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The GNOME Project is closing all its mailing lists

Everyone has to join Discourse… although you can still participate via email

The GNOME Project is preparing to shut down its mailing lists due to problems maintaining the project's GNU Mailman instance - which relies on Python 2 - and a lack of moderators.

The community's leaders maintain a substantial selection of mailing lists, hosted via the GNU Project's Mailman tool. It also hosts its own instance of the Discourse web forum tool, notably also used by Canonical to host the official Ubuntu forums.

That's going to change, and very soon: at the end of this month. Announcements on several of the lists, such as here on the list for the Evolution email client, state that the lists are closing down, and discussions must move to Discourse.

Former GNOME Project Executive Director Neil McGovern told The Reg:

Like many other projects which use Mailman, we are finding that relying on a Python 2 program is not sustainable.

That suggests to The Reg FOSS desk that the project is running Mailman 2, since Mailman 3 uses Python 3.7 or newer.

To be fair, there has been plenty of warning. The plan was first mentioned in June 2020. The Mozilla Foundation did the same some time ago, and it published instructions on how to access the Discourse groups by email. The GNOME Project also has help for users with visual impairments who use a screen-reader on their computer – notably, the project hosts the list for the Orca screenreader.

GNOME Infrastructure Team Coordinator Andrea Veri told us:

Since we introduced Discourse, GNOME's Mailman instance has seen a decline in utilization over the past years. The new platform offers way more features than Mailman, including gamification which newer generations, in general, appreciate, but also markdown support, RSS feeds, proper spam support, multiple authentication types and so on and so forth.

He also mentioned reducing fragmentation of the GNOME communities, along with improved integration, such as a bridge to Matrix for live chat. The move is part of a general modernization of the GNOME Project's infrastructure, which has also seen a move from IRC to Matrix and from cgit to GitLab.

This vulture wasn't a participant in any GNOME-hosted list, but remains an enthusiast for mailing lists in general, plain-text, bottom-posting, and all – even the flame wars. The author is seeing steadily declining traffic levels on a number of lists, and it's a worrying trend. Mailing lists do still have an important role to play… for now. ®

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