There's a big mail thread on fedora-devel about using a web forum
software called Discourse instead of mailing lists. The idea is that
it would invigorate the Fedora community by encouraging younger people
raised on social media and mobile platforms to contribute. One of the
targets they have mentioned is the user list, because of its nature of
short term question and answer topics. There has been push-back by
developers because they have their custom solutions all working great
around email lists for doing their work.
I'm wondering how the people who regularly use fedora-users mailing
list feel about that. Which would you prefer? Unfortunately, it's an
either / or proposal, because there is no interface in Discourse for
emails from an email list to be put in their forums, though they do
have email notification for new web messages. Would you willingly or
reluctantly migrate to the new platform?
I use forums for a couple mission-critical applications where I can afford the
time to login and check forums on a daily basis. Neither application has email
lists, and the forums have interfaces that suck in different ways. Neither forum
is indexed by Google et al, so you have to rely on search tools provided by the
Lists have some important advantages. You quickly scan messages for a half-dozen
lists in one application and generate responses with minimal effort. Many lists
have archives that can be searched using web engines. Wtih email you can save
messages and search them with your own tools.
In my experience, younger users who started their careers using GUI's tend
to prefer forums, avoid command-line tools, and post screen captures
rather than past text from a terminal or log file. As a guy who found
CRT terminals a huge advance over teletype terminals and punched cards,
maybe I've never fully adapted to GUI environments, but I'm much happier
with GUI tools than many users who started with GUI's are with command-line
As users of FOSS, there is an obligation to pay back by helping others, and
especially new adopters. My feeling is that the majority of new adopters are
more likely to use forums than email lists. Forums, however, are far from
standardized, so there is a danger of balkanization if users have to learn
a different forum interface for each distro.
Finally, my impression is that hosting forums needs more resources than
hosting email lists. Unless the cost of hosting a forum is trivial, you have
to consider other potential uses for the resoures.