Are there any plans to move the Mailing Lists to Discourse?

I broached this topic 4 years ago… now as I understand it, GNOME of all things is getting rid of their mailing lists. I understand that people are resistant to change, but the evidence shows that more and more projects, etc. are moving their communication to Discourse (for obvious reasons), and there are multiple methods to get notifications from Discourse, including email.

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There are no project-wide plans to move the mailing lists to Discussion.

No active plans yet. But it has been hinted at in several places. Most notably by the FPL @mattdm himself: Designers — please help me figure out what to do with the new Discourse sidebar (at the very bottom of his post).

I think the most pressing issue with moving from Mailman to Discourse is not to alienate old skool users, who have grown accustomed to take part in discussions from the comfort of their inbox. While getting notifications from Discourse in your inbox works great, chipping in by replying to the notification doesn’t feel natural. Markup in the received mail gets lost and actually can get in the way when replying.

So, in my opinion, this needs to be solved somehow, before we can gently push people towards moving off Mailman. Another issue might be starting a new thread by e-mail[1].


  1. I don’t know if that is possible and if so how. But this may just be a lack of knowledge on my part. ↩︎

Thanks for the reply Ben. Hopefully people will to start to investigate again. I believe the advantages are obvious and it’s seems to be a waste to have to monitor multiple systems to keep up to date with what is happening in the project. You’ve done a good job with cross-posting items, but I’m sure you have better things to do. Also, not everything is cross-posted and that is problematic.

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I completely understand people are resistant to change, but it isn’t realistic to not migrate until everything is exactly the same. I don’t believe that is ever going to happen. Things change, systems and functionality evolve and you’re always going to have people complain because they don’t want to adapt. Examples of this are numerous, i.e. GNOME 2 to GNOME 3 to GNOME 4. KDE 3 to KDE 4 to KDE 5. X11 to Wayland, Firefox move to WebExtensions. The list goes on and on. In each of these examples there was extremely vocal resistance. After implementation, life continued.

I’m not saying drop everything and do this immediately, but we’re going to have to do this eventually, putting it off isn’t going to make the issues go away and it’s not as if it’s going to happen overnight. We should be thinking about it and making plans.

There is a reason these other projects have already moved to Discourse.

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I’m not opposed to change. I use both Discourse and Mailman depending on subject and audience.

But freedom is also about freedom of choice. Freedom ends where people are forced to adopt and are not given a choice. Going by your example, a lot of GNOME users left GNOME behind after the controversial move to GNOME 3, with its completely new philosophy to what a desktop environment is and how people are meant to interact with it.

I dare say it would be futile if Fedora were to go down this path. I agree that not all objections can be resolved. But we need something to make interaction as accessible to as large an audience as possible. Take IRC as an example. While Fedora is present these days both on IRC and Matrix the discussion is open for both camps. Thanks to the bridge, your choice of client doesn’t matter. What does matter is having people talk to each other regardless of choice of client. Moreover, it allows users to explore Matrix, while being able to fall back on IRC if things don’t work out.

I think a similar bridge is needed to keep users united in their collaborative effort.

Well, sometimes. Freedom is always complicated. How many things are you or I obligated to do in order to maximize someone else’s choices? If maximizing available choices is the ideal, wouldn’t we also be obligated to provide NNTP newsgroups and a phpbb forum and a paid Slack channel. (Obviously not.)

Having a lot of choices also comes at a cost — the most obvious one I see here is also a frequently-registered complaint: our comms channels and websites and documentation all feel very scattered, and it’s often hard to know where to go.

I agree that being accessible to as many people as we can is a good goal, though.

If it were just my call, I’d lean towards saying that we should migrate everything that isn’t broadcast-focused to Discourse as a matter of policy. But it’s clear we’re not really ready as a project for that. I hope we can get there, though. And I hope we can do that mostly through carrots without any sticks — and through improvements to how Discourse works for people (and not merely by what I expect[1] to be the continued collapse of email as a useful thing on the internet.

To answer a specific thing: it is possible to configure DIscourse so that threads can be started by email. I haven’t enabled it, though, because it is a possible floodgate for spam, and has the potentially-larger problem of enabling easy impersonation. Additionally, it is not currently possible to tag posts, which is crucial for the site’s ontology. I have some ideas for how we might make this work: posts would go to a special category and a bot would vet them, possibly tagging based on some heuristics, maybe replying with a “reply to this to confirm, and are these the categories and tags you want?” message. But I haven’t put anything into that.


  1. In the tradition of Cassandra↩︎

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Yeah, I agree, but it would be nice to finally have all the project discussions here in one place. I’ve been using email since it was first available and while IMO it’s still useful for “mail” and possibly transferring small files, things have obviously changed and there are now new tools that are much better suited for discussions and file transfer. I’ve been in IT for over 30 years, and I’ve somehow managed to keep up. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Agree, but people can have discussions sent to their email, and reply via email if they wish, or they can follow the link to the web interface - or use the phone client. Personally, I prefer using the RSS feed, which works great. There are tools available to ease the migration, other projects have posted lessons learned, etc. My point is we don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

Just wanted to broach the subject again to get people thinking about it so eventually we can phase it in.

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I wasn’t talking about maximizing choices. But seeing what Fedora folks use now, and knowing that changing habits is a hard fight, I tried to make the case for a better integration of mail clients.

Otherwise, it would be Discourse or die in the face of a large amount of users. You have to ease them into it, I believe.

And that’s exactly not giving people any choice: Discourse or Die, My Way or the Highway.

I think the best approach is to have basic functionality available and working for people who are hesitant. That means starting threads, replying to discussions, etc. The :carrot: is moving to Discourse for a nicer interface with bells and whistles.

This isn’t a life or death issue or about banishment / exile. This is about newer technology replacing something older that was really never intended or designed to be used as a discussion tool. Email was used, because at the time there were no better alternatives.

As far as modifications made to Discourse to seamlessly integrate completely with email, I doubt that is going to happen. People are moving away from using email as a discussion tool and there isn’t enough interest to invest the time and money.

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I beg to differ. My inbox is completely in my control. I chose where to put which mail. How to compose my mail, how to view mails from others. I can search across different domains, finding answers, correlations. I can chose to tag mails by subject, status what have you.

Mail, if you used right[1], is an excellent discussion platform.

I don’t recall suggesting a complete and seamless integration of Discourse and e-mail. I named a few items, I deem essential so as not to alienate users who do appreciate the versatility of mailing lists and their own inbox and who may need a little more convincing to move along.

Can you actually substantiate your claims regarding the move away from email? I know there have been a few noteworthy moves. They attract attention. Others consciously deciding to stick with e-mail, permanently or for the time being, would probably go unnoticed.


  1. A lot more people would appreciate it as such, if it weren’t for some disastrous decisions by big tech companies in the past, messing it up. ↩︎

What are you looking for here? I think it’s clear that:

  • The majority of people under 30 do not communicate regularly by email (not counting getting automated messages from companies — receipts and sign-on confirmations and whatever)
  • in the mainstream, mailing lists are almost exclusively a broadcast mechanism, not a discussion medium
  • Newer open source projects don’t start with “here’s our mailing list”. Most common, I think: Github / Discord / Reddit.
  • Just thinking of my own usage — I can’t remember the last time I came across an open source project I’m interested in and thought “yes, I want to sign up for their mailing list”.

I think projects consciously deciding to stick with email are — consciously or not — deciding to isolate themselves from the bulk of potential new contributors.

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I’m not part of that group[1]. But in general, knowing people in that age group, I would agree. That begs the question, what is the general (majority, favored) audience of Fedora? And if that is the under 30’s, does that mean we need to leave everyone else behind?

I wholeheartedly disagree. I think we need to facilitate people of all ages to communicate with each other.

Define “mainstream”. Is Fedora mainstream? How about the devel mailing list, e.g.? Is there no discussion going on on the devel mailing list? Is the discussion not working? Is it hindered by being done on a mailing list?

GitHub, like Discourse, allows you to take part by either e-mail, web interface or any other tool utilizing GitHub’s API. I cannot comment on Discord or Reddit. I’m not using these. But Discord seems more like a fancy IRC client, a bit like Matrix. I’ve seen it bridged to IRC as well.

I do. It’s not “yes, I want to”. It’s more, “yes, I do”. Because it’s their chosen way of communicating and offering support and discussion. ISC, e.g., has various very active mailing lists. Not too long ago one of their developers dug really deep to help me solve an issue with DNSSEC I came across. Sure, I could have decided to simply open an issue on GitLab. But that way I would have only reached the developers, not the users, sysadmins, of which plenty are on the mailing list, chiming in with their expertise.

I haven’t heard anyone there, yet, talking about moving to Discourse. I could ask or search the archives if that has been a topic at all.

Again, I beg to differ.

The point I was trying to make and of which I’m still convinced, is that you need to accommodate as large a group as possible. Fedora did that very nicely with IRC by bridging it with Matrix. That broadens the audience. It’s inclusive and non-judgmental regarding the choice of client. It has it’s quirks (e.g. inserted pictures/screenshots appear as links in IRC), but it generally works fine and doesn’t hamper communication.

Maybe we can aim for a similar level of integration regarding mail and Discourse. A bridge that brings together the under 30’s and the rest of us[2], who still know what a mail client looks like. :handshake:


  1. Call me old (older, old-fashioned). You know what they say about old dogs and old habits… ↩︎

  2. Approaching it like the guy in the video in the OP, will certainly not work. ↩︎

Another thought on that: Doesn’t the same hold for projects abandoning e-mail with respect to potential experienced[1] contributors?


  1. That’s a friendly marketing term for old(er) (30+ ?). ↩︎

I have faith in the ability of us old folks to adapt. :classic_smiley:

I know there are a lot of things which are difficult in doing so — I have Fedora email filters that have been in place for decades. But change comes for us all!

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Sure.