Sum-up: Re-proposal: web forums

Molle Bestefich molle.bestefich at
Sat Apr 22 15:12:12 CDT 2006


I've tried to sum up the problems with the wine-users mailing list
that are urging many people to call for a

I hope it's useful.


 1) Cannot post without configured mail client
 2) Browsing old topics and replying/posting new ones happen in two
different places (web archive vs. mail client)
 3) Current archive web interface unwieldy (many clicks needed to
browse, always sorted by month)
 4) Missing Googlish search function
 5) "Subscribe" wording and web pages suggest your inbox will fill up
when doing so
 6) Subscribing will cause your inbox to fill up; it's not obvious how
to change it; neither how to receive mail on specific topics you DO
want once you've changed it
 7) Missing "forward all postings re this topic to my inbox" feature
 8) Very difficult to post under pseudonym
 9) Missing 'sticky' feature (?)

Solution 1:  A forum, fx. phpBB

   ) Easy to set up.
     We might even be able to sneak it in before AJ returns :-).
     (Sorry big guy, couldn't resist pulling one on your expense =)..)
   ) Might attract away from wine-users a high quantity of dumb
questions that people ask when they can't be bothered to search the
   ) Adds a structural approach by categorizing users' various
problems, which encourages searching instead of asking.

   ) Dillutes knowledge; some ends up in forum and some on wine-users,
unless we nuke wine-users.
   ) Need to hack the code to get visual integration with WineHQ (menus etc).
   ) To get single-sign-on, we need either a.) reverse proxy or b.)
something LDAPish and some amount of phpBB hacking

Solution 2:  Point people at Gmane or Google Groups in a prominent place

   ) We don't have to do anything :-).

   ) If it's not directly on, it's probably not official
enough that people are going to use it.
   ) Not everyone has a Gmail account (required to post through Groups)
   ) Not everyone is adept to using Gmane

Solution 3:  WebForum-on-top-of-List

   ) We concentrate people, allowing web and email users to communicate.
   ) We concentrate (archived) knowledge in one place.

   ) The reason that forums are often filled with spam might be that
it's too easy to post to them.  We'd be duplicating that.
   ) We need to code it all ourselves!

I think solution 1 is good, but I prefer the extra icing on the cake
that comes with solution 3.

Now, I'm not high on crystal meth or anything, but I'll just assume
for a moment that we all want better accessibility for the newcomers
(even with the rise in volume that they bring), and that all agree to
go with solution 3 :-).  Thus I'll try to outline a battle plan:

Battle-plan for solution 3

We'd like non-Wine developers to be able to join in; so let's make
sure that this system is generically usable.
That means:
 * Standard user authentication, fx. using LDAP.
 * Componentize a bit, fx. keep the web interface itself separate from
WineHQ menu structure and logo.

We'd need to:
 * Prioritize features
 * Setup a mailing list
 * Setup a simple project web page
 * Setup a winehq-like staging area for development (follows
HEAD/TIP/origin of web repository so everyone can see what the others
are doing)
 * Find developers/volunteers!
 * Get started on the coding

When prioritizing features, we should take a look around and see if
there are software components available that could be reused, fx.:
 * PHP LDAP auth bindings
 * Existing, good web interfaces for the wine archives (mailman?)
 * ?...

Any holes or oversights in that plan?

If solution 3 ever takes off, I will gladly contribute with coding.
Realistically, though, i cannot implement something like this all by
myself, especially not in any kind of a timely fashion.

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