[swift-evolution] [Discussion] mailing list alternative

Tino Heth 2th at gmx.de
Thu Feb 2 14:18:14 CST 2017

> A mailing list discourages off-topic and trivial contributions.  I could easily see being sent dozens of emails from a single back and forth.  Increased traffic would force most users to migrate from email to direct Discourse forums and direct forum use loses the ability to flag, filter, and sort discussions. You can't scan, mark, and put away threads you've already dealt with. This would be a massive loss of utility for those of us who need to keep on top of language discussions for work.

True, the mailing list discourages trivial contributions: I never wrote a message whose only new content was "+1", and rarely see those in my inbox…
This has a positive aspect, because it keeps the number of mails lower, but it also has very bad effects.
It's a very realistic scenario that someone expresses a really clever thought that is endorsed by everyone, yet receiving no feedback because no one has to add something to it (and doesn't want to write a regular message without real content).
This is daunting for the author who feels ignored despite (invisible) agreement, thus discouraging to continue contributing.

A forum, on the other hand, is much more flexible and allows lightweight reactions without polluting the conversation as it allows to flag messages in a way that is not only useful for a single reader, but for the whole community.
I don't know about Discourse, but, of course, it is possible to filter and sort data that is presented on a website, mark posts as read or ignore topics, threads or people (although I hope that won't be something common).
So if someone starts with chatter, the community can deal with that easily using tags, and the imho only drawback that isn't neutralised by the mail interface would be very small — assuming that the switch to an official forum would harm discipline at all (I doubt that).
It's also harder to send messages to a wrong recipient, accidentally create a new thread (both happen all the time with the mailing list) or create an infinity loop of "out of office"-mails (I guess Mailman is smart enough to deal with those).

Imho a mailing list is a good tool to organise communication of an established group, but fails when you want to build an vibrant, open community.
Most likely there aren't many people here that read every message, and I challenge everyone to ask yourself if you have "personal filters" like "body long, and no @apple.com -> ignore".
I surely have such a filter (luckily, it isn't very reliable ;-), but I don't think it's a good thing; I'd prefer not to distribute my attention based on the status of the author, but rather on the feedback of those who actually took the time to read the message.

The "elite" doesn't suffer from the current medium, but I hope they agree that the situation is very different for rookies, and that swift-evolution should try to embrace everyone who wants to help make Swift better.
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