Categorized | News, Open Source

Mailing List versus Forum

Posted on 21 June 2005 by Demian Turner

A thread kicked off last week on seagull-general that became quite heated when some users started demanding we use a forum to track project activity/feedback instead of the standard mailing list.

To my mind there’s 1001 disadvantages involved in using a forum, I would never dream of such a thing, but luckily seagull dev Mike Wattier managed to express the matter quite succinctly:

Developers can use RSS to receive post to the forum in their email boxes.
hmm.. no thanks.. that sound klunky to me , consider this..

**read RSS feedclick on link
**log into account
**click over to proper forum
**click over to thread
**click back
**click over to thread xN 
**click over to check PM's**

**hit check mail boxdownload mail
**click on Seagull-General folderReadclick on subject
**wait for data/page/site to load

So a mailing list it will remain. Keep in mind there’s a great gmane view if subscribing is too much overhead for you.


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Ilia Alshanetsky Says:

    You can always setup a forum to mirror a mailing list or nntp group. For example FUDforum allows you to do this in about 5 minutes.

  2. Richard Heyes Says:

    I think you’ve exagerated when it comes to reading an RSS feed from a forum. When the entire message is in the RSS feed then it’s exactly the same as reading a mailing list. Sure there are disadvantages, like threading, replying to posts, but still not the ballache that you’ve portrayed it as.

  3. Chris Padfield Says:

    I also personally have an aversion to mailing lists, the major problem with them though is they are push and not pull. Thats fine if you always want to be aware of a project but not if you might want to check up on activity every once in a while. Subscribing to a mailing list to post a bug report or ask a question is also a pain.

    It shouldn’t be hard to find a forum that can also send emails in exactly the same way as a mailing list. Then you have best of both worlds.

  4. James Stewart Says:

    While I’m definitely an advocate of mailing lists for many tasks, I think this comparison is a little unfair. Steps 2-5 of your RSS process can be rolled into one with the use of persistent authentication (cookies) and proper permalinks in the feeds.

  5. Jonas Says:

    I hated web-forums for a long time, because they just don’t look as I want, they don’t act as I want and they are often realy slow.

    But what’s realy disadvantage of mailinglist is the initial work I’v to do, and if I don’t realy wanna follow it all the time.
    i.e. I use Typo3 a lot and I find some bugs from time to time, and I fix them because I’m realy used to programme php. But if I would like to submit this fixes, I would have to subscribe the development mailinglist of typo3 which is realy bloat :)…

  6. Demian Turner Says:

    If you look at our page which links to the gmane view of the Seagull ML, you’ll see not only is it easy to browse through the web interface, but one-time postings are a piece of cake.

  7. Demian Turner Says:

    Hi Ilia – thanks for your comment, I didn’t know FUD or any forum for that matter could do this. I’ve installed FUD and setup a basic ML rule, but can I do anything with a mailman list hosted at SF? I have .mbx and Maildir archives of the data too.

  8. milky Says:

    What you are describing is a discussion board, not a forum software.

  9. Stephen Says:

    You don’t need to choose the one of the other.
    There is a gread module called CM2F,, that allows to integrate mailinglists and forums.
    For now it is working with PhpbB, a port to SMF is being finished and other ports are under way.

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