[swift-evolution] [Discussion] mailing list alternative

Adrian Zubarev adrian.zubarev at devandartist.com
Thu Jan 26 12:49:47 CST 2017

There are official mobile apps for Discourse: iOS & Android.

I wonder how people would argue if we’d had started using a forum from the beginning and would now discuss a switch to an email list. That would be a real discussion about regression.

Adrian Zubarev
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Am 26. Januar 2017 um 19:26:39, Daniel Duan (daniel at duan.org) schrieb:

I'm actually convinced that I'd rather use an email client. Having to participate in a web app is a regression in my experience.

Daniel Duan
Sent from my iPhone

On Jan 26, 2017, at 10:15 AM, Adrian Zubarev via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

Awesome :) Hopefully that will finally convince the people what ‘are working on this’ to actually make it ;)

I could find some really old threads of mine in just seconds. My mail client cannot do that job that well. 

Cannot wait 🤤

Adrian Zubarev
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Am 26. Januar 2017 um 19:03:13, Nate Cook via swift-evolution (swift-evolution at swift.org) schrieb:

On Jan 25, 2017, at 3:32 PM, Douglas Gregor via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

On Jan 25, 2017, at 12:05 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.

I’ve looked into Discourse a bit, and it does look very promising. One *specific* way in which a motivated individual could help would be to take a look at Discourse’s import scripts and try importing swift-evolution’s mailing archives with them. We absolutely do not want to lose history when we switch technologies. Do the messages import well? Are threading and topics maintained in a reasonable manner? Does Discourse provide effective UI for looking into past discussions on some specific topic we’re interested in?

- Doug


I forged the mighty, turgid rivers of rubyenv, hand-tweaked gem dependencies, and sed-cleaned mbox files to try this out—you can see the results of an import (using one or two day old data) at this address:

It looks like the threads were handled properly, though they bear some obvious marks of their mailing list origins. Users can actually claim their accounts if they do a password reset. However:
- it's hooked up to a trial SendGrid account, which will top out at 100 emails/day
- I should probably delete this soon so Google doesn't think it's the real deal

I might have mentioned this before, but I'm strongly in favor of forum-based solution over the mailing list (at least for this group), and Discourse seems to be the best one running right now (and fairly open to extension and customization). I made a new topic here to demonstrate a couple features (code blocks and inline images):

Thanks -

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