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K-mail for K5?

By localroger in Meta
Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 07:49:44 PM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)
Kuro5hin.org

The problem is, you'd like to make a private comment to the author of a story or comment but they've (sensibly) not published their real e-mail address. How do you get in touch?

How about a private in-site mail system?


K-mail would work like the local email system of a non-networked BBS. It would be visible only to logged-in users and usable only to contact other users. Some quick points about how I'd see this working...

  • K-mail would be relatively simple to implement, since it's basically just a diary in reverse -- everyone can post, but only you can read.
  • K-mail would be spam-proof. Some simple restrictions might be necessary to keep spammers from creating accounts from which to spam.
  • K-mail would not have to support attachments or other fancy protocols. If you need to send someone a 4-megabyte file, you can make other arrangements via K-mail.
  • K-mail would not require a client or browser plugin. It would be compatible with any system from which you can read K5 itself.
  • One feature I'd implement is a block list. Of course, K-mail would be simpler than the diary and story structure since it wouldn't support comments.
  • Stories and comments could be accompanied by a "K-mail author" link.
  • K-mail would be unobtrusive to those who don't want to use it.
  • Your personal frontpage could have a "you have unread K-mail" link.

Well, that's my little idea. I've set up the poll to see if anyone else finds it worthwhile.

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Poll
A private local mail system for K5 would be...
o Fantastic. Do it now! 35%
o Worthwhile, but other things are more important. 33%
o If it's worth saying, it's worth saying in public 13%
o Be a man and publish your regular e-mail address 14%
o If it's not full-video teleconferencing, it's not worth doing 2%

Votes: 134
Results | Other Polls

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o Also by localroger


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K-mail for K5? | 28 comments (27 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Also related to the K5 messaging article (3.57 / 7) (#1)
by ScrO on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 02:26:24 PM EST

There was a similar article posted last week regarding instant-messaging or IRC-like features for K5.

I agree with you that sometimes I want to write a little note to someone, but it isn't appropriate in the comments of an article, and who knows if they'll actually read it anyway.

Your K-mail idea may be a step in a better direction than a Web-IRC interface was was suggested in the aforementioned article -- what if the person you want to leave a note for is not online?

Another addition would be the ability to have your K-mail forwarded on to your real email address, if you didn't want to use K-mail's interface and additional features.

The only downside, as mentioned in the messaging article, is that it may take away from the comments on the site, which is the lifeblood of K5...

ScrO!

How about a "cork-board diary" ? (3.83 / 6) (#3)
by jabber on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 03:15:50 PM EST

What about a permanent messaging diary, where posts could be submitted to a user. New posts would be readable by the user only, who could then delete them, keep them private or make them publically viewable?

This way, sensitive info like contact data can be exchanged - and removed from public eyes, and abuse can be showcased. A notification in the User Info box could notify the user of any new private massages on their cork-board with each page reload.

Still, enough third-party systems like hotmail and AOL-IM exist to piggy-back off of.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Exactly what I thought ... (3.00 / 2) (#5)
by kostya on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 03:41:01 PM EST

That's a great idea. As I read the article, it is exactly what popped into my head.

One issue (or maybe not, since I don't know scoop) would be permissioning it so only the user can see it. I'd imagine this would require a type flag or a separate table or something. But that is all implementation details.

It would be nice if you could do a diary like thing, but keep it between the user and the poster.



----
Veritas otium parit. --Terence
[ Parent ]
Third-party systems (3.66 / 3) (#10)
by ScrO on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 04:25:04 PM EST

I think the main point is to NOT use a third-party system... one-stop shopping. The point is that we want it all to be within the K5 glue without having to load any other applications.

ScrO!

[ Parent ]

Caveats (4.18 / 11) (#2)
by jabber on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 02:53:50 PM EST

There are two things that immediately came to mind, as negative effects of a K5 messaging system...

First, it might reduce the quality of follow-up discussion by encouraging topics to go private too soon. As it is, when a thread goes tangential, someone can devote a diary entry to keeping it alive. With private messages, the discussion would be underground, and it's quality (and the quality of the public discussion on K5) would be diminished.

Second, it might foster animosity. The public nature of posts, even in diaries, has a moderating effect on knee-jerk posts (no, it does not get rid of them, but I'm sure some people think twice). A private way to insult someone might prove too tempting, and while you do address this via a ban list, I don't know if that would be adequate.

Why not encourage K5 users to simply open an account with one of the free services (hotmail comes to mind) and allow that to carry the additional load of this sort of communication?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

mixed results (3.80 / 5) (#6)
by cetan on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 03:41:46 PM EST

I've used the messaging system on forms.anandtech.com with mixed results. It's sometimes a problem to use, and with various degrees of usefullness/uselessness. It seems that this is a server-load that K5 doesn't really need, but that's just one persons opinion.

A little off topic, but what I would really like to see is the ability to queue up diary entries. Very often I find that I've not the time to finish a diary and end up copy/paste into a local text file...kind of a pain. I'd rather be able to save a "draft" to my account and continue it later (especially when I'm K5'ing from work :)

===== cetan www.cetan.com =====
Queueing diary drafts (OT) (none / 0) (#24)
by buzco on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 01:34:55 PM EST

Very often I find that I've not the time to finish a diary and end up copy/paste into a local text file...kind of a pain.

On the contrary, I find editing anything in a browser form window such a pain that my usual method is to use a real editor (ViM being my choice) to write/edit the copy and then paste from there into the form. On the (rare) occasion that I wish to save it for later, I just write it to a file.

(especially when I'm K5'ing from work :)

Yeah, for this or for people that must (or simply are) using a library or other public browser some sort of "save draft" could be handy.



[ Parent ]
Puh-lease. (3.54 / 11) (#7)
by Inoshiro on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 03:49:37 PM EST

"K-mail would be relatively simple to implement, since it's basically just a diary in reverse -- everyone can post, but only you can read.

Have you even looked at the code? Don't make such assumptions. You're saying you want a sectio n that's W/O, except for someone who makes inR-W. But replies have to be pasted to "another" reverse diary. At a minimum, you'd have to add section ACLs and about 4 additional cases to the code. So don't say "easy" unless you've looked at the code. If you really want a new Scoop feature, head on over to the Sourceforge page for it, and report a feature request.



--
[ イノシロ ]
Err... (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by DJBongHit on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 04:52:01 AM EST

At a minimum, you'd have to add section ACLs and about 4 additional cases to the code

Pay attention, C-boy :) Scoop already has section ACLs (or at least the framework for it). It at least supports write permissions, and adding read permissions to that would be cake. It would be a bit more work (but not much) to extend ACLs to a per-user basis rather than per-group, but I think that would be a bit much for this. I think maybe an 'if' statement would be appropriate :\

if ($S->{uid} != $kmail_uid) dontLetThemReadIt();

So don't say "easy" unless you've looked at the code.

I've looked at the code. It would be easy. :)

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Easy... (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by localroger on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 07:16:36 PM EST

Well, DJbongHit gave an informed answer, but I'd like to mention that I was not making a totally ignorant lame-ass comment even though I've never looked at Scoop.

There are only a few ways to implement a system like K5 that make any sense, and since K5 works I'm inclined to believe it's implemented in one of those ways.

The major divisions are:

  • You have a big pile of posts and they have markers indicating where they go, what they are, and their characteristics; or
  • You have a bunch of separate piles of posts, each with its own characteristics.

Now, in the first case, implementing K-mail would be easy. There are already case statements and whatnot indicating what the code should do with a bit of text; all the infrastructure is there and it just needs to be extended a bit. In the second case, a new database or type needs to be created and it won't much interfere with what already exists. In both cases, a lot of the infrastructure for collecting posts, reviewing, and linking them exists.

Perhaps you missed the word relatively which came before easy. Sure, K-mail would be a bit of work to create. One possible response to this would have been a comment from Rusty to the effect of "build it and I'll put it in," in which case I might have just wandered over to SourceForge to give the code a look-see.

I wasn't saying it wouldn't be work. I was indicating that it would be a lot less work than alternatives like K5 webmail or K5 chat. And it wouldn't be that much work. I'm sure someone intimately familiar with Scoop could bang it out in a few days. Starting cold it might take me a few weeks. I can't imagine it taking much more than that unless Scoop's implementation is really strange.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Scoop (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by DJBongHit on Thu Jul 19, 2001 at 03:13:43 AM EST

You have a big pile of posts and they have markers indicating where they go, what they are, and their characteristics;

Well, Scoop uses mysql to store all the data, and all stories are in a huge table, named (appropriately enough) 'stories'. The primary key is the sid of the story. Comments, likewise, are in a big table named 'comments'. :)

One possible response to this would have been a comment from Rusty to the effect of "build it and I'll put it in," in which case I might have just wandered over to SourceForge to give the code a look-see.

I'm sure rusty wouldn't have a problem with using this on the site if it didn't cause huge performance penalties (and it shouldn't). Hell, the (x new comments) code causes more DB strain than this would. Sending a message to a user would be a single INSERT statement, and reading your messages wouldn't cause any more strain on the database than reading a diary entry (a single SELECT for the story, and a single SELECT for the comments, if that was how it was implemented). Keeping the "mail" private shouldn't cause _any_ database access; it would just be a comparison between your user ID (which Scoop already knows when it renders each page) and the user ID associated with the mail, which could be the section ID of your mail (like diaries use diary_1107 for the section of my diary, for example, mail could use mail_1107).

Wandering slightly off-topic, Scoop has some really STUPID things about it - the comment count for a story isn't stored in the database, it's calculated each time!! If rusty, hurstdog, or panner don't fix this soon, I will.

Starting cold it might take me a few weeks. I can't imagine it taking much more than that unless Scoop's implementation is really strange.

On the contrary, Scoop is some wonderfully readable code. It didn't take me more than 15 minutes to learn my way around and start changing and adding stuff.

So don't listen to Inoshiro when he speaks of these things which he does not understand. But he's forgiven; after all, he is Canadian.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my kitchen is starting to smell funny. Time to take the trash out.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
The right way to denormalize a database (none / 0) (#28)
by pin0cchio on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 11:38:30 AM EST

Scoop has some really STUPID things about it - the comment count for a story isn't stored in the database, it's calculated each time!!

Storing redundant data (both the comments themselves and the number of comments) is called "denormalization" and can break consistency of the database. However, if you create a view on (story, count (select_that_gives_all_comments), count (select_that_gives_only_nonzero_scored_comments)) indexed by story, you'll get the performance benefits of denorm while maintaining consistency. If MySQL does not support views, I recommend porting Scoop to PostgreSQL.


lj65
[ Parent ]
Ever hear of 'Open Source'? (1.75 / 16) (#8)
by para_droid on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 03:49:55 PM EST

Scoop is Open Source. That means if you want a feature, you can implement it yourself, right now. Don't whine in public that you think other people ought to do it for you.

Once the feature exists, then you can petition the site admins to choose to use it.

Scoop is Open Source.. (3.60 / 10) (#9)
by ignatiusst on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 04:14:38 PM EST

Very Good, but what about what the author was talking about - kuro5hin.org? Is that open source too?

Do you suppose Rusty will let us start uploading the latest hacked scoop to his (the k5) domain?

I appreciate your right to comment, even if it is rude and off-base, but you seem to be attacking (to whit: Don't whine in public that you think other people ought to do it for you.) without even stopping to consider what the author of this article is actually saying.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

This is what META is for, no? (4.00 / 4) (#14)
by hollowearth on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 06:55:54 PM EST

... could almost be extended to "Well xxxx-off and make your own discussion site then!". The discussion would be legitimate whether or not the poster knew how or wanted to implement it though, since it could discuss the subtleties a coder might not have thought of.



[ Parent ]
*ahem* (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by DJBongHit on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 04:43:53 AM EST

Do you suppose Rusty will let us start uploading the latest hacked scoop to his (the k5) domain?

Heh, kuro5hin is usually the test-bed for changes to the code before they're committed to CVS. You should see rusty panic in #kuro5hin when things don't go as planned, it's pretty funny.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Rocket Science... (3.00 / 4) (#13)
by hollowearth on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 06:48:27 PM EST

I quite like the idea, and think it worthy of debate, but havent a clue how to implement it. The same is true of space travel.

[ Parent ]
Open what? (none / 0) (#25)
by budcub on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 01:39:03 PM EST

Scoop is Open Source. That means if you want a feature, you can implement it yourself, right now.

I'm not a programmer, how do I go about re-writing scoop to do exactly what I want? How long will it take for me to master Perl to the point where I can do this?

Anyway, having K-mail is an interesting idea, that may or may not be feasible. Plastic.com is slash based and has a message system, where you can send private messages to other users. Its very unobtrusive, and you could ignore it if you want. I usually forget its there.

[ Parent ]

As one can see... (4.42 / 7) (#11)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 06:23:55 PM EST

... I have a sneakemail address on my user info page. I've got a few tens of these for various sites that have asked me for my address. Mail to them funnels to my main acount. Sneakemail takes care of routing messages back out to who ever they are supposed to go to, while letting them only see whatever pseudonym I choose. And if any silly spammers grab one of them, changing it is quite easy.

I suppose I could have kludged something similar in essential functions together for myself, and so could many of you (better than I, I'll readily admit). But sneakemail is already there and easy to use. I'm a happy user and I, obviously, recommend it for anyone that doesn't already have something to deal with such stuff. Oh and did I mention free? That too.

In short, I don't want k5 any slower, and this feature isn't really needed. If someone doesn't provide contact info, given how easy it is to come up with something that one can later drop when spammers attack, perhaps one should consider that they don't want to be contacted.



Not for me (3.75 / 4) (#12)
by John Milton on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 06:47:12 PM EST

I don't mind the implementation of this feature as long as we can turn it off. I personally don't want it. If someone wants to talk to me, they can either post a diary, post in my diary, or email me. I do have an email for just such situations, but I think that most of the time there isn't anything you can say in private that you shouldn't be able to say in public. If it truly is something personal, that's why I have an email address.

If someone doesn't put up an email address, it isn't because they're afraid of spam. I don't know of anyone who's that terrified of getting offers for viagra. It's not because they want anonymity. Anyone can sign up for a yahoo address. It's not like they check details. There are even services that don't ask. The absence of an email address means that they don't want private conversations.

I just want an opt-out option.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Spam (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by Merekat on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 04:44:28 AM EST

I think people are over-estimating the spam problem. I think I've gotten about 2 incidences of spam since I let this address out, months ago. Far less than other addresses which I've never distributed on the same scale.

Of course, now that I've tempted fate...
---
I've always had the greatest respect for other peoples crack-pot beliefs.
- Sam the Eagle, The Muppet Show
[ Parent ]

Domain names (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by crankie on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 07:18:07 AM EST

I suspect it may have something to do with your domain name.

I have two email addresses, both at ireland.com, one of which I use for personal correspondence, and one for things like K5. Then I have a work account. Both ireland.com email addresses are set to send notification messages to the work account.

For the longest time, both of these addresses were spam free. And then one day, I got two notifications at precisely the same time. Both were spam. This was the first time either account had been spammed and also both email addresses were never posted in the same place. This is what gets me.

Ireland.com is relatively popular and probably worth the effort of the spammer, but notagoth.org doesn't strike me as the next hotmail.

On the other hand, I really don't know alot about this and so will quit while I'm not too far behind :-)

~~~
"The great thing about hardcore socialists is the silence they emit once they start earning a decent wage." - tombuck
[ Parent ]
private conversation (none / 0) (#26)
by Psychopath on Sun Aug 19, 2001 at 05:34:10 PM EST

The absence of an email address means that they don't want private conversations.
I dont (as far as i remember) allow my email-address to be shown. It's not cause i dont want to be contacted per mail. (i'd love this cause i dont get enough mails..), it's cause
  • I am simply used to dont give my email-address to some webform.
  • I dont want to let all people know from the beginning from what country i am (mail-address with a ccTLD). So some sort of anonymity.

Have fun,
J.
--
The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain. -- Karl Marx
[ Parent ]
Well (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by trhurler on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 09:29:29 PM EST

I suspect it'd be more work than the author lets on, but there are several things I can say about this.

One is that it would be genuinely useful, because it is nigh on spam proof; I don't bother keeping a real mail posted, because changing free mail services every time some spammer finds it just isn't worth my time.

The second is that you'd always know who was mailing you, at least relative to everything else you know about him; otherwise, people who forget to mention their k5 names can be quite confusing. Similarly, if you want to block someone(presuming that feature is available,) you know for sure who to block.

Third, the people worried about server load: this would just be another set of forms. It'd do about the same thing the existing forms do on a per-comment basis. I can see an argument that an IM service might cause a spike in usage, but I would guess "kmail" would see less use by far than regular posting would, so the load shouldn't be that bad.

The only real downsides I can see are, someone has to write the code, and it would probably lead to the same kind of he-said-she-said bullshit that characterizes much usenet discussion today. Then again, we already get that because of the irc channel... so it doesn't really matter much.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Spam (OT) (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by crankie on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 07:25:26 AM EST

Has anyone ever gotten spam that was encrypted? If one were to use PGP/GPG and actually forced everyone you know to send you mail encrypted, spam would kinda stand out.

After all, automatic address harvesting is unlikely to grab your public key.

I should probably add that I know how unrealistic this is. Your average hotmail user is unlikely to be very appreciative of you bouncing their mail due to lack of encryption.

But still... (mental cogs turning)

~~~
"The great thing about hardcore socialists is the silence they emit once they start earning a decent wage." - tombuck
requiring encryption (4.33 / 3) (#21)
by kubalaa on Wed Jul 18, 2001 at 06:41:43 PM EST

I thought seriously about this once. But unless you only commune with fellow geeks (which is a bad idea anyways), it's impossible. Normal people simply can't be bothered to use pgp regularly.

A simpler solution is making every e-mail opt-in. By that I mean maintain a list of allowed e-mail addresses from which you accept mail and reject the rest. Provide a simple but computer-proof means of letting people add themselves to your list, and describe it in the rejection message (for example, give them a url they have to visit and enter their email address). Spammers are way too lazy to use such a thing, but anybody else can get in touch with you if they need to.

[ Parent ]

Current "Think Cash" systems REJECT blin (none / 0) (#27)
by pin0cchio on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 11:16:20 AM EST

Provide a simple but computer-proof means of letting people add themselves to your list

K5 once ran a story [kuro5hin.org] about this, called "Think Cash." Many systems (such as paypal and geocities) use a "copy the numbers from this GIF to this input box" Think Cash system to keep robots from signing up, but obviously, those with vision disabilities cannot authenticate themselves this way. How are you going to make it bot-proof without also making it blind person proof?


lj65
[ Parent ]
K-mail for K5? | 28 comments (27 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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