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Drinking From the Firehose

3rd of November

For those who follow me on Twitter, you’d know that I recently attended the WordPress Community Summit. (If you’re expecting a long blog post on the summit, you must be new to my blog. ;) ) One of the suggestions that came up was to subscribe to the WP-Trac mailing list. This list gets a copy of every comment and change (except attachments) on Trac tickets, and is the a great way to follow activity on WordPress, since you get to see every issue change that happens.

However, following this activity comes with a giant downside: there is a lot of activity on Trac, so it can be hard to keep track of all the things going on; for this reason, it’s commonly called drinking from the firehose1 CC-ing yourself on a ticket (or getting auto-CC’d when you comment) is a great way of getting informed of any changes to it, but if you’re drinking from the firehose, this becomes fairly useless: either you get two copies of each change, or you only get one and CC-ing does nothing.

Thankfully, with a little Thunderbird magic, I’ve come up with an optimal solution: CC’d emails come through to my main email address, while the mailing list is sent through to my firehose email account. I then set up a Thunderbird filter to move the message from my main email to the firehose account, and apply a “CC’d” label to it. Thunderbird merges the messages, since they have the same message ID, then applies the label to the merged message. I can check at a glance and see what’s important to me, while still retaining the ability to follow the project as a whole.

Screenshot showing the styling applied to the emails in my inbox

My inbox. Bold is unread, blue is CC’d. The arrow on the left indicates a thread.

For those of you who want to get involved more in WordPress, I’d definitely recommend this. Already I’ve noticed more stuff that interests me, and it’s fairly minimal effort to go through the messages.2

  1. I’m personally not sure where the phrase comes from. Wiktionary notes the usage of the phrase in 2004 with relation to technology, however I’m fairly certain the phrase itself comes from UHF. []
  2. It might seem like a lot of messages, but most of the messages are triaging, or comments along the same thread. Once you’ve got the gist of the ticket, you can fairly safely delete the entire thread without needing to read the minutia of the implementation. []

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