|What Are Mailing Lists?|
A mailing list is basically a group of people who share a common interest (usually this is a large group). The members send messages to the mailing list, that relate to the common interest, and these messages are then distributed to everyone on the the list. A variation is to have a mailing list that is out-going only. Companies use this type to send their customers newsletters and update information.
In a mailing list you create one single message like in Figure 1, and it is automatically distributed to a whole stack of people (all the members of the list) like in Figure 2!!
So what's the big deal about that? (I hear you say) You can do that from within your own email program using the address book. Well...
Unlike with mailing to a group from within your own email program, you don't have to know who is on the mailing list at all! Who is on the list is accomplished by the self-subscription feature of mailing lists. People choose to join mailing lists because they are interested in the list's topic.
When someone joins a list, they send a command by email. The mailing list software automatically responds to these commands. The majority of functions of the mailing list are handled this way.
This saves everybody an immense amount of time and energy.
Have we convinced you that mailing lists are the way to go? Hope so! Let's investigate how it all works.
NOTE: For the purposes of this tutorial we have chosen LISTSERV® as the system for our mailing list examples. LISTSERV is a registered trademark licensed exclusively to L-Soft International, Inc., as the name of its mailing list processor product. Links to L-soft can be found on our resources page.