[Haskell-cafe] Re: Haskell web forum

Aaron Denney wnoise at ofb.net
Thu Sep 21 13:22:00 EDT 2006

Moved to haskell-cafe from haskell-general.
On 2006-09-20, Niklas Broberg <niklas.broberg at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 9/20/06, Aaron Denney <wnoise at ofb.net> wrote:
>> And I disagree with you.  Web forums are usenet reinvented poorly.
>> It's impossible to keep track of what's new, threading is either poor or
>> nonexistent.  Mailing lists with searchable archives work well.  gmane
>> provides a nice usenet interface to mailing lists.
> I don't recognize the forums I frequent in your description at all. I
> have absolutely no problem keeping up with what's new. In fact I find
> it a lot easier since many of the topics take place in subforums that
> I know don't interest me, so I don't even need to go there to check.

And half of the time messages are miscategorized, because conversations
are miscategorized, so I do need to go check.

> With this mailing list, I have to manually "mark as read" about 2/3 of
> all incoming mails because they don't (from the title) interest me,
> and I have to read a few that don't interest me because I couldn't
> tell from the title.

Where as an entire page of messages under a particular "thread" (it's
not a thread, because they almost never have the messages showing the
exact post they're responding to, just the general list of messages
in this topic.)  Then I need to go locate the tiny link that gets me to
the next page.  They're nearly unuseable.

> Threading also works as well as could be expected, better than
> threading in gmail for instance, so I don't see the problem here
> either.

That has never been my experience.  Threads branch annd mutate and
drift.  And this is a good thing.  The rigid categorizations can't
handle this, whereas I can easily ignore entire threads and subthreads
with a client designed for it.

>> > It's all there, all the time.
>> Yes, that's part of the problem.
> How is that? You mean because all the old stuff gets in the way of the
> new? Then you're just using a bad forum software that can't properly
> point out the new stuff for you. I agree that not all forums are good,
> but there are definitely those that are.

Exactly.  but the problem with forums is that everynone must use the
same forum software because it's sitting on a website.   With usenet or
mailing lists, everyone gets their own software that provides the
features they want, with the interface they want.

>> > It is also  easy to create sub-groups/forums for specific projects,
>> This is the one semi-useful thing.  Of course, what you end up with is
>> another not-so-useful forum.
> This is probably the one most useful thing yes. I wouldn't call it
> semi-useful though. Just remember all the responses that the HCAR gets
> each year of the form "wow how many cool projects are out there that I
> had no clue existed". What if all (or many of) those projects were
> actually there, on the forums, where everyone knew where to look?

Forums are another place to look, instead of on the wiki, on the mailing
lists, etc.  It fragments the community.

> And your last sentence, I just don't understand. "not-so-useful" just
> because it's a forum, or did you mean somethine else as well?

Yes, because it's a forum.

Almost any feature can be implemented in a web-forum.  And many will,
but almost none will be done well, because
(a) it's hard to get something that will please everyone  and it has to
    please everyone because everyone must use the same software
(b) The experience isn't there.  Mail & usenet software has been
    worked on for over 25 years.  It works.  Your mail client sucks? 
    Get a new one.  There are lots, and one should surely work for you.
    I don't have the option of using different web-forum software when
    something about it annoys the hell out of me.

The biggest thing I see for them is web accessibility.  But we already
have that.  We have archives.  We have gmane.  Tons of other gatewaying
software exist, and could be easily set up, because mailing lists are
designed to be used by multiple clients.

Web forums are only "pull".  I have to go check each individual one,
on a semi-regular basis.  Yes, there is RSS.  It's another hacky
workaround for something that mail inherently has.  Mailiing lists can
be either pull or push.  I can dump the list mail in my inbox and get it
regularly, or segregate it out to another mailbox, or several mailboxes,
or whatever.

Aaron Denney

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