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

Colin Barrett timber at lava.net
Thu Nov 2 12:03:23 PST 2006

On Nov 2, 2006, at 3:37 AM, Mike Schinkel wrote:

> 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.

Perhaps you should try a different email client, then?

> 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.)

The only reason I say Often, is because the version of Safari I'm  
using allows you to resize text entry elements.

> 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.

I use a vBulliten based forum every day and it's torture. I really  
dislike forums, but the people and issues I discuss on the forum  
outweigh my dislike of forums.

> 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. ;-)

Er, I know that was meant as a joke, but calling someone you're trying  
to win to your side a luddite isn't the best way to do so.

> 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.

Can I *reply* from it? I'm pretty sure the answer is no, and the  
composing interface of my email client is much nicer.

> 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?

Sure. User names. I hate them. Theyr'e tolerable on IRC, but in an  
area as permanent and public as a mailinglist/forum I'd rather have my  
full name associated with my (and others) posts, especially a  
technical discussion. It's a chore to keep track of remembering what  
crazy nick name corresponds to which person. Mailing lists also allow  
you to use an already established "identity" -- your email. On a  
forum, you have to create a completely new web presence and identity.  
You can link it to your other ones with signatures and profiles, etc,  
but still, it's another login and another identity.

The above username/identity debacle a pretty huge one, and probably my  
number one complaint.

BBcode is a secondary one. It's awful. I hate having to deal with  
[quote] tags. Chevrons for quoting is so easier. Plain text email for  
the win.

> 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.

It also costs money. Who's going to pay for that? vB is also not  
exactly slim in the markup it generates. Who would pay for that extra  

> 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.

There's the layout, for one. I've admined forums (phpBB, not the  
greatest, but it's free) in the past and people always seem to ask for  
things when you're the admin, especially related to other users (bans  
of all shapes and sizes).

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