About Mailing Lists
Internet mailing (discussion) lists are a great tool to learn
about a particular subject. But the experience can be marred, or
harsh if you don't know what to expect. Hopefully this article will shed some light on the subject, and make participation
The definition of a mailing list is where users subscribe to
receive email from a particular source. The mailing list host sends
a message to a server, and everyone subscribed gets a copy of the
message. Another form of mailing list is called a discussion list.
This is when everyone on the list can send a message to the server,
and everyone on the list gets the message.
What this means to you in a discussion list, is that all of a sudden you start get everyone's
email. This can be overwhelming on an active list. It's
often difficult to keep track of who is talking to who, and what
they are talking about. It can seem like all of a sudden you are
eavesdropping on strangers, and getting their personal mail mixed in
with your own mail. There are a couple ways to make this easier to
First, some discussion lists offer what's called a 'digest'
version of the list. All of the messages are saved until they reach
a certain size. The messages are combined into one large email, and
then distributed to everyone on the list. This keeps the number of
messages down, but you also have to 'wait' until the digest reaches
the size limit before you get it. If you are waiting for an answer
to a question, this delays the information getting to you.
with a little work, you can set up your email program to help you manage
your incoming mail. Most modern email clients will let you filter and
categorize your mail. You can create a special directory in your mailbox,
and then set up a rule or filter that moves certain messages into those
folders as soon as it's downloaded. So all the messages go into a folder
called 'OldsGmail', and your personal mail is right where you are used to
seeing it in your inbox. This helps make the email easier to manage, as
well as easier to follow. You won't have a message from Mom mixed in
with messages from 'Bob' and 'Fred' discussing gas mileage.
also very important to learn how to use the list. If you managed to
subscribe to the list, you are expected to be able to unsubscribe from it.
Make sure you know how to do this before joining. Not much will generate
more nasty emails than sending a message to the list asking how to get off
of it. Feel free to contact the list administrator if you need help.