robert at irrelevant.com
Mon Mar 22 07:49:56 PST 2004
At 09:09 22/03/2004 -0500, Jerry McAllister wrote:
>When you are posting to a list, there is a time lag and a distance that
>needs to be overcome. It is similar, but not quite the same as a face
>to face conversation. Retaining relevant material and interspersing
>responses comes as close to a conversational, question and answer
>interchange as possible, given the medium of exchange. It also helps
>bring people in to the conversation who either are participating in
>numerous conversations and need to be reminded of which one it is or
>are new, but valuable, to the conversation.
I'm more of a lurker on the questions list, although I chime in when I see
something I can help with. I've been reading this through and I don't
think anybody has pointed out one important topic so far, although touched
upon by your point abut the time lag. It is that these messages get
archived! Not just in various people's mail clients (I frequently search
the ~13,000 messages in my archive when I encounter what might be a common
issue) but on multiple websites around the globe. Indeed, the FreeBSD
website itself holds searchable archives of all the lists, which I am sure
it probably recommends somewhere that you scan before asking.
So, when you have a problem, and you search the web for FreeBSD + your
particular error message, you are very likely to come across a mailing list
message. (I know I do anyway.) This could very have been written
yesterday, or six years ago, and you have likely have no idea of context.
Having the entire subject available in that first message you find -
original problem, suggested solution, results of that solution, follow-ups,
etc - means you have there an instant resource that is very valuable.
Having to trawl through a poorly threaded web-based archive to try and find
out if it was the same problem you had when your search only gets to to the
solution, (when the posters trim too much) or through masses of
intermediate junk (when a topic gets big like this, and it's ALL quoted) is
pretty hard work.
Certainly, interleaved or (at worst) bottom posted text makes life a great
deal easier when coming across a post in isolation like this. You can read
through and you get the questions and answers, in context, in time-line order.
Now, for personal emails, I quite accept that everybody has a personal
preference, and there is going to be a lot of "when in Rome.." Certainly
when there is little delay between message and reply, everybody knows the
history of the dialogue, and nobody is going to stumble across it several
years down the line, and you are all happy with the posting protocols, then
it doesn't really matter does it?
As for MUA... My ex-employer (anybody want an IT support/installation
engineer in the UK?) decided to move everybody and all our clients to MS
Outlook and Exchange. Because "that's what people want". And that's
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