Mailing list and fora are both text media, supporting branching conversations. The only difference is the method of delivery and reply (email vs. web). As mailing list/ forum software continues to be developed, the distinction between the two is breaking down, because it makes sense to use a package that allows people to participate through either email or web interfaces, as they prefer.

Many modern mailing list server packages (like GroupServer) support forum-style subcription management, message searching, and direct replies. Many modern web forum server packages (like Discourse) allow for email delivery and replies. Loomio enables text discussions through both web and email, as well as decision-making using a variety of poll types (so more suited for teams than casual, open-ended discussions).

I think it would make sense to have a unified set of software freedom fora, on one website, with a range of topic-based fora, and help fora for specific projects (eg libre distros, specific applications and so on). The question is how would we get a critical mass of people together who have time to admin/ moderate/ participate, and how would we make decisions about where to host, which software to use, what to call it etc?

Maybe, if we want to get really ambitious, we could try to create a federated set of fora? Could ActivityPub or another standard(s) be used to federate multiple forum packages on multiple hosts, so that people can read, join, and post to the Trisquel-users forum from any of those hosts? The could help to solve the problems of fragmentation (different groups silo'd on different hosts), without trying to herd everyone onto one host.

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