Rich Kulawiec on 15 Sep 2016 09:34:06 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] Replacement mailing list idea

On Thu, Sep 15, 2016 at 09:26:29AM -0400, Rich Freeman wrote:
> So, uh, along these lines, what do people think of going along a route
> like Discourse?  :)

Two points.

First, Mailman 2 already integrates with Usenet.  Mailman 3 integrates
with a web-based forum.

Second, mailing lists are, at this point, so vastly superior to *any*
web-based discussion system, that I can't imagine why anyone would even
consider the latter.  Yeah, that may change -- and Mailman 3 is part of
experiments in that direction -- but the feature gap right now is enormous. 

Mailing lists (and Usenet) have a number of significant advantages over
everything else:

1. They're asynchronous: you don't have to interact in real time.
	You can download messages when connected to the 'net, then read
	them and compose responses when offline. 

2. They work reasonably well even in the presence of multiple outages
	and severe congestion.

3. They're push, not pull, so new content just shows up.  Web forums
	require that you go fishing for it.

4. They scale beautifully.

5. They allow you to use *your* software with the user interface of *your*
	choosing rather than being compelled to learn 687 different
	web forums with 687 different user interfaces, all of which
	range from "merely bad" to "hideously bad".

6. You can archive them locally...

7. ...which means you can search them locally with the software of *your*
	choice.  Including when you're offline.  And provided you make
	backups, you'll always have an archive.  (I have about 260G
	of mailing list and Usenet archives.  It's indexed the way I
	want to be, seachable the way I want to be, and it is never
	down or unreachable.)

	I've seen way too many web-based discussions vanish forever
	because a host crashed or a domain expired or a company went
	under or a company was acquired or someone made a mistake or
	there was a security breach or or or...

8. They're portable: lists can be rehosted relatively easily.

9. (When properly run) they're relatively free of abuse vectors.

10. They're low-bandwidth, which is especially important at a point in
	time when many people are interacting via smartphones and/or
	via metered services that charge by the byte and are WAY overpriced,
	and getting more overpriced every day.  This will get worse,
	not better. (See: "data caps")

11. They impose minimal security risk.

12. They impose minimal privacy risk.

13. They can be freely interconverted -- that is, you can move a list
	hosted by A using software X to host B using software Y.

14. They're archivable in a format that is likely to be readable long
	into the future.  (I have archives of lists from the early 1980's.
	Still readable because they're in mbox format.)

15. They can be written to media.  (Perhaps not so much an issue for
	LUG lists in the US, but it certainly is for some lists for
	some users in some countries.  And believe me, there are
	people in *this* country who would very much like to silence 
	certain discussions, e.g., security bugs in automobile
	computer systems.  They've already tried.)  It's not that
	hard to sneakernet a mailing list or a newsgroup across a
	border on a USB stick or a memory card or a CD/DVD.

[ more which I'll omit for the sake of brevity ]

I've often said that you can't take any organization or project
seriously unless it has a mailing list.  ;)  Somewhat snarky,
but also somewhat true.

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