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In summary, for your first couple of lists, you should be prepared for potentially large amounts of email from people you never heard of. Consider a digest version of the list if one is available, or set up your email client to filter list messages into a separate folder. 

Watch the list for a while to learn about the people involved in it, and to see what the list is about. Once you are comfortable with the people on the list, feel free to participate. If you'd like to introduce yourself, that's often a great way to break the ice.

Mailing/discussion lists are a wonderful benefit for its members. Once you've gotten on to a list or two, and learned the ropes, you'll be a veteran that can participate in any list. The first one is the hardest to master... after that, you'll wonder how you ever got along without them.

Some of the finest people in the world participate selflessly in mailing lists everyday, for no other reward than to help somebody out by sharing knowledge. Either through direct experience or from somebody else on a mailing list, they pass on what they've learned. Mailing lists are a place where people can go to discuss a common topic, and everyone learns and benefits from it.

A good mailing list is a wonderful thing. People ask questions, give answers, tell stories, and listen. And all of these people are talking about a topic that is of interest to everyone on the list. Like the older generation passing on its knowledge to the younger generations, or offering support to its members, mailing lists are a great way to pass information from those that have it to those who need it.

So go get started!

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