Mailman powered lists.wikimedia.org displays 422 mailing lists, and there are some more unpublished. The activity of Wikimedia lists differ from very active to basically dead. Some lists are archived, some are private…
Discourse offers the technical possibility of mirroring mailing lists handled by Mailman. Discourse can also emulate mailing lists, allowing users to follow a category, post, reply… entirely via email.
Mailing list mirroring simply reproduces in Space a mirror of the mailing list, an archive in a dedicated category. Space users can search, tag, like or bookmark posts, but they cannot start new topics or reply; they have to do so at the mailing list.
- Admins and users of the mailing list understand that this is a test and are on board.
- The admins of the mailing list have accounts in Space and are willing to watch the category for their mailing list and share their feedback through bug reports and feature requests.
Mailing list emulation consists in making Space (actually Discourse, the software powering this forum) behave like a mailing list for a specific category. Users can watch the category (equivalent to subscribe to a mailing list) and they will receive emails for every post just as if they would be subscribed to a mailing list indeed. They can create topics and reply to comments via email or web, as they prefer.
- If this is about transferring an active mailing list to Space, then we strongly recommend to try mailing list mirroring first, to allow everyone to familiarize themselves with Space.
- If this is about an inactive mailing list, we need to discuss the potential migration of the mailing list archives to Space.
- If this is about a new category with mailing list emulation, then we just need to go through a regular request, knowing that this feature is still under testing: How to request a new category or closed group on Space
Now, imagine a World where all public mailing archives would be searchable in Wikimedia space, and where anyone could follow and participate in each list-category via email or web, according to their preferences. Imagine how off-topic threads could be moved to an on-topic list-category. How posts could be tagged, bookmarked, liked… through the web interface. The possibility of creating Closed groups would allow private lists to have their Wikimedia Space integration too.
You can check a couple of proofs of concept:
Now we could start discussing how this mirroring and/or migrating could look like. And we could start with some trials if you wish. Mirroring is easy and doesn’t affect the mailing lists being mirrored or their users. Migrating implies a bit more of social change, but anyway in the past months we are seeing how some groups have decided to go through this transition, leaving Mailman to end up in places out of Wikimedia like Google Groups.
Related tasks in Phabricator (discussion is preferred here):
Interested? Let’s talk!