Let's switch back to a mailing list!

Thank you dear maintainers for your work maintaining this forum!

Nevertheless, after much of frustration with the forum I want to propose switching back to a mailing list. The forum was advertised to critics as having a “mailing list mode” that would allow it to be used “just like” a mailing list. The past months have show that this is only partially true. Examples:
1.) Emails sent to the forum show up very late or not at all.
2.) Formatting and HTML quoting makes it hard to read and write plain text emails.
3.) Users often compose messages without any quoting, which are delivered as emails completely out of context then.
4.) The In-reply-to: header (RFC 822) sent by the forum software apparently does not allow sorting into threads.

Looking forward to any replies and comments,

1 Like

Hi @Peter. Sorry, but I definitely wouldn’t like a ‘switch’ backwards.

For me, this forum is far easier to navigate, and the ‘search’ seems to actually work. The old mailing list website was/is unsearchable for me (due to some obscure ‘security’ settings). This made it pretty much unusable for finding things.

Do you want to switch back because you can’t get plain text emails? Fair enough, it must be annoying, but for the users who don’t have this need, would there be any benefit to losing this forum? I’m hoping there would be a solution to your individual issue which wouldn’t kill the messenger (as it were).

But I’m just a regular SC user, not a dev. I check this forum most days, and it seems pretty painless to read and post here. And of course, this is just my (very biased) 2p…



Sorry to Peter and anyone else for whom the current Discourse forum doesn’t fit their needs.

The current forum will not be going anywhere any time soon - it’s been a very large amount of effort, time (and money) by many people to get it to the point where it’s at now, and to continue maintaining it. It’s much more trafficked and popular than previous email list iterations, and I think the ability to properly search, moderate, and archive / permalink has been a huge benefit to the ecosystem.

If there are better open-source forum/mailing list platforms than Discourse, I would be very interested to hear about them. Switching would be a major ordeal of course, and wouldn’t happen overnight - but if people genuinely care about it, I don’t see any reason why we can’t start the conversation at least.

Also, having this forum does not preclude an email list, if one is desired by the community. SuperCollider has always existing across many forums and platforms - while I think there are some downsides to fragmentation, letting the community grow and evolve organically is still the most important thing. I won’t be able to to help out technically or financially on something like this, but I’m happy to advise anyone who wants to set something up as best as I am able.

But - as an alternative to switching platforms or starting a new mailing list (both of which will be a LOT of work), anyone who has forum issues can also consider putting energy into improving Discourse, - either by submitting pull requests or creating extensions. We chose this platform because it’s open-source and extensible, so we have the power to customize it however we need.


To address these specifically:

It looks like there’s an issue right now with incoming emails. We’re looking into it.

Improving plain text emails is probably best done as a Discourse extension. At the end of the day, the messages on this forum are NOT plain text (they are markdown), so to get things that are fully, 100% plaintext probably requires some kind of conversion. How were you handling emails with html/formatting on the old mailing list?

There’s a long-ish thread about this issue here: Discourse Emails not threaded properly in some Email clients - #8 by eksperimental - support - Discourse Meta
I wonder if there’s any resolution there?

Messages are properly threaded in SOME email clients, so this is probably an incompatibility between how Discourse formats emails and a specific email client. What are you using? Again, something that can probably be best addressed by fixing in Discourse - if you’re having the problem, it’s likely other people are as well.

It’s worth doing a quick, informal UI analysis such as counting clicks/keystrokes.

From that perspective, even though I don’t use forum e-mails at all (I don’t even want to get an e-mail if someone “@”-refers to me), I can see how it’s convenient to receive communications from multiple sources all in one place.

For sending via the forum interface:

With a mouse: Email = click “Reply” and it opens a compose interface. Forum = click the link at the bottom of the e-mail to open the thread, then click reply to a post. IMO not too much difference.

I can see how e-mail clients’ keyboard shortcuts could be more efficient than clicking into a webpage. (A counterargument would be that “Reply” is a low-traffic operation. I’m a heavy poster here, but that’s maybe half a dozen times in a day. Clicking something to reply rather than keyboard-shortcutting to reply is not a major drag on my day, and if it ever became a major drag on my day, I would have to reevaluate my life priorities.)

I don’t see email lists as a superior technology to the forum, FWIW. Also it’s worth noting a generational shift: email scarcely exists at all for young people (probably depending on geographical area to some extent). Well, I’m not exactly young anymore but my usage of email has dropped a LOT in the last few years.


Dear all,
my personal sentimental attachment to the sc mailing lists aside,
one aspect that went under in the move is that most forums have interface designs that accidentally exclude vision-impaired users:
There is always a button one needs to see and click etc etc, while mailing lists are completely straightforward by comparison.
So, I would be happy to see a fully working mailing-list mode that alleviates this.

2c, best adc

I’m aware of the limitations of the forum software for visually impaired users - this is a very active and hot topic in the Discourse community, and there are improvements actively being worked on (Discourse with a screen reader - #42 by nolan - ux - Discourse Meta). Hopefully this can slowly get better, I would REALLY encourage anyone tracking these issues to advocate on the meta.discourse.org discussions. It’s clear that the dev community over there is listening to it, we can only gain by advocating loudly…

I’m really open to ideas about improving the mailing-list mode experience - when the last round of issues came up related to MLM, I switched to using email exclusively for a few months to get a feel for how things felt. I didn’t personally have any blocking issues, and I’m really not in a position to assess the experience with a screen reader, so I’m really dependent on others who ARE experiencing problems to give feedback and help be triage these issues (as much as is possible). The biggest issue I’m familiar with w/r/t visually impaired users is the initial registration / sign-in / setup (incidentally, if anyone is having trouble with this, moderators can manually do some of the setup for user accounts, please ask!), but I haven’t heard about specific issues related to the mailing list mode and accessibility.

Granted, I’m not a very clever person, but still: to put the critisim into perspective, it took me a bit more than a year to figure out how to successfully sign up to the mailing list back when I really wanted to be part of a Supercollider community.

This forum gets a lot of things right in my opinion but I really appreciate how easy it is to use for new users (unless they use email mode).

Ps. I also loved the mailing list and I appreciated it’s many benefits but please remember it was a difficult thing to use for people not used to old school mailing lists (which is most people).

Keep up the good work !