The Mailing List

The Mailing List

Mailing lists. Remember those? I’m not talking about the type of list where you gather email addresses and send out a newsletter.

The mailing list I’m talking about is the kind that is dedicated to a topic or topics that you talk about with other people subscribed to that list.

It’s one of the oldest social media options out there. I am a huge fan of them and subscribe to several lists.

Yahoo calls them groups.

Back in the olden days, a popular discussion list software was Majordomo:

http://www.greatcircle.com/majordomo/

which almost, but not quite, required you to be a rocket scientist to install. But if you were an administrator of a list, it was easy to use once you got used to it. There was no backend – any command you needed to make was made via email, whether you were an admin or simply a user. It’s really kind of cool.

Another great mailing list software, and is readily available to use is Mailman. If you have a website with cpanel, then it is most likely available for setup thru cpanel. You can configure the list thru the web backend. It’s easy! Even if you don’t have cpanel, but you run your own server, you could install this software:

mailing list cpanel

http://www.gnu.org/software/mailman/index.html

Mailing lists using the software listed above are cool because if you are subscribed to one for say, web design, you can learn a lot if you stick around long enough. Better yet, you can save tips, tricks, snippets, right in your email program. Your own private database. I’ve done this for years. My email serves as a primary resource database for me. You can’t do this with a forum. If a forum thread has 40 pages and there is info you can use, how motivated are you going to be to go thru 40 pages to find what you’re looking for?

Discussion lists in general are much easier to read and keep up with. This isn’t necessarily true for some of the newer social options.

  • No privacy concerns with old time mailing list
  • Can be archived
  • Easier to follow discussions
  • Can be set for text only, or you can set both HTML and text
  • Can be read thru email program or online email
  • No ads! ( I can’t stand ads on my emails!)
  • You have a little more control
  • You fix your problems with the software

Yahoo Groups is the only mailing list service that I’m aware of, and has been around for a long time.

Advantages to a Yahoo Group Discussion List

  • Your list uses Yahoo servers
  • You don’t have to worry about fixing problems that come up
  • Decent backend to configure your list
  • Your list is part of a huge database of other lists. If you run a webdesign list, and someone searches webdesign, several hundred other lists also come up.
  • Read your list online in a browser or offline in a mail program.
  • More social – your yahoo id is tied in and you can be more social than if you were using a privately run email list.

Discussion lists are a great way to get information out there, and be social in a minor kind of way. They can be used for discussion, but you can use them to send a newsletter, use a mailing list to post to your blog if you wanted.

Other mailing list software

http://www.lsoft.com/products/listserv.asp
http://www.phplist.com – Uses mysql