Subject: RE: NetBSD Forum
To: Richard Rauch <>
From: Jonathan Cline <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 05/11/2003 13:40:48
> From: Richard Rauch []
> Re.
> Re. write access from the web: A first-step cheesey way
> to deal with this
> is to add a mailto: link.  (Personally, I loathe the
> editor and mail
> system in the browsers that I've seen.  But, to each their own.)
> Certainly there's nothing inherant in the lists to make
> this not work.

Using a mailto: link opens up another application.  There's
no reason why the entire interface can't be handled in-browser
(in a form's text area, *not* within the brower's "email app").
There is plenty of technology which has been developed in the
past 5 years which excells at this.  If you loathe this method,
then stick to the mailing list.  There's no reason the system
can't support both interfaces.

> I'm skeptical that there are that many users who are
> geeky enough to
> want their own UNIX (and don't just grab GNU/LINUX
> because "everyone"
> is talking about it), yet who are so ungeeky that they don't know
> how to use email.

Not "they don't know how" as you state, but "they don't want to",
or "they prefer a unified interface".  I am one of them.
The existence of several other web sites which _duplicate_ the
of with the intent of offering a better interface is
further evidence.  Please see my previous email, point 4.
I do *not* have a single workstation or operating system;
access to the 'net with a browser is the only thing in common.

There is a very valid movement with "blogging" on the web.
It's because _people like the ease of use_.

> Linking: You still have the problem of inobviousness for the email
> subscriber.  Assuming that *most* (though presumably not
> all) NetBSD
> users are a bit geeky, how many are using a web-browser
> to read mail?
> Some, maybe.  Others may be using mutt, etc.  And I know
> that mutt, for
> one, does not handle HTML.

Reading and entering text messages within a browser has nothing
to do with html.  There is no reason a forum should require
html within messages.  In fact, most packages allow disabling
html entry.

I think you miss the mark by assuming your customers are like
yourself.  Just because you're "geeky" (there's better things
to call it, really) and want to use a text terminal interface
does not mean your customers do, and their expectations change
as new technology evolves.

This "geeky" argument is very similar to all prior arguments
against adopting with new technology, and I suggest that you
learn to recognize it for what it is.  Remember emacs vs. Xemacs
flames?  Or keyboard vs. mouse?  Or how about ed vs. vi?  Or
how about punch cards vs. teletype?  If you're so "geeky" that
you prefer legacy interfaces, perhaps you'd like to go back to
punching chads.

I'll restate my previous point: if the interface increases
accessibility while allowing backwards compatibility then
it is a gain.

> (Note, I said "mail", not "the mailing list".  The point
> is that if
> they browse the list via the "official" web-archives,
> they can follow
> links to properly written URL's; though it would help if people
> considered that URL's may be linked and helped the archives get it
> right.)

> I think that "curing" this by encouraging HTML spammage in posts
> would be a vast detriment.

I don't see how you leapt to this conclusion.  I made no mention
of html within messages.  In fact, I agree that html is rarely
beneficial in messages.

There are a variety of low-impact markups available (wiki) which
allow the text reader to see the content in a similar form to the
rendered content.  However, I'm not implying that forums would
use these, either.

> People that can't figure out how to set up an email account
> probably won't be able to write an HTML link, and those who
> browse the "official" archives will get auto-linked URL's, so
> I don't think that there's any real loss on this count.

There's no knowledge of html implied when cutting and pasting
a URL.

> Threading: I think that it's a mixed call there.  I find
> most threading
> in forums/discussions on web-messages to be cumbersome,
> and occasionally
> incorrect when a thread breaks.  Maybe there's a
> web-board out there
> *somewhere* that implements message threading in a way
> that doesn't suck.
> But, as long as you can turn it off and get the linear
> method, that's
> okay.  (I think that the linear method could be improved
> upon if it went
> according to
> the date on which the sender claimed it was sent.)

Yes, you're right, theading is difficult, and usually
is partially linked.  Though even allowing a sort-by-subject
would be superior to nothing at all.

In a way, I find it surprising that those developing the
one of most advanced operating systems on the planet would
have a web interface which has the functionality of those
from 1995.  Naturally I'd prefer good developers to work
on the software which is shipping, instead of creating a
wiz-bang web site.  I'm only mentioning that appearance of
any number of netbsd-related services, such as the wiki's,
the blogger "here's my diary of installing netbsd"-types,
the latest mention of a netbsd forum site (not the first),
to point to the need for the management of these services at
a single point (, obviously) which can be designed
& managed to fit the requirements that all these people have.
That is, centralize the effort instead of splintering it,
or said another way, swallow the startups in order to grow
non-organically (to borrow suit-speak).