It's actually one of those surprisingly tricky questions. Not from a technical standpoint, but because email clients offer so much freedom and bulletin boards are so structured. I could knock up something to send out new additions as email pretty quickly, it would probably send out edited messages again each time an edit is made, but that is just about "livable with". The problem comes with replying. What should the software do if someone hits the "reply" button? Ignore it? Try and guess which forum and which thread? Work out who sent it so it can set the poster information? Any process I can think of would be wide open to errors and mistakes. If you look at any web-accesible email list archives, they are essentially just one thread, which doesn't match the detailed and useful categorization of the Java Ranch at all. This is a problem I come up against now and then, so if anyone has a clever solution, please let us know.
I think people would subscribe to the mailing list and then whenever anybody posted something on the UBB, an e-mail would be sent to the list. Whenever e-mail came in for the list ... Well, suppose we have email@example.com - we know what forum it's for. The topic might be "question number 37 on the rules roundup" and if we already have a thread with that name, then the message gets tacked on to the end of that thread.
Joined: Jan 07, 1999
This is where it gets tricky. Email clients are free to truncate the subject, or add "Re:" or some indication of where it came from, or convert it to something pointless like "re: your mail". Normally I wouldn't worry, especially if the replies were being hand-moderated, but the Java Ranch forums are so well organized and tidy, that this could make a real mess in comparison. The only thing I can think of at the moment is to actually have a different mail address for each forum, and maybe even for each thread. That is the only bit that mail clients won't screw with. So you might send mail to JavaRanch@forums.javaranch.com to create a new thread, or JavaRanch_272@forums.javaranch.com to add to an existing one. This would need a very closely integrated mail and bb system, but it might just work. Well, except for all the threads cluttering up with unsubscribe requests...
Also, in mailing lists it is considered to be good if you quote all of the previous thread. Here, that is not cool. Things can quickly become cluttered. I now think that things are pretty much fine as is.