Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(December 1996)

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Subject: Re: Large Mailing Lists
From: Michelle Dick <artemis @ rahul . net>
Date: Mon, 09 Dec 96 07:17:43 -0800
To: list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <>

Eric wrote:
> This is correct, but it is not the  only factor. Let's take the case of a
> list with  3200 subscribers, 100  postings a  day and an  average posting
> size of  3k. In  a worst  case scenario, that's  roughly 7.8  gigabits of
> data. We're doing  orders of magnitude here, so let's  say 100kbps in use
> 24h a day (I know the traffic  isn't spread evently, but again this is an
> order of magnitude). 

Well, here's the real cost data for my bandwidth usage (I do
accounting at the ISP, -- the numbers are real):

I tried sending out my list over my 28.8 line without using a
smarthost.  I sent a message of typical largest digest length (40k)
and it flooded the link at full-bandwidth (I wasn't using sendmail,
and I tuned the MTA to work at full bandwidth -- note, even so, it
barely registered loadwise on my PC) for 8 hours straight.  Basically
rendering my link useless for any other use.  To upgrade to a 56k
frame relay would run me, oh, maybe $500/month.  The cost of this same
usage at my ISP is about $6/month or $72/year.  Almost 100 times
cheaper. Your figures are off by about 10 because my bandwidth usage
is less than 40k/day, not 300k.  Ever since I made the daily digest
be the default (rather than then the message-by-message distribution),
very few of my subscribers choose the non-digest.  Used to be half and
half when non-digesting was the default.  With the digest the default,
only 3% choose to switch.

> I find this a bit confusing as  typically the bulk of the system resource
> usage is for mail delivery, with the list management chores being totally
> negligible.

Not in my case.  I ask a lot from my mailing list processor.  Listserv
might well be more efficient, but it's a lot more expensive than
buying a cheap PC with the power to run my probably less efficient but
free sofware (smartlist).  Not to mention that I can (and have) hacked
smartlist to do every little esoteric thing that I desired.  I still
have cpu to burn on my home machine.

> I have  to disagree here  as well.  The cost of  CPU is lowest  on small,
> cheap desktop machines. 

Yup.  That's why I moved the mailing list processor to my home machine
(a PC) and off of the ISP sun machines.

Michelle Dick                 East Palo Alto, CA

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