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Re: Taming the mailing lists?



At 14:33 5/4/2004, you wrote:
I think a well moderated forum with people directing
threads based on what level of assistance is needed by
the user posting the thread would be very effective.

There are two serious obstacles to this:

1. Find the people to do the moderating.

2. Make the experienced posters visit all threads.

The point is that all such things *would* work. Would, conditional contrary to fact. They in fact do not, and the reason such plausibly good ideas don't work is that they involve a lot more work for people. Yes, the newbie just posts the one message. But someone has to moderate it, and delays are introduced, and then the experts have to read through a bunch of threads in a forum which takes more time and effort, and they then have to answer that.

Contrast this to the mailing list, which is loud and disorganized and unstructured but *fast*. I read through most of the 300 messages a day I get, and I am able to do this for several reasons:

* I can read a mailing list offline. This means that mail gets read any time *I* have time, not just when I'm on the network.

* I skip messages that are so poorly formatted that I can't make sense of them in 3 seconds or less. These are the ones who quote two pages (or twenty!) of stuff to add one line, where I have trouble finding the text, who top-post and confuse the order of messages, or who simply do not make any sense at all.

* I also skip anything that quotes the entire digest, messages from the digest where the subject has not been changed, and messages with no subject.

* If I can see that a thread is not interesting or that I cannot help that poster, I delete the entire thread immediately. (This is why people should not hijack threads and should always start a new thread for a new question.)

* Hitting "delete" and loading the next message takes less than one second. To hit "next" on a forum and wait for the next message generally requires at least three seconds. Multiply 2 seconds by 300 and you have 10 minutes lost EVERY DAY.

* I can archive useful or important messages locally, whereas on a forum I'd have to cut/paste/store somehow.

Most highly-experienced users find mailing lists easier for large volumes. Those users are not going to take the time and effort to move to a forum, and if they do they are not going to participate as much. While I'm happy that people (including you) care enough to think about and propose new ways of doing things so that everyone is happier, I am by now firmly convinced that lots of people (including me) would not participate in fora and so fora are not adequate replacements for mailing lists.

Just my $0.02 as a "young fart" of 32, but having been around the Internet since 1991.

Cheers,


--
Rodolfo J. Paiz
rpaiz simpaticus com
http://www.simpaticus.com




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