[lpi-discuss] LPI Forums site

Torsten Scheck torsten.scheck at gmx.de
Thu Jun 2 06:08:15 EDT 2005

G. Matthew Rice wrote:
> what do you (or others) think would be the advantage of a web forum?  What
> uses could it be put to?

Most Linux beginners are familiar with web forums, as they are common 
for all kind of fan websites. Many don't know about mailing lists, 
Usenet or "Google Groups".

IMO, though, we shouldn't provide, what they are familiar with, but 
educate better about more appropriate tools. From my pov the practice of 
other community projects related to Free and Open Source software show, 
that web forums are not needed for modern communities. Furthermore we 
shouldn't fragment the communication tools, but centralise them.

Web forums are nice for very broad topics. Users read just a few threads 
and check seldomly for changes. Often they come just once to look up 
something, but need to read a whole thread to find the solution. Forum 
moderators sometimes help by creating summaries of the most important 
results and post them as a separate thread. The registration process 
keeps some users from adding a comment.

Mailing lists are for focused, long-term work. Notification is "built 
in" and it's much more efficient to compose an e-mail message than to 
use web forums. Furthermore committed people have an offline archive in 
their mail client for efficient search. Online archives can provide the 
same navigation and search features as a web forum. There is a big 
barrier for online users to post a comment, though.

The biggest disadvantage of both web forums and mailing lists is the 
lack of support for structurised content and the participation barriers. 
The existing twiki fill in this gap perfectly. Just a simple twiki page 
where questions can be asked and answers can be given is a good 
sustitute for a "short-attention-span web forum" and will even transform 
into a comprehensive FAQ.

I suggest to examine and document LPI's existing communication tools, so 
that everybody can take advantage of them and work most efficiently.


Torsten Scheck <torsten.scheck at gmx.de>  Jabber:torsten at i0i0.de
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software engineer:open standards/access/knowledge:enthgnusiast

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