Forums at postgresql.com.au

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Contents

Objective

To create a web based forum that is interoperable with the mailing list.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Some people prefer forums to mailing lists.
  • There is currently no forum dedicated only to PostgreSQL.
  • It will help increase the size of the PostgreSQL community by providing another method of obtaining support.
  • Forum users will be able to take advantage of the existing pool of experts supporting the mailing list.
  • Will provide a more readable alternative to the mailing list archives and won't require a separate page hit for reading each response.

Cons

  • It will add more traffic to the mailing lists.

Issues

Resolved

Any email posted to the mailing list will be converted to a post on the forum

Status: [Resolved]
Raised by: chancey 24/11/2010

This is completed. chancey 24/11/2010

Forum posts must be back dated to match the sent timestamp of the mailing list email

Status: [Resolved]
Raised by: chancey 24/11/2010

This is completed. chancey 24/11/2010

A forum post sends an email to the mailing list with the correct spoofed headers to fit in with the mailing list

Status: [Resolved]
Raised by: chancey 24/11/2010

At the moment the only people that can create new threads on the mailing list is administrators. This has been tested to work but is not sending the emails to the actual mailing list until its undergone further testing. chancey 24/11/2010

Both emails converted to forum posts and the other way around retain the quotations

Status: [Resolved]
Raised by: chancey 24/11/2010

This is done, but with one caveat. Email quotations can get highly nested which works for the mailing list but not for the forums. When emails are converted to forum posts only quotations with a depth up to 2 are retained. chancey 24/11/2010

Unresolved

The mailing list will only accept emails from registered addresses.

Status: [Unresolved]
Raised by: chancey 24/11/2010

There is no safe way to register and/or maintain mailing list registered addresses with that of the people who have only registered with the forums. One way might be to use a generic email address like "forums@postgresql.com.au" with the persons forum user name. chancey 24/11/2010
This is no good, it messes with peoples address book and floods the mailing list with "anonymous" posters. chancey 24/11/2010
Should forum users be signed up to the mailing list with a nomail subscription? Messages from the forum could then be sent on behalf of those users. thom 25/11/2010
A nomail subscription still requires email confirmation. Plus if I'm not mistaken the mailing list sends out periodical "stay subscribed?" emails? Which ever way you look at it the mailing list is an external system to the forums and so it has all the potential flaws of two non-communicating systems. For example, if someone were to decide they like the forums better, revoke their mailing list subscription then all their forum posts would be rejected silently by the mailing list. Which means we also have to "resubscribe" a persons email address every time they make a post to make sure the message doesn't get rejected. On top of that we have the added usage on the mailing list server, the lag and network issues if the postgresql.org doesn't respond in time. Fraught with problems that should be avoided as much as possible. chancey 29/11/2010
A counter-argument might be that it would expose forum users to spam by revealing their email addresses, but this threat is relatively minor as mailing list users aren't inundated with spam. thom 25/11/2010
Indeed. For the people who have used forum software before understand that their email addresses will be kept private. Even if I were to change the terms of the forum sign up I would not be comfortable with the idea of taking their private address (because nobody reads the fine-print when clicking Sign Up) and throwing it all over the internet - especially in a way that cannot be retracted if someone has a problem with it after the fact. chancey 29/11/2010
It would just need to be included in the terms for the forum, and to be willing to accept private emails from other mailing list users. There's also the problem with "reply to all" sending that user an email when someone replies on the mailing list. Could this be prevented with a dummy reply-to header for forum users? thom 25/11/2010
I feel private messages are a separate issue, so see the new issue about that. chancey 29/11/2010

People on the mailing list wishing to send a private responses

Status: [Unresolved]
Raised by: chancey 29/11/2010

From the perspective of mailing list users this is very simple, just reply to the persons address. But since a forum user's email address is not public but at the same time must be preregistered so the mailing list accepts it its not quite as simple. One solution might be to include a line at the top of the email saying something like:
Replying to this email will be PUBLIC. If you would like to send a private response to "chancey" send your response to df62ace4@postgresql.com.au.
The "df62ace4@postgresql.com.au" is a cached salted hash that stops anyone from guessing everyones username, and perhaps expires after 30 days or something. After which they can goto the persons profile page and send the message from their if they are desperate for a private reply. That private message line will be stripped out before replies are shown on the forum since its not relevant information to the forum. The "df62ace4@postgresql.com.au" also does not go directly to the person but passes the message through the private message system in the forum (which of course still notifies them.) This is what forum users would expect. chancey 29/11/2010

The forum must not create any loopholes for anonmyous spammers to submit messages to the mailing lists

Status: [Unresolved]
Raised by: thom 25/11/2010

Looking at the worst case scenario; if the mailing list accepts forums@postgresql.com.au then anyone sending from forums@postgresql.com.au will effectively post to the mailing list. To be the devils advocate I don't see this as a major problem because spoofing the from would work with anyones email address thats subscribed to the mailing lists and thats clearly not a problem with the current mailing lists. chancey 29/11/2010

Importing archives from the mailing list

Status: [Unresolved]
Raised by: chancey 29/11/2010

There is just under 1.5gb of uncompressed mailing list archives (thats all the pgsql-* mailing lists.) chancey 29/11/2010
Full text indexing doubles that (1.5gb quick guess.) + The compression pending table will probably run around 1gb or less = ~4gb. chancey 29/11/2010
I think it would be important to include at least some of the archives. Perhaps just the last 12 months? chancey 29/11/2010

Mailing List Mapping

Emails coming from or to the mailing list are mapped according to the following real time rules at http://postgresql.com.au/ml/info.php

Privacy & Forum Accounts

As mailing list emails are converted to forums posts a forum account for the original email sender is created with the following information;

  • Forum users are recognised by their email address so changing anything but your email address should not affect email messages being credited to the correct forum user.
  • The user name is taken as the persons name, removing all characters except alphanumeric characters. Capitalisation is retained. If there is no name the first part of the email address is used. - for example;
    • "John Smith <john@smith.com>" => "JohnSmith"
    • "bob@something.com" => "bob"
  • A custom field called "Real Name" retains the persons original name. This is optional and may be removed by the user after logging into the forum.
  • A random 8 digit alpha password is created for each user. A user must use the Forgotten Password feature to log in for the first time.
  • The "Signed up date" is back dated to the earliest post by that user.

Other notes;

  • Email addresses are kept private, the only way to PM or email a forum user is via the forum utilities.
  • By default phpBB will not let you change your user name once your account is created. This has been enabled to allow people to change their generated usernames to a nickname.
  • If the username already exists it will append a random 4 digit number - for example if "bob" is taken then it may use "bob7621"
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