[swift-evolution] [Discussion] mailing list alternative

Ilya Belenkiy ilya.belenkiy at gmail.com
Thu Jan 26 11:58:40 CST 2017

I would love to participate in swift evolution discussions, and I made and
defended one of the proposals for Swift here (SE-0025), but using email for
this is so difficult that I stopped following the list. The only thing that
kept me going with that proposal was that I really really wanted the
change. And in the end I even missed part of a discussion about that (I
stopped following after it was accepted). I wasn't quiet because I no
longer wanted to participate. It was because participating was too
difficult due to email.

I caught this thread completely by accident on twitter.

I really hope that we switch to Discorse or something similar. I'd love to
get back into discussions and contribute. I am sure that there are many
people like me.

On Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 3:19 PM Ted Kremenek via swift-evolution <
swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

> I have no problem with the project moving to forums instead of the Mailman
> mailing lists we have now — if it is the right set of tradeoffs.
> My preference is to approach the topic objectively, working from goals and
> seeing how the mailing lists are aligning with those goals and how an
> alternative, such as Discourse, might do a better job.
> The current use of mailing lists has been carry-over of how both LLVM does
> public discussion (which is all mailing lists) and how the Swift team at
> Apple has used mailing lists for discussion.  That inertia has benefits in
> that it is a familiar workflow that is “proven” to work — but the doesn’t
> mean it is the best option going forward.
> Here are some of the things that matter to me:
> - Topics are easy to manage and search, with stable URLs for archives.
> - It is easy to reference other topics with a stable (canonical) URL that
> allows you to jump into that other topic easily.  That’s hard to do if you
> haven’t already been subscribed to the list.
> - Works fine with email clients, for those who want to keep that workflow
> (again this inertia is important).
> - Code formatting, and other tools that add clarity in communication, are
> a huge plus.
> I’d like to understand more the subjective comments on this thread, such
> as "may intimidate newcomers”.  This feels very subjective, and while I am
> not disagreeing with that statement I don’t fully understand its
> justification.  Signing up for mailing lists is fairly straightforward, and
> one isn’t obligated to respond to threads.  Are forums really any less
> “intimating”? If so, why is that the case?  Is this simply a statement
> about mailing lists not being in vogue?
> I do also think the asynchronous nature of the mailing lists is important,
> as opposed to discussions feeling like a live chat.  Live chat, such as the
> use of Slack the SwiftPM folks have been using, is very useful too, but I
> don’t want participants on swift-evolution or any of our mailing lists feel
> obligated to respond in real time — that’s simply not the nature of the
> communication on the lists.
> 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.
> 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-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.
> [1]:
> https://mail.python.org/pipermail/mailman-users/2011-October/072379.html
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