Group Discussion

Discussion Forum, online discussions, Threaded Discussion, online conferencing, Virtual Community, etc.

No technology seems to be optimal for this yet. Here are some things that have been tried.

Wiki: it's hard to track changes/additions/issues needing your attention. It's hard to read through a ThreadMode page. In theory you're supposed to throw away the ThreadMode stuff and refactor periodically into Document Mode. (You could always copy the discussion to a separate page as an archive...)

Wiki with EMail interface (see Zwiki subscriptions): unless each page is kept very granular, many threads carry the same page-title Subject, which makes it very hard to track just specific true threads.

EMail (Email Discussion Beside Wiki)

  • the plus: everyone's used to it.

  • some apps don't support a threaded view (or the thread view is very clunky). Even if it's there, people don't know to turn it on, if it isn't the default view.

  • so everyone sticks with the initial Subject of a given thread, rather than breaking it down into sub-threads when that's appropriate

  • so it can be hard to make sure that all the sub-threads get resolved

  • unless everyone keeps the entire thread history in each reply, it can be confusing for someone added to a thread after it starts. Even then, it gets messy when 2 people reply to a thread at roughly the same time, so the stream "forks".

  • lots of redundancy in storing everyone's pile of messages.

  • people don't know how to file messages effectively, so it's hard for them to browse their archives.

  • Search Engine-s built into email clients are generally weak and slow, so people hate to use them.

Email List-s

  • list per team

  • list per project

  • list per thread: Round Up

EMail with shared IMAP folders.

NNTP/UseNet: Jon Udell has written piles about this. It seems very promising, except that the browsers (to date) have a horrible problem with their interface. If you link to a single message, the browser returns the message, but with no way to jump to the rest of the thread defining its context; you have to open the whole newsgroup, then search by Subject. I wonder if anyone's considered this for a Mozilla fix?

Web-based tools... see Discussion Forum


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