Subject: Re: NetBSD Forum
To: None <>
From: Jonathan Cline <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 05/03/2003 14:59:51
>From: D'Arcy J.M. Cain <>
>List: tech-net
>Date: 05/02/2003 04:35:23
>On Friday 02 May 2003 02:12, Kordula Martin wrote:
>> I thought you would be interested to know that we've setup a
NetBSD Forum.
>> It's for NetBSD users/etc. and can be found at
>How is this different than our mailing lists?
>D'Arcy J.M. Cain <>

Several thoughts come to mind.

1 - it's instantaneous.  The mailing list 'web archive'
interface updates slowly.  (Once every few hours, or
once per day, or ??.  All I know is there's latency between
the email and the archive page's update.)

2 - it's instant-subscription based.  The casual user will
likely not join netbsd mailing lists because receiving email
is not the desired way to obtain the information.  (Note:
yahoo groups has both interfaces: the web browse/post
interface accounts for a very high percentage of users; few
use the traditional email-subscription method.)  There's
a higher barrier required with email's "subscribe to read,
unsubscribe to stop reading" (ha! someone make a joke about
push technology) and a web forum which allows casual
browsing with "no commitment".

3 - the netbsd lists are read-only on the web.  I believe the
above forum effort indicates this is not desirable.  I
personally don't like it.  I don't want to start outlook to
send email to a netbsd mailing list.  I would love to post via
the web (in a forum-type interface).  The web interface should
be carefully selected.

4 - it increases the range of accessibility (assuming standard
email subscription is still offered for legacy users).  Since
"the network is the computer", i.e.  users roam a lot, and
email is traditionally tied to a single end PC (due to poor
architecture by microsoft & it's enduring monopoly), sending
email is actually more difficult than using the web.  The web
is essentially everywhere; email is not.  Example:  I may use
any of the following machines in a single day: home PC, work
laptop, work PC, conference room PC, work development PC.
Configuring a single common email 'profile' on each of these
is possible but difficult.  Some of these machines are even
dual-boot!!  However, all of them have an SSL web browser.
Forums allow for this freedom of choice.

5 - it hopefully allows for wider cross-linking of info.
For example, on "serious" web based forums, it's not uncommon
to see people include links to prior messages (in the same
forum, or in a different forum).  The internet & ensuing
information growth occurs through hyperlinking.  If I wanted
to include a link to this thread's origin, or a particular
reply, or to a previous conversation, etc, it is not as
obvious how to do that, especially if I'm an email subscriber.
With email based subscription the most I could do would be to
keep a local archive of messages to search through and then
cut & paste quotes from an original message.

6 - built in threading on the web interface.  The netbsd web
archive is a bit out-dated in this regard.  In fact, the
archive interface doesn't even have previous/next buttons!

These are just some points to ponder.

I believe simple looking, bare-bones forums would be a boon to
the netbsd pages.  (The typical forums are visual overkill,
but that's just a skin style.)

The downfall of forums is the same as their main strength:
accessibility and ease of use.  Typically, veterans don't want
either, because they enjoy the low-bandwidth, high-content of
difficult-to-reach mailing lists.


I wouldn't mind seeing a wiki on the netbsd site, too.  It
would be easier to harvest documentation.  If generating
documentation is a problem, then the barriers to entry should
be lowered.  Using a wiki lowers this barrier significantly;
anyone can create content as easy as typing a message, and
topics are automatically cross-linked.  Most wiki's are very
low maintenance on the admin side (if any post-install admin
is even required).  Surely this has been discussed before,