[OSM-dev] Mailing list -> forum? NO!

Alex Mauer hawke at hawkesnest.net
Fri Apr 28 05:58:14 BST 2006

Richard Fairhurst wrote:

> ... would provide a good way of answering
> frequently asked questions. After all, most novices find something shiny
> like phpbb more approachable than mailman archives.

I'd just like to mention that a forum is possibly the worst place to
find answers to FAQs.  Much better is a prominently-linked,
regularly-updated FAQ page.  Ideally this would be Wiki-based.  But
forum software is terrible at it.  If it's not nicely keywordable and
isn't in the first few pages of any given forum -- let alone many
different forums -- it won't be found, and will simply be asked again on
that forum, cluttering it up in the same way that mailing lists can get.

I certainly find mailing lists easier to use; it is easier to fire off
an email to some address and get answers back than to create *yet
another* signon to some web forum that I'll use once, and then remember
to check back for an answer every day for a week or two (or until it's
off the front page.

When a mailing list becomes too high-traffic to be usable (and the osm
lists aren't even close -- ubuntu-sounder approaches it), it's probably
time to split it off into two.  And if a lot of it is people asking
questions, then a FAQ makes sense.  But most of the OSM lists
(impressively much!) are constructive development and ideas; very little
is newbies asking the same questions over and over.

Joerg's only got one voice, but I've got another: +1 for keeping
discussion on the mailing list, -1 for moving to a forum.

Someone needs to write a forum-style interface to mailing list archives.
 They store the same kinda of data, there's no technical reason this
couldn't happen.  But that's a topic for another day, and another list.

-Alex Mauer "hawke"

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