If you are a Mailman user please take a minute to help improve the Archives by answering this short survey. The survey asks you to name which list you searched and I had asked Terri why this should matter at all as I am subscribed as a user to hundreds of Linux-related mailing lists which are a mix of public archives, private archives and no archives or those that are archived via gmane, etc.... This makes it harder to answer for each list as the search mechanism is different for each. She replied that answering this survey question was not compulsary, type "I don't know.", but its kept there because it tells them if people are using a standard, default mailman setup or something different like gmane.
Yaniv has blogged about
searching mailing list archives offline mode. If you are using a mobile
connection in India, it would involve downloading chunks of data and then
searching your directory offline using keywords. As I mentioned earlier the
search mechanism varies for online mailing lists using mailman. If you use
google you can specify the "site" + the keywords. But what if you dont know
whether the list has that information of which month and year its archived
under. What if your list has private archives? --This search is a wee bit
harder than open mailing lists as you need to be subscribed to the list to be
able to access the archives. If its a secure 'https' server, you cannot open
multiple tab instances to search, and so on...
Searching mailing list archives is not impossible. Every one of us uses google and we all know how easy and/or hard it is to find what we are looking for -- finding relevant information which is also correct and fulfills your needs is a lot harder than we think. If I am looking for a particular "device driver" that does not allow wi-fi to work on my laptop, google might bring out a relevant page (including mailing list discussions) which may be too old, in that, they may ask me to manually doanload and install the "device driver" but the latest distro version I use may have solved the problem with a downloadable installer.
Probably the engine might search and list the pages by the Date and UTC timings but my point was that small things like these can make a big difference in the amount of time we spend looking for information. Machines or should I say the algorithms powering them can only do what we tell them to do. They are intelligent but not there yet.