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Re: mailing list vs "the futur"

On Thu, Aug 09, 2018 at 05:39:36PM +0000, tech wrote:
> Should'nt be time to move away from an old mail-listing to something more modern like a bugzilla or else ???

No.  This is an absolutely terrible idea.  Here's why mailing lists
are (along with Usenet newsgroups) vastly superior to web-based anything:

1. They're asynchronous: you don't have to interact in real time.
You can download messages when connected to the Internet, then read
them and compose responses when offline.

2. They work reasonably well even in the presence of multiple outages
and severe congestion -- because they queue.

3. They're push, not pull, so new content just shows up.  Web forums
require that you go fishing for it.

4. They scale beautifully.

5. They allow you to use *your* software with the user interface of *your*
choosing rather than being compelled to learn 687 different web forums
with 687 different user interfaces, all of which range from "merely bad"
to "hideously bad".

6. You can archive them locally...

7. ...which means you can search them locally with the software of *your*
choice.  Including when you're offline.  And provided you make backups,
you'll always have an archive -- even if the original goes away.
(Those of who've been around for a while have seen a lot of web-based
discussions vanish forever because a host crashed or a domain expired or
a company went under or a company was acquired or someone made a mistake
or there was a security breach or a government confiscated it.)

8. They're portable: lists can be rehosted relatively easily.

9. (When properly run) they're relatively free of abuse vectors.

10. They're low-bandwidth, which is especially important at a point in
time when many people are interacting via metered services that charge by
the byte and are WAY overpriced, and getting more overpriced every day.

11. They impose minimal security risk.

12. They impose minimal privacy risk.

13. They can be freely interconverted -- that is, you can move a list
hosted by A using software B on operating system C to host X using
software Y on operating system Z.

14. They're archivable in a format that is likely to be readable long
into the future.  (I have archives of lists from the early 1980's.
Still readable with contemporary software because they're in mbox format.
I see no sign that this will cease to be true.)

15. They can be written to media and read from it.  This is a very
non-trivial task with web forums: just try doing the equivalent of
#13 above.  Good luck with that.

16. They handle threading well.  And provided users take a few seconds
to edit properly, they handle quoting well.

17. Numerous tools exist for handling mbox format: for example, "grepmail"
is a highly useful basic search tool.  Most search engines include
parsers for email, and the task of ingesting mail archives into search
engines is very well understood.  Excellent archiving tools exist as well.

18. The computing resources require to support them are minimal -- CPU,
memory, disk, bandwidth, etc.  (I recently set up an instance of Mailman
for someone that's working perfectly fine on a 10-year-old laptop.)

19. Mailing lists interoperate.  I can easily forward a message from this
list to another one.  Or to a person.  I can send a message to multiple
lists.  I can forward a message from a person to this list.  And so on.
Try doing this with web forum software A on host B with destinations
web forum software X and Y on hosts X1 and Y1.  Good luck with that.

20. Mailing lists can be uni- or bidirectionally gatewayed to Usenet.
(The main Python language mailing list is an example of this.)  This can
be highly useful.

There's more, but I think this easily suffices to make a slamdunk case.


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