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From Rob Weir <>
Subject Re: Standards for mail archive statistics gathering?
Date Mon, 27 Apr 2015 18:29:03 GMT
On Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 9:36 AM, Shane Curcuru <> wrote:
> I'm interested in working on some visualizations of mailing list
> activity over time, in particular some simple analyses, like thread
> length/participants and the like.  Given that the raw data can all be
> precomputed from mbox archives, is there any semi-standard way to
> distill and save metadata about mboxes?

I've done some analysis of OpenOffice email archives, including some
social network analysis that I wrote up here:

> If we had a generic static database of past mail metadata and statistics
> (i.e. not details of contents, but perhaps overall # of lines of text or
> something), it would be interesting to see what kinds of visualizations
> that different people would come up with.
> Anyone have pointers to either a data format or the best parsing library
> for this?  I'm trying to think ahead, and work on the parsing, storing
> statistics, and visualizations as separate pieces so it's easier for
> different people to collaborate on something.

If you do Python, you might take a look at for a
simple program that could be adapted easily enough.   It uses the
Python mailbox library to do the parsing.

The biggest challenge making sense of such data, for me at least, was
the multiple email addresses a single person can use.   Determining
these aliases for a project you are involved in is possible, though
tedious.   Doing it for an unfamiliar project borders on the

Another "fun" problem is getting all the post time data into the same
UTC timezone.   The mbox format does not seem to enforce a consistent
way of encoding these.

I see I have a few other analysis scripts on my harddrive I haven't
checked in that handle the TZ and other issues.   I'll get those
checked in.   It seems that, almost as good as pre-extracted data
would be an easy API.

Ever think of having a contest related to "Visualizing Apache"?   I
was considering proposing something like that for OpenOffice.
Provide the data for download (already extracted from our transaction
systems, so we don't get a harmful about of load on those servers) and
invite the community to do the analysis, see what insights they can



> Thanks,
> - Shane

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