Comments on: REBOL.net and Email List
I've got some information about the status of REBOL.net.
I talked with Richard today (who runs the REBOL.net servers) in Canada. The story is that they have plenty of Internet pipe bandwidth, but the "pipes froze".
All joking aside, an upgrade at the facility shifted the IP addresses before anyone had a chance to reconfigure the servers. The plan now is to make the fix tomorrow, in-person.
And, while I'm on the topic, there's the old issue of the REBOL email list. Can we retire that old server... which has been limping along for many years, and the list has not been very active. The user community has moved most messaging to other methods, such as AltME, etc.
So, what's the general opinion of users regarding the email list? Time to retire it?
Definitely not, I suggest to keep this way of communication.
The email list is what I use if I need a REBOL question answered or have something to say which the REBOL community might be interested in.
I guess if it was dumped I'd use stackoverflow instead...
since I already watch it via RSS. I'd prefer email though, it being the simplest.
It's an entry point to REBOL for some users, so I don't believe it's a good idea to remove it.
That said, I don't mind if the mailing list is moved and maintained by someone else, so it can finally become stable.
Certainly, the mailing list has not seen many messages recently, and the volume is way down in comparison with past years, and still dropping:
On another hand, it is about as busy as each of Stackoverflow (for REBOL questions) and Rebolforum.com
There is a place for a pure-web communication channel that is accessible by all, including:
- people using phones or other REBOL-unsupported platforms
- visually disabled people
- those with dated browsers
- those who cannot use AltME from a locked-down work computer
Whether the ML should be that channel is a good question. And that needs to be part of a bigger question about how that channel should operate.
I agree with Henrik, it is good especially for new users.
|Nicolas V. (nve)
As a new User I never use the mailing list.
I use rebolforum, RebelBB forum.
AltME is not the right place because I can't use it at work.
Just at home but I can't connect with my cell phone or my tablet PC... ;(
So a pure Web solution is the solution.
It can be powered by REBOL with Cheyenne server for example...
Stackoverflow is a good choice.
For attracting more people a active public visible community is very valuable. AltME is less visible.
I haven't used the mailing list in years, as part of a general move away from email almost altogether, though have been considering (dreading?) getting back on there. Web forums sound nice as long as there is some way to keep the trolls from causing problems (rebolforum and AltME have this issue). Perhaps a web front-end for chat would work here, as it has some decent moderation facilities.
an e-mail list is one thing that can [usually] be relied on as a fallback for communications. Is it a question of finding another host for the mail list?
I'd say keep the mailing list. If the server needs to be retired, there ought to be an alternate email list that can be used instead. AltME is too much of a barrier to entry IMHO, and is not a "standard" communication channel.
Move the discussion to a Google Group. That way you are publicly visible but don't have to maintain your own servers. Most people will sign up with a gmail account and filter your messages to a tag/folder, so all win.
I would hate to vote, myself, to put a maintenance burden on someone else, however...
I don't use the mailing list much, but only because I don't use REBOL much. When I HAVE used the mailing list, it has been wonderful. It is a place where one can write up a specific problem or question, send it off, and get an answer very quickly. I think that one time I got a problems solved in about 15 minutes. That is vastly better than our best paid support here where I work.
I do have an AltME account, but, again, I don't use it much because I don't use REBOL much. It seems to me more like a chat room, rather than a place where one can submit a specific question for an answer.
I think that for REBOL to be successful there must be a way for people to get help with it. REBOL has features that can be confusing to people who have spent many years in other types of languages. If REBOL Technologies itself does not have the resources to answer help requests, I think someones else has to.
Once again, the point I am getting at in my roundabout way is that if an organization is thinking about adopting REBOL for some important programming jobs, there has to be a way for a programmer to write up a problem, maybe isolate it in a code sample, submit the question, and get an answer. If an organization is looking around for a programming tool, I think they would be reluctant to invest too much in something that feels too unsupported, like they would be on their own for making it work.
Note that I am not saying that programming tool has to have FREE (as in beer) support. Where I work, we are phasing out Acucobol, a wonderful and capable product that just isn't winning the popularity contest. With Acucobol, we pay an annual fee that gives us access to a help desk. The help desk is not what it was, but it still is good. If we have a problem, we write it up, provide console output, maybe a code sample, and send it off, and we get an answer.
Sometimes, it seems, a higher price in money can make people take things more seriously. I think that REBOL Technologies would get some takers if they offered some sort of paid support. I know they have the consulting service, but I am thinking of a way for a person to write up a specific problem and get an answer in a timely manner (like in a few hours).
Keep it. With the size of the community, it must represent a portion of Rebolers. I myself only use it sparingly but it appears that others rely on it for communication.
Of course, there is something in me that keeps old stuff and hates to throw out anything, even technology. What does Cindy think? :-)
I vote to make sure an ML of some kind is available. I prefer it to forums myself. I set up a test ML on my host, but can't say how it or my time will scale.
The REBOL Google Group has been around for a long time, but doesn't see much use. I think there is value in REBOL having its own ML.
I've suggested a unified solution several times - one place where people can go - with web, email, css, app, facebook, twitter, etc. interfaces to the same messages, to satisfy everyone. We'd do best to settle on one collection of messages, with read/write access from whatever daily channel people prefer to watch. That way, things aren't so fragmented, and everyone sees everything that everyone has to say. The web interface for AltME on rebol.org is a great start. If there was just an additional interface to post messages using the browser, and to send/receive AltME messages via email, that would be a fantastic solution - and seemingly not so difficult. I once wrote and posted a short script that provided web access to the email list. Our main communication problem is that the community loves AltME, but no one outside the community sees it.
Same here: been pushing for a unified solution for a decade, but there are no takers.
A part of the community loves AltME...
And another part prefers to have access to a classic forum provided by rebol solution or other.
Access it from their smartphone or TabletPC, have RSS/ATOM feed, can be notify by email when someone reply to a specific topic...
If you can open AltME to the WEB and provide a Web interface to read and post messages, it would be the ultimate solution.
I vote for Nick who has always very pragmatics ideas.
I'm sure it wouldn't take very long for me to integrate the email messages from the mailing list with the interface at http://rebolforum.com - but it would be quicker to just come up with a way to post and respond to rebolforum messages via email (mail list and forum combined).
I've never looked at how AltME messages are stored, but would bet it'd be fairly straightforward to automate some sort of conduit between the rebolforum interface and messages that post to AltME. Sunanda's already done all the work required to display AltME messages on the web. I could hobble together a server with an account dedicated to posting messages to AltME, but if there's interest in doing such a thing, it'd be much better to work directly with the AltME guys to come up a direct connection to the messages (is there an API for doing that already?)
Carl, would you be interested in seeing that happen?
Rebolforum.com already has an API built in that allows posting to the forum using simple imported native REBOL functions.
I'm not familiar with the facebook or twitter APIs, but I'm sure we could work out conduits of some sort, even if it resorted to screen scraping and AutoIT automation...
I don't like altme. web/browser based forum would be a better approach as it's universal, and you get to browse only the contents you need, rather than altme thrusting unwanted data down your connection. the other thing to remember is:- altme is invasive. if someone just stumbles on the rebol site and wants to have a feel of the community, he is forced to get alme and run from his machine. Many people would just turn away and won't even bother to get altme, and just move on to some other language sites.
anyway see the following link for the flaws in altme
I just had an incident today that shows the need for the mailing list or something like it.
I obtained a Windows C library from the US Postal Service for creating their new bar-code. I don't know C, but there is enough documentation (in C lingo) so that I think I know how to use it.
I located the REBOL document called "REBOL External Library Interface" and wrote a short test script to call this library. Of course I could have made a dumb mistake (I have made many), but it appears that my script matches the examples in the documentation. Of course it doesn't work.
So what can I do? I have stared at my script, I have reread the documentation, I have looked for the usual easily-missed syntax errors, I have tried a few variations that seemed NOT right but might be right if I have misunderstood the documentation.
The probable cause of my lack of success is that I am writing the REBOL code the wrong way, but I just don't see it. This is a case where someone who knows REBOL better than I do could help (probably in about 15 seconds).
So, I wrote up a question, put it on the mailing list, and it disappeared.
I will send it to other places, but that's not the point. The point is that there is a need for a place for people to get help.
I also think that there are organizations that would be willing to pay an annual support fee for access to quick answers. Where I work, we use Acucobol, pay an annual support fee (maybe a couple thousand dollars; I don't pay the bills), and can ask them questions whenever necessary. It has worked very well. They will answer the phone, but most calls are done by email because of the need to supply test code, console output, and thing like that. The product is so good that we don't have to ask many questions, so they are making money from us. The annual fee is so small (compared to the money flying out the door for other things) that no one complains about paying it.
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