[uf-discuss] Mailing list debate moved & new proposal

Mike Schinkel mikeschinkel at gmail.com
Thu Nov 2 05:37:42 PST 2006

I'm going to reply to several responses at once.

>> Why not create a new mailing list for each proposal, once it's
>> reached a certain stage?
Ryan King>>  Because that's more administrative overhead for 
Ryan King>>  admin's who're already overloaded.

The problem is that the current Microformat process is not at all scalable.
It is much like having you managing a file containing all domain names, and
anytime someone wants a new domain name or subdomain, or make a change, they
have to get your time and attention. I think we all know what a boon DNS
was.  We should look to benefit from prior knowledge and organize the
Microformat inititive so it can scale. 

Frances Berriman>> I agree.  Creating a list for each proposal 
Frances Berriman>> seems unmanageable and would result in 
Frances Berriman>> a lot of dead lists eventually.

It all depends on how you manage the process. If you make new lists
willy-nilly, yes. But if we look for a group of people that are serious
about creating an Microformat ontology for a vertical area and we have
obviously committted people, then I see no reason why most lists would not
end up thriving.

Frances Berriman>> Personally, I quite like watching the general 
Frances Berriman>> chatter about various proposals - rather 
Frances Berriman>> than having to subscribe to each individual 
Frances Berriman>> one.

Maybe you do, but I'm already maxed trying to watch this list with the
traffic is has; if it doubled, trippled, or was an order of magnitude more,
there is no way I could ever deal with it.  And I have to believe the same
would be true for you.

Andy Mabbett>> For example, several academic and professional 
Andy Mabbett>> taxonomists have told me in e-mail that they 
Andy Mabbett>> would be interested in the species proposal, 
Andy Mabbett>> (and one astronomer, likewise, for mars/ luna), 
Andy Mabbett>> but donot have the time to follow a general 
Andy Mabbett>> mailing list; indeed, a couple asked me specifically 
Andy Mabbett>> if I would set up a separate mailing list for the subject.
Andy Mabbett>> How do you suggest that we engage such people?

I'm 100% with Andy on this. Delegating authority for vertical microformats
is the only way to scale the initiative, and this initiative, and this
initiative could explode in a very good way if we just give it the right
mechanisms and reduce the friction.

John Allsopp>> I reiterate my suggestion for a "modern" forum like 
John Allsopp>> BBPress, where you can subscribe via RSS to individual 
John Allsopp>> threads, where threads can be tagged, where searching 
John Allsopp>> is much less of a pain than with a mailing list ...

I'm also 100% with John on this.  Forums also given the benefit of providing
a much multidimensional organization for archives.  It's also much, much
easier to follow the history for a thread. You can also do a lot more with
search engine optization of a forum to bring in interest people. 

Colin Barrett>> I don't like forums because I have to go to a website 
Colin Barrett>> to use them. 

And I *far* prefer using a forum over a mailing list. The only reason I'm on
this mailing list is because my interest in Microformats outweights how much
I despise using mailing lists. Which means I'm highly interested in
Microformats because I really, really despise mailing lists.

And I don't like mailing lists because I tried to stay focused but getting
messages is a constant interruption (yes I use an inbox rule, but Outlook
freezes for a split second every time I get messages, so I am constantly
aware of them. I sometimes have to take my laptop somewhere so I can work
without all the infernal email. 

I hate to say it, but it sure was nice with the list server was down. ;)

Colin Barrett>> I'd much rather work from my email 
Colin Barrett>> client, which has a nice big text box, 
Colin Barrett>> unlike a forum, which often have 
Colin Barrett>> ridiculously small text entry elements. 

"Always have ridiculously small text entry elements" would be a valid reason
not to use a forum, but "often have ridiculously small text entry elements"
is not.  It seems like maybe you haven't actually seen some of the newer
forums in use over the past ~5 years?  Any chance you developed this bias
early on when forums sucked, and haven't returned to use a forum since? (I'm
not attacking you, just frustrated with having to use this list when forums
IMO are so much better.  I also had someone who is using a forum I
administer fight me tooth and nail to stick    with email, and a year later
she is one of the highest volume users of the forum.)

I'd done a lot of research into forums, and I've come to the conclusion
there is really only one forum worth seriously considering for its features
and 3rd party support (unless you are on Windows Server) and that is
vBulletin (http://www.vbulletin.com).  It doesn't have tiny little text
boxes and have some really incredible features. And if costs $85/year to
rent or $160 to buy w/a year of upgrades; definitely a bargain.

What's more, it has a mailing list integration module
(http://www.vbulletin.org/forum/showthread.php?t=65152) so we could have the
best of both worlds. The envelope pushers could have their forum, and the
lluddites could stick with email. ;-)

Colin Barrett>> Plus, the UI in my email client is much nicer than that of
most forums.

vBulletin can be configured to send posts to your email, so you'll be able
to still use your email client for reading if you like.

Colin Barrett>> There are a host of other 
Colin Barrett>> disadvantages to using a forum.

Can you detail those disadvantages for us to discuss/debate?

Colin Barrett>> Granted, mailing lists aren't perfect, but we have one now
and it works. 

A vBulletin forum can be set up in a two hours max.  I'll run it if that's
an option so it would only be my time.  

Colin Barrett>> Forums also require a bit more administration 
Colin Barrett>> than a mailing list, and our list administrators 
Colin Barrett>> are already over-worked, it seems.

How does it take more admin?  I administer a vBulletin forum right now and
it takes almost no time at all. You don't have to worry about issues with
POP3 and SMTP so it IMO is actually easier.

-Mike Schinkel

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