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RE: Forums

From: Sylvain Galineau <sylvaing@microsoft.com>
Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2012 18:20:00 +0000
To: Marat Tanalin | tanalin.com <mtanalin@yandex.ru>, "robert@ocallahan.org" <robert@ocallahan.org>
CC: Matthew Wilcox <elvendil@gmail.com>, "Kang-Hao (Kenny) Lu" <kennyluck@csail.mit.edu>, Bjoern Hoehrmann <derhoermi@gmx.net>, WWW Style <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <3C4041FF83E1E04A986B6DC50F017829033FA215@TK5EX14MBXC296.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>

[Marat Tanalin:]
> 
> 
> As it's already said in this thread multiple times, properly implemented
> forum (not some existing one) would be identical to mailing list from
> perspective of those who prefer mailing lists.
> 

You might as well be saying "a proper Presidential candidate (not any of 
the known ones) would be as good as the incumbent from the perspective 
of those who prefer the latter". Until you identify what 'proper' means 
to those people, the assertion is rather meaningless. And then you get to
tell those voters why they should choose your imaginary candidate if the 
end result is the same.

More importantly, the technical features of whatever forum software you
have in mind are far less important to many active members of this mailing
list than the quality and relevance of the communication it supports. 
While we can sometimes rathole with the best of them, trolling and spam are 
not issues we spend much time dealing with. The quality, relevance and depth
of the discussion are generally and consistently good. In such a context any 
proposal to enable a significant expansion of the user population will raise 
legitimate questions. 

Which leads to the implicit assumption in this thread that having, say, 
1,000 active list/forum members arguing CSS would obviously be better than 
having 100. But better for what? If we want to poll for opinions, sure. But 
this mailing list is not about polling for votes or Likes. Are more people 
better at resolving complex design issues or find new solutions? Lowering 
the barriers to entries, such as they are, is a benefit to a group *if* it 
yields more of the participation that makes the group better at what it is it 
aims to accomplish.

I'm just not convinced quantity will magically lead to higher quality or even 
increase the group's output since the latter is gated by the number of active 
editors (which increases at a slower rate than the number of WG members). At 
the margin, is it likely the current system causes us to miss valuable feedback 
from the community ? It's definitely possible. But if it also prevents us from being 
spammed with so much trolling and nonsense that the WG would have to retreat 
into a private space to do its work (as was the case in the past), shouldn't 
we think very carefully about what it is we're trying to fix and how we do it?

As there is no shortage of forums where the barrier to entry is low, the volume high 
and the signal/noise ratio indistinguishable from zero it should be no surprise than 
any existing arrangement that doesn't exhibit these problems will be defended.

So while I have no problem in principle with your overall request, acknowledging the
existing norms and goals in order to understand what makes the current setup work would 
be helpful imo. Alternatively, you could explain why you think the current system doesn't
work i.e. why spec X missed the boat and how this would not have happened with the feedback
we would have collected using a different communication platform.

(A general note: as an approach, telling existing users they should change their ways 
to accommodate you tends to yield poor results if you can't clearly articulate the 
benefits of having you involved).
Received on Friday, 6 January 2012 18:20:45 GMT

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