Wiki Replacing Mailing Lists

Has anyone used a Wiki successfully as a replacement for a mailing list?

At Perforce, we recently installed a Wiki. I had the Wiki in mind as a replacement for some of our mailing lists. Today I had a discussion with someone else at Perforce who made the claim that Wikis are best for collaborative documents, and that they wouldn't be particularly useful for discussion.

I went out in search of information on this, and found an interesting quote from Ward InFavorOfDissertation. Ward says

I have done my best to discourage dialog InFavorOfDissertation which offers a better fit to this medium. I've been overruled.

which would seem to indicate that Ward sided with my friend originally, but that the usage (on this Wiki, anyway) moved toward discussion.

So can discussion on a Wiki actually replace discussion on a mailing list? What are the pros and cons? Is email notification of changed pages necessary for this to work?

-- RobertOrenstein

Many Open Source-projects seem to have both mailing lists and Wikis, even though they have discussions on the Wikis. Maybe a Wiki should be seen as a complement to a list instead of a replacement.

That's very true -- even PHPWiki (the Wiki we're playing with at Perforce) has a mailing list, and some of the discussion happens on the Wiki, and some on the mailing list.

So how do you decide whether to post a particular thought on the Wiki or on the mailing list? -- RobertOrenstein


Another issue is the centralization of the information - a wiki can be lobotomized by the loss of one server, while a mailing list will have many copies of the information saved in local mail folders.

Mail also gives the user many options for filtering and sorting. It naturally organizes itself into a work-queue, while a wiki doesn't have a beginning or end.


I think it is possible that WikiReplacingFaqs? is more likely. For instance, both DocBook wiki and Dive Into MacOsx wiki are both utilized as a repository of knowledge. Rather than updating the FAQ, you change the wiki. Mailing Lists are great for meeting announcements, "Hey I found this great resource" messages, and threaded discussion. Wiki does threads, but I think ThreadMode is its weakest 'feature'. -- SeanOleary (yes, I realize the irony of signing a message critisizing ThreadMode)

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