Why would people prefer mailing list over forums?

I have noticed that some open-source software libraries (usually academic libraries) and their users tend to prefer having a mailing list over a forum. I personally has a slight dislike for mailing list - first, they clutter up the mail-box, and not all have a search functionality.

However, I guess that you got to read (or at least, browse) through each and everyone’s mail ensures commitment, but other than that, why would you prefer mailing list (if you do)?

Because a mailing list comes to you, a forum has to rise high enough in your consciousness to return.

I know this because we had a political falling out on our mailing list and it went offline for a couple of weeks while things cooled off. I started a forum for folks and let them know. It was nifty and cool with all the forum-y things you can do on forums…but it didn’t have a whole lot of traffic as that demographic preferred email.

The mailing list got turned on (with one or two members pruned) and the forum withered.

Yeah. When I first got on-line, I didn’t know how to use Favorites/Bookmarks. I’d find a board, read, maybe post, and then forget it existed. I suspect it was that way with a lot of people. I remember seeing a thread on one board – “Why do people post a question and then never come back?” I think it’s because they got lost. :slight_smile:

I’ve tried to get people in mailing lists to check out various boards, and most of them say they’re more comfortable with the list format. I think some of them are intimidated by the way a board looks, all those symbols and commands. It looks “technical”.

Plus, if you say something stupid on a list, it’s more quickly forgotten. List members don’t pay much attention to senders’ names.