Using discourse as a mailing lists


(Tom Locke) #1

Just as badly we need better forum software, we really need a replacement for Mailman. Discourse is nearly there. The FAQ even says

Whenever you need …

  • a mailing list

So it seems the intent is there. There are a few features that look like they are currently absent:

  • Post a new topic by email (and to a nice simple email address)
  • Reply to a topic by replying to email (may be there already?)
  • Receive every new post by email, as soon as posted

Any plans to add these features?


Discourse as a front end for existing ASF mailing lists
(Sam Saffron) #2

Yes, see:


(Jeff Atwood) #3

Not there already, but reply by email is one of the things we want to add very urgently, since it solves all the complaints about replying on mobile, and is far faster than slurping down hundreds of kilobytes of JS and CSS and HTML just to compose a single reply on your smartphone.

The rest is somewhat lower priority, but reply by email is a high priority.


(rwelke) #4

I strongly support @tslocke in his suggestion to provide a MailMan-like capability for Discourse. I’m about to oversee a 4000 member academic organization that uses MailMan to provide postings and replies on a variety of topics (conferences, calls for papers, postion openings, journal contents, etc.). Using Discourse for the original postings and replies, would simplify a lot of things. But the membership relies on either daily or weekly digests of the emails sent to the list to remain informed. So, having the ability to summarize postings and replies, put them in a digest and email them out would solve a lot of organization’s problems IMHO. The postings would also require some level of review; not sure what Discourse’s provisions are for this. Looked at mail2forum suggested by @uckelman but putting this in place and making the necessary code changes to work with Discourse is beyond the organization’s tech abilities. Also, as someone pointed out, managing two user subscription data sets would be problematic. So, an integrated solution is likely the only one that would work for us. While it’s given low priority by @tslocke I think there is a large opportunity if this feature were offered.


(G Hope) #5

@codinghorror is there any chance we can get an update on this post?.. as to pipeline, eta, etc?..

Also, if it’s not completed; has anyone started it that you know of? If so, whom so that I may reach out to them to see if nothing else they could use a tester…

Thanks - G


(Sam Saffron) #6

We already support reply via email. There are a few other bis an pieces that we need to build but the core of the feature is complete.


(G Hope) #7

Sam,

Talk about a quick response!!! You’re completely awesome!..

What about with respect to, “Post a new topic by email (and to a nice simple email address)”?

With the same caveats as before… as to pipeline, eta, etc?..

Also, if it’s not completed; has anyone started it that you know of? If so, whom so that I may reach out to them to see if nothing else they could use a tester…

Thanks^2 - G


(Sam Saffron) #8

Nobody has started the “post new topic via email” implementation. I remember @uckelman was meaning to work on some of this stuff but did not get around to it.

We are more than happy to assist in the design of such a feature, but are a bit tight on schedule and can not dedicate a dev to it.


(Joel Uckelman) #9

I haven’t forgotten, but haven’t had any time to devote to it recently. I will eventually implement it if no one else has by the time switching our forum to Discourse reaches the front of my priority queue.


(Drew Dara-Abrams) #10

On a somewhat related note, has anyone considered or attempted importing e-mail list archives from Mailman into Discourse?


(Jacob Klippenstein) #11

Also, under the email preferences, the only option is to receive an e-mail digest when somebody doesn’t visit the discourse site. If there’s a way to add an option so that people always receive certain digest updates no matter if they visited or not would be really helpful I believe. This is because even when folks visit the website if they are using a mailing list as their primary source of notification they might not read all new posts, but will not be notified of them via e-mail simply because they visited the website.


(Jeff Atwood) #12

I believe @sam just implemented that, check your user preferences.


(kieppie) #13

I’ve only started scratching the surface of this great software - thanks for the good work.

This looks like an excellent platform that’ll address many of the issues/shortcomings present in current list solutions - especially Mailman.

The issue that it’s really difficult to get buy-in & encourage existing users (on established/mature communities) to migrate over to this new platform without the tools/mechanisms they’re used to - especially being able to interact with the system - i.e. read, respond & submitting new posts - via mail.

Maybe the right way of approaching it is by implementation of a Open NNTP protocol connector? Not sure.

Is there some sort of wish-list where I can voice my support for this functionality?


(Sam Saffron) #14

Sounds like an interesting plugin, you are sure welcome to work on it.


(kieppie) #15

heheh - just finished reading the NNTP thread.
Seems the sane way to go


(Virgo) #16

I strongly support mailing list integration for many reasons. From my POV one of the strongest reasons is actually anonymity. Through an anonymous remailer chain, a user can post with a relatively high level of confidence that his/her anonymity will be preserved.

Of course anonymity can be abused. But sometimes is necessary (if not indispensable) in order to achieve truly frank discussions of certain topics… think government or corporate corruption, certain divisive social/political issues, etc especially when the poster lives in a repressive/oppressive environment.

Notice that simply posting under a pseudonym would be insufficient protection in many such cases.


(Benjamin Kampmann) #17

So, from what I can see, we already have two out three now, right? The one missing is “post a new topic via email”. So I started the implementation of it, you can follow the progress here. And I’d appreciate any feedback on the plans, too, of course.


(Sam Saffron) #18

This is now complete.


(Sam Saffron) #19