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    Zulip sounds interesting.

    Can you export all the data if you want to change providers, or if Zulip goes out of business/gets purchased? Can you export the discussions to a web-based format (as you can with mailing lists) for searchability?

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      Zulip has already been purchased by Dropbox. And Zulip is open source so you can run your own.

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        Yes, both of those things are important to me. It looks like there is an export.py tool, although the docs aren’t the greatest:


        And it looks like they’re working on truly public archives:


        Right now it’s a little annoying that you have to sign in to read messages, which they’re also working on changing. But at least it doesn’t require another login – you can log in with Github.

        Overall, the choice was basically between Zulip and Discourse. It’s a little sad how mailing list infrastructure hasn’t kept up with the times.

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          I’m not a huge fan of the “new” style of collaboration (Slack, MSFT Teams). They try to combine the immediacy of real-time chat with some sort of structured discussion format, but there’s an implied pressure to provide an answer immediately. In a mailing list, it’s not expected for someone to reply to a message within minutes, and I believe that for most projects this is a better expectation - if nothing else than people are in different timezones.

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            I’ve used instant messaging in different ways for 20 years, and I always felt that those tools are fundamentally asynchronous, that the answer is never expected immediately. Perhaps it would help if you never enable notifications for those tools? I never do, except for the tools that I use for personal communication with family.

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              there’s an implied pressure to provide an answer immediately

              Maybe it’s better with good threading support since the messages don’t get lost as much and it’s less an issue if you reply later.

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                I feel like there needs to be adequate division between channels of communication in order for it to work successfully. A bad example is Discord: a lot of servers will have a #general channel where there are often two or three conversations going on at the same time, and replying to someone’s question more than a few minutes later seems futile.

                Having used Zulip for a few months at work, I feel like the named subtopics within streams can handle slower conversations, but it might be a matter of corralling the userbase away from these catch-all channels.

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                  Well, a few people had asked for an IRC channel, which I haven’t had success with. So I hope to kill 2 birds with one stone here. It’s an experiment.

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                    Please report your findings (maybe a blog post?) at some point. I’m super interested to hear how it goes, and I imagine other folks would be too.

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              in what way did the spam/moderation problem manifest? what suggests zulip would not have those problems? i hope these questions don’t sound too pointed. i would just like to understand the decision, lest i must make a similar one in the future.

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                There were almost no real messages on the mailing list – and I would get messages from mailman/dreamhost every day about whether to let spam in or not. There were a couple other reasons I forgot to mention:

                • I’m on the toybox mailing list, which also uses mailman on Dreamhost. Rob Landley has complained that the archives go missing peridiocally. There is a hole in his mailing list history.
                • Also, Gmail users get auto-unsubscribed because of some spam issue. It might be Google’s fault or it might be because Dreamhost is used to send a lot of spam. Dreamhost is good at web hosting, but the mailing list hosting doesn’t appear to be well-maintained.
                • Some people had asked for an IRC channel, so this format might encourage more messages. There’s not enough traffic for IRC + mailing list, but there might be for a combined medium.
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                  interesting. one hitch i’ve found is that i can’t figure out how to view threads without logging in to zulip. the mailing list had web archives which could be viewed without giving my email to dropbox. i don’t browse ml archives too much in practice, but it’s useful if you want to refer someone to a thread in a ml they’re not subscribed to. i’m sure there’s a way to enable this on the zulip side, and that way you’ll get the same utility that the ml provided and more.

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                    and I would get messages from mailman/dreamhost every day about whether to let spam in or not.

                    But how does Zulip prevent this? Is it just not popular enough to have spambots for it or do they have something specific for curation?

                    I suspect a lot of general purpose host get blacklisted for e-mail. I hadn’t thought of “don’t send e-mail” as a potential solution to that, but it seems to work. :)

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                      I’m not sure, but the fact that they have logins and are centralized means they can probably do a better job than a random mailing list.

                      Dreamhost also probably has enough data to do something good about spam, but they apparently don’t. It costs engineers and money to fight e-mail spam.

                      Here’s a good link about spam: Modern Anti-Spam and E2E Crypto (2014)


                      In my experience, Google’s spam filters have gotten significantly worse lately. I’m on the busybox mailing list and Gmail routinely marks those messages as spam. And it routinely rejects e-mails I sent from a cron job. So they’re having problems with both false positives and negatives.

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                        Thanks for the link and your thoughts on this! I actually didn’t know where to start looking.

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                  I can’t log in to Zulip. Logging in with GitHub just loads the login page again. I reset my password (I never set one in the first place), which appeared to succeed, but logging in with my email/password just loads the login page again, just like with the GitHub login. 🤷‍♀️

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                    Hm a wild guess: does it have anything to do with cookie settings?

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                      FWIW, I had this same problem with Safari 11.1, and tried Chrome (65.0.something) and it worked fine.

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                      You mention a spam/moderation problem. How does Zulip address this (and would that still work if self hosted).

                      Does Zulip work well for longer delays (1 day - 1 week)?

                      P.S., “Discuss This Post on Reddit” links to http://www.oilshell.org/blog/2018/04/TODO

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                        Thanks, I fixed the link. See my answer here:


                        As far as I know, Zulip works fine for longer delays. The threads should help with that. I think Slack might work less well because of its notion of threads.

                        With Zulip, I suppose spam something they deal with, rather than me getting a ton of messages and a suboptimal mailman interface to let them in or not. I was a manual spam filter.