Sum-up: Re-proposal: web forums

Molle Bestefich molle.bestefich at
Sat Apr 22 21:38:20 CDT 2006

Sterling Christensen wrote:
> Lots of forums support RSS, and you can "subscribe" to a topic
> - two ways for forum posts to come to you.

Those are definitely nice features.

> There are lots of people who prefer forums. Everything seems so much
> easier to me with a proper modern forum. There is so much that's just
> impossible on a mailing list.

It's not impossible per definition, but it would need coding.

If given a handful of coders, I think the majority of forum niceness
can be accomplished with a new web interface for the mailing lists.

> Mailing lists are searchable, but harder than a forum to search.
> Forums let you search by any of text, title, author, date, category,

Ok, that sounds nice.

The 'category' thing sounds tricky to implement on top of a mailing
list (as I would like it)...

> You can't cancel or edit posts. Forum moderators can delete spam
> posts.

That's just a horrible feature.
As with any kind of censorship it will do nothing but make people
suspect you for deleting legitimate posts.

Spam should be removed (or maybe categorized under 'spam') by a spam filter.
And if one does slip through, it will disappear in the noise in no time.
Aren't most forums like about 30.000 pages long?
Would you ever notice anything like a single spam mail?

Silly feature, if you ask me.

> On a mailing list, once spam gets though to my mailbox it's too
> late for a moderator to delete it.

Here, have a cookie to go with your spam :-).

> Mailing lists can be categorized, but then you have to subscribe to
> each category individually - hence all user discussion being lumped
> together into "wine-users" instead of being subcategorized.

Yes.  Hmm.

Still advocating the "forum web interface on top of mailing lists"
approach, I wonder how that could be done.  Perhaps all uncategorized
(mailing list originated) postings could be fed through a Hessian
matrix and automatically categorized? :-).  Or web interface users
could be allowed to alter the category of a posting (initially dropped
in the "uncategorized" category perhaps).  Or both.  Or something
else.  Hmm.

> Forums puts quoted text in a nice colored box so you can tell
> unmistakably at a glance. You quote people with greater-than symbols -
> so I can't as quickly distinguish message text from quoted text and
> it's ugly. Your probably used to it, but we're not.

Easily fixed in a web interface: Take all consecutive lines prepended
with '>' and put them in a <div> with a border on it.

Or a more flexible solution: Strip all non-[a-zA-Z] characters from
each posting and all earlier postings in the same topic.  Run a diff
against the earlier postings, and any lines that are present counts as
"quoted".  Put those in boxes..

> Forum admins can give people badges and/or titles to make it clear
> who's a developer.

I'm not even sure the Wine developers like badges.
Well, perhaps they do, but then it should probably be honorary ones.

> And you can see anyone's posting history.

How does that differ from searching for all postings from a particular
e-mail address?

> Forum admins can lock (prevent replies to) a topic that's turned into
> a really bad flamewar.

Sounds like a controversial feature to me..

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