Quoting Lior W. (opensource.*.n...@neverbox.com):

> Please don't take it the wrong way, but this seems like an opportunity to
> ask to move this mailing list to a forum.

Web forums suffer several characteristic technical disadvantages
compared to mailing lists:

1.  Really terrible threading.
2.  In general, no user-specific killfile or scoring function.  
    (Where one exists, it is usually primitive.  In any event, if it 
    exists, it is one-size-fits-all.)
3.  Relatively speaking, its technology makes the user's task of
    independently archiving his/her own contributions or those of 
    other interesting participants non-trivial enough that most 
    users very seldom do it, even for postings they'll later really 
    miss when they vanish in the next Web board makeover.
4.  Statistically speaking, their contents are not preserved for very
    long, being (far more) prone to getting discarded in Web site redesigns, 
    cutovers from one flavour of Web board to another, hosting hardware
    failures, etc.

To expand on the latter two points:  Admittedly, most of us are kidding
ourselves if we think we're creating written works for the ages rather
than ephemera, but we like to imagine that our best postings, the ones
we sweat over to cover a topic exhaustively or with particular insight,
will persist, reach people, and maybe even become touchstones on the
topic.  This is just orders of magnitude more likely with typical
mailing lists than typical Web forums.  Therefore, in that sense, they
return a much greater reward for the effert.  And the quality of
postings in general reflects that:  If I go looking for in-depth and
useful information, it's just far more likely to turn up in a mailing
list archive.  Search results in Web boards tends to be lightweight,
relatively useless, and frequently just plain wrong -- as if
more-worthwhile contributors are largely elsewhere, such as on mailing

Almost none of the worthwhile postings I've made to Web forums still
exist.  In some cases, such as the InfoWorld Electric forums, the
forums' contents were mass-discarded without prior warning six or seven
times in a row and then then forum vanished completely.  Meanwhile,
what I flatter myself to imagine having been interesting comments I made
on mailing lists of what we now call the open source community back in
1997 are still there.  E.g.:  http://lists.svlug.org/archives/svlug/

Even where a mailing list or private newsgroup vanishes suddenly one
day, I have the means to easily archive my better contributions by
grabbing them from my sent copies, to prevent them vanishing into the
aether.  Example:

On the other hand, with Web broads, you _do_ get some snazzy animated
GIFs of contributors avatars and pictures of their cats, so that's
partial compensation.  ;->

This concern does not apply with OSI-run discussion media, but I'll
mention it for the general case:

5.  Web forums' central control give participants no easy and built-in
means of working around the problem of unreasonable forum management.
Whereas on a mailing list you have easy access to the real Internet
e-mail addresses of all posters, and frequently also to the roster, and
thus can readily discuss matters out-of-band, in general Web board 
postings do not provide independent contact information.  Thus, in the
general case, you do not have an out-of-band channel.

In fact, the prevailing culture of Web forums doesn't even generally
include use of real names, let alone real out-of-band contact details
such as e-mail addresses.  Not all Web forums are playgrounds of kiddies
hiding behind 'handles', but many are.

Cheers,      Nothing's hotter than having a copyeditor correct your sex scenes.
Rick Moen                                                       -- Max Barry
McQ! (4x80)
License-discuss mailing list

Reply via email to