mailing list integration
Joel Spolsky (of Joel on Software) said it best, I think:
This is a blockquote, but there is no styling so you would never know that…
Q. Could you make a feature where I check a box that says “email me if somebody replies to my post?”
A. This one feature, so easy to implement and thus so tempting to programmers, is the best way to kill dead any young forum. Implement this feature and you may never get to critical mass. Philip Greenspun’s LUSENET has this feature and you can watch it sapping the life out of young discussion groups.
What happens is that people go to the group to ask a question. If you offer the “notify me” checkbox, these people will post their question, check the box, and never come back. They’ll just read the replies in their mailbox. The end.
If you eliminate the checkbox, people are left with no choice but to check back every once in a while. And while they’re checking back, they might read another post which looks interesting. And they might have something to contribute to that post. And in the critical early days when you’re trying to get the discussion group to take off, you’ve increased the “stickiness” and you’ve got more people hanging around, which helps achieve critical mass a lot quicker.
You could always integrate an RSS-to-email type thing, like Feedblitz, and maybe you could do something like automatically marking each topic a favorite when someone posts a reply, then also automatically check the box to email them whenever there is a post on a topic that is marked as a favorite. That would be plugin territory, I think.
I haven’t heard of anyone doing it yet, and I agree with Joel that it’s not a good idea.
actually, it’s the other way around for me. my inbox is the center point of my digital communications. if it’s not there then it doesn’t get my attention–even copies of my phone calls route to my inbox. rarely do i have the time to browse all of the forums to which i’ve posted.
the manner in which i would integrate a forum and a mailing list would be to route all messages between both applications–completely bi-directional. as opposed to simply notification of replies to particular posts. iow you would “subscribe” to the whole forum. this would afford full interaction and “browsing” of a forum via an email client. which would more likely breathe life into rather than suck the life out of a forum, imho.
i know many people who prefer email over forums and minimize their use of forums for this reason–exactly the kind of behavior that does sap the life out of a discussion group.
If you would like to watch the whole forum, there are lots of RSS feeds set up by default in bbPress (tags, new posts, topics, etc), and you could just have those feeds emailed to you by something like Feedblitz http://www.feedblitz.com
You’re also looking for a way to post to the forum via email though, and I don’t know of a way to do that. I know you can post to a blog via email, but I have not seen anything like that for bbPress (or any other forum actually.)
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