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Mailing lists - General introduction

What is a mailing list?

A mailing list is a distribution list allowing a group of subscribers to automatically receive by email all messages sent to the list: every message sent to the list by a subscriber is received by all the other subscribers. When subscribed to a mailing list, it is possible to send messages, to reply to them or to read them without contributing (i.e. to "lurk").

Special cases:

Interest of mailing lists

People subscribe to a mailing list (sometimes abbreviated in ML) to be informed about a particular topic and to take part in exchanges about it. Examples are:

Types of mailing lists

There are thousands of mailing lists of all kinds on the Internet: public or private, free or not, with subscription subject to conditions or not, etc. Those lists may have from a dozen up to several thousand members.

According to the way they work, we can distinguish between two types of lists:

Features

Once subscribed to a mailing list service, you can:

How the mailing list service works: roles and responsibilities

A mailing list service involves four types of roles:

It is possible to have several roles at once (for example, you can be an owner and a moderator of a list and be subscribed to several others).

Listmasters

Listmasters are in charge of the management of the mailing list service. Their duties:

List owners and moderators can turn to listmasters when they face a problem not dealt with by the documentation or for any comment. However, in order not to flood listmasters with messages, it is recommended that subscribers rather turn to list owners.

Owners

The list owner is generally its creator or, failing him/her, the person who requested the list creation or who became responsible for it. His/her role:

A list can have several owners. However, the 'Privileged' profile is reserved to the list's creator; other owners have a 'Normal' profile, which has fewer prerogatives.

Moderators

Moderators are appointed by the list owner. They are in charge of controlling the relevancy of the messages sent to the list: after reading them, they choose to accept or to reject them . Moderation occurs before the message is actually sent to subscribers. Rejection of a message is possibly followed by a notice to the sender in order to explain the reason for that rejection.

A list can have one or several moderators; generally, the list owner is also a moderator.

This concerns only moderated lists.

Regulatory framework

The use of a mailing list service means respecting a number of rules:

To know more, refer to the section dedicated to good practices for subscribers and to the section about good practices for owners and moderators.



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