This post isn't so much about the usefulness of mailing lists as a discussion medium, it's the complete failure of Google Groups as an adequate purveyor of public discussion software. For the jQuery project we're already in the process of moving the full discussion area to a forum that we control. We should have it set up, and everything moved over, within the next month or two. The primary problem with Google Groups boils down to a systemic failure to contain and manage spam. Only a bottom-up overhaul of the Google Groups system would be able to fix the problems that every Google Group faces.
I got an email last week from the jQuery mailing list admins explaining the list had just completed the move away from the Google groups offering.
John Resig has posted a very long and very articulate explanation of why he left Google. It makes interesting reading and I have to wonder as one of the commenters did whether the failure to deploy any sensible moderation or spam controls (even though Gmail filter the very same spam that Groups publishes) was really an effort to put the service to sleep…
So anyway, I’m off to try out John’s new service. It’s using Zoho Discussions apparently. We’ll see how successfully that goes:-)