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There exist many websites that mirror archives of public mailing-lists. Somehow, the ones that I'm aware of are all sub-optimal. I'm looking for an archival that allows for good searching and good threading; I define those two characteristics more constructively further down.

Let me illustrate my quest based on a case-study. For example, I'm looking for recent discussions on decimal literals on the python-ideas mailing-list. Some of my options are:

  • Google with the phrases python-ideas and decimal literal. Among the first ten hits, this gives relevant results at mail.python.org, grokbase.com, code.activestate.com, osdir.com, comments.gmane.org, and I'm sure there are others. It seems all results refer to the same thread from 2008. I was hoping for something newer; in this case I can use Googles Search Tools to limit it to a date range, but date when added to the web is not necessarily the same as date for the e-mail. I did finally find a thread from September 2012.

  • Google specifically on one of those sites, for example, mail.python.org. This improves the signal-to-noise ratio, but limiting to a specific mailing-list doesn't work very well, and searching for messages by a specific author is even worse.

Even if I find what I'm looking for, browsing through different messages may not be convenient. For example, this is a pipermail archive for python-ideas for September 2012. From this archive, the threading in both Deprecate the round builtin and make decimal the default non-integer instead of float? is not clear, and a quick look at the archive for October 2012 shows that both threads actually continue into October.

This problem is certainly not new, but I've never really found a satisfactory solution. I'm curious what other people have found. In summary, I'm looking for a way to:

  • Easily search within a specified mailing-list for either individual messages or entire threads/conversations. I'd like to search at least based on author, date, title, content. For example all threads with participants A and B with word C appearing anywhere in the thread, written between dates X and Y.
  • Provide an easy-to-use way to browse through entire threads. Ideally, I'd like to be able to collapse/expand threads and move from one thread to the next.
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