Elang discussions? - a call for a new format

Thu Jan 15 09:41:13 CET 2004

The traffic on this list does not seem high enough to warrant
splitting the list. In fact, even if the traffic were higher, I would
not be in favour of it. I prefer to encourage good discipline with
regard to subject lines, and let people filter out what they are not
interested in (see below about Bayesian filters).

Regarding the format: email is still the most accessible medium. In my
current job, I have no news or web access, and I know many people in
that situation.

> 1) Mail software is generally not as good at knowing about thread
> structure as news software. (Probably because mail headers aren't
> built for doing that.)

That is not quite true. The headers now have all you need, but not all
mail software uses it properly, admittedly.

> 2) News software is better at filtering out uninteresting
> threads. E.g.  in Mozilla, I can mark an entire thread as
> uninteresting in news but not in mail.

There is an interesting (new?) family of software called Bayesian
filters, I think the concept was invented, or at least promoted, by
www.PaulGraham.com, that is becoming quite popular. I have not tried
yet, but I understand they work by learning gradually from the way you
sort your own email into different folders. This works for spam as
well as for different interest categories or levels.

> 3) I'm tired of getting the same response twice, once directly and
> once from the mailing list.

Oh, I totally agree. Not only do we get two responses, but the
ordering often gets messed up.

The (very simple) solution to this is twofold:

1) People should post *only* to the list, no CC-ing to anyone
directly. It is bad netiquette to post to a list without subscribing
to it, anyway.

2) The mailing list software should be configured so that the
"reply-to" field is the list's address.

> I don't understand why mailing lists are so popular.

Maybe because email is still the most accessible medium. I assure you
many, many people only have access to e-mail. I don't know how any
company in their right mind thinks that programmers can keep on top of
their field without complete internet access, but it happens a lot.

Finally, I susbscribe to many lists, and this is one of my
favourites. It is of a very high quality, and it is pleasantly spam
and troll-free. I would be reluctant to change anything as long as it
stays that way.


Dominic Williams.

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