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PICList Thread
'Would anyone be interested in a PIC List forum?'
2009\02\19@123902 by Nathan House

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Don't get me wrong, I love the PIC List and have gotten a lot of great
advice on here, but wouldn't a forum be much easier to use?



Think about it, all posts would be displayed as easy to read "threads" on
the forum, no bounced emails (I have this problem for some reason), easy
search capability (and a lot faster than the archive), etc..



It seems to me like it would be advantageous to hold these discussions on a
forum!


Nathan

2009\02\19@124354 by PAUL James

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Nathan,

Would this really solve problems with the current setup?  Or would it
just trade the current problems for a new or different set?
I believe the latter would be the case.  But, since I have no clout in
the operation of the PICLIST, I will go along with the concensus.

Regards,   Jim

{Original Message removed}

2009\02\19@124916 by Bryan Bishop

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On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 11:24 AM, Nathan House wrote:
> Don't get me wrong, I love the PIC List and have gotten a lot of great
> advice on here, but wouldn't a forum be much easier to use?

No. Essentially you have forums now publishing RSS feeds of topics and
threads, which are then aggregated into RSS feed readers, which
unsurprisingly look exactly like mail clients. In the Opera browser,
you can even reply to thread posts from your aggregator client. This
is closely approximating email- why do you want to steal my precious
interfaces from me? I'll have to write scrapers, and think for a
change. :-(

> Think about it, all posts would be displayed as easy to read "threads" on
> the forum, no bounced emails (I have this problem for some reason), easy
> search capability (and a lot faster than the archive), etc..

http://groups.google.com/group/piclist_archive?lnk=srg

> It seems to me like it would be advantageous to hold these discussions on a
> forum!

Go ahead and write a mailing list to forum bidirectional gateway if you want.

- Bryan
http://heybryan.org/
1 512 203 0507

2009\02\19@124919 by Joshua Shriver

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I concur. Gmail also seems to mark some posts from this list as spam when
it's not. Had to start checking spam instead of blindly emptying.

-Josh

On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 12:24 PM, Nathan House
<spam_OUTroboticsguyTakeThisOuTspamroboticsguy.com>wrote:

{Quote hidden}

> -

2009\02\19@125508 by Picbits Sales

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I suggested this a few years ago and got shot down in flames.

As I will probably do for top posting and we'll end up with a long
conversation about top and bottom posting (along with the clever arses who
will side post). Olin will moan that I've used the wrong kind of email
software when the wind was blowing in the wrong direction ;-)


{Quote hidden}

2009\02\19@125932 by Thomas Coyle

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I had this discussion with another list last year - it seems to be more of a
religious argument than anything else, so I stopped fighting it. I much
prefer forums, having administered both lists and forums, and dealt with
user feedback on each. Easier and prettier and more extensible in so many
ways. Harder to set up and administer, but gives lots of control.
Cheap-to-free for a lot of the software out there.
To each his own - I can deal with either one, just personal choice I suppose
if you're talking about the most basic functionality. But when it comes to
more advanced things, such as file storage, image presentation galleries,
voting topics, and all that - it's so much nicer to have it all in one
place, and, to me more importantly, lots more convenient for the users.

*shrug*

In the end, I'm just glad to have the information, so I don't complain about
lists that decide to stay as lists.

On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 9:49 AM, Bryan Bishop <.....kanzureKILLspamspam@spam@gmail.com> wrote:

{Quote hidden}

> -

2009\02\19@130334 by Mark Rages

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On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 11:24 AM, Nathan House
<roboticsguyspamKILLspamroboticsguy.com> wrote:
> Don't get me wrong, I love the PIC List and have gotten a lot of great
> advice on here, but wouldn't a forum be much easier to use?
>
>
>
> Think about it, all posts would be displayed as easy to read "threads" on
> the forum, no bounced emails (I have this problem for some reason), easy
> search capability (and a lot faster than the archive), etc..
>

Gmail gives me all these things.  Maybe you should upgrade your mail client.

I prefer mailing lists to forums, but if you prefer forums,
http://forum.microchip.com.

Regards,
Mark
markrages@gmail
--
Mark Rages, Engineer
Midwest Telecine LLC
.....markragesKILLspamspam.....midwesttelecine.com

2009\02\19@130939 by Alan B. Pearce

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>Don't get me wrong, I love the PIC List and have gotten a lot of
>great advice on here, but wouldn't a forum be much easier to use?

No !!!!

>Think about it, all posts would be displayed as easy to read "threads"
>on the forum, no bounced emails (I have this problem for some reason),
>easy search capability (and a lot faster than the archive), etc..

No !!!!!!

>It seems to me like it would be advantageous to hold these
>discussions on a forum!

No!!!!!!

Forums are a pain to use - I have to 'go get' the messages. The Piclist
delivers messages to my desktop, and I can read them as I have gaps in other
things happening.

I am a member of the microchip forum, and only go there when I have a
problem that needs solving, which I can't get solved here! You still have to
look down the 'messages since last visit' for interesting new ones that
might relate to what I am doing, or specifically go to the particular
subjects of interest at the moment, but whatever one does, it is a pain. Yes
I can get a notification about an answer to a message of mine, but I don't
particularly want a notification for every new message in any subject (can
it do that?) - if doing that the message in toto may as well be delivered
the way the Piclist does.

2009\02\19@131928 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Nathan House wrote:

> Don't get me wrong, I love the PIC List and have gotten a lot of great
> advice on here, but wouldn't a forum be much easier to use?
> [...]
> It seems to me like it would be advantageous to hold these discussions
> on a forum!

I think there are several places where you can access the piclist as a
forum. Have you searched?

There is also a place where you can access the piclist as a newsgroup.
If anything, I think a newsgroup would be more appropriate.

I for one wouldn't visit a forum regularly.

Gerhard

2009\02\19@132517 by Thomas Coyle

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Add RSS feed(s) or an email relay add-on for the different subforums -
problem solved. Or am I missing something? Seriously, I went through this
over a period of months, up to and including setting up a demo site for the
list owner in question to demonstrate, along with an email relay component
for people who just wanted basic list functionality. Ultimately, it came
down to people just liking what they liked, regardless of whether I could
create something that looked, smelled, and quacked just like what they were
used to. Resistance to change, just for the sake of resistance, always
amuses me - that's why I stopped lobbying for it, because I realized that
some people just resist any change at all, even if I could do it almost
transparently to them.
Seriously, what's wrong with having a place where I can click on your user
name and be taken to a library of every schematic, picture, and link that
you've ever thought was important to publish? Just using images as an
example, how is bad when you, as a user, don't need to worry about finding
an imaging hosting provider (including how long they'll host your images,
given that The Web is Forever - I search archives of various lists
regularly, and 75% of the time the images are broken because the hosting
companies have an expiration date)?
The Microchip forum continues to be used as an example. In my opinion,
that's a very basic implementation that serves a purpose that doesn't
demonstrate the advantages that a forum can offer - I see no real advantage
to doing that versus using a list. But when it comes to the advanced
features such as I mention above, you can't beat a properly-implemented
forum.

I do, however, agree with the earlier comment about Gmail - when I'm forced
to deal with a list, Gmail is my savior. If I was forced to use a normal
email client, I probably wouldn't even subscribe to any lists.

On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 10:09 AM, Alan B. Pearce
<EraseMEAlan.B.Pearcespam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTstfc.ac.uk>wrote:

{Quote hidden}

> -

2009\02\19@143053 by Herbert Graf

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On Thu, 2009-02-19 at 12:49 -0500, Joshua Shriver wrote:
> I concur. Gmail also seems to mark some posts from this list as spam when
> it's not. Had to start checking spam instead of blindly emptying.

FWIW I can't stand forums, have always preferred the email list format.

There have been pushes in the past to create a forum, none were really
that successful. It has been suggested in the past that for those who
prefer forums the MChip forums are an option.

TTYL

2009\02\19@144139 by Nate Duehr

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Not only do you have to "go get" information from forums while mailing lists
deliver directly to your desktop, you also can build a real sorting/filing
system using a proper mail client and server.

I've ranted before about IMAP vs. POP, but with a proper IMAP server (I
recently "outsourced" my mail to fastmail.fm instead of hosting it on a
Linux server in my basement, which I've done since around 1995...), you can
build server-side filters that sort the mail into folders (in this case,
"MIT-PIC-List") and you never have to see it in your Inbox, ever.  

When you're ready to read PICList mail, you open the folder on *any*
IMAP-capable mail client and read/reply, whatever.  

No having to "sync" anything, or do anything at all to get organized other
than the initial setup of a SINGLE rule.  

In IMAP, all mail is stored on the server, all clients have the same "view",
and your desktop machines, mobile devices, and every client you use... all
have the same folder view and never need anything other than to be told the
login and password for your SERVER based IMAP account.

Works like a charm, when done right.  If you're reading multiple mailing
lists and having them delivered to your INBOX... you're doing e-mail wrong.

People will say they can do similar things with dorking around with their
POP3 settings to "leave mail on server", etc... but it's just not the same.
One mis-configured client and your mail will all be copied down to the
client and not on the server anymore.  It's ridiculous to use POP3 in
today's world, other than as a transport to pull POP3 only accounts into a
reasonable, useful, IMAP server.

Nate

2009\02\19@150746 by M.L.

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On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 12:24 PM, Nathan House
<roboticsguyspamspam_OUTroboticsguy.com> wrote:
>
> It seems to me like it would be advantageous to hold these discussions on a
> forum!
>

<IMO>
The way to fix the piclist is to get rid of the 96 different subject
tags and disallow people from talking about their whirlwind trip
through China. It should be more about electrical engineering and
PICs. The PIClist is not facebook, digg, slashdot, yelp, or
shutterfly. Filtering subject tags is not the answer.
</IMO>

-
ML

2009\02\19@200941 by Dave Lagzdin

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2009/2/19 Nathan House <@spam@roboticsguyKILLspamspamroboticsguy.com>:
> Don't get me wrong, I love the PIC List and have gotten a lot of great
> advice on here, but wouldn't a forum be much easier to use?
>

No

2009\02\20@023637 by Wouter van Ooijen

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(about a web-based PIClist)
> I suggested this a few years ago and got shot down in flames.

I dunno about any flames, but I do know that I would probably not use it
(unless it had a good email interface).

--

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu

2009\02\20@113506 by M. Adam Davis

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With gmail, I have all those features - I visit a few forums and so
far I'm not convinced they are better in any significant way.

The biggest killer for me is search.  Find a forum - ANY forum - and
do a search.  It takes forever.

In Gmail it's nearly instantaneous, and much MUCH smarter (search is a
very hard problem - look up Lucene for some of the challenges) - so
far I have not yet seen a forum search that works as well.  Searching
forums with Google is just painful.

Email, with appropriate tagging, filtering, etc is much more
customizable and usable for me.

Also I end up with a full archive - if the forum or mail server go
down I still have access to the archive, and I find that with fast
search most problems I have with a PIC can be dealt with very quickly
simply by searching the archive.

Further, there are piclist reflector forums, IIRC.  If you don't like
them, build your own - the software is out there.

Furthermore, unless you've run a forum with a heavy load before you
have NO idea the load a moderate sized forum puts on a server.  A
forum with 200 active users, and 100-200 posts a day requires at
minimum it's own beefy VPS, but is still slow unless you move to a
$100/mo + dedicated hosting.

That's without all the bells and whistles people will undoubtedly ask
for (RSS feeds, email notification, etc).

And then the real fun begins as you have to constantly keep up with
the patches to the OS, webserver (unless you pay more for managed
hosting on a dedicated server or VPS), and the forum software (which
the hosting company will NOT touch unless you pay more for a
dedicated, managed, forum company).

The last time I look at the bandwidth requirements of the piclist
about 6+ years ago, the server is sending out 40GBytes per month of
email.  Plain text email.  (about 20MB per user per month).

Now, let's say that only 10% of the list would check the forum on a
regular (daily) basis, and that 1% would check it a few times a say
(unlike email, forums require active checking - with email I get a
nice notification every 10 or 20 (configurable) minutes summarizing
recently updated topics).

Further, instead of serving a 1k message, the forum serves 10x (in a
spartan configuration) and up to 1,000x as much data (because you're
not just sending one email once to a user, you're sending the entire
25 current topics on the front page, and when they click through they
get the first 25 emails... each time they click through.)

Even with fewer users actively checking the forum daily you're looking
at around a terabyte of transfer per month.

This ends up being about $200 [USD] per month, plus perhaps 10 hours a
month blocking spammers, attackers, and keeping the software up to
date.

Of course, you aren't volunteering to pay for this, so then we get to
have a discussion about who 'owns' or 'sponsers' the setup, and then
on to the advertising model that will need to be used.

and on, and on, and on.

Trust me.  Let sleeping dogs lie.

There is nothing wrong with the list as-is.  Everything you've asked
for can be built around your own email client.  There would be
tremendous friction in such a shift.

If you really, seriously think that there's a significant interest in
such a forum, start one up.  It'll start out small, inexpensive, and
manageable, and it'll grow according to interest.  It'll take a few
years before it's really popular, but if you model it after the
piclist in terms of quality and content, then you may get what you're
after.

Keep in mind that a certain percentage of really good engineers will
not move, and even those that sign up simply won't take the time to
click through a forum to find out if a topic is interesting enough to
comment on.

-Adam

On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 12:24 PM, Nathan House
<KILLspamroboticsguyKILLspamspamroboticsguy.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2009\02\20@161147 by M.L.

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On Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 12:35 PM, M. Adam Davis <RemoveMEstienmanTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com> wrote:

> The last time I look at the bandwidth requirements of the piclist
> about 6+ years ago, the server is sending out 40GBytes per month of
> email.  Plain text email.  (about 20MB per user per month).
>

Did you look at the CPU load to send out half a million messages a
day? I ran a mailing list with 1500 members. The bandwidth wasn't too
bad but dealing with the crappy email servers was. The piclist has had
it's own share of pains IIRC.

A forum can get a bit of money in advertising too. Not that I care either way.

-
ML

2009\02\20@164953 by solarwind

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Would be very interested in a forum. Should run PunBB.

2009\02\20@173314 by Thomas Coyle

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Yes, it would be easier and better, and we'd all be enjoying unicorns,
lollipops, and rainbows if we went to a forum. :)
See? It's a religious debate, and I don't really see the point of arguing
about it. There are people who prefer the features that properly-implemented
forums can provide, and others who prefer simple lists. Each has a purpose.
I keep seeing comments about Microchip - as I said previously, the way that
site was implemented exemplifies everything that the anti-forum people here
are claiming. It does the same thing as a list, and much more poorly. It's
slow, ugly, hard to navigate, entirely too broad, and doesn't offer any
useful email functionality. So, using that site as a template, I'm in
violent agreement that "a forum" is not a good solution. But a
properly-implemented forum really can give everything to everyone - the
"list-only" people as well as the forum lovers. One of the best forum
examples I frequent is m5board.com - it used to be very good, but they
recently underwent a major redesign that gave it even more of the features
that I find to be so advantageous in such a venue. I don't believe they've
installed an email digest or real-time "list-type" add-on yet, but it's
easily done if a site wants it if there are a lot of list-preferring users.

Anyway, here's my final thought on this: I have a high-bandwidth dedicated
connection, and a powerful server farm with effectively-unlimited storage
(I'm "in the business" as they say). If someone wants to work on setting up
a beta test of such a forum - not at all to replace PicList but just as a
demonstration piece that can showcase all of the wonderful features that
such a venue can offer (maybe on a very narrow topic?) - I'll donate said
hardware and bandwidth (and power, and maintenance, and software, and so
forth) to the project. If anyone's interested, email me directly and we'll
talk about it. With that, I'm out - I really detest religious debates. Back
to the fun topics.

On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 5:09 PM, Dave Lagzdin <spamBeGonedtekk.comspamBeGonespamgmail.com> wrote:

> 2009/2/19 Nathan House <TakeThisOuTroboticsguyEraseMEspamspam_OUTroboticsguy.com>:
> > Don't get me wrong, I love the PIC List and have gotten a lot of great
> > advice on here, but wouldn't a forum be much easier to use?
> >
>
> No
> -

2009\02\23@040758 by Howard Winter

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On Fri, 20 Feb 2009 17:11:46 -0400, M.L. wrote:

>...
> A forum can get a bit of money in advertising too. Not that I care either way.

And there's another excellent reason for staying with a mailing list!  There's so much damned advertising wherever you go these days that I sometimes wonder if
the only reason I'm on the planet is to buy things...

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2009\02\23@042733 by Howard Winter

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On Thu, 19 Feb 2009 12:24:22 -0500, Nathan House wrote:

> Don't get me wrong, I love the PIC List and have gotten a lot of great
> advice on here, but wouldn't a forum be much easier to use?

No, No, and thrice NO!

> Think about it, all posts would be displayed as easy to read "threads" on
> the forum, no bounced emails (I have this problem for some reason), easy
> search capability (and a lot faster than the archive), etc..

If you're getting bounced emails, you need to get that fixed, not try to force others to change the way they work.  If my car had dodgy brakes, I wouldn't try to get
everyone else to fit squashy rear bumpers so I could run into them without damage...

My email program grabs all the outstanding messages every few minutes, and sorts them into folders by tags, and by various parameters within that, so I can look at
them when I want, in threads if I want to.  Those I'm not interested in I can delete unread either individually or by content (Agile Programming goes straight in the
bin!) and I can keep - for ever - any messages that I find useful.  And I can search the ones I've kept for anything I want.  They get backed-up every day, so I know
they aren't going to all disappear in a server crash (shouldn't happen, they should be backed up too, but I've seen it).  And apart from the grabbing of messages, I
can do all of the above offline, away from home with no Internet connection, on a train/boat/plane/wherever, and catch up on the stuff that I haven't had a chance
to read, and reply if I want to, and the replies are sent automatically when I next get online.  Where's the problem?

> It seems to me like it would be advantageous to hold these discussions on a forum!

Absolutely not!  I am a member of a number of fora (or is it flauna? :-) on Yahoo, and I bemoan the fact every time I have to visit them.  I don't know who designed
their setup, but it seems to have been done by someone who has never used anything like it... it's incredibly primitive and annoying to use, and I find it extremely
frustrating.  I know there are others, but they all have in common the fact that you have to be online to use them - even if you get new messages sent by mail, you
can't reply without going into the web site.

Mail works fine for me - I am 100% happy with the status quo...  It ain't broke, PLEASE don't fix it!

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2009\02\23@053918 by Jake Anderson

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Howard Winter wrote:
{Quote hidden}

The divide typically comes from people using webmail interfaces.
They don't realise how bad they are compared to a real mail client, and
how superior a mail client is to a web forum.


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