Martin Dugage has a relevant piece for me today: Collaboration tools for communities of practice.
I tried to summarize [my views in] a little diagram which I have found to be helpful in my communication. Tell me your thoughts!
The specific relevance is that a YahooGroup in which I've participated for several years vanished from the face of the earth. At first I assumed it was a problem similar to what happened with actKM in January. After some work by other group members, it turns out the group was deleted by the list owner with no communication to the rest of the community. While it is definitely the owner's prerogative to do so, it tells me something about the community and its strength (or lack of).
The good thing is that the community has rallied and started a new YahooGroup. Another member has also set up a website with discussion forum for the same purpose. In relation to Martin's graphic, I am curious where people will fall in the email discussion vs. web-based forum decision. I suspect people prefer the same environment (email), but there are always those who prefer online fora instead. (Oh, and a hat tip to Martin for using the old-school plural of "forum.")
Another way to categorize the technologies is around how much control I have over how and when I participate in the community. I happen to think this is where the decision about email vs. website discussions falls. With both, I have control over when I read. Web-based tools give me better control when I need to review history or find old content. But e-mail or feed-based (RSS / Atom) tools give me more control over the regular flow of discussions.
Back in 2003, Lee Lefever wrote Email Lists and Message Boards- Where's the Middle Ground? that covers this topic in more detail.