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Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 19:24 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
In reply to: Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha by dlang
Parent article: Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

No, that works terribly. Forum and mailing list formatting and etiquette are entirely different and merging them together works badly - can you imagine how irritating mailing list threads consisting entirely of "bump" messages would be? Because I can, having been there.


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Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 19:31 UTC (Wed) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

"bump" messages are a symptom of the forum not working because the needed people aren't reading it.

as for formatting and etiquette being entirely different, that depends on the mailing list and forums involved. In some cases they are, in other cases they are similar enough to live together.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 19:44 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

No, they're a symptom of the different UI in forums. Mailing lists are generally presented as a set of threads with any unread posts being highlighted. Forums are generally presented as the set of recently modified threads without any immediate visibility as to the posts within them. If you post to a forum there's a good chance that people will miss your post entirely simply because they're not checking the forum frequently enough. Different UI results in different cultural norms, and trying to merge the two leads to disasters.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 21:14 UTC (Wed) by rleigh (guest, #14622) [Link]

What I think I would like here is forum software which is a front-end to NNTP, so that the fora are in reality usenet groups, and can be efficiently accessed with a usenet reader, or via the "friendly" web front-end. This would, I think, provide the best of both worlds, both in terms of ease of access for users, and speedy for developers in keeping up to date with threads in all groups.

Google suggests that such things do exist, but I haven't seen one in practice personally.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 21:23 UTC (Wed) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

FUDForum can do this. This is what Baen uses for http://bar.baen.com

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 20, 2012 4:11 UTC (Thu) by tuna (guest, #44480) [Link]

Most forums (all I frequent) have the "Go to first post since I was here last" functionality.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 19:45 UTC (Wed) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

"bump" messages are a symptom of the forum not working because the needed people aren't reading it.

Or just of the combination "busy forum" + "needed people not having the same diurnal-rhythm distribution as the user base" + "impatient users".

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 21:06 UTC (Wed) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

Ok, change my statement to "aren't reading it frequently enough"

I still say it's a symptom of a problem, and if you have a lot of people bumping threads to fight for priority on the first page, you really need to figure out a better way to structure your forum.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 21:08 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Sure, forums will work when gated to mailing lists if people are using the forum as if they were using a mailing list. But, typically, they're not and so they won't.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 21:13 UTC (Wed) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

I'm curious what ways you see people using forums that are incompatible with mailing lists?

yes, sometimes there are different norms (top posting vs bottom posting, HTML vs plain text, etc), but those variations exist between different mailing lists and between different forums as well, they aren't inherent to the message tool.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 21:17 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

The Ubuntu mailing lists were bidirectionally gated to the forums for a while. Feel free to go back and see how well that worked. A typical forum is culturally different to a typical mailing list, and you're not going to force either existing population into the cultural norms of the other.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 21:27 UTC (Wed) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

given that I know of one place where it is working, I disagree with the attitude that it's impossible.

There is enough variation in culture from mailing list to mailing list, and for forum to forum that I really question if they are so fundamentally incompatible (especially when nobody will bother to say what the differences are, just that they are so different that they can never get along)

I am not saying that there isn't going to be a need for some accommodation, but as noted elsewhere, if this makes it possible for the developers to participate in the forums where they didn't before, the value of getting a real response can overwhelm any inconvenience and friction from the different cultures.


Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 21:29 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

You know of one place where it works, in an entirely different type of community. I know of more than one place where it has failed, in almost identical communities. Which anecdote do you think is more relevant here?

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 22:03 UTC (Wed) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

when you say "it can't possibly work", all it takes is one example of it working to prove you wrong.

At that point the interesting discussion is around why it works in some situations and not in others, but as long as there's just a flat statement of "it can't work" that discussion is not yet taking place.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 23:25 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

"It can work in this entirely different context" is not useful information. "It has failed when it has been attempted in this context" is useful information. And while yes, we could have some sort of academic discussion as to why these communities are different, it would be entirely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 23:36 UTC (Wed) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

why are the contexts different? You are insisting that all the cases that you care about are different, but I don't see any fundamental reason for them being different.

Just because something didn't work well at some point in the past for some group of people doesn't make that thing a bad idea for that reason alone.

in both cases you have a small group of "important" people (developers for opensource stuff, authors for Baen) and a very large group of less "important" or less "clueful" people (users for opensource stuff, readers for Baen)

In both cases the less important people can help each other and get value from interacting with each other.

In both cases the value of a forum increases drastically if the "important" people interact with it, but web forums are horribly inefficient ways for people to keep up with everything.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 23:58 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

If you can't tell the difference between a community made up of science fiction enthusiasts who want to talk about books and one made up of random computer users who want to talk about why their computer doesn't work, I don't think there's any point in trying to discuss it.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 20, 2012 23:57 UTC (Thu) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285) [Link]

I guess I'm another person who doesn't see the big difference you seem to see.

Authors : Readers
Developers : Users

Of course it isn't exactly the same thing but it is quite similar in many ways.

Announcing the release of Fedora 18 Alpha

Posted Sep 19, 2012 19:58 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

Well, you wouldn't want to mix your regular mailing list with forum posts. But a separate mailing list with forum messages where you can answer new posts from your mailer, that should work pretty well.

In my experience, the OMG THE DEVELOPER ANSWERED MY POST AND HE IS NICE AND HUMAN reaction you get when answering a forum question totally overshadows any little etiquette differences there might be.


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