Skip to main content

Mailing List or Web Forum? - Have Both!

Posted by pelegri on March 6, 2005 at 8:04 AM PST

Web-based forums have many appealing properties, but many communities started before web-based forums became popular and had their own, very active, mailing list. Even for new communities, some people like to get all their content by email.
Fortunately, some software products bridge between the two worlds, and that is the case for the version of Jive that Java.Net uses. The Jive mechanism is called a "watch".

To set a watch the first thing you need is to login; the software needs to know who you are so it will record your watches! You can then watch specific threads in a Thread or a whole Forum. If you are watching a thread, you will be sent mail notifications when anybody else - not you - posts to that thread. Watching a forum is like watching all threads, exsting or future.
For instance, I have a watch on the Binary WS & XML and the
JAXB 2.0 and JAX-RPC 2.0 forums.

Java.Net also supports the opposite: all mailing lists can be archived, with a web interface. For example, the archive
for the USERS mailing list of the JAXB project.

So, which to use? A mailing list with a web archive, or a forum with a mail watch interface. At some level I think it is a bit arbitrary and contextual, but the guideline I've used with the forums and lists above is that for the Forums are focused on longer-term issues (like specification feedback), and they are less centered around a specific implementation artifact (like the JAXB RI)