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From TJ Frazier <>
Subject Re: User support: beyond forums or lists
Date Wed, 24 Aug 2011 19:50:02 GMT
Hi, Andreas,

On 8/24/2011 14:03, Andreas Säger wrote:
> Am 24.08.2011 19:26, TJ Frazier wrote:
>> Not quite on topic, here, but re hacking forum code:
>> We have a divide between support users (who prefer forums) and support
>> providers (who prefer email). How well could forum code provide
>> email-like interaction for the providers? E.g., Email for new topics /
>> comments of interest; link for fast reply entry. Email /for/ entry? Some
>> of this is probably available already. Design input from providers would
>> be nice.
> Please define "email-like interaction".
Let me try not to be too specific, because I don't want to specify a 
design. It would be better if a good designer (which I am not), with 
user input, did that, assuming that the idea gains any traction.

There seem to be two activities of answer-providers which are distinctly 
different, according to whether we are talking "forum" or "mailing 
list": (1) finding questions and (2) posting replies.

(1) With email, the questions come to you, according to your filters 
&c., and you can read them at your convenience. With fora, you have to 
log in and go looking, and may find nothing.

(2) With email, you can reply with one click or so, quite independent of 
how long it takes you to come up with the answer. With fora, if you can 
answer off the top of your head, you are again only one click away from 
the reply. But, if you need to do some research, you must bookmark the 
question in some fashion, and then get back to it later (lots of clicks).

If another provider posts an answer while you're thinking, then with 
email you should get a nicely-threaded missive with that answer. That 
may save your doing the research at all, or just limit your response to 
something like adding a useful link. With fora, you don't find that out 
until you log in again, ready with your answer.

Getting down to small things, with email you are using your old friend, 
the email-client editor. With fora, the editors are just one more piece 
of software to remember: "How does it work on /this/ forum?"

The whole idea really needs input from some forum-adverse experts, who 
could say whether these — or other — features would attract their support.


P.S.: See Donald Whytock's suggestion on this thread, about a 
"forumesque" interface for ML archives. Sounds brilliant to me. -/tj/

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