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You've got new mail. 3500 actually.

by Matthias Willerich on October 21 2008, 13:48

Today my folder for mailing list digests hit the mark of 3500 unread mails. Time to cut them off, I think.

Already checking the uk-usability list, I subscribed to 5 more of them at around the time Content with Style went online, so that’s May 2005 or so. And I used to read a lot of the digests, sometimes helping a lost developer on the way, sometimes pimping our site.

Maybe three times I actually asked a technical question in the more or less anonymous round, but as far as I remember, never got a useful reply (so I had to wait until shaun inman promoted the obvious, using opacity to style the file input/submit button without deleting the value). What I got instead is an average of 10 spam mails a day.

It’s not all bad, though. First of all there were a lot of hacks and small insights learnt on every list, not so much the “how to do it”, but rather the “how to do it better” or “how to do it differently”. Then there’s the exception to all the others, the rest-discuss list on yahoo groups. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen questions replied that would make people understand the possibilities and concept of REST, also there’s not a lot of comments that tell you to use google, RTFM or what else.

But enough is enough, and now is the time to cut down on this mess. It’s all archived online, so I don’t need to do that. Before I delete this part of my career development, I want to let you know my recommendations for your development needs, whenever google lets you down:

  • uk usability: pretty silent most of the time, but reasonable questions are usually discussed instead of given the silent treatment
  • php-i8n: One list that helped me close the serious gap in my programming knowledge about how to deal with planning and building websites with different languages and character encodings.
  • php-db: This one seems to have more of a junior crowd appeal, for folks new to dealing with the server side of things. No use for me now, not bad back then. There’s tons more specialized php mailing lists, by the way.
  • thelist@evolt and
  • webdesign-l: Both the evolt list and webdesign-l are very likeable, each have a reasonably sized group of returning and helpful contributors. Member of those lists were so kind to help me (mostly off-list) when I started out as freelancer, and I’d love to contribute more than my current total of maybe half a dozen replies if I ever have a less time-demanding job. Another authority on web development recently bigged them up, too.
  • rest-discuss@yahoogroups: As I said above, a brilliant resource, and a brilliant discussion forum. Definitely sign up when you grind your teeth on REST. I think I still owe them a long announced, never completed Ajax-to-REST demo.

Never forget the etiquette: Try googling it first, also look into the archive of the list you’d like to ask, and try to understand the issue at hand. Be nice, be concise, and help others if you can.

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