Integrating mailing lists to Wikimedia Space

Mailman powered lists.wikimedia.org displays 422 mailing lists, and there are some more unpublished.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.

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:

And a related discussion. There have been previous efforts tryin to improve the use of our current mailing lists – see the pioneering experiment at https://discourse.wmflabs.org/.

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 task in Phabricator: https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T226727

Interested? Let’s talk! :nerd_face:

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I have created a Phabricator task to track progress and I have commented in another task where the migration from GNU Mailman 2.1 to… ? has been discussed in the past years.

I think we should try. It’s a very good idea to host here only non-private/sensitive mailing list. How should we start?

Would we be able to delete inappropriate messages?

How would moderation work?

This may be an interesting experience if Affiliates somehow integrated them more readily here, if nothing else than as a central link to those that are out there.

Mirroring mailing lists

We could start by selecting a couple of existing mailing lists, and mirror them here. Doing this wouldn’t change anything for the users of the mailing list itself, and it would allow Space users (including those subscribed to that mailing list) to start seeing the possibilities in a more tangible way. For this step to be successful, I think it is important that the users and admins of the mailing lists selected are on board.

Emulating mailing lists

In parallel, we could create a subcategory under #about-wikimedia-space called “MailSpace” or something not too serious. :wink: where we could play “the mailing list game” with heavy users of mailing lists, testing and refining the emulation of a mailing list using #discourse, the software that powers this space.

By working on these two paths, eventually we should be able to try a first migration from a mailing list to a Space category, keeping most/all features for email-based users, while providing all the web-based features as well.

In the case of mirrors, the mailing lists and their moderation processes remain the same, and everything would be done via Mailman regardless of the mirror. If a message mirrored here has to be deleted for [reasons], then Space admins can delete it.

In the case of emulation, each subcategory (equivalent to a mailing list) would have their own moderators appointed (just like every mailing list has their admins) and they would be in charge of the moderation, including deleting messages.

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