[swift-evolution] [Discussion] mailing list alternative

Michael Buckley michael at buckleyisms.com
Thu Feb 2 10:50:24 CST 2017

This morning I received an email from Discourse titled "[Swift Discussions
(Unofficial Test)] Summary". Since this message was sent to my email
address personally, rather than to the swift-evolution address, it appears
that my email address was exported from this list and imported into

At this point, no harm done. This is obviously a self-hosted temporary
Discourse install hosted on Nate's own server. However, I am worried about
how my email address was added to the temporary Discord. I get that this
mailing list can be viewed by anyone, and only slightly obfuscates our
email addresses. Anyone motivated enough can scrape all the email
addresses, but there's a difference between that and Apple handing my email
address to a third party which I may or may not be OK with having it, even
if it's a member of this community.

That's not to say anything bad about Discourse, or to argue one way or
another about whether to move the mailing list, but when I signed up for
swift-evolution, I trusted my email address to Apple for this purpose. It
may be misplaced, but I feel I can trust Apple to not use the email address
for any other purpose, and to keep their servers relatively secure so that
the subscribers list won't leak (again, with the exception of scraping the

If Apple ends up hosting its own Discourse server, I won't have any
complaints. But if the decision is made to have it hosted externally, or
another service is chosen, I do not want my email address to be
automatically transferred to the new system. I would like the ability to
chose for myself at that time whether I want to subscribe.

On Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 10:02 AM, Nate Cook via swift-evolution <
swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

> 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
> <https://github.com/discourse/discourse/tree/master/script/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:
> http://discourse.natecook.com/
> 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):
> http://discourse.natecook.com/t/pitch-add-dark-mode-to-swift/3051
> Thanks -
> Nate
> _______________________________________________
> swift-evolution mailing list
> swift-evolution at swift.org
> https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-evolution
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