For a while now folks I know have been talking about how to reoutfit Mailman so it has a proper web front-end. The idea would be to provide additional features, make open source mailing lists friendly to web forum loving people, and keep hardcore email-only contributors able to participate in the same medium as free-wheeling web forum afficionados.
Máirín put up a series of posts that not only give great visual thoughts, but are some powerfully good ideas on providing something a community can really gain from using. I’m not going to try summarizing, I just encourage you to read at least these two:
- 16 More Brainstorm Ideas For Mailman’s Web Interface
… and go ahead and read 7,750 pixels of mailing list thread, which came first anyway.
One thing that really struck me about these ideas is that many of the features that rely upon posting history can be run against an existing archive of messages. That means upgrading Mailman to features like these means quickly gaining a view in to the history of your mailing list that is a sizeable part of the richness of the new features. All the ideas that rely upon keywords in posts, previous posting history and frequency and topics covered, all the reputation ideas, all that would be seeded with as many months or years of archives a mailing list has. That’s really cool!
I really look forward to seeing some of these kind of changes in Mailman. I’m a big fan of Mailman on the straight mailing list management side. But over the years I’ve seen the wider and wider divide between the users who prefer web forums and those who prefer mailing lists (many of whom are contributors who want to interact with other users, but not on a web forum.) These ideas could provide a great stitching of that divide, without forcing a big change on either party.