21 Sept 2004
Update 7 April 2005
the winner is:
is investing in enhancements to the open source GroupServer tool out of
New Zealand for our UK funded
initiative. Talk about global.
Check out the message
view in our LiftOff forum.
Ready to volunteer?
us a note.
eWeb - Combining e-mail
list and web forums in an equitable discussion platform
E-Democracy.Org uses e-mail
lists to build effective online public spaces. E-mail, a
most people actually use combined with our forum management and
approach have served us extremely well for over a decade.
However, now it is time
of our e-mail discussion lists with the web.
Jump right to our extensive
list of related links or read our rationale below. If you are
really interested in this topic, you should wade through our raw
materials as well.
Use a web forum?
You might say, "Use a
That is not the answer. Even with e-mail notification options
web-centric forum systems tend to work best on high traffic sites or
niche sites. Web forums are good for broadband users or for use
time-limited high interest online
Put bluntly, if
citizens can't publish
to a group via e-mail 100% of the time, the technology won't work for
citizens and community leaders. Despite advances in web forums, blogs
the spam crisis, e-mail is not dead. E-mail is still the killer
We seek a compromise.
We call it
"eWeb" - an equitable forum system that allows citizens to participate
via their preferred medium - e-mail or web. Equality is job
Think of an open source YahooGroups that you can host from your own
with web friendly features and no advertising.
With our model, we put
issues forum" in the center of real politics. We deliver
right to the "eyeballs" of elected officials, journalists, and
No audience, few participants, no power, no forum. The simple fact that
visiting a web forum requires a conscious choice each time a citizen is
online eliminates web-centric system from our consideration. E-mail is
all about ... location, location, location.
We are missing half
However, we fully
many people prefer to read and participate in online discussions via
web. When our current very basic web archives are unreachable, we
hear about it immediately.
Therefore we seek a
will first make our forum content highly accessible and usable
the web. Second, we seek a fully integrated, recipricol e-mail
forum system. Web-only options would be limited to auxiliary functions
like a member directory and personalized tracking for keywords on
forums. (What politician wouldn't set a tracker on their name to see if
they are mentioned?)
We also envision the
of RSS headlines from our forums where people can follow a forum from
news reader, other sites, or receive special headline digests via
eWeb Phase One
We envision a three
We see phase one as a
source contribution that could perhaps be used with any e-mail list
package. We also continue to offer our ideas and project
to other potential open source initiatives that might deliver on one or
backend for gathering
e-mail list messages.
- A set of intuitive
"views" - From Google Groups style-linear threading (one post after
by date with excess quoting removed) to the creation of specialized RSS
headline feeds based on messages metrics (bursts, bubbles, momentums,
freshfolk, sameolds, etc. - you'll have to join our effort to learn
about these ideas).
- The ability to
"skin" the message archive
in various ways from a standard index of messages by date or thread to
a version presents new topical posts on a weblog with replies posted as
Key projects we might
with or encourage to collaborate on open source tools - together they
change the e-world:
Some technology examples
message views that may be of interest
(dig in beyond the directory pages):
Groups - Proprietary, but great linear threading (when you dump the
frames) for posts with the same subject, example
List Archives - Zope-based, not open source
List ARChives - Perl-based, not open source
- Java-based, open source, example
- Cold-fusion-based, free, example
- Database driven, format?, example
- Uses Python, etc. - NEW
- Good look and feel, uses mysql and php, free - not open source, example
Web forums with
advanced mailing list
gateways - M2F for PhpBB
(two-way beta, open source), FUD
(web to e-mail list posting) - Also wathcing MVNForum
in Java, Snitz for ASP
- e-mail lists to newsgroups to web with anti-spam protections
Other resources that we
of in this niche:
RSS headlines, XML and
- Default Pipermail Archive Tool - Can you say ugly: mpls,
3 is under development - join
their e-mail list to put in your ideas
- More Mailman related
Wiki on Pipermail future, SemanticWebMailman,
2.2 talk as well
- Perl, non-database, static HTML output
- Third-party service using Mhonarc, used by E-Democracy currently for
some lists: mpls,
Archiver Wiki - New notes from the original pipermail
- The other open source e-mail list, uses Mhonarc for archiving
Other example e-list
using Listserv, UK Academics
Lyris archives (older version, not sure who uses new
skin described here), other mailing
list server software
- Majordomo, Phorum hack with excellent linear archives (most read via
e-mail, but must post via web)
- Auto-translation - A dream Mailman tweak, allowing people to
in their preferred language and receive auto-translated messages.
Need to subscribe to experience this feature.
- A service from NZ with e-mail and web group features that supports
- MyConnectedCommunities - A project of the State of Victoria,
- Proprietary, gives each subject a unique "reply-to" address to aide
archive threading by subject, examples
conferencing - David Woolley (an E-Democracy Board Member)
one of the best conferencing tool directories. As part of our
CMS evaluation, E-Democracy will review the use of web-centric
with all their bells and whistles for online events and special
discussions (particularly to support our local
Deliberation Tool Links
Key text that needs to
into project requirement documents:
Project Requirement Notes - from late 2002/early 2003 - Fed by:
early thinking from 1997: "I am also more and more convinced that
common denominator online conferencing (e-mail-based engine with
gateway and WWW archive-subscription center) that celebrates human
(coffee shop talk versus structured meeting like work) surrounding
discussions is worth promoting and further developing."
thoughts, although today it is clear that newsgroups are too prone
to spam harvesting to use with something like eWeb
eWeb Phase Two
In the long run, we
envision a fully
integrated e-mail and web discussion system. Many of the
we seek, like a member directory, personalized message tracking, or
forums directories (based on OpenGroups
like ideas), need to be part of a complete and comprehensive system.
We will strip this raw project
requirements document of the big ideas that go beyond what a stand
alone databased-driven e-mail archive can do and place those ideas here.
Ready to volunteer?
us a note.