NNTP and thunderbird-related lists

Ben Bucksch ben.bucksch at beonex.com
Fri Jul 30 00:49:29 UTC 2010

Below, I am assuming that web archives do not exist, due to their bad 
and cumbersome UI. I don't want to use them.

On 29.07.2010 19:56, Dan Mosedale wrote:
>  On 7/29/10 5:17 AM, Ben Bucksch wrote:
>> Newsgroups are also pull, not push. 
> I don't really understand how the above sentence relates to the rest 
> of this paragraph:
>> I can peek into a group at any time, without having to be subscribed, 
>> and can see the whole history, and read things in the comfort of 
>> Thunderbird (I do not feel web archives to be reader friendly, for 
>> more than a few posts). I also can reply easily there. I often don't 
>> know whether I am interested in a group, or I want to participate 
>> only in one thread or only at certain occasions and then ignore the 
>> group again.

I wonder why the connection between the two statements is not clear.

If I am not subscribed, I don't have access to the posts, plain and 
simply. I cannot post myself, either. And that's because the protocol is 
push, and has no pull. Anything before the moment I subscribe is not 
available to me, and anything that didn't happen yet is obviously not 
available either, meaning that at the moment I first look at the mailing 
lists, I have zero posts to look at, and it's because of the push nature.

With newsgroups, I can fetch a certain history, any time I like, because 
they are pull.

> My non-understanding of how pull vs. push is relevant to the above 
> paragraph is because I subscribe to a bunch of mailing lists which I 
> filter into folders, and some of them I read in very much the style 
> you describe: I go look at them once a week or once a year.  Would 
> that not work for you?

A, you assume that I had discovered the mailing list a while ago, and 
subscribed back then. That ignores the first time I encounter the group, 

B, at the time of first encounter, I am probably not sure whether I want 
the list/group. And I have no way to read the history conveniently (see 
above). Unless I have good reason, I will probably not subscribe. Once I 
have good reason, I cannot read the posts that pose that good reason and 
cannot reply, because there's no history.

C, I find it totally pointless and resource-wasting to subscribe to a 
mailing list that I intend to look at only once a month or year. If I 
look at it only once a year, I probably don't know whether I'll *ever* 
look at it again. Why should I continuously receive messages when I 
don't know whether I'll ever read them? It's most obvious with the 
linux-kernel mailing list (LKML). I am occasionally interested, I read 
maybe a few posts every few months, when somebody points out something 
funny or of particular interest. I would not subscribe to it, however, 
because it's a high-volume list and I'd get hundreds of msgs per day. 
That's an extreme example, but shows the tradeoff. Most tradeoffs are 
closer, but once the value ratio goes below e.g. 50% or 30% or 10%, many 
people feel they should not receive the whole stream. Even if they are 
definitely interested in certain, occasional threads.


In other words, mailing lists are not just "High barrier/effort to 
entry", they are simply "*No* entry unless you're a regular". Not 
everybody wants to be a regular / club member. I want to just visit the 
restaurant I feel like on that evening, without being forced to 
subscribe as member and then wait a few days. I want to visit many 
different restaurants without being a "member" everywhere.

(OK, the comparison lacks, because to join on tb-planning discussion, 
you better be a regular. But not to just read. For tb-enterprise, you 
shouldn't need to be a regular, but you should definitely skim over the 
history before posting!)

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