Would you mind if we bridged an OSM mailing list with an OSM subforum?

Mail threads on the mailing list would appear as new topics in the forums and vice versa, having the individual posts mirrored as well.

The FLTK developers are doing something like this, but I had a different implementation in mind:

Personally, I would welcome a better integration of the mailing list and forum communities!

About the implementation: Are you aware of the ongoing plans regarding a switch from FluxBB to Discourse as the forum software? The sysadmins have set up a test instance. I suspect a change in forum software might change how you’d approach the implementation, especially as Discourse has the ability to receive and send post as email built in?

If you’re interested in improving OSM community platforms, it would be good if you could have a look at the Discourse plans to see if they would be compatible with the goal for your community. Maybe you also have suggestions on how to best handle non-English language communities? There’s a document for collecting ideas. It also has a list of people interested in helping with the transition where you could add yourself.

Thanks for the information, will give it a second thought then. I’ll try to go through the document, although my free time is scarce in the coming days.

When researching this, Discourse did come up with its email support, but a mailing list is still valuable because you don’t need a new registration to participate - having your email address is enough. It’s also more accessible offline, from command line browsers and on vintage computers.

However, from a developer’s perspective, this may open up a opportunity for easier polling perhaps by subscribing to every Discourse post.

Do you plan to keep FluxBB up and running for the time being or at least for a few more years? If yes, an integration between a given mailing list and its FluxBB and Discourse counterpart would be ever more important.

Our goal is simple: reduce the fragmentation of the already small community, focus communication, allow less distraction for those who prefer that and more rapid responses for those who would like that better. A related problem we face is coming up with a unified eventing & PR platform - it would be best to bridge a bunch of alternatives as well for this.

I think to handle local communities, each country needs to have two channels (/rooms/subforums/mailing lists/etc):

  • one where only the local language is allowed: could be used mainly for community building, solving problems, organizing work, sharing knowledge, local affairs
  • one where only English is allowed: could be used for asking or signalling errors by outsiders and/or to forward polls regarding OSMF matters, maybe even sharing a small local monthly status report newsletter similar to weeklyosm as a form of PR and community health check

The plan is for the FluxBB and Discourse sites to exist in parallel for some amount of time. Probably not several years, though – that would further increase fragmentation.

I believe Discourse should be able to be used entirely through email after the initial registration: https://discourse.mozilla.org/t/how-do-i-use-discourse-via-email/15279

This is what I have referred to in my remark: but a mailing list is still valuable because you don’t need a new registration to participate - having your email address is enough.

Surely this is a nice feature, but it is not the same. You can follow forum discussions via email the same way on Friendica. But the barrier is the same: people will need to register, choose a name and password, and possible also need to fight the captcha. A real mailing list poses a lower barrier to entry than any such alternative, hence it can not be replaced by any of these. For a maliing list, you do not need to register a new email address for the dozens of different lists, you just add yourself to each one. If I collaborated on a dozen separate Discourse instance, I would need to jump through the hoops of registration a dozen times.

Am I reading correctly on the page you linked that you cant’s subscribe to a subforum on a Discourse instance (like the one related to your nationality), but rather it is an all or nothing proposition?

I believe this downside is lessened in our case because you’ll be able to log in with your OSM account. The majority of people interested in participating in an OSM forum will be mappers who need an OSM account anyway. Although there are of course people from outside of the community who want to talk to us as well, so your overall point stands.

I wouldn’t mind having an actual mailing list bridge for a Discourse forum. But I do think that the built-in functionality in Discourse is already a significant improvement for email users over what we currently have with FluxBB.

I don’t think so. My understanding is that the “mailing list mode” option in the global settings does what you describe, but that you can also choose to receive emails for posts in particular categories (subforums) only. Haven’t tested that feature with the OSM instance yet, though.

Yeah, speaking of accessibility over email: I never got email notifications for my subscribed topics from FluxBB. I somehow needed to set an email address in the settings again, let’s see whether it works.