[swift-evolution] [Discussion] mailing list alternative

Ole Begemann ole at oleb.net
Mon Jan 23 17:18:27 CST 2017

> Obligatory prior discussion sheds, er, I mean threads:
> https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mon-20151207/001537.html
> https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mon-20160725/025692.html
> / https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mon-20160801/thread.html#25765

I haven't followed the previous discussions closely. As someone who 
mostly follows the discussions passively and only rarely posts something 
to the list, I have two major complaints with the current situation:

* The disconnect between the messages in my mail client and their URLs 
in the list archive makes sharing or bookmarking messages a major pain 
in the ass. If it were possible for each message to contain its own 
permalink in the footer, I would be much happier. It seems this feature 
is available in Mailman 3 [1], but the Swift lists seem to be running on 
Mailman 2.x.

* The web archive has very bad usability. I suppose design is a matter 
of taste, but having the archive organized by week is just wrong. This 
means that readers will regularly miss significant parts of threads that 
cross week boundaries without even noticing it.

I don't like the mailing lists (and hadn't subscribed to any for close 
to a decade before Swift), but fixing the above two points would go 90% 
of the way for me.

If you're counting votes, I'm also +1 for trying out Discourse.

Another, less important complaint:

* Readability is inconsistent because people use different formatting 
and email allows full control over HTML. I assume a forum that allows 
Markdown strikes the ideal middle ground between some control over 
formatting but not needlessly messing with font sizes etc.

I can understand if the Swift team is hesitant to switch to a forum. If 
you have a working mailing list infrastructure everybody at the company 
is used to, migrating to a forum is a pretty big undertaking and 
potential disruption to the workflow. I'm not certain conversations will 
be much easier to follow in a forum.

I found it very uncomfortable to read the mailing lists in my normal 
mail client because I want a totally different UI for the two tasks of 
reading swift-evolution vs. reading my regular mail. But this can be 
solved pretty easily by using a separate mail client only for the lists. 
I actually ended up reading the lists in Thunderbird via NNTP on 
news.gmane.org. Since Gmane is currently reorganizing and not adding new 
lists, this means I can't do this for new lists like swift-server-dev, 
but other than that it works well. The biggest downside is that I am 
limited to one device because read status isn’t synced across devices.


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