WordPress Direction

The WordPress Mission in response to a discussion that came up a few days ago on the WP-Hackers mailing list. By the way, I hope by this time next year to have eliminated all of the WordPress mailing lists. In thinking about how they’re currently handled I started making a list of how they need better archiving, more permanent URIs, better formatting, more searchable, and basically ended up describing a blog. The mailing lists should become a distributed, threaded aggregator where anyone with a blog can participate in the discussion given they pingback the proper URIs and/or use the proper tags.

27 replies on “WordPress Direction”

  1. Yes! At least one project where mailing lists get reduced instead of the usual mailing-list explosion (project-user, project-stupid-user, project-devel, project-devel-gods). And people can have their contents where they often prefer to have it: on their own site. I like the idea.

  2. I like the idea of moving the mailing lists into something more like a blog/forum. But I would suggest that you let people without a blog participate too. I suggest this because I don’t have much “techie” stuff up on my blog, so I would prefer to connect up in other ways myself.

    I’d suggest a central (wordpress.org?) blog. People could still link/ping/tag their way in, but could also go in directly. And it could be echoed out to a mailing list for folks who want to read it that way too.

  3. given they pingback the proper URIs and/or use the proper tags.

    Hrm. Not sure about this. One of the nice things about the email system (as ackward as it is) is that each idea gets the same ‘precedence’ or visual time. With this system, how would you determine what the aggregate pulls from?

    I would think a free form registration multiuser blog with a very nice comments system would almost be a better idea. Keeping it central could serve to make it quicker to get up and running — it would also make following ‘threads’ easier.

    Example: if a person makes a post on their blog about Error#45 (hypothetical), they would ‘ping’ the aggregator with the entry. It would go, parse it, and add it to the “new topics” page on the aggregate pages. Then, instead of having a community set of pages, you have to go to individual sites to follow the discussion thread.

    In this example, it’s not really such a big deal, but when you get 3, 4, 12 topics going, having to track the conversations in such a distributed manner is going to become troublesome. It would be far simpler to have a single blog that had some kind of universal and inclusive ‘follow post’ option. (And don’t say RSS because I don’t want a new damn feed for every comment thread I come across.)

    My vote would be for an open registration blog at a central location: discuss.wordpress.org or similiar.

  4. ughh, that doesn’t sound good at all. Say you’re using wordpress on an internet (i.e. not publicly accessible). In that case you would have to set up an external blog just to add your comments to the “mailing list” about a particular feature that you care about? Or, similarly to what Barry said, if you’re using WordPress to power a business or otherwise professional site, you’re not going to start posting responses to “mailing list” topics there, you’d have to set up a separate blog just to have a voice on the ‘mailing lists’. I don’t mean to be rude, but this sounds like a pretty awful idea to me: more or less making everybody set up a separate blog specifically for the purpose of communicating with the developer / translator / user mailing lists. If you did plan to use a ‘blog’ format to replace the mailing lists, I would hope it would be some sort of centralized thing, sort of like metafilter.

  5. You could just have another blog, it’s not *that* hard. 5 minutes! We could even make it easy for you to set up another one. 🙂 The point is you can reply on your own turf, wherever you may choose for that to be. I may post some replies here on Photo Matt and some on another blog just set up for the mailing list.

  6. Wouldn’t a downside of a newsgroup be the necessity of a newsgroup reader in addition to the proliferation of Spam. Who knows how many spam bots have harvested my email addy from newsgroups before I realized it.

    A blog would surely be an acceptable form, but it would perhaps be better to see all the post titles and excerpts before even making it to the actual post (kind of like a newsgroup, just better). Such high frequency posting sites never do well with the standard UI of most blogs.

    Just my .02

  7. I’m sorry, I’m still not convinced. It feels like a situation of trying to shoehorn something into a blog context that doesn’t belong. Especially since much better, easier, and lower-barrier infrastructures already exist (email lists, usenet groups, centralized forums / blogs).

    You may think 5 minutes to set up a blog specifically to add input to a discussion is nothing, but believe me, it will discourage many people from offering input, especially on something like a user list, where you want as many people helping out and answering questions as possible. Think about how many people turn away from a site just because they have to register to use it. Now think about the fact that instead of just entering a username and password, you’ve got to isntall and setup a piece of software (and maybe sign up with a hosting company if you’ve only been using WordPress on an intranet and have no externally-accessible webspace). I’m sorry, but that’s a pretty high barrier.

  8. It’s all about audience. Setting up a blog is no harder than getting a free email account from Gmail or Yahoo, and like email most people have blogs already. I think most would welcome the traffic the postings could bring to their blog. Right now you have to “register” anyway to join the list, and go through a subscription/unsubscription process, this would eliminate that, allowing people to post to the “list” without having to sign up for anything at all. Hundreds of thousands of people are starting blogs daily, how many new Usenet users do you think there are per day?

  9. I think this is a bad idea. I like WordPress and would like to potentialy join the comunity – I do not see why I should have to set up a blog *just* to participate.

    People who like email subscription lists are used to the emails they get and are happy – the same goes for newsgroups. Why force your users to change the way they operate, and potentialy loose a lot of participation?

    I’m sure it is possible to have a newsgroup and mailing list together – if you see what I mean? It’s the same thing, but you can get it via email or usenet.

  10. Yes we could have a newsgroup that fed into a mailing list that was synced with a forum and projected onto the side of a building, but why? I’m not saying it would be an easy transition for old-timers (including myself) who live by email, but it would be an interesting way to eat our own dog food and I think WordPress would improve as a result of the barrier we run into.

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  12. Not sure about the idea of killing the mailing lists of completely.

    Yes the archives are not very nice and a blog style view on them would be nice – something like the blog view at gmane would be good as a way of viewing the mailing list content.

    If we want more visibility and easy of use for the mailing lists then maybe bbPress as a forum is a better vehicle for this – adding pingback/trackback support to a forum would be interesting, allowing posting in this way would be cool. This would especially be a good way of plug-in announcement type posts – write an announcement on your blog and pingpost it to the forums as well!

  13. I don’t see newsgroups being any better than the mailing lists. Conversations become hard to follow; they stray off topic, sidebar topics creep in, and it’s hard to find information. I am a member of an organisation of fewer than 20 people and newsgroups are used as the primary source of exchanging information. It’s chaos. I can’t imagine a newsgroup with thousands of WordPress users.

  14. Personally – I prefer the e-mail list. I like having it “pushed” to me instead of having to go somewhere to read it. If it was spread across a lot of blogs, I would be a lot less likely to read it. If it was all in one blog, with a good solid RSS feed that included *full* posts and all the comments, that might work.

    Speaking of e-mail, I’ve sent you at least two about hosting in the past week – have you received them? The initial response was so fast, I’m surprised I haven’t heard back about those.

  15. From information point of view, a centraliced blog seems the best idea of all. It is very hard now for a newcomer to WordPress to realice what can be done after the installation process, and the best communication tool a newcomer can find is the Dashboard (i.e. a kind of “centraliced” thing).

    Mailing lists are really hard to follow, but if someone is specially found of them, he can sign-in for a mail to be sent every time there is a new post, so… no changes for a “mailing-list” adict.

    A blog is great, you just read the feeds and decide if the topic if of interest to you.

    The question is always the same. For information to be really relevant and consistent, someone has to be in charge of moderating the entries and responsable for updating.

  16. Ok.. 2.5 cents:

    A blog/forum would provide a centralised location for the developer and community base. It’s quite possible to ‘subscribe’ to wordpress based discussions (1 x plugin + 10 seconds of work) so there is the ability to continue to feed out email for those who prefer that type of medium.

    Personally, a community forum for discussion and a centralised ‘blog’ built from wordpress makes sense. If it’s all in one location, then that makes it 10x easier for folk to get their heads around.. the proverbial one stop shop.

    In just the last week I have seen first hand the difficulties folk face with the basics of delving into wordpress.. (In part due to my post kicking over a few rocks about a certain software being a CMS 🙂 – the common thread of complaint, where do I start? and that is often after a quick visit to the codex and forums..

    Now, fast forward 3 months – one website that has a centralised blog that folk can ping, link to articles, yada yada, a forum for folk to discuss many different facets of wordpress (yes I know we have that now), RSS feeds galore.. but none of it is central, it’s all over the show. We have a website for wordpress, a forum, a codex, a bunch of knowledgeable folk bloging from 20,000 different locations.. not a centralised presence.

    I can see what matt is suggesting, but I believe a lot of folk are hitting the big red panic button. Centralising the codex, wordpress blog, developer resources, forums and such would IMHO be a big step forward..

    your mileage may of course vary.

  17. Wouldn’t a downside of a newsgroup be the necessity of a newsgroup reader…

    What about software which reads feeds? Is that any better?

    …in addition to the proliferation of Spam…

    Disclosure of a real address or a primary (personal) address is E-mail suicide.

    …A blog would surely be an acceptable form, but it would perhaps be better to see all the post titles and excerpts before even making it to the actual post (kind of like a newsgroup, just better)…

    I strongly disagree. You can reply an NG message within 2 seconds. From feed previews to the browsers, time is spent unnecessarily and integration is poor. Also, flagging, threading and archiving are ill-formed when it comes to blogs. That’s why I barely get involved in blogs any more.

    Want an example of why mailing lists are evil? Look at CSS-discuss

    Want an example of blogs when size makes them nasty? See Slashdot.

  18. Well, for my 2¢, I do not like the idea of requiring a blog to access this information store. Yes, Matt, it is easy to set up WordPress; but it’s kind of like chess — minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Plus, you really can’t compare setting up a Yahoo or GMail account for free with setting up WordPress. The biggest difference is that you need to pay a web host to get WordPress set up; yes, it is quite minimal any more (my host costs $5 per month – ICDSoft) but it is NOT free. Also, as jonner says, if you have an intranet blog, the system you are proposing shuts him (and how many others?) out.

    The best solution IMHO is a blog similar to what is presently in place coupled with a forum. The present forum, while it does have a lot of information, is in need of at least a facelift. I also spend a lot of time in the AutoIt and InnoSetup forums. If some information I need is there, I can find it in one or two searches. In the WordPress forum, I get differing results when searching on the same keyword at different times.

    I think WordPress is the best combination of ease of use and power out there for a blog. I think the Wiki/Codex/Forum needs work to encourage more to use it. As victoria said, it’s all about moderating.

  19. A blog would be great for peopel like me who need some of the information on those lists, but can’t handle the e-mail volume. It makes the information much more accessible. Right on!

  20. I’m concerned about the search-ability of a loose confederation of blogs via trackback and pings…The e-mail lists have their downsides, but it’s nice to be able to search the complete archives at once.

    Personally, I think a hosted discussion forum is a nice path to go here–and some are available that support (or have add-ons for) RSS syndication, e-mail notices, etc. Unfortunately, bbPress is nowhere near capable of handling this load yet.

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