Mailing List FAIL

I've been thinking a bunch about email and mailing lists recently... about how to deal with them, how to follow the ones that are important but not get drowned in a sea of email noise. I have a non-tech email account which is where friends mail me personally and where I handle theatre-related stuff. I do not receive a stupid amount of email on this account, and I am almost always interested in reading the messages that arrive there. So on my email address, I've been considering unsubscribing from all mailing lists and setting both Launchpad and github to stop emailing me most things.

For Launchpad and github, most things I care about have status pages of some sort: lists of bugs or branches I need to attend to or whatnot. I really don't need to get an email every time someone files a bug - it's noise.

Mailing lists are the trickier one, because so many open source projects are centered around them in one form or another. For a long time I kept filters to file things in to mail folders - but then I realized that I'd forget about large numbers of them and would never read them. So then I removed those filters so that they'd hit my inbox and I'd read the stream - but that's obviously too much.

I'm starting to think that they are all a complete and total waste of time in terms of existing in my inbox. Back in the good old days of the internet, a lot of that sort of conversation occured over NNTP, which thankfully also had the idea of expiring messages from the newsgroup after a period of time. The separation here was really nice, as it separated messages in general from message TO ME. RSS feeds into a feed reader might be an option - but it doesn't model the "Oh, I noticed a thing I should respond to which now needs to be a conversation I'll follow" workflow.

I don't know the answer - but the current stream of crap hitting my Inbox is fully problematic. (And no Stewart, notmuch will not help my problem here)


  1. [1]   Stephen
    May 01, 2011 at 03:03 PM

    Use NNTP with GMane. I find it works really well for messages that are not 'to me'.
  2. [2]   Pete
    May 01, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    I second the gmane suggestion. NNTP is far superior for this. I wonder what made people switch to mailing lists in the first place.
  3. [3]   Henrik
    May 01, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    I do exactly what you used to do. I subscribe to a mailing list, filter it into its own folder, then forget that it exists. I don't see what the problem is? This has worked well with 2 exceptions: Sun went out of its way to have mailing lists you couldn't filter - some where hard to filter for lack of correct headers, some they had went through extra headers to mangle more headers so that you could not filter them - and Launchpad of all places does the same. henrik
  4. [4]   Daeng Bo
    May 02, 2011 at 03:10 AM

    I'm really happy with a change to GMail which automatically takes things out of my inbox and into Notifications and Forums. I go into Forums when I have time and skim through to find stuff that interests me. If I respond to something, the next part of the conversation tends to go into my inbox. This system, which took no work on my part, has solved 95% of my mailing list problem. Now to figure out how to deal with my RSS feeds ....
  5. [5]   gjditchfield
    May 02, 2011 at 05:19 PM

    I'm a fan, too. I read several mailing lists that way -- news readers are built to handle the conversation threads that occur on most mailing lists. gmane also provides RSS feeds for mailing lists, which are handy for lists where each post stands alone. I use their RSS feeds to follow the Maemo Extras Build mailing list, which gets mail every time the buildbot tries to build a package.