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#1 2008-09-22 22:58:05

Profjim
Member
From: NYC
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 658

Forum/mailing list integration

Hi I'm a relative newcomer to arch but (1) I love it and (2) I'm trying to contribute to the community when I can.

I suspect I'd be able to keep up with the forums better, and so be better able to help out people even more newbie than myself, if I could subscribe to the forums as a mailing list. That would also make it easier to integrate discussions on the forums with discussions on arch-general.

I'm sure not *everyone* will want to work that way. The forums and the mailing lists both have useful roles. But I doubt I'm the only one who'd like to have the option to work with both at once.

What I'm imagining is that forum posts would automatically get directed to new mailing lists (one per forum?), and that posts to the mailing list would automatically get turned into forum posts.

I see that this has come up for discussion a few times, but nothing has come of it. I recognize also that the Arch philosophy is "Do it first and talk about it later." I like that. I intend to contribute to projects of this sort when I can. I'm not writing to ask anyone to do it for me!

But I thought it would be useful to write in the meantime to put this idea on the table, and more specifically to direct your attention to some existing projects that we may be able to make use of. There were a couple of 2006-ish efforts to write mailing list/bb bridges: some can be found by googling "m2f" or "cm2f". IIRC, they're for phpbb. There's at least one effort to do this for punbb: It's called Mailing List Bridge and although it seems to have been quiescient for awhile a new developer adopted it this summer and is actively working on it: http://punbb.informer.com/forums/topic/ … ridge-100/. I haven't used any of these myself (or managed a punbb install, for that matter, either). But I will be keeping my eye on them. And I invite others who know more about these solutions, or about other solutions, to share thoughts about them here.

Last edited by Profjim (2008-09-23 20:47:20)

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#2 2008-09-23 19:49:55

Dusty
Schwag Merchant
From: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Registered: 2004-01-18
Posts: 5,986
Website

Re: Forum/mailing list integration

All I can say for sure is that we experimented with something like this a few years ago but it was just too buggy to be reliable. This was when we were using phpbb; I have no idea how it works with punbb, but the basic problem is the same: people can send e-mails to the mailing list that are not associated with usernames on the forum.

Dusty

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#3 2008-09-23 20:44:59

Profjim
Member
From: NYC
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 658

Re: Forum/mailing list integration

OK, good to know this kind of thing was experimented with unsuccessfully.

Bugginess is one thing, basic design problems are another. It sounds like what you're describing is a basic design problem. But wouldn't this be a reasonable design choice:

* Emails from unassociated email addresses (leaving the details of what it is to be "associated" aside for now) go to the list but not to the forum.
* (In the other direction, posts to the forum go to the list regardless of whether the poster is subscribed to the list.)

One might also restrict list subscriptions to only those email addresses that are already "associated" with the forum. But that wouldn't be a complete solution (I could change my forum email after subscribing to the list).

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#4 2008-09-23 20:54:08

Profjim
Member
From: NYC
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 658

Re: Forum/mailing list integration

I acknowledge we'd have to plan carefully around this issue. For example, what if a forum-user replies to an email from a non-forum-user. Should the reply go to the forum? Presumably not without the original also doing so. So my suggestion in previous post would seem to push towards all email threads downstream from emails by non-forum users also being non-forum. But users might easily lose track of that. So it suggests perhaps marking non-forum emails in the subject line. And so on. As I said, I acknowledge it's messy and would need careful planning to be usable.

Another idea would be to reject/bounce messages from emails not associated with the forum at the time the email was received.

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#5 2008-09-23 21:26:33

rasat
Forum Fellow
From: Finland, working in Romania
Registered: 2002-12-27
Posts: 2,261
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Re: Forum/mailing list integration

Dusty wrote:

All I can say for sure is that we experimented with something like this a few years ago but it was just too buggy to be reliable.

Three and half years ago m2f module was tested in another phpbb site. The idea was great but as Dusty said, too buggy.
http://user-contributions.org/forums/us … c.php?t=98

For punbb, if it can be tested in another site.


Markku

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#6 2008-09-23 21:55:43

neotuli
Lazy Developer
From: London, UK
Registered: 2004-07-06
Posts: 1,204
Website

Re: Forum/mailing list integration

The core problem here is authentication. Email cannot be authenticated (without another mechanism anyway), which is why it's such a pain to avoid spam on mailing lists. Anyone can put anything in the 'from' header, and the mailing list will happily replicate it and send it out to everyone if that 'from' address was on the subscribed list.

So a read-only mailing list version of the forum works fine, but implementing some way of being able to post to the list and have that reflected on the forum is a mess and a half. I don't think there is an elegant solution either, you could use gpg signing or some other public key crypto scheme to do sane authentication, but it wouldn't scale very well since the server-side resource usage is somewhat high.

Anyhow... interesting problem to solve.


The suggestion box only accepts patches.

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#7 2008-09-23 22:20:54

Profjim
Member
From: NYC
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 658

Re: Forum/mailing list integration

@rasat: Thanks for the link, I'll read up on what happened. Completely agree these forums are not the place for testing.

@neotuli: Excellent point. GPG signing does seem like the natural solution. And you're right that after a certain point it won't scale well. Presumably keys would already need to be stored in the forum database, so we'd only be doing verification not key lookups. I don't know at what point that would make a server choke. These forums seem to be getting less than one post a minute, so I wouldn't think it's out of the question for the forum server to do GPG verification. But forum admins may disagree.

Anyhow, as you say, interesting to think about how to integrate that into the punbb mod.

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#8 2008-09-23 23:11:44

catwell
Member
From: Bretagne, France
Registered: 2008-02-20
Posts: 207
Website

Re: Forum/mailing list integration

There's no need for a real identification, all the messages posted on the ML could be reflected on the forum posted by a "ML-poster" user with the originating email address at the top.

Anyway, why not use a NNTP newsgroup (which works a bit like a ML) with a web interface like http://www.newsportal.one.pl/ ? I use one and it works fine.

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#9 2008-09-23 23:31:52

Profjim
Member
From: NYC
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 658

Re: Forum/mailing list integration

@catwell: thanks, nice idea. I looked (really just glanced) at your link and I gather it's a php-based web interface to newsgroups, that would have to replace the existing forum software? I was reluctant to suggest anything so radical. I was thinking there'd be a better chance to get momentum behind a solution that could plug into what we have now, namely punbb (or fluxbb).

But I agree that a forum-to-newsgroup bridge is also worth exploring. Gmane hosts a bunch of newsgroups that one can subscribe to as mailing lists. (Or just slurp down with slrnpull and browse in mutt, as I do now.) If there were a robust forum-to-newsgroup bridge, it might be able to do much of the work I'd like a forum-to-mailing-list bridge to do.

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#10 2008-09-24 01:18:49

neotuli
Lazy Developer
From: London, UK
Registered: 2004-07-06
Posts: 1,204
Website

Re: Forum/mailing list integration

newsgroups take care of that authentication business too, we use them for class discussions at school that way.


The suggestion box only accepts patches.

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#11 2008-09-24 04:48:46

cactus
Taco Eater
From: t͈̫̹ͨa͖͕͎̱͈ͨ͆ć̥̖̝o̫̫̼s͈̭̱̞͍̃!̰
Registered: 2004-05-25
Posts: 4,622
Website

Re: Forum/mailing list integration

NEWS = awesome
but! then you are back at the same problem. 'yet another interface'. zero sum gain.


"Be conservative in what you send; be liberal in what you accept." -- Postel's Law
"tacos" -- Cactus' Law
"t̥͍͎̪̪͗a̴̻̩͈͚ͨc̠o̩̙͈ͫͅs͙͎̙͊ ͔͇̫̜t͎̳̀a̜̞̗ͩc̗͍͚o̲̯̿s̖̣̤̙͌ ̖̜̈ț̰̫͓ạ̪͖̳c̲͎͕̰̯̃̈o͉ͅs̪ͪ ̜̻̖̜͕" -- -̖͚̫̙̓-̺̠͇ͤ̃ ̜̪̜ͯZ͔̗̭̞ͪA̝͈̙͖̩L͉̠̺͓G̙̞̦͖O̳̗͍

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