[uf-discuss] Idea: beginners/getting started list

Tantek Ç elik tantek at cs.stanford.edu
Mon Oct 16 10:05:19 PDT 2006

On 10/16/06 5:27 AM, "Colin Barrett" <timber at lava.net> wrote:

> As someone who's helped set up and determine mailing list policy, it's
> MUCH easier to have as few lists as possible.

Colin, I tend to agree with this, and as such that's why we only started
with three lists which were varied based on focus/traffic/audience

microformats-announce - low-traffic.  moderated.  for once in a while
significant announcements.  for folks that only want the highest of high
level updates about microformats.

microformats-discuss - open discussion about microformats leaning towards
introductory and how-to use/publish discussions.  this list should be
beginner-friendly.  modeled after the very successful css-discuss list.

microformats-dev - open discussion (moderated membership) about writing code
to produce/consume/index/manipulate microformats.  focused on
technical/developer discussions that would likely be noise to those who just
want to learn what microformats are in general.  also limited (initially) to
those *with* an actual implementation in order to minimize/reduce purely
theoretical (including chicken littling) discussions which tend to
filibuster real-world development.

After that, when it became clear that there was very strong interest in
having open discussions about microformats and APIs/REST usage, which didn't
fit well into any existing list (it would have caused too much noise on
microformats-discuss), we created:


Thus lists have *only* been created when necessary to avoid overwhelming
(some might say "polluting") the "normal" types of discussions in existing

I don't believe in any kind of "global" reorganization of mailing lists
because that tends to be very disruptive to *everyone* who is reading them.

Just like the microformats principles say for microformats, we start small
and simple, and iterate incrementally, which in this case means only
creating *one* new list when it seems absolutely necessary, and I think we
have crossed that threshold.

It's pretty clear to me that the discussions around creating *new*
microformats (which frankly should be a tiny fraction of discussions about
microformats in general), has overwhelmed the microformats-discuss list in
the past several weeks (couple of months).  During that time I've also seen
a bunch of "newbie" type folks who had been following the list for some
time, unsubscribe.  I'm hypothesizing that they got tired of seeing
discussions/arguments about new microformats when they were really actually
interested in practical discussion about using microformats that work well
today with tools etc.

This is why I think we need *a* new list, *just* for discussing "new"
microformats, so the microformats-discuss list can return to
normal/pragmatic "how-to" and introductory discussions.

In addition, there have been good points made about opening up the
microformats-dev list to any subscriber and simply make it a *policy* to
keep the discussion focused on real-world developer issues rather than
purely hypothetical issues.  I think this can work for a couple of reasons:

1. microformats-dev has quite a few "real world" developers with
proven/published/public track records on it.  I think it is strong enough to
withstand some amount of "new developer influx" who may start asking a lot
of theoretical/hypothetical questions.

2. microformats as a community has matured sufficiently and adopted enough
of a "pragmatic first" culture that even "new developers" are more likely to
take a pragmatic/empirical approach to discussions rather than purely
philosophical/theoretical approach.

As I think is important with a community, I'm going to ask on the
microformats-dev list, and see what the current developers think.

> I think the idea of a
> "newbie" list is good,

We already have microformats-discuss for that.

> but everything else is really relevant to
> everyone involved.

Not really.  There are numerous developers that are *only* interested in
supporting "well documented/mature microformats" and have no interest in
theoretical discussions about new microformats.  This is from experience not
only speaking with individuals but also watching the difference in traffic
between public W3C lists discussing specifications and discussions that
implementers themselves have.

> When creating new mailing lists, a good question to
> ask is: "How many people that would join this list would NOT need to
> join any others?" e.g. a list for people that work on the localization
> aspect of a project is good idea-- most localizers don't need to be on
> the development list.

That is certainly a good question to ask, but the stronger need here is that
of the silent majority of microformats-discuss list members who signed up
with the expectation of a focus on introductory/newbie discussions.
Protecting that "friendly / approachable" environment is important.

> Also, I don't think the traffic on this list warrants "splitting up"
> this list.

If it weren't for a burst of unsubscribers in September and October (which I
realize is not public information) I might agree.

I myself have had trouble separating out the lengthy arguments about
currency/species from the few intro related questions and more importantly
*answers* in the past couple of months.

Thus, I think we only need *one* new list, that for discussing the research
and potential creation of new microformats.

I'd like to see some suggestions for the name of this new list.  Here is
what I have so far:
 * microformats-new (focusing on discussing "new" microformats)
 * microformats-research (focusing on the essential, and often overlooked by
first-time proposers "research" phase(s) in the process)

What I don't like:
 * microformats-propose (it misses the point of the process, and implies
that there is a desire for microformats proposals - there isn't)

Other suggestions for a new list name for this purpose?



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