[mythtv] MythTV Forums

Jay Ashworth jra at baylink.com
Mon Feb 10 21:03:35 UTC 2014

----- Original Message -----
> From: "Stuart Morgan" <stuart at tase.co.uk>

> We've been constantly nagged for years to provide forums by people who prefer
> them over mailing lists. The forums were created because, whether you or I
> agree, they are much more popular with people than mailing lists. If I were to
> guess why, it's because it's much easier to sub-divide discussion by topic and
> to ignore the subjects that don't interest you. 

Sure, but that's a *bug*, because it siphons off a lot of the smart people,
who don't follow threads where they could be of help, if they'd seen them.

That's practical reason #1.

> BTW I note that although we're being asked to explain why we've introduced
> forums, no-one has yet voiced a single argument against them except to refer
> to "disadvantages". Now I'm not saying there aren't some valid ticks in the
> 'cons' column, but if my experience is anything to go by, at least some of the
> objections will be based invalid assumptions.

I didn't bother to itemize, because it was presented in the context of a 
fait accompli.  I'm perfectly happy to itemize, if it's going to do any 

#2 is Critical Mass. 

If you split up the number of places people can/must go to get help, 
then you'll also split up the audience of helpers; decades of evidence
on Usenet shows that you only split the group when the load becomes
sufficiently untenable that it, itself, is chasing away Answerers.

IME that's 2-300 threads a day.

#3 is Visibility.

I am in my email client about every 15 minutes.  If you split yourself
out into your own web forum, then I'll go there when I think about it.

Apply this to Critical Mass as well; it will drain useful eyeballs
out of the group, no matter how good their intentions are.

#4 is Operational Convenience.

I'm going to try very hard not to use the words "insufferable arrogance",
because they're provocative, and imply a motivation which is often not
actually there... but, y'know, I'd prefer to choose *my own* tools for
managing my information flow, and not be pressed into someone else's --
often incredibly poorly designed -- choice of tools instead... *all of 
which are different*.

There are at *least* 4 different really common PHP forum packages, not
to mention the ones built into things like Drupal and Joomla, and between
that and skinning, they *all* drive noticeably differently.

I only have so much available cognitive load to add on extra command

In other news, forums -- even with mobile skins -- are not the best
choice for use from mobile devices, IME.  Apps like Tapatalk help --
though there are 2 or 3 of *those*, not all compatible with all forum
systems -- but the ones which are useful are paid apps, and (while this 
particular point is personal, I admit) I decline to give Google my 
credit card information, because they are Evil now.  So I can't take
advantage of those.

> FWIW, there are advantages too, some of which I've mentioned above.

The one that I saw mentioned, about disposable addresses and spam, is
trivial to the point of de minimis, IMNSHO, by contrast to the disadvantages.

> Others include the possibility to properly moderate postings, removing spam
> and moving threads to their correct forums.

Mailing lists can be moderated, though only in advance (which is what 
"moderation" actually means to me, not this 1984 post-deletion idea);
NNTP/usenet got moderation right, though it did permit cancels... though
you could tell your machine not to accept them.

>                                              No wading through endless
> off-topic threads as they'll be moved to the 'Off-topic' forum. 

I have a killfile, thanks.  

>                                                   No more double
> posting, mis-formatted html emails or extremely long emails where no-one has
> bothered to crop the previous email(s) to just the bits they are responding
> too.

Um, I hate to point this out, but *if your forum has a "Quote Reply" button,
that is the one many to most people will use, and they will *not* 
fix up their interlineated quotes in 90% of cases -- this statistic 
pulled out of my butt from the forums I have participated in in the 

The result of moving from a mailing list to a forum will be -- in my
semi-professional opinion[1] -- that the percentage of regular denizens
will drop, probably markedly, and the percentage of drive-by querents
who need help will go up... and they won't be able to find that help 
because the cadre who provided it in the first place will be sufficiently
less frequently around.

Do those arguments against do anything for you, Stuart?  :-)

Or, as John Pilkington points out, we could read the part of the FAQ
where that question was asked and answered, though in less detail than

-- jra
Jay R. Ashworth                  Baylink                       jra at baylink.com
Designer                     The Things I Think                       RFC 2100
Ashworth & Associates       http://www.bcp38.info          2000 Land Rover DII
St Petersburg FL USA      BCP38: Ask For It By Name!           +1 727 647 1274

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