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Old and new ANZSTAT

  • 9 Feb 2021 4:42 PM
    Reply # 10071117 on 8976241
    Jessica Kasza (Administrator)

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for sharing thoughts on this. As Adrian said, we are more than willing to go back and consider other options.  I would note that the job announcements and event listings pages seem to be fulfilling their roles relatively well - I hope that people are benefitting from those sections of the forum!

    My experience with the old anzstat list was that there were occasions when it did not feel welcoming or respectful to me. I know that some people shared these experiences, and some did not.  In my role as SSA President, I want to ensure that the Australian statistical community has a space to communicate in a respectful and welcoming manner: we will keep this in mind when exploring options. 

    I really appreciate the discussion on this - thank you!


  • 9 Feb 2021 2:51 PM
    Reply # 10071048 on 8976241

    We're going to look at some of the other options. I can't promise things will happen quickly. Thanks for all the suggestions.

  • 9 Feb 2021 10:14 AM
    Reply # 10070526 on 8976241
    Deleted user

    The only viable option seems to be a listserver, same as used by UQ. It is very old technology but there does not seem anything better for a low-volume communication channel with very heterogeneous users.

    A free alternative is JISCmail;!!ArRwEOZWieQ!Ffy5wktRuda_nD-m2wIEj5UNKUD29wgKhUNkFeo_K9jNnP8BaEBPK84NvXeRiiE$ from the UK who have a bunch of listservers, including one on evidence-based medicine. Their system works well.  The main obstacle is that the owner needs to be employed by a UK institution, though I presume we could find such a person.

    A commercial alternative at US35 a month for 500-999 subscribers is 

  • 9 Feb 2021 8:25 AM
    Reply # 10070343 on 8976241

    Just one salient example of how the Forum his not living up to expectation, it is rather sad that the tribute to Ken Brewer has received no comments at all. I am sure that on ANZstat we would have been regaled with many interesting stories from people who knew him and worked with him.

    While I understand that SSA did not close down ANZstat (I think UQ pulled out) I cannot see what the intrinsic problem with an email platform is. I guess you cannot recall emails? Yet my place of work has various email lists that we use, such as the faculty email list. If people are abusive they can be removed from the list or worse, just like any social medium.

    I read back through the ANZstat comments and there was huge support for retaining it. The pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears. It would have been appropriate to have a society wide vote on the issue.

    How about SSA sponsor a replacement list server and publicise it to all of the previous users. It does not have to be SSA branded. It could just be called....ANZstat. If there are genuine legal liabilities that this implies, I think members would like to know explicitly what these are.

  • 9 Feb 2021 6:03 AM
    Reply # 10070069 on 10068726
    Adrian Barnett wrote:

    Thanks Jaidev

    Will did look at Discourse a while ago and tried their 14 day trial. From memory I think the main problem was that some members could not join as the emails were blocked by their server. We also liked Google Groups, but again had the problem of some members not being able to join. 

    We will look at using something like SendGrid in the next few months. Regards,


    Does anyone know what software platform is used by 'The Conversation'   []? That seems to work well.
  • 9 Feb 2021 3:15 AM
    Reply # 10069667 on 8976241
    Deleted user

    This is a great discussion. 

    Alternatives that work are Whatsapp, facebook groups, Signal, Telegram, LinkedIn and others.

    Whatsapp reads all your emails before encrypting and is owned by facebook. Works well for committed groups but is too intrusive for mailing lists as you need to turn notifications on or off for all whatsapp groups.

    facebook groups work well but you will forever receive ads based on the group content and facebook unpredictably changes access and interface, for example recently making it harder to find your groups.

    LinkedIn had great groups but suddenly made them almost inaccessible.

    Signal and Telegram are similar to Whatsapp but the owners are currently not commercialising the forums. Again, probably too intrusive.

    I can't see anything working other than email lists or products where the providers aren't likely to change access unpredictably.

  • 8 Feb 2021 6:08 PM
    Reply # 10068726 on 8976241

    Thanks Jaidev

    Will did look at Discourse a while ago and tried their 14 day trial. From memory I think the main problem was that some members could not join as the emails were blocked by their server. We also liked Google Groups, but again had the problem of some members not being able to join. 

    We will look at using something like SendGrid in the next few months. Regards,


  • 8 Feb 2021 4:43 PM
    Reply # 10068672 on 8976241

    Adrian, John and others,

    I have been following the transition to the new forum with interest as the previous mailing list was an excellent source of information to a stats newcomer such as myself.

    I completely agree that the old list had problems (particularly with moderation as noted by Adrian in this thread), but as we come up to 9 months using the web forum, the uptake of these forums is poor, and I would contend that this is because a) usability and discoverability of these forums is less than the old list and b) people are missing the response via email facility.

    With regard to usability (a), the current forum layout makes it very difficult to see which posts are new, and which posts have been read. This is compounded by the fact that each forum, and each topic is so disparate and hidden behind pages and pages of clicking. I have now subscribed to each forum individually (which provides a useful email update), but this is hard to find, and the updates are not very useful. I won't even mention the dreaded 'show newest replies on top' button which gets me every time.

    With regard to email (b), I believe that forum engagement would be greatly increased if people could view posts, reply (and even create) new posts all via email. Through this workflow, moderation needs to be retained.

    It appears that the current forum software (which appears to be custom built) is somewhat limiting. It is my understanding that there more modern forum software available (such as Discourse which would provide a siginifcantly increased feature set, while still allowing moderation. Would it be possible for Statsoc to evaluate an alternate software package to run the forums on this site?

    As an example, Discourse (which is used by small and large organisations including Mozilla) allows:

    • A more usable start page, detailing the most active posts from multiple forums (General, events, jobs etc), as well as who has recently commented. An example may be seen here: 
    • All pages are mobile friendly, and Discourse also includes a mobile app (for those who love apps).
    • Posts may be tagged, and a full text search is available. You can subscribe to a post, or a forum, or even a tag, to be provided with email summaries at daily, weekly or monthly intervals.
    • You can fully replicate the old mailing list behaviour (and receive full post contents via email). You can respond to a message via email (just by replying), and you can create new posts via email as well.
    • All posts (created either via email or web) can be moderated and approved prior to posting. Discourse also allows community moderation (e.g. flagging posts to be reviewed by a moderator).
    • A full feature list is here:

    Forum software has come a long way since the days of BBS, and while I understand that the current forum software includes features that are desirable to Statsoc, I believe that there are benefits to considering a package 'off the shelf' with improved usability.

    Discourse have a hosted option (which is expensive), but the software is open source and may be self-hosted by Statsoc relatively easily / inexpensively. There are also alternate packages which may also be worth exploring.

    For your consideration.

    Jaidev V.

    Last modified: 8 Feb 2021 4:49 PM | Jaidev Vasudevan
  • 8 Feb 2021 8:08 AM
    Reply # 10068112 on 8976241

    Hi John

    I agree the problems could have been easily dealt with if the list was moderated. But it wasn't moderated and so problems festered. Some of these problems did become serious.

    Having a university host the list runs the same risk as ANZSTAT. It's fine when there's someone at that univerisity willing to look after it, but when they leave we can become stuck. Having the society host the list avoids this problem.  



  • 8 Feb 2021 7:40 AM
    Reply # 10068032 on 10066901
    Chris Lloyd wrote:

    Noting that this discussion was about 4 months ago, I am looking at the list of general topics and see that hardly any posts have any replies.  Sp I think the data are in: very little engagement.

    There was nothing at all wrong with the old ANZStat. The best thing was that is was just an email group so it was incredibly easy to access. I think the society should consider starting another email group. Those who do not like it can use the Forum. I will continue to check in here to see if there is anything of interest, but currently it is very anodyne.

    I broadly agree.  The loss of the old list has left a serious gap in communication.  It did occasionally get out of hand, but I'd judge the problems to have been exaggerated, and could have been managed with a quite modest level of intervention.  People do not leave this list because the numbers belonging and contributing have stayed very limited to begin with. One answer would be for, e.g., a Univ department to start a new list with no organizational connection to SSAI.

    There is the allstat list (, but this appears very busy, and more a notice board than a discussion list.  For R-related issues, there is (go to to join).  This has been, when active, a very effective list.  Currently, it appears to be in a resting phase.  What other such relevant lists are about?

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