Hi, I'm new to this list, so forgive me if this question has been asked before.
(I've scanned the past four or five months of posts, and haven't seen it
directly addressed in that time)
What's the catch with these free email hosting services?
I'm involved in Jliste, a mailing list for journalists here in France
(<http://lists.lyris.net/jliste/> - sorry, it's all in French!), and we're
currently looking around at possibilities for moving to a new kind of
We find ourselves faced with a choice between paid services, most of which
will involve our costs zooming up towards the $500 a month mark in the
forseeable future, and an array of free services such as Topica and Onelist.
We have for the moment ruled out a sponsorship arrangement as we would like
to remain independent of advertisers.
We've instead been asking our members to help finance the list by joining a
non-profit organisation, which will also organise initiatives centred on
journalism and the Internet.
In view of the costs of a paid service - list traffic more than doubled
last month, so the Lyris bill did as well - some of those members are
telling us: "Why don't you just put the list onto a free service?"
Our reply to date has been:
A: Because we have made a principled decision not to rely on advertising
B: Because we want to be sure that member information remains confidential, and
C: Because with a free service there's no guarantee of a reliable service.
-- Concerning point A, I note that on Onelist, the only direct advertising
placed on the bottom of messages, for the moment at least, is for the
services of Onelist itself. (I haven't yet had direct experience of a
Topica list). But I don't see anything that would prevent them, if they
wanted, from putting ads for third-party products or services on the bottom
-- On point B, Onelist explain in their terms of service that they won't
hand out members' email addresses, although they do reserve the right to
exploit other info. This sounds ominous to me: they must be exploiting
member information in some way or other.
-- Regarding point C, I've noticed a few glitches with Onelist services,
including not only long delays but lost messages. However opinions seem to
diverge on that question. Needless to say, the people advocating a "free"
solution are also the ones who haven't noticed any problems.
To cut a long story short, I find it hard to believe that commercial
undertakings such as Onelist and Topica are spending all that money on
server capacity and jazzy hosting features just for the greater good of
So what's the deal?
Are we at Jliste crazy to be considering staying with a paid service?
If we are, how come the paid services are staying in business?
David Sharp, journaliste, France <http://www.vavi.com/>
Tel (home) 331 42 64 35 94 - (office) 331 40 41 47 92
E-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> ICQ: 16881741