But you (and I, in my second reply) are responding to individual
posts. That will invoke whatever your e-mail client is set to, and has
nothing to do with the group interface. Sally was responding to the
digest, and in that case there's no way to provide context except by
laboriously copying and pasting from the original message, which I
would expect virtually nobody to do.
So we have two extremes.
1. Replies to the digest will virtually never include quoted material
(unless there's a setting for that in the groups.io configuration).
2. Replies to individual messages will almost always include quoted
material. For those of us on gmail, the quoted material will not be
visible as we write our response unless we ask to see it, so threads
will tend to accumulate tails, which can get very, very long.
Neither extreme is user-friendly. In the first case, most readers will
not understand most replies. In the second case, digest readers will
have to deal with long interruptions, which will make it hard to
identify the starts of new posts among all the quoted starts of old
posts. That will be much less of a problem for people who receive the
full-featured digest, and I would expect those to be most subscribers.
But for those of us who quickly scan the text digest now looking for
information or questions of interest, if we do get the option to
receive a text digest having all those tails will make our task much
harder and more time-consuming. Those who do receive the full-featured
digest will have another problem, though: many posts come in with
subject lines that don't tell readers anything about what's in their
message. Typical examples, which moderators see every day:
Subject: Family research
If digest readers have to click through to read those messages, I
predict that most of the time very, very few people will ever see
My 20 years of experience moderating JewishGen lists and reading
digests leads me to some conclusions about these problems.
1. The best format for digests would be similar to the current digests
that come out of Lyris, but with the list of subject lines at the top
being live links to the start of the corresponding message. After the
list would come the posts strung together, allowing readers to either
scan subject lines and click through or scan the full list and look
for material of interest. Having only one of these options available
for any given subscriber would be a big step backward.
2. Moderators currently are able to edit subject lines freely. That
capability solves the problem of uninformative subject lines that
would otherwise hobble readers of either the current index version or
future index or full-featured versions.
3. Moderators currently are able to manage long tails by editing them
to leave only enough of the previous message to provide context for
the reply. It's one of the main things we do, and it saves the digest
from being virtually unusable, which it otherwise would be.
4. Currently, replies can be made only by e-mail, not in a web
interface (although Lyris does provide that option, which we have
never supported). For most users, that means replies come with the
message they're replying to quoted below the reply. Replies to the
digest quote the whole digest; if it's clear what message is being
responded to, the moderator can remove all the extraneous stuff if the
sender hasn't already done that. This also gives the moderator an
opportunity to repeat, in a note, the request to remove extraneous
quoted material when responding to the digest. If it's not clear, the
moderator will return the message asking the sender to include only
the relevant material.
5. Points 2-4 above require that moderators have an edit option in
addition to the approve as is or reject options, which were all that
were available in Google Groups. I haven't yet seen the moderation
interface in groups.io, so I don't know if editing is possible there.
If it's not, we're going to be stuck with digests that have either too
much or too little information, or both too much and too little at
different points. If readability is to remain a priority, there's no
way to outsource this work to an algorithm. Algorithms have not made
the work of copy editors unnecessary, and I don't expect that to
happen for a long time. Not that it hasn't been tried; I'm sure it
has. But for the most part it's not conducive to readability.
On Wed, Jul 31, 2019 at 11:42 AM Rachel Kolokoff Hopper