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Double Stamp is an easy-to-understand guide to useful computer and internet technology. It's written to be readable by everyday computer users.

Managing Email Lists the Right Way

Do you belong to a group that sends mass emails to each other? Do you rely on the "Reply to All" function so that everyone in the group can converse? If so, I think you'll find this post useful.

A "List Server" or "Group" is a smarter way to have conversations with groups via email. Instead of sending an email to every person on the list, you simply send it to the group's email address. The software that runs the group takes the email that you just sent it, and passes it on to everyone who is "subscribed" to the group. Then, when someone replies, it is sent back to the group software, and it again passes the reply on to everyone.

Here's why you should use a list server or group service:

  • When a user decides they don't want to be on a list anymore, or if they need to change their email address, they can modify their subscription on their own. This saves the maintainer of the list a big hassle.
  • Each recipient's email can be kept private. Don't you hate it when your email is on a big list?
  • Sending email to ONE address delivers the information to everyone in the group.
  • Email is archived automatically so that it can be viewed later, even if individual users delete their emails.
  • You can set different permissions for the list. It can be set up for the general public, or kept completely private.
The good news is that you don't need to be a computer nerd to set up a list like this. Google and Yahoo both provide group services.

I set up a group for my family about a year ago and it has been a great success. People send out emails to the family with ease, and the service keeps an archive of all emails. Even if all the members of the group delete their emails, there is still an online archive of all posts to the list.

Try it out. Once you do, you'll never want to use a mass carbon-copy list again.

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