Shut down the imagej-devel and fiji-devel mailing lists?

The question

Should we retire the imagej-devel and fiji-devel mailing lists?

(The archives would stick around, of course. They would just be closed to new posts, like fiji-users was a while ago.)

Let’s discuss, then take a vote! :postal_horn:

Forum pros

This forum has proven extremely nice for discussion of ImageJ and Fiji issues. It is powered by Discourse, a very carefully designed tool for civil and effective discussion.

The forum has many advantages over the mailing lists:

  • Topic categories and user-defined tags, to make it easy to find and subscribe to topics of interest.

  • Extensible! E.g.: BoneJ is looking to migrate its discussions here as well, because with tags it is no problem.

  • Flexible email settings, so that you can be notified (or not) of new topics of interest, replies to your threads, mentions of you using @, etc.

  • Structures (likes, badges, etc.) to reward users who participate effectively.

  • Automatic detection of similar topics when a new topic is being posted.

  • Support for rich formatting in a safe and unified way. No more worrying that your mails are garbled for plaintext email users.

  • An end to the top posting vs. bottom posting vs. inline flamewars.

  • A reduction of outmoded conventions like starting every message with “Hi everyone,” and signing all your messages with a signature.

  • Ability to edit and/or delete posts after they first appear.

  • Actively developed and improved codebase. Over time, the forum will become even better without taking time away from core ImageJ development efforts.

Forum cons

Like most technology, there are some downsides to the forum:

  • Cannot reply to a topic via email. There is an extension we could install, but I would rather not, unless there is substantial demand. (Why? Because maintaining your own mail server sucks. I know from experience.)

  • Cannot start a new topic via email. But a future extension could be written (by others or by us) that makes this possible.

  • How best to “promote” a private discussion to a public one? It feels weird to start a new forum topic in response to a private mail. But it works.

Why retire the lists?

  • The forum is technically and socially superior (see above).

  • The imagej-devel and fiji-devel lists are now redundant with the forum, and with the main ImageJ list (which would continue to exist).

  • Having a single place to support users and developers is less confusing.

  • The fiji-devel list is on Google Groups, which reduces our control over its configuration and access to the list archive (AFAIK, you cannot export a Google Groups archive en masse).

  • The imagej-devel list uses Mailman, which is great software but essentially finished. The archives are presented in plain text—ugly and in some cases mangled. And we have to maintain our own mail server to use it, which as mentioned above is a significant maintenance burden and security risk.

Why keep the lists open?

I honestly can’t think of a reason. But arguments either way are welcome.

2 Likes

Vote!

  • Yes, retire the lists
  • Retire imagej-devel, but not fiji-devel
  • Retire fiji-devel, but not imagej-devel
  • No, keep both lists around

0 voters

1 Like

I am in favor of retiring the lists for organisational reasons.

With my day job, my Inbox is already a plain mess. I tend to live in a permanent email frenzy and more than often skim or immediately delete emails from mailing lists.

The forum is a chance to review calmly all messages related to a single center of interest, and process them better.

2 Likes

You forgot people in your pros/cons. :smiley:

A significant advantage of an Email List is that lurkers will contribute if they come across an email that is in their wheelhouse.

This doesn’t happen as frequently with Forums due to the fact Forums require active participation, i.e. one must visit a forum to read the posts.

This doesn’t matter as much if your user base is large.

But, I am not arguing for retaining an email list. I personally prefer searching forums (via Google) over email lists. :wink:

This was a big reason I resisted setting up a forum for so long. But with Discourse, you can configure it to email you whenever there are new topics, new replies, etc. So actually, people shouldn’t have to visit the forum site proactively.

I think it is the best of both worlds: those who want everything in their inbox can still have it, while those who don’t (see e.g. the reply of @tinevez above) don’t have to operate that way.

I like the forum best, for me, a lot easier to:

  • discuss a subject with several persons
  • find information afterwards
    thanks for setting this up.
    best,
    jean

The imagej-devel and fiji-devel lists are now closed [1, 2].

Thanks to all for the discussion and vote!

3 Likes

I guess this is the place for praise on the forum :smile:
This is really great!
A lot easier to follow up on things and easier to search.
Thanks!

1 Like

Yes, we should add a forum search button to http://search.imagej.net/ as well.
I filed a PR: https://github.com/imagej/imagej-search/pull/2

2 Likes

Which is now merged! :smiley: