Keep Archives

Archives --- ?RonGoldman 10 Jan 2002

. . . when we engage in GroupDiscussions or individual Conversations (ConversationsThreading) we often would like to keep a record of what was said.

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Many important discussions are held electronically and it is important that the participants do not lose track of what has been said. Moreover new individuals are always joining ongoing discussions and need to understand the history of the conversation.

When we are part of a continuing online discussion we face a dilemma of what to do with the messages we receive. Do we try to keep a copy of each message? Maybe we only try to save the important ones. Or only keep them until we have answered them. It is certainly hard to delete a well written or important note that you think might be useful at some point in the future.

But even if we decide to save them, how do we organize them? We may be a member of many different groups, each of which may have multiple ongoing conversations. and if we save them how do we locate a message we only vaguely remember? We know the information we want is there but how do we find it?

When we join a new group how do we learn its history? How do we view the conversation that took place before we joined?

For mailing lists the general answer is to save all of the messages ever sent to the list in a central place and allow anyone to retrieve old messages. A great resource on the internet is the historical archive of all posts to Usenet newsgroups that includes more than 700 million messages dating back to 1981.


Make it easy for anyone creating a new mailing list to have messages sent to the list be stored in an archive. Provide numerous views of archived messages, some that are chronological, some in threads, by subject, by author, etc. Provide ways for people to search the archive. Allow users to annotate the messages.

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Individuals may want to be able to make private annotations on messages in a public archive---AnnotatedMessages and FlaggedMessages.

Augment archives with summaries of important topics that newcomers need to know---FAQ's (FrequentlyAskedQuestions.

Keeping an archive raises privacy concerns. It also has legal implications as lawsuits may demand that all of the messages sent to a private mailing list be turned over to the court as evidence.


Last edited December 24, 2002
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