Sorry for top-posting, but my comments are in general response to your
First, I certainly appreciate your reasoned and polite response along
with your attempts to minimize problems caused by the forum->email
My main gripe though is more with the non-level playing field created
by a forum->email gateway. The fact that once in a while one sees an
annoying and/or out-of-context post is more a symptom of this
Specifically, the advantage of an email list is that it forces
*everyone* to participate making it harder for the majority to
freeload by just popping in with an occasional question while leaving
it to a small dedicated few to browse the forum regularly and answer
all the questions. In other words, the "price" of being able to ask a
question is that you have to also listen to (and hopefully over time
also answer) other people's questions. Had this been simply a forum,
I too would probably have been the type of user who just stumbles by
when I have a question and then moves on once I have it all
working. Instead, over time, as I have become more experienced, I have
not only continued to learn but also started to give back when I know
To be honest, I used to not understand this "subtlety" and wondered
why I had to join the email list just in order to post my single
question when I had no interest in seeing other people's questions --
but that's because I was missing the whole point. To get you need to give
Thus, I think a forum->email gateway creates a class of (potentially)
*lazy* users who just see this as a place to ask questions rather than
give back to the community.
Instead, I would suggest a compromise. Use the forum->email gateway to
allow people to *read* threads. But require email listserv membership
in order to post.
Of course, people could subscribe to post a question and then
unsubscribe but hopefully that will be rare. I mean when I first
subscribed to ask a question, I never would have guessed that I would
still be active on the list 8 months later...
In summary, to me this is an issue not just of occasional nuisance but
cpreston wrote at about 15:22:35 -0400 on Tuesday, May 26, 2009:
> I set up the BackupCentral forum <-> BackupPC mailing list gateway about two years ago, at the same time I did this for several other open-source products. Although not everyone on every list likes the idea, the general consensus on most of the lists has been that it is a Good Thing. Sure there are a few people that don't like it, but the vast majority realize that some people would rather use forums instead of email, and welcome their input to the community. Since this particular list happens to have a very vocal minority expressing dis-satisfaction with the link, let me explain a few things in hopes of improving relations. If we can't do that, I'll sever the link and we'll part ways.
> BackupPC is an open-source project, and such projects generally welcome any and all comers to their community, as more people generally means more help, etc. If you don't know, BackupPC is visited by over 60,000 unique people every month and has well over a million page views per month, and I send a lot of traffic to http://backuppc.sourceforge.net every single day. One of the reasons for this is that the most frequently searched for phrase that takes people to BackupCentral is "free backup software."
> No, the gateway software (mail2forum.com) isn't perfect, but it is the best I've found out there. My biggest complaint is that it doesn't know how to put an "Re:" in front of a subject line so that it will thread properly in Outlook or similar client. (It actually can, but because it strips off the [BackupPC-Users] header only to have it put back on by the list, the "Re:" gets put after the [BackupPC-Users] string, not before it.)
> I took a look at the messages that went to the list from the forum for the past six months. The first thing I would like to say is that the vast majority of posts from Backup Central have been standard questions and answers. You don't notice those, though. I looked especially close at the ones that seemed to generate the most ire. It wasn't necessarily that they replied to messages without quoting any of the original message, although I encourage them not to do that. It was that the message they were replying to was so old that it wouldn't have been in most people's email clients anyway. In one case, a user was replying to his own post to say "Anyone?" and the original post was almost two months old. In another case, someone posted a "me too" post to a post that was two YEARS old! While this is perfectly normal behavior in a forum, it is NOT normal behavior in a mailing list. (Not that it's wrong; it just doesn't happen.)
> I have taken a lot of steps to minimize the impact of using a forum on a mailing list. I have put special code in and a human spam filter to stop at least that problem, and it's been 100% successful so far. I also make sure the subject line matches the original posts, although I can't fix the "Re:" problem. So while they don't thread perfectly, it's relatively obvious what they're replying to if you're using a standard email client. I also wrote some code that sends them a message about how the forums and emails are connected and how they should respond. Finally, I have now put a "READ BEFORE POSTING" sticky on the forum that shows up at the top.
> Some have requested a header up front. The software I'm using doesn't support that, but it does support a footer. If you're looking for a way to completely ignore posts from the list, then all you have to do is ignore messages from the email address "backuppc-forum@..." as all forum messages come from that email address.
> I would urge you instead to take the VERY SMALL MINORITY of messages that fit into the "they replied wrong" category, and just hit the DELETE key, without replying to them with snide comments that suggest that they are an idiot simply for using Backup Central to interface to the list. Please understand that if a person is asking a question via the BackupCentral forum, they probably FOUND YOU via Backup Central. So the way some of you (and one of you in particular) respond to their very first post seems a rather rude way to welcome a new member of the community. In addition, I've never understood the logic of protesting one worthless email by replying to the list with a number of other worthless emails. Explain to me how that helps anyone.
> In closing, I offer the following. Please reply to this email or send me a private one to wcurtispreston@... to tell me what you think. If you don't see what all the fuss is about, then please say so. If you'd like to tell me to go pound sand, then say so. I say this because I think the vast majority of you are fine with things the way they are. If I'm right, we'll leave things the way they are. If I'm wrong, I'll sever the link and you will lose all the people that come to your community via BackupCentral. I again don't see how that's going to help anyone either.
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