Re: proposal: drop emails from public-html human lists

On Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 7:16 AM, Lachlan Hunt <> wrote:
> ...
> In general, forums suck for technical discussion. The poor integration with
> e-mail and lack of proper threading makes following discussions in an e-mail
> client extremely difficult.  They way they are set up, the only way to
> really read them is sequentially from beginning to end. Without proper
> threading, it's not easy to follow a subset of a given discussion, but are
> instead forced to read interwoven lines of discussion in date order.
> ...

I guess this is a matter of taste, but I disagree.  I find forums like
Bugzilla to be nicer to handle than e-mail for a number of reasons.

It's easier to opt in or out to specific subjects, rather than having
to receive all the mail on everything.  The barrier to entry is lower,
because when you file a bug, by default you're only informed of
changes to that bug rather than receiving loads of unrelated mail that
you have to filter out manually.  (And if you do filter it out
manually, you're missing things people expect you to have read,
because you're using a non-default configuration.)  I'd much prefer to
file a bug than join even a moderate-volume mailing list, because I'm
signed up to a lot of mailing lists already.

Tracking of resolutions is a big plus of Bugzilla.  By e-mail, if a
discussion dies out, it can get lost.  With a bug tracker, you can go
back and check the status of all the issues you're interested in
easily at any time.  The status is clearly stated, which discourages
issues from hanging in limbo forever (or at least makes it clear when
they do).

Mailing lists are also annoying because you can't access the history
after joining in the same way as you can access the history since you
joined.  To link to a post, you have to track down the archive and
find the post there.  This is simplified if you know about the
Archived-At header, but probably most people don't.  (I didn't until I
guessed such a thing must exist and manually inspected the headers.)
Even if you do, you're still linking to a copy of the post that's
separate from the one that everyone actually reads in their mail
client.  Sometimes posts don't get to the archives or are damaged (I
had a post truncated once).  With Bugzilla, everyone is looking at the
same copy.

I don't view lack of threading as a big deal, because my client
(Gmail) threads e-mail discussions about the same as a typical forum
does.  Separate threads are presented separately, and each thread is
displayed linearly.  I find it most convenient to read each thread in
chronological sequence, rather than trying to read it like a tree by
depth-first search, like some online mailing list archives do.  Any
given thread of nontrivial size is typically tangled enough that I get
somewhat confused if I read it out of chronological order, because
some subthreads refer to other subthreads that I haven't read yet.
Chronological order is the only way you read every post after all the
ones it depends on, and it's the way the participants in the
discussion are reading it.

Received on Monday, 6 December 2010 19:10:50 UTC