Mailing List VS Forums, Cultural Difference?

12 Nov 2004 - 8:43am
9 years ago
6 replies
1598 reads
Christina Li
2004

May be slightly off topic. And I'm not an English native user, so apologize
for any grammar mistakes! :P

I've been following this list for a while, passively though. I feel this is
a great list including various interesting discussions. However, I also have
found some drawbacks of mailing list that I don't like very much. For
example, threads are a bit disorganized. You have to jump from different
emails to find out what people are talking. If you missed the beginning of
the thread, it becomes difficult to follow.

In China, mailing list only used for news, announcements, etc. not for
discussion. People tend to discuss on forums. The project I'm doing now
includes two forums for Chinese interaction designers and western
interaction designers in each language. The interesting thing I found is the
Chinese one quickly attracted many users whereas the English one didn't.

I personally think that forums are more organized and easier to follow. I
wonder if this is just personal preference or cultural difference. Any
usability thoughts behind this?

Christina

------------------------------------
Mobile: +44 (0) 7879642662

Work: http://www.uigarden.net <http://www.uigarden.net/>
Blog: http://uidream.blogspot.com <http://uidream.blogspot.com/>
Personal: <http://www.christinali.com/> http://www.christinali.com

Forums: http://forums-e.uigarden.net
------------------------------------

Comments

12 Nov 2004 - 9:11am
Anonymous

I've been reading this newsgroup, also passively, for the past few weeks. I
have found it of great help in finding extra information on usability design
etc.

But I have also found it difficult to follow conversations. I think it is
purely because posters on this group don't include enough (if any) of the
previous post and the flow is lost. I don't know if this is the same across
other newsgroups, but I have not found it to be.

-----Original Message-----
From: Christina Li [mailto:yuyu at christinali.com]

I personally think that forums are more organized and easier to follow. I
wonder if this is just personal preference or cultural difference. Any
usability thoughts behind this?

12 Nov 2004 - 9:49am
Dave Malouf
2005

<admin hat>
I do not mind a general discussion about how best to communicate
collaboratively in a virtual-community like setting. What will be of limited
productivity is a "bitch"-session about this list. And please don't
challenge me on this on the open list. If you have concerns I will listen to
them.
</admin hat>

Christina, you bring up a very good point. As a USer I can express the
following points as to why I prefer e-mail for this environment.

1. I feel that communities are conversations and the pull-like method of a
web-based or newsreader based forum prohibit the back & forth flow that is a
natural part of a conversation.

2. Regarding threading -- Isn't this just a software issue? Outlook, Gmail,
Thunderbird, Eudora, etc. all have increadibly good threading (especially
Gmail) that allows you to group by "conversation" or "thread". (I have 6
invites for gmail, if anyone wants them. First come first serve and I will
not reply to all who send me a request.)

3. Regarding over trimming -- this is a double-edged sword which is probably
an issue of e-mail ... But b/c of #1, I don't see it going away. ;) But b/c
of #2 it shouldn't be a big deal.

<admin hat>
I would love to hear of any solution that does the following so that people
can work in whichever way makes sense for them ... Please subscribe
off-list.
1. Free, or donated
2. runs on Apache, PHP, MySQL
3. Integrates with Mailman, or has its own mailing list software

Alternatively, if someone on this list has access to an NNTP server, we can
gateway the list through a newsgroup service. I have been unsuccessful in
finding a free NNTP server that I can connect our list to.

Again, please respond off-list.
</admin hat>

-- dave

> I've been reading this newsgroup, also passively, for the
> past few weeks. I have found it of great help in finding
> extra information on usability design etc.
>
> But I have also found it difficult to follow conversations.
> I think it is purely because posters on this group don't
> include enough (if any) of the previous post and the flow is
> lost. I don't know if this is the same across other
> newsgroups, but I have not found it to be.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christina Li [mailto:yuyu at christinali.com]
>
> I personally think that forums are more organized and easier
> to follow. I wonder if this is just personal preference or
> cultural difference. Any usability thoughts behind this?

12 Nov 2004 - 10:04am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

CL> I personally think that forums are more organized and easier to
follow. I
CL> wonder if this is just personal preference or cultural difference.
Any
CL> usability thoughts behind this?

CL> Christina

Hmm... Interesting question. I guess it's a personal preference,
but if (IF) there is an underlying cultural difference, it is likely
to be in the different levels of 'space commonality' (am wearing two
hats now, of a cognitive scientist and an ex-cross-cultural trainer).

>From personal observations, forums are mostly accessed through web
interfaces (any data on that?), and web spaces bear a psychological
tag of 'common spaces'. Reading through the web, one reads the content
'out there'. To the contrary, mail lists are mostly accessed through
specialised mailer programs. Once you are subscribed, the content comes
to you (not you come to the content), and you read it 'in here', in
the privacy of you very own (typically, individually configured) mail
space.

Chinese culture is collectivistic, while, say, American culture is
very much individualistic (see Geert Hofstede's "Culture and
Organizations: Software of the Mind": USA has Individualism Index
of 91, while Hong Kong scores 25 and Taiwan 17 (sorry, no data for
mainland China)). Speculatively, Chinese may prefer more common
spaces, while Westerners may subconsciously prefer more private
spaces for discussions.

Again, this is a pure (though, educated) guess, I have no data to
back up the 'commonality space' claim.

Lada

14 Nov 2004 - 2:41pm
Abhishek Thakkar
2004

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
> CL> I personally think that forums are more organized and easier to
> follow. I
> CL> wonder if this is just personal preference or cultural difference.
> Any
> CL> usability thoughts behind this?

In my opinion the difference is very similar to "Delivery or Takeaway"
option of Food chains :D. As a personal observation, In India, and in
my neighbourhood, people (active posters + lurkers = users) prefer a
home delivery of the discussion rather than going up and checking the
board everytime they log on to net. And this is not just for the IxD
list, I am talking of Alumni groups, batch newsgroups, Hobbie Groups
etc etc, from Users ranging from "always connected" type as in IITB
undergrads who take it one mail at a time to "less connected" school
batchmates who subscribe it in daily digest form.

If you have the option of _free home delivery_ , would you go for a
_takeaway_? :D
As a co-admin of my school alumni group, I have been unsuccessful to
persuade people to shift from the mailing list to forums, On popular
vote it was decided that even personal mails on the groups show who's
alive and getting in touch with who. :) One interesting thing was the
maximum opposition we faced was from the "lurkers", otherwise absent,
but became suddenly active seeing the shifting phenomenon.

There are some papers on ACM SIGCHI on Online communities and Lurker
habits which are worthwhile reads.

As a tool, Gmail does keeps all discussions together, (and thankfully,
it has enough space too) If you havent been Gmailed yet and wud like
to try out, I have 3 of them to spare, please dont spam the group,
mail me individually.

regards
--
Abhishek Thakkar
The Last of the Giants

14 Nov 2004 - 3:13pm
Listera
2004

Abhishek Thakkar:

> As a personal observation, In India, and in my neighbourhood, people (active
> posters + lurkers = users) prefer a home delivery of the discussion...

Speaking of delivery in India, may I take a moment to recommend "The
Dabbawallas," a documentary (distributed by American Public Television)
about how every day, more than 100,000 home-cooked lunches are delivered by
4,000 people called dabbawallas from workers' homes to offices in Bombay, a
city of more than 16 million. It's a fascinating story of task-oriented and
social human organization that puts to shame notions of fancy packet
switching technologies.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

14 Nov 2004 - 5:22pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

Listera <listera at rcn.com> wrote:

> Speaking of delivery in India, may I take a moment to recommend "The
> Dabbawallas," a documentary (distributed by American Public Television)
> about how every day, more than 100,000 home-cooked lunches are delivered by
> 4,000 people called dabbawallas from workers' homes to offices in Bombay, a
> city of more than 16 million. It's a fascinating story of task-oriented and
> social human organization that puts to shame notions of fancy packet
> switching technologies.

Just to add --- also, the most fascinating thing about the story is
that those dubbawallas don't know how to read or write (or so this
whole thing started). The boxes are all look a like, same size marked
with some visual signs on top. These 100,000 boxes cris-cross the
whole Bombay city via the most crouded metro train and reach from home
to offices, and back from office to home without getting ever lost.
The cost of delivery is just few penny. No boxes ever gets lost, or
goes to any other person. This is an amazing case study for almost all
the business schools arround the world and a stunning example of how
visual culture can run complex operations. Here's few shots I got from
google --

http://www.chemistry.emory.edu/faculty/hagen/halle/Dubba/Dubba-Pages/Image12.html
http://www.chemistry.emory.edu/faculty/hagen/halle/Dubba/Dubba.html

Prady

Syndicate content Get the feed