Email wins over Forums

Wherever there are mailing lists, some people eventually bring up the suggestion to move to or to at least offer a web forum alternative as well.

As a subscriber to over 100 mailing lists, receiving several thousands of emails every day I’m a violent opponent of web forums. Why? I’ll entertain you by stating a few reasons for my opinion on this:

  • If all my 100 lists would be forums, I would have to visit 100 sites to check for new messages. Some forums offer mail notifications on new messages, which would remove the need to poll all sites unconditionally, but that’s still just a detail.
  • There’s no way to mark individual message to deal with at a later time.
  • You’re forced to use each and every specific forum “client” instead of a single dedicated and at your choice selected email client that was written and perfected for this purpose.
  • There are people who prefer mailing lists and those who prefer forums, I’ve come to accept that fact. Thus, when introducing forums as an alternative means for communication, you also risk draining people (and thus talk, opinions, facts) from the mailing list.

By reading thousands of mails per day, I’ve worked out a system on how to deal with them all. Like I filter them in 20+ inboxes on arrival and I read them in a prioritized order and I mark interesting mails as “important” to deal with them later in case I don’t have time at the moment to reply or catch all details.

Several of my inboxes are automatically (renamed and) archived every month to make them not grow inconveniently large.

So please, don’t start more forums. Use mailing lists. Oh, and don’t top-post and/or full-quote on those lists…

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