, interrupt and do not really contribute with their messages, your best 
defence is to make this mailing list private. However, if this were my open-source project, I would rather not build such communication 
barriers. This includes dropping terms like "spam" or "a person who basically interrupts" around them.

Of course there is the concept of 'Topic' in a mailing list. Mailman, the web interface, or whatever, does know how to group topics 
together. That is an obvious feature, because people tend to work/participate in threads.

It is true that Mailman cannot achieve 100 % reliability, because it is based on e-mail. Nobody would expect that, not even in web-only 
forums (notification e-mails can also get lost). But Mailman should at least try its best. It has the e-mail subject and some extra headers 
to help. That would be enough in most scenarios, like it is usually enough for the web archives. Filtering short prefixes like "Re:" has 
never been a great problem. And threads participated by humans do not last forever. My guess is, it would mostly work.

Maybe some huge mailing list, like the Linux Kernel, would have to disable such a feature because of CPU or disk load. But most mailing 
lists could cope with that. Incidentally, on huge mailing lists, where no-one can read everything, people are more aware that you should 
address and/or copy the original poster, or they will not get the message.

It is silly to ask people to setup their own e-mail filters for each subject they are interested in, like others suggested here. Computers 
are there to help users, and not the other way around.

Other communication platforms, like Google Groups and https://forum.freifunk.net/ , have both an e-mail and a web interface. I rarely use 
those web interfaces, and they still do a pretty good job at keeping you in the loop for the topics you have participated in.

Unfortunately, I cannot contribute code to this project. It is not just lack of time (I have my own open-source projects), but I don't know 
Python yet.


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