[swift-evolution] [Discussion] mailing list alternative

Jacob Bandes-Storch jtbandes at gmail.com
Wed Jan 25 23:45:51 CST 2017

On Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 12:05 PM, Ted Kremenek via swift-evolution <
swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

> ...
> So in short, using mailing lists specifically is not sacred — we can
> change what we use for our community discussions.  I just want an objective
> evaluation of the needs the mailing lists are meant to serve, and work from
> there.  If moving to something like (say) Discourse would be a negative on
> a critical piece that is well-served by the mailing lists, that would (in
> my opinion) a bad direction to take.  I’m not saying that is the case, just
> that this is how I prefer we approach the discussion.

I'm interested in hearing more about the needs *you* feel the lists are
meant to serve. I'm guessing some of this is a strategic matter for the
Swift team, not something that all of us here on the list could fully

The valuable things I see are:

- anyone with an idea can discuss it with the community, regardless of
their experience with PLs and compilers.
- multiple community members, and core team members, can collaborate in a
discussion or author a proposal.
- the community can watch and learn from discussion and implementation
processes amongst the core team.
- the core team can disseminate strategic vision and internal decisions
that otherwise would have to wait for the release notes or WWDC, or at
least a blog post.

None of these seem specific to any particular message board/system, except
that they are much more easily attainable with a highly asynchronous
system, like you mentioned.

> Ted
> On Jan 23, 2017, at 3:18 PM, Ole Begemann via swift-evolution <
> swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
> Obligatory prior discussion sheds, er, I mean threads:
> https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mo
> n-20151207/001537.html
> https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mo
> n-20160725/025692.html
> / https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mo
> n-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.
> [1]: https://mail.python.org/pipermail/mailman-users/2011-October
> /072379.html
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