This is a read-only archive!

Ten days ago I complained that there were no good Lisp equivalents of ruby-forum or perlmonks. It looks like someone went and made one. What good timing.

I hope it's a success, and I hope it stays newb-friendly. The amount of fake watch and shoe spam on comp.lang.lisp has reached critical mass.

Speaking of mailing lists, maybe it's just me but I've never found mailing lists to be all that enjoyable to use. They have the benefit of being a sort of lowest common denominator (everyone has email, and you can slap an HTML interface on top of one). They also have the benefit of being distributed to some degree, because everyone who gets the email serves as an archive, and if the main server dies maybe you can recover things. And mailing lists do have less overhead than MBs when it comes to running one, especially a high-traffic one, I would imagine.

But the bad things about mailing lists vs. message boards:

  • Message boards are accessible from anywhere that you have a web browser, which is everywhere. Email isn't necessarily accessible from everywhere, unless you use webmail or SSH home and use mutt or something, which not everyone can or wants to do. Or if there's a good web interface on the mailing list.
  • You can't do anything more than plaintext, which isn't entirely a bad thing, HTML email is pure evil, but being able to cleanly post images or clickable links or formatted text on a message board is a nice feature.
  • Threading never quite works correctly on mailing lists, because eventually someone will hit the wrong button in their mail client and break the thread; whereas on a message board it always works fine.
  • You can move threads around between forums on an MB, you can edit threads, you can close threads, you can delete a post if you make a mistake; but mailing lists are write-only, and once you send a message off into the ether it's posted for everyone to see forever, and no one has much control over a list beyond moderating the messages that end up getting through.
  • Avatars. Personal profiles. These things make people seem more like people and less like a nameless entity. It's friendlier and more inviting.
  • The HTML interfaces people slap on top of mailing list archives are pretty horrible 95% of the time. Probably because most people are using email clients anyways so no one cares. Message boards generally look nice and have nice interfaces for reading and posting.
  • Email sucks. Spam filters and bounced messages mean you never quite know if what you just wrote actually made it to the list. Reply to list vs. reply to sender vs. reply to all, etc. are all needless complications. How many times have you seen "UNSUBSCRIBE" sent to everyone on a list? The interface to mailing lists is not intuitive. Whereas you can always see immediately if an MB post worked or not.

And so on. I likes me my message boards.

June 28, 2008 @ 2:51 PM PDT
Cateogory: Programming
Tags: Lisp, Rant


Quoth Alex on June 28, 2008 @ 10:57 PM PDT

Hi Brian, it's actually Regards, Alex

Quoth Levin on June 29, 2008 @ 12:59 AM PDT

Glad to hear about the listp site. FYI, everything you said about mailing lists was wrong. They are better than website message boards in every respect. Please correct your opinion.

A new Lisp forum « (hello
Quoth A new Lisp forum « (hello on June 29, 2008 @ 3:30 AM PDT

[...] new Lisp forum writes: Ten days ago I complained that there were no good Lisp equivalents of ruby-forum or [...]

Quoth foo on June 29, 2008 @ 5:42 AM PDT

By the way, if you want a way to use Lisp with vi, you should check out viper mode in Emacs.

Quoth Brian on June 29, 2008 @ 6:03 AM PDT

Yeah, I tried viper mode. It's not quite Vim enough to satisfy the vimmer in me. It ended up being more confusing than making myself use plain old Emacs.

Quoth Legooolas on August 28, 2008 @ 3:53 AM PDT

How about a mailing list manager which combines mailing lists, nntp and forums?

I'm sure that the subset of functionality which they all can cope with would be enough to keep most people happy? At worst you'd be able to cancel/remove nntp posts so that new users don't see them, and likewise with message board stuff. Of course, if someone is archiving the mailing list and keeping that visible to the public then it won't help, but it would be a start.

I'm not a fan of forums, but I agree that they do have some distinct advantages to them over email.