Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(February 1997)

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Subject: Re: Educating large mass
From: dbsmith @ atbbs . com (David B. Smith)
Organization: American Tune BBS
Date: 03 Feb 97 02:46:06 -0500
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
>received: by (0.99.970109) id AA00960; 03 Feb 97 03:21:41 -0500
References: <v03010d5daf19d6da75ac@[]> <v03007819af165bcc6410@[]> <> <v03101402af1a8c1ef855@[]>

PH>So, what can we do to educate the members of our lists? What can we do to
PH>reduce the problems caused by the users who can't/won't be educated about
PH>the basics? Is this an issue of education or enforcement?

I wonder if the problem isn't the nature of the maillist itself.

For a neophyte, reasonably capable email software can seem quite
daunting.  I've been "tinkering" with computers for 20-something years.
Only a few years ago, I got my first exposure to Internet email, through
my Compuserve account.

It wasn't until I got a non-metered ISP account that I dared to
subscribe to maillists, simply because of the potential volume.  At the
time, I tried a couple of different mail packages.  I'm currently using
Pegasus, for example -- but for a fair stretch there, I'd keep
forgetting if the command I remembered was for Eudora which I had used
or Pegasus which I currently use.

After a while, I got fairly comfortable with Pegasus.  But add a
maillist or two to the mix, and what happens?  Different lists use
different MLM software.  They have different commands, which you have to
email to different addresses.  Get any number of lists, and you have a
-really- significant level of confusion going.

I got around this problem.  How?  I became a Sysop.

Now I deal with -all- the several lists I subscribe to through my BBS.
Each list is echoed to a separate conference on the BBS. The interface
with each is consistent.  If I choose to not read a particular list
anymore, I can simply deselect it from my message downloads -- while the
messages continue to come into the BBS, they -don't- come to me.  Later,
if I'm sure I'm no longer interested in the list, I can dig back through
my archives, and unsubscribe the BBS from the list.

Sure, not everyone has the skills to be a Sysop -- which is the problem
at hand.  But my story demonstrates that there -are- mechanisms for
making maillists accessible to the masses, without the more confusing
aspects thereof.  What has to be done, in the final analysis, is to make
the maillist, at the receiving end, -not- a maillist.

In fact, in early days, the whole idea of ISPs providing Internet access
directly, so I am told, wasn't intended.  The thought was that BBS's
would make the connections and handle the complicated stuff.  (Forget
where I heard that....)

AOL could essentially do what I've done here.  Create an AOL conference
-- or whatever they call them there -- for each list that has a
"significant" number of AOL subscribers.  The interface becomes
consistent for all the users, as well as being manageable by AOL staff.

No subscribing or unsubscribing by users is necessary at all -- AOL
subscribes, and provides access in that fashion.  The mailbox
limitations become meaningless -- individuals don't have to keep the
message flow in their personal mailboxes anymore.  No more bounces to
the list -- AOL absorbs the incoming traffic seamlessly.  (I assume.)

A user that doesn't want to follow a particular maillist anymore doesn't
need to remember what message to send where.  They simply drop the
conference, the same way the drop any other AOL conference.

True, it takes some of the "fun" out of it for List Managers.  It isn't
a "pure" Internet-style answer.  Almost seems like cheating, don't it?
But it -does- address many of the current problems, using a proven
technique. Heck, Sysops literally all over the -world- have proven it.

Just my two cents worth.

 X SLMR 2.1a X Where's the fire?  What's the hurry about?
>> David B. Smith              Email,
>> Sysop, American Tune BBS    "The cure for all the ills of Democracy
>>                             is more Democracy!" -- NY Gov. Al Smith
>> My views are sometimes not even my own, much less anyone else's.
>> My employers don't necessarily speak for me, either, 'natch.

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