[Icecast] Re: New Forum

ml ml at imux.net
Mon Jun 20 14:23:13 PDT 2005


Once upon a time there was an admin of a university student computer 
society, he ran various services for students and the public.  His 2nd 
in command suggested using a web forum thingy for users to chat in and 
get support.  He said "nay, that is stupid waste of bandwidth, it will 
take ages to use, will require administrating and besides, we have a 
news group, a mailing list and an IRC server!  What more could they 
want?!  *I* like text interfaces, it's more efficient that way." and the 
2nd in command begged and promised to admin the web forum and not let it 
get out of hand, and so the admin relented and the dirty little web 
forum was born.

A couple of months went by and the admin noticed that some of the users 
were always wittering about the web forum and upon checking the server 
logs, noticed the large amount of web traffic it was generating and 
became concerned.  Getting hold of his 2nd in command he said "look at 
all the bandwidth that thing is using!".  The 2nd responded, "yeah, 
that's because we have several _hundred_ registered users..."

"Oh" said the admin; that was certainly alot more than ever used the 
mailing list, NNTP or IRC.  So he got an account, and yeah, he had to 
use the mouse, which wasn't as fast reading his mailing list in pine, 
but the interface was good, new posts were highlighted, he could request 
to get an e-mail if someone replied to a certain thread, and there were 
people... so many people!  Through the board a real community formed, he 
didn't have to keep answering the same stupid questions all the time, 
there was an FAQ section where all the common questions were clearly 
explained, in easy to read coloured, highlighted text, sometimes with 
diagrams.

After a few months, the admin realised he nearly prevented the creation 
of this "stupid waste of bandwidth" that had become a real communication 
tool for many, many people.  It was odd, perfectly intelligent people 
would happily post to the web forum, but not the mailing list or IRC. 
As for NNTP, nobody seemed to even know what that was any more.  Upon 
asking why, he was told that is was complicated and slow to use the 
mailing list, and the interface wasn't as nice.  This seemed startling, 
as that was the exact same argument he'd given against the web forum.

Mailing lists, web forums, IRC, whatever your choice is; it's just a 
communications tool.  If you don't like it, don't use it.

Of course the mailing list is going to have loads of people saying:

 >Web based forums are annoying crap wastes of space - I certainly will
 >not and am not intending to use it in any way whatsoever.

The people that don't like mailing lists, aren't using it!  They're 
waiting for the web forum... or whatever it is they want.  Surely if 
there is a tool that will allow us to communicate with a wider audience 
of users, we should at least try it out for a while?

As for this point:

 >I say keep the email list and scrap the forum idea. Problem with forums
 >is you get spam bots that mine the forums for data.

Don't enter any data then... you can choose to hide your e-mail address 
from public view.  What's not there can't be mined.

As to Geoff's question... of course we should keep the mailing list for 
all those users that want their simple text interfaces; after all they 
should have the freedom to choose :-)


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