Last week, a reader named Peter Rock suggested that we start a Letters to the Editor column. I replied, telling him about TidBITS Talk, since that's where reader replies about our articles generally go, along with any clarifications or minor corrections we have that don't warrant a full correction in the next issue of TidBITS. Continuing the discussion, he noted that he reads TidBITS in email, never visits our Web site to see the TidBITS Talk archive, and wasn't up for receiving another discussion list. That's when I thought, "Hmm! He has a point."
For those that haven't read TidBITS Talk, it's somewhat unusual. I personally choose which submissions to post, adding commentary as appropriate in the messages and rejecting redundant or off-topic messages. I also edit out unnecessary quoting, fix spelling mistakes, and regularize subject lines to maintain threads. It's something of a cross between a moderated mailing list and the reader reports from other news sites. Because of this significant amount of effort, we consider TidBITS Talk to be an integral component of our overall publishing effort. Nonetheless, fewer than five percent of TidBITS readers subscribe to TidBITS Talk or read it on the Web.
For the next few weeks, then, we're going to try a small experiment in exposing the high-quality content in TidBITS Talk to more TidBITS readers. Each week we'll try a different approach to describing and linking to the current discussions. At the end, we'll run a poll asking which, if any, of the approaches you prefer and continue from there. We start this week with an extremely abbreviated presentation that provides just the subject of each thread, a message count, and a link to the thread in the archive. Future versions will offer additional description of each discussion.
Of course, feel free to send feedback about the experiment to TidBITS Talk itself at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.