[NAFEX] email vs bulletin board forums

NAFEX List nafexlist at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 17 21:58:01 EST 2008


I've used both to some degree. I'd compare the two as follows:

Bulletin boards (forums) file everything using a topic-and-replies method. Potential problems include a proliferation of redundant topics or replying when a new topic should have been posted. Without proper user discipline, it can still be necessary to read every message if you value catching everything of importance. One advantage of forums is the creation of off-topic areas and subcategories (e.g. apples, cherries, etc) I've noticed that many boards can take on a "chat" flavor on all manner of topics that can make the "avalanche" of emails seem tame by comparison.

Emails have the problem of being overwhelming, particularly if subscribed as a digest. I take mine as individual messages and have my email sort them into a special folder as they arrive. I then delete those of no interest. Given the Ibiblio interface, most bulletin boards (forums) are searched more easily, although you can have a "Google" experience when hundreds of hits are returned, 10 messages at at time.

With regard to finances, either email or forums can generate server or moderator expenses. Ibiblio is free, as are my efforts. It can be difficult to predict whether either an email list or a bulletin board will increase or decrease paid memberships--when the primary benefit of paid membership is POMONA, which may be viewed as offering similar information for free. 

Both need to be archived. Ibiblio is a large organization with an established backup practice. As long as the server of the bulletin board is backed up, it should be ok--it depends on where it's hosted and the backup method.

The moderator has the ability to exert considerable influence over the list. My style has be "hands off"; I've occasionally posted warnings, but I've yet to ban anyone. Any forum moderator should post a clear set of guidelines regarding the circumstances under which messages and users would be restricted or banned.

This list will remain here, so the risks of setting up an alternate are limited.

Greg Miller
List ADMIN

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