Two naive questions

Bill Stewart
Mon Apr 20 17:41:32 GMT 2020

On Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 11:20 AM Stephen Carrier wrote:

> I think the OP's first question was asking how to effectively join
> an existing thread when one is browsing the recent archives and not
> subscribed to the list.
> Joining the list after seeing a question one would like to answer
> doesn't help, because the message you would like to respond to has
> already gone by.
> I think a good solution would be to get the message number from the web
> archive and request that a particular message be sent to you.  Then you
> could respond to that message and join the thread properly.
> However, there doesn't seem to be a way to do that.  I used to be notified
> how to retrieve messages I had missed (due to bouncing) but the method
> did not work.  Furthermore, the mailman faq doesn't mention any way to
> do this.

I would say that this is a side-effect of using a mailing list when
what's really being asked for is a discussion forum.

A mailing list is convenient for self-subscription and replies, but
replying to a past message (one that's "already gone by" as stated
above) is not really possible (that I know of?). Starting a new
message to the list with an identical subject to an existing thread
doesn't reply to the existing thread but rather starts a new thread
with an identical subject (since the thread ID is different).

What I could suggest for this case is to start a new message and
provide a link to a web-based copy of the message that you're replying
to - this at least provides context, even though it starts a new
thread. (This, of course, depends on a web-based archive of past

This exact problem is one of the main reasons why many organizations
prefer a web-based forum rather than a mailing list. (NNTP is a
possibility, but many [most?] organizations block NNTP access for
content management and security reasons.) One of the other main
reasons a web-based forum is preferable is that participants don't
have to store/delete irrelevant messages.


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