[clug] Re: Using a forum system for CLUG

Daniel Pittman daniel at rimspace.net
Tue May 5 01:11:28 GMT 2009

Nemo Thorx <wombat at nemo.house.cx> writes:
> On Mon, May 04, 2009 at 07:37:36AM +1000, David Schoen did utter:
>> The email-to-forum gateway idea has been growing on me, would you mind
>> sharing what sort of problems you're referring to though?
> Curiously, the email list vs forum vs usenet discussion is one that has
> occupied my mind in the past. Only a few weeks ago I wrote up the bare
> bones summary as I saw it, and what sort of solution might be viable.
> Write up is on my wiki - feel free to pitch in anyone:
> http://wiki.thorx.net/wiki/Forum

The tone of the article is rather emotional, and pejorative.  Well,
perhaps misanthropic is better; you don't seem to like any of the

> Problem with gateways seems to be that one frontend (web/email/etc) is
> "native", and the others are translations, making all other frontends
> clumsy workarounds.
> A ground-up rebuilding which divorced frontend from backend could (and
> I stress that that is a 'c' could, not a 'w' would) go a long way to
> solving this.

I think you have mis-identified the problem: the issue isn't that the
"web" or "NNTP" or "email" is considered the primary source...

It is that those three forums each have different social customs, habits
and assumptions.  That mismatch shows up when you get the worlds

For example, it is common on web forums to include large and graphical
signatures, to use HTML styling in articles[1], and to assume that
people are looking at your text in explicit and linear context.

In the NNTP space, conversely, HTML is more or less verboten, outside of
alt.warlord you don't use big signatures, and you assume that people see
your text in context, but provide edited quotations anyhow.

In the email world HTML is mixed, but unpopular in technical circles,
signatures vary but tend toward the NNTP side, and there is vicious
debate about which method of quoting and what assumption of context can
be made.

Those users often get on like a house on fire, with screaming, death and
destruction everywhere. ;)

Those shared social assumptions from the space are much, much more
important than any technical aspects of the discussion at hand.


Actually, I have one technical offering: MarkDown is probably a good
source of inspiration for bridging between the HTML-rich and HTML-poor
worlds, and using multipart/alternative views that translate in both
directions will help bridge some of the social gap.

Specifically MarkDown, by the way, and not just "plain text markup",
because it was designed to mirror email and Usenet conventions in favour
of the more correct or expressive markup that some other languages
elected to use.

[1]  Typically through some sort of intermediate language designed to
     make HTML "safe" when entered by untrusted users.

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