Message boards via e-mail, not Gemini

nothien at nothien at
Fri Jan 8 14:02:41 GMT 2021

I've been reading recent threads about message boards on Gemini, and
thinking about the idea of gemlog-based replies (which have been around
for quite a while now).  People have been dedicating a lot of time and
thought to making messageboard-like systems work over Gemini (e.g. ew0k
and their CGI script for receiving notifications to replies to gemlogs,
and see the more recent threads), but I don't see the point of doing
this.  We already have e-mail based message lists, and we've been using
them neatly for long-form (and to a lesser extent medium-form and
short-form) discussions for a while now.  E-mail has some of the
following advantages:

* decentralized / federated: there's no single source for e-mail,
  everybody has copies of the entire thing.  People can also make e-mail
  threads, particularly of messageboards/lists publicly accessible, like
  the archives for this mailing list, at

* well-established system: e-mail has been around for way longer than
  Gemini has.  I know we all here love Gemini, but e-mail is going to
  work better for a lot of people.  There are already tons of e-mail
  server setups and mail clients which people use - there's no need to
  develop more.

* notifications: people subscribed to a mailing list get mails, and
  everyone already checks their mail.  There's no need to make new
  applications to poll gemini pages to see if there are replies or

* just as much variety in mail content: by default, we use text/plain
  here, but MIME was created for e-mail in the first place.  If you're
  in love with Gemtext, just send text/gemini e-mails - we can read
  them, they're plain text.

Instead of creating message board systems on Gemini, create servers /
libraries to view e-mail archives on Gemini.  I argue that Gemini is not
designed to handle back-and-forth communication, but rather to serve
information in a single direction.  We must only use protocols for
things they are well-suited to handle, otherwise we risk losing their
original purposes and leave behind a fog of unhelpful but deep-rooted

Of course, I may be wrong.  These are just my thoughts on this.  What
are yours?

~aravk | ~nothien

P.S: If you don't like e-mail because it's too difficult to work with,
but you like UNIX / shell scripts, check out leahneukirchen's mblaze on

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