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Re: mailing list vs "the futur"

On Tue, Aug 28, 2018 at 04:46:15PM +0100, Mark Rousell wrote:
web forums, app-based, IM-style, etc.) but none of that, to my mind, lessens
NNTP's ideal applicability to getting private discussion group messages from
place to place (the front end UI/UX being a different thing again).

Ignoring the changes to user requirements for UI/UX is at least part of why NNTP is no longer a major factor in internet usage.

The key advantage of NNTP over email/SMTP in terms of bandwidth efficiency is
that, with NNTP, messages are only sent to users when they explicitly ask for
them. This is more bandwidth-efficient than an email-based list since the
email-based list must send out messages to each and every user whether or not
they want them.

It's more efficient at the provider level until someone decides they want all of the messages local, either as an archive or to run local search tools, etc. At that point you're transferring all of the messages just as you would via SMTP and it's basically a wash. If you have a bunch of users on remote SMTP and NNTP servers then it's always a wash. (MUAs don't typically download the entire message body unless asked to, just as news readers don't typically download the entire message body unless asked to.) Basically, the efficiency argument is bogus.

And even if it weren't bogus, the bandwidth in question is so small as to not matter anyway. (We call this "premature optimization"; there are other concerns that are far more significant--like the UI/UX.) The entire 25 year archive of debian lists is probably on the order of one or two netflix movies.

To my mind, a REST protocol has a different (but overlapping) use case to NNTP
or email lists. I know of no standard, open REST protocol that replaces either
NNTP or email discussion lists, for example.

But there are a heck of a lot more deployed REST clients than NNTP clients. You can shake your fist at the cloud all you want, but reality is what it is. Consequently, a good experience for HTTP consumers is going to be a higher priority than NNTP users. The numbers are so skewed as to raise valid questions about whether the small number of NNTP users is worth committing development and operational resources to. Many of the forums I can think of that supported HTTP + NNTP 10 or 15 years ago have long since decided that the answer was no.

I am not "offering a closed environment with close to zero users as a
counterexample". It (i.e. NNTP in private discussion groups) is not a counter
example of or to anything. It is, in fact, the specific issue under discussion!

It's always amusing when someone decides to state what "the proper topic of the email thread" is. You want to talk about one thing. The person who started the thread wanted to talk about a completely different thing. But I guess you get to decide what's on-topic because reasons?

More specifically, the point at which I started talking about usenet was in response to two people who weren't you talking about ISP-level NNTP transit servers. If you define the use case to exclude ISP-level NNTP servers then you can certainly argue that the only wide scale implementation of ISP-level NNTP transit servers (usenet) is irrelevant, but it takes a large amount of hubris to declare that one particular branch of the thread is more irrelevant than your preferred branch of the thread.

   You've asserted it many times, but you haven't actually shown with numbers
   how it's more efficient in practice to any degree that matters in the real

I have in fact (a) pointed out specifics of how NNTP works better in the
context at hand

You still haven't provided numbers that show that your argument matters for real-world implementations. I'll simply agree to disagree that you've provided specifics rather than assertions or personal preferences.

and (b) pointed out how your negative view of NNTP in this
context was based upon an erroneous conflation with the problems of Usenet that
were not caused by NNTP.

I think that the only one who's concerned I have a conflation of usenet and NNTP is you. If you want to continue stating that, I guess it's a free internet. (Though, I might start some kind of drinking game based on how many times you say "conflation of usenet and NNTP" or equivalent--it's gotten kinda amusing, if repetitive.) You also seem to have been the one to start making other unfounded assertions about my background and why I have the opinions I have. Honestly, I'd prefer if you just stick to stuff that's somehow relevant to the discussion and avoid erroneous ad hominems.

FWIW, another possibility for why the discussion doesn't match your desires (one that doesn't require me to have a misguided agenda of conflating usenet and NNTP based on some shadowy usenet training 20 years in the past) is that threads wander and that people talk about what they want to talk about. Also, more than one person may have something to say, and people can respond to things from different people. Unless someone gets to decide what's on-topic and ban everyone else it's likely the internet will remain that way.

   making it interoperate with the expectations of a modern web forum is
   hard--potentially impossible without proprietary extensions, at which point
   you've thrown away the entire point of sticking with NNTP instead of using
   something else.

I disagree. You seem to me to be finding problems where there are none in

Really? Where's the like button in the standard NNTP protocol? How do I see a poster's history and other profile information via NNTP? If the answer is "well, you don't need those things" that's a sad argument for how NNTP can replace a web forum. If the answer is "all the protocol really needs to do is move small bits of text around", I guess I'd say "that is such a trivial problem for modern computers that it really doesn't matter how you do that thing; now lets talk about harder problems that matter more to more people".

A great deal of this seems to be about expectations. Could it be that you are
expecting something that is, to my mind, unnecessary or irrelevant (i.e. not
part of the target use case).

Ah, you also get to decide what the use cases are? Not the original poster or anyone else on the list?

has to be used to the exclusion of all others. Content posted to a web forum
(via web browser or via app front end or via some REST client) can perfectly
well be distributed (complete with graphics, text effects, images, even
binaries (!!) ) to participants via email or NNTP.

Sure, and for the third time: the theory doesn't match the practice. Why?

I don't see it as either/or.  REST and other access methodologies (for reading
and/or writing) can and should co-exist.

Sure, and for the fourth time: the theory doesn't match the practice. Why?

I think web forums have become the de facto replacement for groups accessed by
NNTP because they were, more than anything else, simpler to use and access.

Uh, yeah. That isn't a meaningful feature in your mind?

To be clear, the kinds of users who choose to access a discussion group of some
sort via NNTP or email (one that most users access as a web forum) are unlikely
to care that they don't see a Like button. On the other hand, any modern NNTP
or mail client can in fact show them a clickable Like button that actually
works (unless they've chosen to disable complex HTML, which is fine of course).

So the NNTP client has to implement an HTTP client anyway? Why not just use HTTP? I'd guess that the complexity of implementing two protocols has to be higher than implementing just one, so there'd have to be one heck of a compelling reason to implement both.

Indeed, but our discussion has ranged in various directions and are beginning
to conflate somewhat issues. I'm not pitching NNTP as a replacement for this
sort of scenario

So you want the servers to implement two or three protocols? That's got to be more complex than implementing just one. There'd have to be one heck of a compelling reason to do that, more than just "I personally like NNTP".
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