[lpi-discuss] Re: LPI Forums site -- why HTTP sucks compared to SMTP/NNTP

Bryan J. Smith <b.j.smith at ieee.org> thebs413 at earthlink.net
Wed Jun 1 12:34:10 EDT 2005

From: Grant Sewell <g.sewell at thymox.uklinux.net>
> I think that forums tend to lend themselves to a wider audience.
> Although I am also a fan of mailing lists, I do find that some of the
> public archives from some mailing lists are absolutely horrendous to
> navigate through, which makes it quite difficult to follow.

Well, that depends on the poster.

I purposely use the old O'Reilly UseNet Guidelines and often append the
subject in my responses.  The Message-ID of both SMTP and NNTP are
still kept intact, which means that SMTP archiving programs, like NNTP
archives, can correlate responses, even if the subject changes.  This
was always required anyway, since not every mail or news reader
properly handles the "Re/RE" and other subject prefixes anyway.

I know people that find my posts in Google searches thank me for
appending the subject when they are digging through 30+ responses
in an archive.

Unfortunately, the "new age" web mail readers -- including GMail --
totally _ignore_ the Message-ID header and attempt to do subject
sorting and correlation.  It's good in many cases, but bombs on
various pre-fixes.  And it definitely gets screwed up by people like
myself who apply old-school UseNet posting concepts and append
the subject.

I've never received so much hate mail from list members until the
last 4-5 years because of these "new age" web mail readers that
don't bother with the 30+ year concept such as Message-ID.
Which is why I'm a _huge_ fan of NNTP-based interfaces into
discussion archives.  Even if the eventual goal is to give the user
a web front-end, I still think the back-end should be SMTP and/or
NNTP because such archivers almost _always_ preserve Message-ID.

> Some mailing lists do not have public archives, so this can dissuade
> people from using them.  Also, particularly with higher volume lists,
> those on low bandwidth connections may choose not to participate
> due to the fact that it could well saturate their line for a while with
> potentially large volumes of email traffic, of which 90% they are not
> interested in.

Which is why I like NNTP-interfaces.  And for those who don't know
what NNTP stands for, then you give them a web front-end.

> For some, a forum is a much better option.  They usually have much
> clearer structures and have clearer search facilities.  The user doesn't
> need to be downloading lots of information in which they have no
> interest.

Unfortunately, web interfaces are arbitrary and free-form.  Which is,
yet again, why I prefer at least a SMTP/NNTP archiving back-end.
Any web front-end should interface into those.

Bryan J. Smith   mailto:b.j.smith at ieee.org

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