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Creating the Ultimate List Archive, E-mail/Web Conferencing Combo

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  • Steven Clift
    Does this idea inspire anyone? Do you have specific technical suggestions on elements that could be used to pull this together. What technical
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 18, 2001
      Does this idea inspire anyone? Do you have specific technical
      suggestions on elements that could be used to pull this together.
      What technical specifications/feature would you add? Anyone want to
      start building this?


      Steven Clift
      Democracies Online

      P.S. Join the Democracies Online Code e-mail list to discuss
      technical options and ideas: do-code-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

      Ultimate Archive
      With Joint E-mail and Web Conferencing Notes

      Draft 1.0 by Steven Clift, October 18, 2001
      Copyright 2001, Steven Clift



      Using a mySQL database each message will be stored for optimal and
      quick retrieval and presentation. Fields include: Sender Name,
      Sender E-mail, To:, CC: e-mail, CC: list crosspost, Subject, Message
      Body, perhaps others (http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2822.html ).


      Logical linkable address with permanence - Each message is given a
      logical address - even if called from the database each time. Option
      to generate permanent HTML file with server side includes (or
      equivalent to ensure that that top, bottom, side navigation and look
      and feel can be uniformly updated across -part- or -all- of the

      Pre-Set Web Views -
      - Messages Today (last 24 hours) - recent at top by subject line
      - Messages this Week (last seven days) - recent at top
      - Messages by Month (each month with subjects listed by date with
      replies nested in earliest to latest
      - Multiple post message threads can be called up as linear thread
      based on message ID and time, or subject line similarity, replies
      with Message ID and new subject become new thread in archive
      (similar to Google's ( http://groups.google.com ) newsgroup archives -
      linear provides quick and efficient archive reading and really only
      applies to discussion lists, although request to the database for
      linear text files of all messages from a certain time period, list,
      search term request could be an option.)
      - Current web archive systems of note include:
      http://sourceforge.net/projects/php-mail-arc/ (don't know anything
      about this one)

      Spambot protection

      E-mail archives are susceptible to spambots
      (http://www.turnstep.com/Spambot/ )which harvest e-mail addresses.
      By default all e-mail addresses would become reply-to links with web
      forms (additional security required to make sure archive isn't used
      to relay spam) for comments to the author.

      Additional Views

      Templates promoting comparative views would be modular to allow
      sharing of unique ways of presenting e-mail list posts on the web.
      - Grid or Comparison View - A one screen table presenting e-mail
      newsletters from multiple, but similar sources on one page (i.e. all
      e-mail newsletters from state political parties on one day).
      - Columns View - Presenting two to six? active e-mail lists side by
      side with longer list of recent subject lines broken by date
      - Today Column - Presentation of one or multiple lists in one column
      through an RSS feed
      (http://www.gotzespace.dk/links/XML/Syndication/RSS/ ) that calls up
      the archive in real-time each time that remote page is accessed.
      (i.e. the three most recent subject lines on all E-Democracy lists
      presented in a flexibility determined order in a column on the E-
      Democracy home page.) Third party sites should be able to insert
      simple HTML code to pull up like Moreover allows (
      http://w.moreover.com/webmaster/ ). Mail-Archive generates (
      http://www.mail-archive.com ) RDF files which can be used with RSS -
      for example ( http://www.mail-archive.com/do-
      wire@.../maillist.rdf - try Netscape to get this text file, IE
      doesn't like the extension). Here is an example of an output from
      an older RDF file ( http://my.userland.com/viewChannel$3822 ).

      List Information

      Using elements from the prototype OpenGroups (
      http://www.opengroups.org - moving servers right now) standard those
      adding lists to an archive would have the option of including
      information about the list and links back to the source. The links
      would be automatically checked weekly and broken link information
      sent to the administrator/list archiver. Selection of the
      appropriate Netscape Open Directory ( http://www.dmoz.org )and Yahoo
      subject trees would also be included and optionally be embedded into
      the message archives.

      Statistics and Trends

      Graphical charts and statistical charts will be available from each
      list information page. In addition, Views based on trends across an
      archive could be presented including, most cross-posted message or
      message element, lists with higher than average traffic, authors with
      higher or notable posting behavior. From a civic perspective it
      would be useful to be able to compare which lists have more or less
      diverse or varied participation.

      Monitors and Notification

      Think MyArchive - The ability to be actively notified via e-mail
      about new posts of interest based on various search features. The
      default setting would e-mail the subject lines and archive links to
      relevant posts. See http://www.spyonit.com for potential
      notification options. I suggest daily or weekly options. Future
      versions could incorporate more immediate notification via IM and
      other tools.

      Content Analysis

      Tools that allow us to identify trends would be useful. Which forums
      seem most deliberative, which use harsh language, etc..

      Civic Groups - Optimized Joint E-mail and Web Conferencing

      The archive is only half of what I would like to see. While
      archiving third party e-mail lists and newsletters has value,
      integration of web view/archive features with existing open source e-
      mail list software like Mailman http://www.list.org or perhaps Sympa
      http://listes.cru.fr/sympa/ would tremendous value. More mailing
      list programs (
      http://sourceforge.net/softwaremap/trove_list.php?form_cat=30 ).

      To goal is to viably combine the audiences and formats of these
      different formats such that the largest audience for any one current
      discussion can be maximized while still retaining a web view with
      most of the structure and features of basic web forums. This is not
      for the advanced web-based forum seeker, but would do much more than
      YahooGroups to allow viable and meaningful web-based participation
      with select e-mailing of subject line digests. Because e-mail lists
      are time sensitive, posting via the web can be time limited to ensure
      conversational contitunity.

      It makes sense to build additional features that would optimize use
      over extremely low-bandwidth environments where subscribers can do
      all list administrative functions over e-mail and in addition to full-
      text digest features also have the option for daily or weekly
      subject line digests with the ability to request specific posts and
      estimated linear thread digests of posts on the same subject. A
      setting that allows lists to default to posting of new subject posts
      only (perhaps moderated) where each participant must take an e-mail
      action to participate (post or lurk via e-mail) in the following
      discussion. This would mediate the message volume on larger lists
      and allow sub- groups to form organically. A late request to join a
      subject thread could also result in e-mail delivery of missed
      messages. All the threads would find a home on the web archive and
      a process for permanently establishing/nominating new e-mail lists
      from long standing subject thread sub-groups could be established.

      Member Directory

      Every e-mail address on a list will have an automatically generated
      member directory page with a logical url (i.e. http:

      Each participant would have access to update and add information and
      links to their member page (with e-mail verification to confirm
      updates). Member pages would include links to recent forum posts
      across the archive and include substance and style ratings provided
      by other members. Each post to an e-mail list would insert the link
      to the member page at the bottom of each post. More complicated
      database examples include MIT's Junior Summit in 1998 which used the
      Lyris mailing list software which allowed them to take every post and
      machine translate what was e-mailed to each participant based on
      their preferred language (the preferred language version was followed
      by the post in its original language).


      A number of web based systems use multiple moderator ratings to help
      other readers screen for substantial contributions (i.e. Slashdot
      http://slashdot.org/faq/com-mod.shtml#cm600 ). With e-mail,
      unmoderated posts are sent out before they are reviewed by anyone,
      even in a moderated list with one or multiple moderators providing
      ranking this may be a big bottle neck. In the Civic Groups system,
      ratings of substance and style would be cumulative and done by
      interested members.

      The purpose of member ratings is to provide context about
      participants to other participants and promote self-governance over
      centralized control or labor intensive moderation.

      Substance - Via clickable web links within a post, evaluative +1
      could be given to posts of substance. In the E-Democracy
      environment, evaluation based on political opnion needs to be avoided
      or channeled appropriately. "This post provide substantive content"
      may be the optional link to click in the X-header (i.e. "Click here
      for list options" would be replaced with "Click to rate message or
      for list options").
      In the web archive posts reach X level of substance votes could be
      colored differently in the subject line or elevated through specific

      Style - E-Democracy receives ten times more complaints about personal
      attacks than about the content or political views shared in a
      message. Allowing people to vote negatively on the style of posts
      would help establish which participants in aggregate offend others
      with their style of participation. This mark against such
      participation provides two values - self-correction by offensive
      participants, easier identification of uncivil participants by other
      members to help them make evaluative judgments about that person
      based on the feelings of the group. This is essential to keep the
      quiet voices/readers that matter in the "real world" tuned into the
      discussion and mediate the loudest voices that tend to get more
      shrill and belligerent over time.

      The marks for substance and mark against style would be presented in
      the member directory and as an e-democracy volunteer suggested,
      inserted into every post by that member.

      What scale? What formula? What about abuse or attempts to influence
      the ratings for illegitimate reasons? My early thought is that both
      positive and negative ratings would migrate toward zero over time
      (or based on posts) and that consistent positive or negative rating
      by one person of another would be weighed less than infrequent
      rating combinations. This would mediate negative ratings for
      political or personal purposes by one individual. Rating
      participation will likely be light and easy to influence by a few
      active evaluators, therefore special outreach and/or volunteers will
      be required to build a base of data.

      More to come …

      ^ ^ ^ ^
      Steven L. Clift - W: http://www.publicus.net
      Minneapolis - - - E: clift@...
      Minnesota - - - - - T: +1.612.822.8667
      USA - - - - - - - ICQ: 13789183
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