Re: Haskell web forum

Previous Topic Next Topic
 
classic Classic list List threaded Threaded
12 messages Options
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Haskell web forum

Albert Y. C. Lai
As requested, I continue here the thread on the proposal for a web forum.

You will soon enough find out what I think of web forums.  Let me
first show you what this mailing list looks like to me using software
of my choice:

!  [ 192: Mark Carroll        ] [Haskell-cafe] Card trick
!  [  37: Thomas Conway       ] Re: [Haskell-cafe] How can we detect and fix
E  [  19: Albert Lai          ] Re: [Haskell-cafe] Either e Monad
E      [  19: Deokhwan Kim        ]
           [  62: Bas van Dijk        ]
E  [  47: apfelmus@quantentunn] [Haskell-cafe] Re: Optimization problem
       [  51: Ross Paterson       ]
E      [  42: Conor McBride       ]
           [  56: Robert Dockins      ]
               [  42: Conor McBride       ]
           [  61: apfelmus@quantentunn] [Haskell-cafe] Re:  Optimization prob
               [  14: Ross Paterson       ]
   [ 154: Jan-Willem Maessen  ] Re: [Haskell-cafe] Traversing a graph in STM
       [  52: Josef Svenningsson  ]
       [  18: Bulat Ziganshin     ] Re[2]: [Haskell-cafe] Traversing a graph
           [  26: Sebastian Sylvan    ]
   [  22: Ashley Yakeley      ] [Haskell-cafe] Re: Wiki contact

An elaboration of the cool features I have always enjoyed is in order:

On browsing threads, both inter-thread jumps and intra-thread
navigation, the screenshot speaks for itself.  (If for any perverted
reason I want the messages listed chronologically rather than
well-organized, the software can do it too.)

The messages marked with "E" are messages I have just read.  With this
mark, they will not show up next time I browse this mailing list
again.  Take note that I can mark and unmark any subset of messages,
unlike certain people's linear-time idea that one single timestamp
distinguishes "already read" from "new" across the board.  (I have
always heard that non-linear thinking is superior to linear thinking.
I think I believe it for at least this application.)  (Is this an
example of what is meant when someone said that a web forum requires
"less technical knowledge", i.e., programmers on a web forum will not
need to know about subsets?)  (Speaking of which, is the
thread-browsing part also an example, i.e., programmers on a web forum
will not need to know about trees and forests?)

Though the marked messages will not show up next time, they are not
thrown away yet.  They are kept on my disk for quite a while.  (I get
to set how many days they stay.)  The software offers several ways to
show them, but I think the most useful one is this.  Suppose I look at
apfelmus's message on "Optimization problem" (two are shown, I'm
referring to the first one), and wonder, "gee, what is it replying
to?"  To find out, I position myself to that message, then press a
button, then the software will show the desired parent message.  In
fact, the updated screen looks like this (I just include the thread in
question):

E  [  18: Ross Paterson       ] Re: [Haskell-cafe] Re: Optimization problem
E      [  47: apfelmus@quantentunn]
           [  51: Ross Paterson       ]
E          [  42: Conor McBride       ]
               [  56: Robert Dockins      ]
                   [  42: Conor McBride       ]
               [  61: apfelmus@quantentunn] [Haskell-cafe] Re:  Optimizatio
                   [  14: Ross Paterson       ]

So even if apfelmus's message quotes nothing from Ross's, I can still
find out, provided it is recently enough to be still on my disk.  Take
note that, on a linear-thinking web forum, there could be any number
of intervening messages in the same thread between Ross's and
apfelmus's, and even though it is true that Ross's is immortalized in
the database of the forum, the real question is how to fish for it.
(ObRant again about how web forums are "friendly" to "programmers" who
have no clue about trees.)

Here is a feature unrelated to threading, and in fact it is much more
fundamental and pervasive (since almost all email software, not just
mine, provides this), and in fact it has much to do with pervasive
computing too.  Here in Canada, in cafes one can get wireless Internet
access, but it has to be paid by the minutes.  So suppose I want to
visit haskell-cafe when I visit a Starbucks cafe, and there are 30
messages I want to read, and I can read them at the rate of half a
minute per message.  If haskell-cafe were on a web forum, I would end
up keeping my wireless connection for 15 minutes.  (Could I disconnect
and reconnect between messages?  First of all that's really a pain.
Secondly, let's say I do that, the billing is still such that I
connect for 2 seconds and I'm still charged for 1 minute.)  But since
haskell-cafe is on a mailing list, I can just connect for a few
seconds to download the messages, then disconnect and read offline;
I'm charged for at most 1 minute.

(Alternatively but equivalently, suppose I want to read haskell-cafe
while riding subway - underground trains.  Here in Toronto the subway
doesn't provide wireless Internet access yet, and probably won't for
another decade.  If haskell-cafe were on a web forum, I'd be SOL.  But
since it is on a mailing list, I can pull the same trick as above.)

If you can find a single implementation of web forums that provides
the features I have always taken for granted... but wait, there is one
more feature, actually it's a meta-feature, a principle, a belief of
mine.

I am an individualist and non-conformist.  I believe in each
individual choosing and customizing his/her software and
human-computer interface.  There must be a common protocol for the
exchange of content and meta-data, of course, but that should be where
the commonality ends.  How this content is presented to me, how I
navigate and manipulate this content, what human-computer interface I
use, and whose software I use, should be entirely up to me.  The very
idea of a web forum is an antithesis to this.

In practice, because a web forum has to include some human-computer
interface, and because someone has to write code for that, and because
that "someone" is at best a few people with only a few hours per week
for this, the web forum is forced to include little or no choice in
its human-computer interface and its expressive power.  And since you
always have to worry about members who "have less technical knowledge
such as professional programmers who don't understand trees and
subsets", its expressive power cannot be too great, and so the
mandatory web interface must suck.  In other words, in theory you can
always say "let's code up a superior, even diverse, web forum", but in
practice who's going to do that?  In contrast, superior software for
mailing lists and newsgroups already exist, and if you have Mozilla or
Thunderbird or Evolution or Outlook Express, you probably already have
decent or half-decent such software.

So let me make a daring counter-proposal.  We go back to newsgroups.
We set up our own news server for this; use just one server so
everyone is always synced to it, and we do not pose a heavy load on it
by today's standard anyway.  Here are the benefits.

First and foremost, all my favourite features are provided.  (I'm
allowed to be a bit self-centred for just a little while, ain't I? :) )

Everyone can use his/her favourite software.  For example Mozilla can
do newsgroups and news servers, and everyone knows how to use Mozilla,
and if someone doesn't yet, the GUI is easy to pick up.  It's a
no-brainer.

Normally news servers are set up to throw away old messages, but we
can tell ours to keep everything forever.  You can always consult the
server for old messages for context or archaeology, in case you don't
keep local copies of your own.  Your favourite software can search.
There may even be a way to get Google and other search engines to do
the search.

There is a valid concern raised about the ritual overhead on the part
of a new member in subscribing and unsubscribing to a multitude of
mailing lists, and it is suggested that a web forum mitigates this.  A
web forum mitigates this by requiring just one registration and you
can subsequently post in any sub-forum.  The newsgroup way answers
this beautifully: it is the same number of registration and you can
subsequently post in any newsgroup.

Last but not least, for those who are excited about the very idea of a
one-size-fits-all web interface: we can put up a web interface as a
front-end to the news server too!

As programmers, we are very individualist about programming
environments: we like to pick our own editors, colours, key
bindings...  Actually we don't mind all sorts of compromises on those
fronts, but here is one thing all of us insist: we require our code
repository to be highly concurrent and distributed.  We expect to work
offline.  In light of this, I find it rather odd that a programmer
would propose the exact opposite for our discussion repository - a web
forum, which not only superficially limits customizations (which, like
I said, we can live with), but also fundamentally expects us to work
online.  More ironically, highly concurrent distributed discussion
repositories have always existed, and they are now dismissed under the
false impression of "hard to use".  (They are certainly easier to use
than highly concurrent distributed code repositories, since you post
new messages rather than mutate existing messages, and so there is no
need to learn about conflicts, merging, forking, and all that.)  It
makes me wonder: what's next, are we going to move our IDEs to the web
too, and henceforth must we debug our code through the web?
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Haskell web forum

Gour-2
On Thu, 2006-09-21 at 04:55 -0400, Albert Lai wrote:

> As requested, I continue here the thread on the proposal for a web forum.
>
> You will soon enough find out what I think of web forums.

[snip]

I don't understand one thing: it looks like web-forums should exclude
mailing lists and vice versa, but Bulat just wrote: "...we need now to
create web forum." ??

So, why the two cannot co-exist and let users decide which one to use?

Gentoo community is nice example of it.

Sincerely,
Gour


_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe

signature.asc (196 bytes) Download Attachment
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Haskell web forum

Kurt Hutchinson
On 9/21/06, Gour <[hidden email]> wrote:
> So, why the two cannot co-exist and let users decide which one to use?
>
> Gentoo community is nice example of it.

I was just about to ask the same thing. Clearly, some prefer email and
some prefer web forums. This is undoubtably true of new Haskell users
with questions, as well. Let those interested in a web forum set one
up and run it. Those interested in email can ignore the web forum. The
Perl community has a similar setup with the popular Perlmonks web
forum, and their hundreds of mailing lists. There are many users who
read and post on both, and many who do not.

I believe Bulat was just trying to find out if anyone else would like
to help set one up, not suggesting that it replace the mailing lists.

Kurt
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Haskell web forum

Bill Wood-3
I have only recently started accessing some web fora, but I've noticed
that some of those "powered by phpBB" are vulnerable to spamming,
whereas the news groups seem to be less so.  For example, the
"python-forum" has nearly lost it's "General" forum to spammers.  Maybe
the experts know better engines, better ways to set up a forum, or
better ways to administer them after they're up, but it is a concern.

 -- Bill Wood



_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Haskell web forum

Alex Queiroz-2
Hallo,

On 9/21/06, Bill Wood <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I have only recently started accessing some web fora, but I've noticed
> that some of those "powered by phpBB" are vulnerable to spamming,
> whereas the news groups seem to be less so.  For example, the
> "python-forum" has nearly lost it's "General" forum to spammers.  Maybe
> the experts know better engines, better ways to set up a forum, or
> better ways to administer them after they're up, but it is a concern.
>

     I only hope this mailing list will continue. I can't stand the
slowness/spams/avatar/size of web fora.

--
-alex
http://www.ventonegro.org/
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Haskell web forum

Bugzilla from avatar@hot.ee
In reply to this post by Kurt Hutchinson
Kurt Hutchinson wrote:

> Let those interested in a web forum set one
> up and run it. Those interested in email can ignore the web forum.

  My concern about introducing a web forum would be that it is yet
another place I have to search every time I need information (besides
the haskell report, compiler docs and tracker, 2 wikis and the mailing
lists :)

  So setting up a web forum would only be good if it can do something a
mailing list cannot do. Following things were mentioned before:

- ease of starting new topics. Maybe. I personally end up searching
through all topics in forums anyway, because people often tend to post
in a "wrong" topic :) Christian Neumann before mentioned that mailman
might support topics as well.
  Also IMHO the current division of mailing lists (general, cafĂ©,
libraries, etc.) is exactly right for organizing and separating information.

- searchability. I wouldn't agree - I can download the whole contents of
a mailing list from gmane and search it in my mail client - goes way
faster than in a forum.

- ease of access. But preventing spam would probably require
subscription just as for a mailing list.

  Any more advantages of a forum?

Cheers,
  Misha
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Haskell web forum

David House
On 21/09/06, Misha Aizatulin <[hidden email]> wrote:
>   My concern about introducing a web forum would be that it is yet
> another place I have to search every time I need information (besides
> the haskell report, compiler docs and tracker, 2 wikis and the mailing
> lists :)

So let's have a single unified search box. This is what was done on
wordpress.org -- a single glorified interface searched the wiki,
support forums and bug tracker. Everything's currently hosted by the
umbrella domain name haskell.org, so all the information's at least
theoretically in the same place, so getting the various tools
interoperating with one another shouldn't be impossible.

+1 for the introduction of forums.

--
-David House, [hidden email]
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Haskell web forum

Kurt Hutchinson
In reply to this post by Bugzilla from avatar@hot.ee
On 9/21/06, Misha Aizatulin <[hidden email]> wrote:
>   My concern about introducing a web forum would be that it is yet
> another place I have to search every time I need information (besides
> the haskell report, compiler docs and tracker, 2 wikis and the mailing
> lists :)

That probably speaks to an effort for better organization of the
information rather than banning a way to create more.

>   So setting up a web forum would only be good if it can do something a
> mailing list cannot do.

Well there's one thing that a web forum can do that a mailing list can
never do, which is provide a mechanism for those who like web forums
better than mailing lists. How important that is really depends on how
many people would rather use a web forum than a mailing list. Many of
the responses so far have decried web forums in preference to mailing
lists, but this is, after all, a mailing list.

> - searchability. I wouldn't agree - I can download the whole contents of
> a mailing list from gmane and search it in my mail client - goes way
> faster than in a forum.

A similar mechanism could be implemented for a web forum. The data is
just sitting in a database, after all. An format for easy downloading
and searching would probably not be difficult.

I personally don't care either way. I'm happy with the mailing list.
But I know of many people that do prefer web forums, and they seem to
be perceived as a lower barrier to entry, even if that isn't actually
true. I would probably read both if both existed.

Kurt
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Haskell web forum

Rene de Visser
I'll just add myself onto the list of webforum haters.

I find gmane over a news reader much more comfortable that any webforums I
have used.

Perhaps gmane can be used over a web interface?

Then those that want to use a web forum have one, and I can continue to use
my news reader.

When I want to read the lists when I am away from the newsreader then I use
www.netvibes.com. A very nice web interface for reading in my opinion.

Alas no interface for posting.

Rene.



_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Haskell web forum

Aaron Denney
In reply to this post by Albert Y. C. Lai
Moved to haskell-cafe from haskell-general.
On 2006-09-20, Niklas Broberg <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 9/20/06, Aaron Denney <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> And I disagree with you.  Web forums are usenet reinvented poorly.
>> It's impossible to keep track of what's new, threading is either poor or
>> nonexistent.  Mailing lists with searchable archives work well.  gmane
>> provides a nice usenet interface to mailing lists.
>
> I don't recognize the forums I frequent in your description at all. I
> have absolutely no problem keeping up with what's new. In fact I find
> it a lot easier since many of the topics take place in subforums that
> I know don't interest me, so I don't even need to go there to check.

And half of the time messages are miscategorized, because conversations
are miscategorized, so I do need to go check.

> With this mailing list, I have to manually "mark as read" about 2/3 of
> all incoming mails because they don't (from the title) interest me,
> and I have to read a few that don't interest me because I couldn't
> tell from the title.

Where as an entire page of messages under a particular "thread" (it's
not a thread, because they almost never have the messages showing the
exact post they're responding to, just the general list of messages
in this topic.)  Then I need to go locate the tiny link that gets me to
the next page.  They're nearly unuseable.

> Threading also works as well as could be expected, better than
> threading in gmail for instance, so I don't see the problem here
> either.

That has never been my experience.  Threads branch annd mutate and
drift.  And this is a good thing.  The rigid categorizations can't
handle this, whereas I can easily ignore entire threads and subthreads
with a client designed for it.

>> > It's all there, all the time.
>>
>> Yes, that's part of the problem.
>
> How is that? You mean because all the old stuff gets in the way of the
> new? Then you're just using a bad forum software that can't properly
> point out the new stuff for you. I agree that not all forums are good,
> but there are definitely those that are.

Exactly.  but the problem with forums is that everynone must use the
same forum software because it's sitting on a website.   With usenet or
mailing lists, everyone gets their own software that provides the
features they want, with the interface they want.

>> > It is also  easy to create sub-groups/forums for specific projects,
>>
>> This is the one semi-useful thing.  Of course, what you end up with is
>> another not-so-useful forum.
>
> This is probably the one most useful thing yes. I wouldn't call it
> semi-useful though. Just remember all the responses that the HCAR gets
> each year of the form "wow how many cool projects are out there that I
> had no clue existed". What if all (or many of) those projects were
> actually there, on the forums, where everyone knew where to look?

Forums are another place to look, instead of on the wiki, on the mailing
lists, etc.  It fragments the community.

> And your last sentence, I just don't understand. "not-so-useful" just
> because it's a forum, or did you mean somethine else as well?

Yes, because it's a forum.

Almost any feature can be implemented in a web-forum.  And many will,
but almost none will be done well, because
(a) it's hard to get something that will please everyone  and it has to
    please everyone because everyone must use the same software
(b) The experience isn't there.  Mail & usenet software has been
    worked on for over 25 years.  It works.  Your mail client sucks?
    Get a new one.  There are lots, and one should surely work for you.
    I don't have the option of using different web-forum software when
    something about it annoys the hell out of me.

The biggest thing I see for them is web accessibility.  But we already
have that.  We have archives.  We have gmane.  Tons of other gatewaying
software exist, and could be easily set up, because mailing lists are
designed to be used by multiple clients.

Web forums are only "pull".  I have to go check each individual one,
on a semi-regular basis.  Yes, there is RSS.  It's another hacky
workaround for something that mail inherently has.  Mailiing lists can
be either pull or push.  I can dump the list mail in my inbox and get it
regularly, or segregate it out to another mailbox, or several mailboxes,
or whatever.

--
Aaron Denney
-><-

_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Re: Haskell web forum

Sebastian Sylvan-2
In reply to this post by Rene de Visser
On 9/21/06, Rene de Visser <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I'll just add myself onto the list of webforum haters.
>
> I find gmane over a news reader much more comfortable that any webforums I
> have used.
>

Just to be clear. Is it worth debating which is better? Some people
prefer one over the other, fine. The original topic was "do we need a
web forum", not "which do you personally prefer".

I think it's quite clear that web forums are more used than mailing
lists by the general public (perhaps not by academics and
professionals, though), so it certainly wouldn't hurt to have one --
regardless of any personal preferences people may have.

I do think we should try to do better than the usual suspects that are
available though. Maybe even write something in Haskell? Are we
allowed to install basically anything we want on the server, or is it
restricted somehow?

/S
--
Sebastian Sylvan
+46(0)736-818655
UIN: 44640862
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Re: Haskell web forum

David House
On 21/09/06, Sebastian Sylvan <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I do think we should try to do better than the usual suspects that are
> available though. Maybe even write something in Haskell?

This sounds like a good test of maturity for Haskell web platforms.
I'd love to be involved in a collaboration for this, should one be
drummed together. I asked the #haskell IRC channel whether such
software already existed:

<shapr> dmhouse: The comment plugin for Hope would be easily hacked
into forum software.
<shapr> You'd only need to change it so that a top level message would
be a comment that's not attached to anything.

Although if the design requires it, it might be easier to write one
from scratch.

--
-David House, [hidden email]
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe