- What are the pros and cons of email lists versus discussion boards?
- Are there certain kinds of communication or purposes more suited to one than the other?
So I’ve subscribed to the digest format which comes daily – a bit too frequent for my interest, but the only other subscription offered is individual posts! Around 7 o’clock this evening it successfully arrived in my email inbox. 12 messages and all threaded-up and linked in a nice table of contents; I’m glad I chose the HTML fomat.
A recent activity notice tells me there are 23 new members – they must all be fresh today! Most new members are introducing themselves with a quick post. Some having technical problems that another member has solved for them already. This really is quite an active bunch of people.
Apart from new member messages, there’s a couple of threads about a book known as FNKC. I have no idea what this title could be. Upon reading the messages from those who’ve finished reading FNKC, I was pleasantly impressed to see that members actually care about what and how they write. Those that were including spoiler content mentioned it in the subject of their posts. The body of posts appears grammatically gorgeous, well punctuated and easy to read.
I like how each post in the digest includes links to reply to the sender only or to the entire group. These facilitates easy switching to private responding when desired.
Like another member though, I’ll be opting for the back seat. That is, to take the no email preference and visit the website when I am ready to choose a new title. There is a good search function and we can always see the current reading list (3 months worth and 3 titles) from the home page of the group.
Last time I was on an IMDB discussion board I read only a few posts until the errors frustrated me. The brevity of posts and lack of identity and author responsibility could deter some from discussion boards.
Some immediate pros and cons that come to mind:
Who is suited to what then?
Active members of (especially smaller community) groups will benefit more from an email list. Many to many communications between clear identities and on contemporary topics are suited to the fundamental email list.
Researchers may need to look into history or simply search through past threads and this is much more intuitive via a web interface. If you’re only occasionally interested in a group, or prefer to be anonymous, the discussion board offers a less committing channel. Beyond text, multimedia groups such as flickr groups can only work via discussion boards.