Wikis are, I believe, better than mailing lists to facilitate online asynchronous discussion and collaboration. Here's why.
Wikis are pull technologies; email is push tech.
Some people just don't like pull technologies.
An archived email posting containing an error makes the error permanent.
In a wiki, any error can be directly fixed, noted, and leave a trace allowing interested users to see both the error and correction.
In mailing lists, one can at best link to an obscure URL manually to relate one posting to another.
In wikis, any contributor can directly and easily link to other topics and sources of information – more easily than can be done in mailing lists.
It is hard to search email archives because they are not easily categorised or indexed or marked up to facilitate browsing or searching by future users.
Wikis are far more easily categorised, indexed, and marked up for search/browse purposes.
How many people actually look through the archives of mailing lists for useful information?
How many refer back to email archives for background material before posting a message?
How many people search archives for reference and research purposes?
Email archives are infrequently used, even though they can have lots of great information.
Wikis allow for refactoring discussions into documents so that important information – once developed via collaborative discussion – can be preserved in a narrative form better suited to use by third-party readers.
Email-based discussions can sometimes be pushed so fast that people do not have time to respond.
In a wiki, every contribution is permanent and always “present”.
A popular practice on email lists is to post a request for information, which the requester will then summarise and report to the list.
In a wiki, a request can be made as simply as creating a new topic for the request.