[LINK] Why I like email, mailing lists, don't use forums regularly and don't like Facebook, SMS, Twitter, IRC . . .

Robin Whittle rw at firstpr.com.au
Sat Feb 19 18:45:37 AEDT 2011

This is a companion message to my recent "Re: [LINK] Maintaining the
link list" message, on why I support Link remaining as a mailing list.

Here's what I like and don't like in electronic communications.

  Email         Yes.

  Phone calls   Yes.  I am normally home, so only a very few people
                know my cellphone number.  Phone-call activity has
                greatly decreased.  Its much better to get an enquiry
                from a potential customer by email, than to have them
                call by phone and interrupt what I am working on.

  Website       Yes - I put stuff on my sites and search other
                people's sites all the time.

  SMS messages  No - I hate writing them and am very slow.  Predictive
                text would be intolerable.  I know SMS is useful for
                many people, but I avoid them like the plague.

  Facebook      No - I manage friendships independently rather than
                according to little bits in some company's database.

  Twitter       The horror!  Still, I know its useful for many people.

  RSS           Never used it.  My life seems complete without it,
                but I understand other folks find it useful.

  Mailing lists Yes!  I keep my own archives on the IMAP server of
                those lists I might want to search.  Others, which
                can be searched via their web-archives, I don't keep.
                This means my archive can span more than any one
                web archive, if the list changes its arrangements
                from one year to the next.

                I have a complete record of my contributions to
                mailing lists in my Sent mail IMAP mailbox, so
                years later, I can find what I wrote - even when
                I can't remember what month or year I wrote
                about something.

  Usenet        Only occasionally, such as for well moderated
                "newsgroups" (a most unfortunate term) such as:
                or for griping about some turn for the worse in
                the development of Mozilla software.

  Yahoo Groups  These are mailing lists which also operate as
                web-based discussion forums, with web-based
                archives.  As far as I know, no other system
                provides this.  Google groups does, in principle,
                but when I last looked the moderation arrangements
                were crude.  Yahoo Groups enables one or more
                moderators to individually check messages before
                they go out, including editing them to add moderator
                notes and to get rid of extraneous quoting, fix up
                horrible layout etc.  For sufficiently motivated
                moderators, this can lead to a discussion list with
                an extraordinarily high signal-to-noise ratio, which
                is highly readable.

                I am on many Yahoo Groups and contribute to some.

  IRC, Chat, Instant Messenger etc.  I really hate this.  If I was
                going to communicate with someone in real time, I
                would prefer to talk by phone.  I understand some
                people like it, and that it can be useful for
                group discussions, but it drives me nuts, since I
                tend to think and write in paragraphs, not lines.

  Web forums    I don't regularly read or contribute to any.  I post
                to some.  But each time I do, I need to get an
                account, or find my password.  Each one has its own
                posting system, and I generally would prefer
                fixed width font with 72 character lines, except for
                URLs and other exceptions.  Typically forums have
                Helvetica with wrapping to the browser's size of the
                box, which is typically far too wide to be readable.

                With forums, I do not have my own record or what
                I wrote.  If I post to a forum, I sometimes copy it
                to an email to myself, so I have a record of it.

  Bugzilla      I use http://bugzilla.mozilla.org . This is a special
                purpose forum, which can generate emails for each
                addition to any of the bugs which I am interested
                in.  This feed of emails is absolutely vital to
                keeping an eye on the bugs.  I have an IMAP mailbox
                devoted to these (autosorted, of course) and
                this enables me to remember which bugs I am involved
                in.  Some go back 11 years, such at those involving
                format=flowed, which is still on by default.

  Blogs         I don't need one.  The only one I read regularly is
                Karl Denninger's lively economic and social account
                of the economic crisis: http://market-ticker.org/
                That is is own software and is tightly integrated
                with his own forum software to support a discussion
                thread on each posting, on a separate page.

I am on dozens of mailing lists about various subjects.  I have a
special version of Courier Maildrop on my server to search for
messages from each list.  Those lists which don't have a [Header] in
the subject line get one added by a little program I wrote.  This
program and the mods to Maildrop are at:


All the mailing list messages are sent to their own mailbox in the
IMAP server.  They are also sent to the Inbox, but are tagged for
deletion by my Maildrop mods.

I use Thunderbird configured:


so messages which are tagged for deletion do not appear with their
subject lines in strike-through.  They are in bold, and have a red cross.

So every time I refresh Thunderbird's inbox, I see all my mailing list
messages, clearly delineated with [xxx] headers.   I read any I want
to, and hit Delete to reset the flag if I want to keep the message in
my inbox.  Then I use expunge, and all the mailing list messages
disappear from my Inbox.

This is basically a server-based replication of Netscape's old
client-based filtering system.

This works fine except when I am away from home, using Squirrel Mail.
 This does not show messages tagged for deletion, and I think it
automatically expunges the Inbox.  So when I am away, I divert all the
mailing list messages into a separate mailbox, without any tagged for
deletion stuff.

  - Robin

More information about the Link mailing list