On mailing lists

I find it a bit strange that people here like broadcasting their
messages by putting everyone in To: or Cc:. I _know_ they’ve heard of
mailing lists. Everyone knows about mailing lists. Heck, even my
parents have a mailing list for their advertising photography company.

By mailing list, I mean a managed mailing list through something like
Yahoo Groups or Google Groups instead of an ad-hoc list of e-mail
addresses. Have you considered them before? I’m sure you’ve been on a
few, as they’re a very popular and effective tool. Just in case, let
me cover the basics.

Mailing lists

  • increase the community feel of a group because it’s easier to
    network and chat outside meetings
  • distribute speaking tips and other resources easily
  • allow people to organize their mail into folders without having to
    create rules for each person who posts or manually move new messages
  • allow people to change their e-mail addresses or disable delivery
  • make communication a whole lot easier: remember one address instead
    of fifty!

Many people don’t fully take advantage of mailing lists because of
sour experiences in open lists without a good community feel. They
might not know, for example, that you can restrict membership and even
access to message archives. In addition, they may also have been
turned off by low signal-to-noise ratio mailing lists flooded with
jokes and one-liners. Each community varies in its tolerance of things
like that, and social conventions are generally followed when
established. Netiquette is easier to enforce in mailing lists because
the clearly-defined space of a mailing list makes it easier to set
social policies.

A good mailing list is an awesome community-builder. My project went
from scattered users to a thriving, enthusiastic community spread
around the world because we set up a mailing list where people could
share their ideas and code. It’s so easy to set up a mailing list on
Google Groups or
Yahoo Groups that seeing the old style of
distributing messages makes me wonder if people have particular
reasons _not_ to use mailing lists…

E-Mail to Ari Caylakyan

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