[R] Newsgroup - another try?

Peter Dalgaard BSA p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk
Tue Sep 4 11:43:01 CEST 2001

Pesl Thomas <thomas.pesl at arcs.ac.at> writes:

> As nobody seems to answer my request, I simply post it again.
> Is there any reason why the r-help-mailinglist should not be converted to a
> newsgroup?
> These were the advantages of a newsgroup I mentioned earlier:
> -) you can easily search the archives
> -) the discussion is faster (I experience that the R-mailinglist has a lag
> of about 1 to 2 hours (not for everyone!!!). When I ask a question, I get
> sometimes a rather quick response by direct mail, but I recieve my own
> question and the answers about 1 to 2 hours later). Hence it is not possible
> for all to participate in a discussion.
> -) a newsgroup allows you to order the messages in threads, so you can
> easily follow the discussion.
> Now I find that my lag is increasing (up to 4 hours). I do not believe that
> there would be any sense for me in replying on a question, when there have
> already replied some other people (what I do not know at that time). But
> maybe it would make because nobody has replied yet. How should I know?

Much as I like newsgroups, there are various counterarguments to take
into consideration.

  - Newsgroups easily become spamtraps unless someone actively cancels

  - Some people do not have news access. Some lists solve this by a
    bidirectional mail-to-news gateway, but it is not without problems.

  - News works by a flooding algorithm. Messages may take different
    routes from newsfeed to newsfeed. *You* may have a quick news
    server, but I subscribe to several groups where I get messages
    with response preceding the question and sometimes delayed by days
    - a full newsfeed generates gigabytes of traffic each day and
    sometimes machines or communication lines clog up. The rapid
    response you see on newsgroups is sometimes deceptive: Your
    message shows up immediately on your nearby news server, but you
    have no idea when it will show up for the guy you are replying to.

  - You can actually get mail readers that sorts mail into folders by
    mailing list and organize it into threads. Mine for instance...

The indexing by systems like groups.google.com would be very valuable,
though. I've lost count of the number of times I have solved
miscellaneous computer problems by scanning posts on google or (Deja
as it used to be).

   O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             Blegdamsvej 3  
  c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     2200 Cph. N   
 (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark      Ph: (+45) 35327918
~~~~~~~~~~ - (p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk)             FAX: (+45) 35327907
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