On Thu, 08 Feb 2001 21:10:16 -0800
Chuq Von Rospach <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I'm currently working on a piece on why mail lists suck for
> community work.
I suspect the base reason is simple:
Email cones to you without ulterior action or participation
required. It just appears, silently and without any effort of
activity required on your part.
Conversely web logs and BBS'es are only participated in by those
who go out of their way to participate and thereby, for each
participation and participation opportunity, have already
implicitly said to themselves, "I'm interested in this, so I'm
going to go look at it!". Whereas merely reading an email is too
easy to do because some icon reads, "8859 Unread" (as mine
> But like all sweeping generalizations, it's an imperfect rant --
> because that's a place where the mail list works wonderfully; as
> long as it stays small and focussed.
MUD-Dev is running ~1K members right now. Its still working well,
and in fact is beginning to plex in interesting ways (such as a
Usenix-style non-profit technical association, etc). Were
membership to pass 10K I'm sure the current operation methods would
no longer scale (hand moderated list). To that end I'm currently
preparing other forums and media whose single intent is to soak up
and occupy the noisy great unwashed (mostly web based) while MUD-Dev
remains its exclusively-signal and comparitively elitist role off in
the corner. My expectation (hope?) is that membership will rapidly
grow for a while while the base populations of the noisy web stuff
solidify (and starts breeding new signal sources), whereupon
membership will fall steeply back to some middle value while the
noise-preferring migrate to the web and MUD-Dev resumes its slow and
ultimately static growth curve.
What to do longer term? I'm not sure. Maintaining a high signal
single-topic discussionary forum for a population measured in tens
of thousands (figure 5% posters, which is my current figure) hasn't
really been attempted before.
> Unfortunately, I think mail lists scale horribly, and so you end
> up with problems sooner or later -- but only if you succeed and
> grow your audience. If you suck or fail and stay small.. (grin)
The human factors and dynamics are downright scary.
>> I hear so much, how good NewsGroups are, but I find the NG
>> environment -- tech wise -- is less well-controlled.
> NNTP -- the technology -- is a great technology. USENET -- the
> nework built on NNTP -- sucks. But NNTP in a non-propogating or
> limited propogation system can be very powerful and useful.
> It depends on the implementation and administration.
NNTP as a local distribution and presentaion method for mailing
lists of localised general interest is a superb tool.
J C Lawrence email@example.com
--=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--