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Jason
2004-12-18, 21:48
Dean has spoken on this subject and already said that the lists will
continue to be email based but a forum is forthcoming.

Folks can go on and on about how easy it is to set up an email filter, use
gmane, etc, but the bottom line is that for a user like my mom, brother or
girlfriend, a simple clickable forum is the way that they would expect
support and really the only way they would ever use it.

I'm also not exaggerating when I say that the lack of any sort of forum for
discussion of the product will cause some users to shy away and look
elsewhere for a streaming music player.

While many consider this silly or laughable I think that most users vastly
overestimate the abilities of Joe 6 Pack. The Squeezebox is extremely easy
to use, but my girlfriend the doctor, who is brilliant, can barely run the
thing. Being "na´ve user friendly" might be an affront to some real uber
geeks or techno snobs, but it's a good business move and Slim might be
missing out on some real valuable feedback from "normal" users.

The hard core discussions for those who refuse to participate in a web forum
will naturally remain here, but I suspect that the forum once up will slowly
suck people away from the email list and we'll see a rather large number of
shy new users who have been too intimidated by the email list show up very
quickly.

-J

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com] On Behalf Of Jules Taplin
Sent: Saturday, December 18, 2004 5:10 PM
To: Slim Devices Discussion
Subject: [slim] The Dreaded Web Forum Conversation

Right. I've promised my self a single post on this issue, and then I promise
to shut up, honest.

It seems to me that the critical issue here is exactly what we're trying to
achieve with the lists and/or a web forum. Thinking clearly about that
allows us to weigh up the pros and cons properly, and, you never know, might
actually allow us to arrive at a consensus.

I think, actually, this boils down to a very clear question: Is the primary
function of the slim-discuss list end-user support?

If so, then we need to think clearly about how that support is delivered.
For 'casual' users, a web forum clearly has a lower barrier to entry, and a
modern piece of forum software with 'sticky' threads and the like can be
quite useful for whittling down queries sensibly. So...
my personal view is that if slim-discuss is primarily an end-user support
tool, then it should probably either be directly forum based, or be highly
focused on providing an interface that certainly feels that way for
end-users.

But... There are two additional points: If the slim-discuss list is more
'conversational' than that, then I think mailing lists are more appropriate.
Personally, I follow both web-forum based communities, and mailing list
communities, and the mailing list ones are the only ones I come close to a
high level of coverages on the posts. So... if we're more interested in the
existing aspects of the community (prospective plugin developers, people
helping out with testing, and that kind of thing), then I reckon that a
mailing list is superior.

And while I'm here, I'd make one final point - and that's to do with the
nature of the provision of support. I'm only a minor cog in this whole deal,
but my daily reading load for this lot is the vast majority of notes on both
slimserver-discuss and slimserver-developers, as well as direct email from
AlienBBC users, developers and helpers. In this month alone, on a single,
non main-release plugin, there have been 70 or so messages that were on the
list and were AlienBBC related. Add to that the conversations that are
happening off lists, both with myself, and (no doubt) with people like Craig
and Triode, and that's quite a volume of work. They all get read, and the
vast majority of them get an answer, and work done as a result. Now... an
email list provides me a nice strong mechanism for managing that activity (a
good combination of threaded readers, and virtual folders make it easy to
keep on top of, and it has the fringe benefit that I can deal with both
incoming direct queries and mailing list queries in the same interface).
Genuinely, I don't believe that I would provide the same level of support to
a web-based forum. Apart from anything else... it's just plain quicker to
scan down in a mail reader than it is to keep requesting web pages.
Given that information, it seems likely to me that a move to a web forum
would result in a drop of available support, so even if we feel that
slimserver-discuss OUGHT to be a support forum, we also need to be clear on
whether we would be further forward anyway.

Right. I've said my piece. Sorry for polluting the airwaves by perpetuating
this conversation, but sometimes I'm as keen for a rant as the next man ;)


-- Jules

Roy M. Silvernail
2004-12-18, 23:18
Jason wrote:

>Dean has spoken on this subject and already said that the lists will
>continue to be email based but a forum is forthcoming.
>
>
Just to clarify, Dean said a forum *interface* is forthcoming. He has
wisely decided to maintain a single repository of messages, but add some
different means for accessing them. I believe this is the best decision
to make. The forum fans can see the lists as a web-based interface.
The old-schoolers can receive the lists as email. The Sage patrol can
view the lists as RSS. And if there's enough interest, I'm sure someone
can arrange a smoke signal interface.

>The hard core discussions for those who refuse to participate in a web forum
>will naturally remain here, but I suspect that the forum once up will slowly
>suck people away from the email list and we'll see a rather large number of
>shy new users who have been too intimidated by the email list show up very
>quickly.
>
>
You're framing this as a territorial dispute, and that's a bad way to
look at it. No matter how we look at the lists, the important thing is
that we look at the same lists. Presentation is a separate issue from
content. And if the content is split into multiple repositories (forum
vs. mailing list, for example), all the repositories will suffer,
because not everyone will elect to participate in all the repositories.
It will also mean duplication of effort for those who do try to cover
all the repos.

The web-forum interface is coming, but not at the expense of the email
list interface, and this is a good thing.

--
Roy M. Silvernail is roy (AT) rant-central (DOT) com, and you're not
"It's just this little chromium switch, here." - TFT
SpamAssassin->procmail->/dev/null->bliss
http://www.rant-central.com

Dan Sully
2004-12-18, 23:56
* Roy M. Silvernail <roy (AT) rant-central (DOT) com> shaped the electrons to say...

>Just to clarify, Dean said a forum *interface* is forthcoming. He has
>wisely decided to maintain a single repository of messages, but add some
>different means for accessing them. I believe this is the best decision
>to make. The forum fans can see the lists as a web-based interface.
>The old-schoolers can receive the lists as email. The Sage patrol can
>view the lists as RSS. And if there's enough interest, I'm sure someone
>can arrange a smoke signal interface.

http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2795.html

>The web-forum interface is coming, but not at the expense of the email
>list interface, and this is a good thing.

Aye captin'

-D
--
Minds are like parachutes... they work best when open.