[Architecture] Techniques for effectively using our mailing lists (was Re: Communication between Matchmaker and PCP)

Antranig Basman antranig.basman at colorado.edu
Mon Apr 28 17:59:21 EDT 2014

Thanks for your response, Gregg.
My view is that we require the transparency that one or more public lists provide, and need to set a clear 
expectation that our work is done such a venue by default - unless there are specific reasons justifying why 
a particular communication is better made privately.

I know that all of us are suffering from overflowing inboxes, but unfortunately the ability to monitor 
multiple feeds of information, skimming for relevance if necessary and applying filters to organise the 
information as appropriate, is one of the requirements for those aspiring to any kind of managerial or 
coordinating role in a technical project. This goes through doubly for a project such as ours which is 
entirely supported by public funds and has a mission to serve the public in general. We are being paid 
specifically to maintain our technical and coordination material in a public way.

Our architecture list, by the standards of any comparable open source project, has extremely low traffic - 
perhaps it averages one or two posts per day. In general it carries information that every member of our 
communities should be interested in - even if necessarily there are some messages which are more specific to 
one or another of our subprojects.

As an example, the thread "What do new contributors and implementers need to know" between Justin Obara and 
Tony Atkins earlier this month is a perfect example of a conversation that every member of our communities 
should be aware of.


I disagree with the suggestion that we avoid circulating discussion to lists (such as this one) by default.


On 28/04/2014 14:11, Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:
> Hi Colin,
> This causes other problems — but lets take this off list and come back a the resolution.
> Other’s with thoughts keep posting them — and/or send me an email to join this discussion and i’ll plug you
> in to it.   Taking it offline because it may be more complicated and a short call to discuss and problem
> solve might be in order.
> Will wait a few more days for any other thoughts — or people who want to join — and then have a call
> including both the Cloud4all and Prosperity4All communication committee members as well.
> thanks
> gregg
> On Apr 28, 2014, at 2:58 PM, Colin Clark <colinbdclark at gmail.com <mailto:colinbdclark at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> Hi Gregg,
>> I’d suggest that we try to avoid placing too many restrictions on our use of the mailing lists. In
>> general, we want to encourage people to use the mailing list for any and all project-related
>> communication. I worry that having complicated formal policies will put a damper on that. It would be
>> great to try to keep it simple and encourage people to use their mail program’s filters to appropriately
>> sort traffic.
>> I have found that addressing emails to certain people and CCing the list is a very effective technique. In
>> particular, this technique helps recipients understand when a topic needs their attention, while still
>> allowing the community follow along. This is crucial for the lazy consensus that is so important to a
>> healthy open project—people should be able to follow along with the decision-making process, and then only
>> need to respond if they have a concern or issue.
>> http://en.osswiki.info/concepts/lazy_consensus
>> In general, the approach we’ve taken on the architecture list--and which I hope we can foster more broadly
>> across the GPII, Cloud4All, and Prosperity4All--is roughly this:
>> * if you are sending a general post that you want everyone to look at and consider, send it TO the mailing
>> list
>> * if you are having a smaller group discussion, but want to ensure that the rest of the community is able
>> to follow along, address it to individual recipients and CC the mailing list
>> * then, only in rare cases, you might send an off-list mails to a private group and summarize the results
>> later
>> This works well for people who have set up sensible mail filters for the lists, which is very important
>> for participating in the projects without having your inbox swamped. Filters are part of all modern email
>> clients, and they make it easy to move list messages into a dedicated mailbox for periodic consultation.
>> From there, it’s easy to ensure that any emails that are addressed to you, or contain your name, or
>> contain a topic keyword that you’re interested in, remain in your inbox for quick response.
>> Another important technique to help people filter out the signal from the noise on a healthy mailing list
>> is to always ensure that the subject line remains accurate and up to date. If a conversation started about
>> one topic and then shifted to another, it’s very helpful to change the subject line or start a new thread.
>> You can see how I’ve done exactly this for this thread, updating the subject line to summarize the current
>> discussion.
>> Thoughts?
>> Colin

More information about the Architecture mailing list