For various reasons I've recently been thinking about forums.
Many technical users dislike forums, because they are things that are hard to follow. Even with RSS feeds & etc you need to keep a login and remember to return to see if your post(s) have been answered.
However non-technical users love forums, and from a community-building perspective they're very cheap and easy. Particularly if you manage to appoint moderators from within the comunity.
I currently find myself in a position where I'd kinda like to have a forum package. Something that I can integrate into existing site easily.
Unfortunately most of the "best" forum packages are PHP-based, and have their own complex login, group, and admin facilities. That makes it hard to update them to authenticate against my existing MySQL table(s). (We'll leave my PHP-allergy in the background)
So, once more, I've been contemplating the bad route; create my own forum software. I'm well aware that down that path lies
Let us recap. What is a forum?
- A forum is an online site.
- With a coarse list of topics.
- Inside each topic is a list of threads.
- Each thread is comprised of a number of (threaded) messages.
Sound familiar? It should if you use email:
- ~/Maildir contains storage for a collection of mailboxes.
- Each mailbox is a course list of topic-specific discussion.
- Each topic is comprised of a number of (threaded) messages.
So, the unthinkable, could we convert (bi/uni-directinally?) from a Maildir hierarchy to an online forum?
Would that make sense? On the face of it. Yes.
There are implementation details - the forum index would be essentially a list of Maildir folders (perhaps "~/Maildir/topic1/.title" would be require to give it a pretty name).
Each thread topic would be a rendered display of the messages in the folder.
So, what are the drawbacks? Well reading Maildir folders gives us threading, and subjects, bodies, etc. But it does mean a fair bit of overhead parsing messages.
(Times like this I remember Hughe. Every time we've gotten together for beer & geekery the topic of an extensible perl-based IMAP server comes up. I'm sure it should be written ..)
I'll wrap this up now. I'm sure I've made the point. There are some details which have impact - Should the forum accept new posts online? Or only via gated email-delivery? Will it work? Should it be Maildir, or IMAP based? Still at least filtering your SPAM would be easy ;)
More questions. Some questions have no answers. Some answers we ignore because we don't like.
I need to sleep.
ObFilm: 007: Quantum of Solace
Bad film. Don't waste your pennies.
Tags: forums, maildir, perl, software which should exist