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Email Lesson 8

Mailing Lists and Newsgroups

Besides the WWW, there are other sources of information on the Internet. USENET is an international bulletin board system (BBS) that features discussions on any topic imaginable. These discussion topics are called newsgroups.

A newsgroup is an online "place" where people chat about anything and everything. There are over 14,000 newsgroups used by millions of people each day. Want to meet others who have hiked the Appalachian Trail? Are you a fan of a particular television program? Chances are, you'll find a newsgroup that suits your interests.
Newsgroups can be a great resource. Anyone can read and post questions/answers, thoughts, and opinions. In many cases, no one moderates the discussions. Be forewarned, anyone can say anything.

Professionals often use newsgroups to network electronically.

Accessing Newsgroups

To view and post messages to a newsgroup, you need a newsreader. A newsreader is a program that connects you to a news server on the Internet.

  • Your email client may be a newsreader.
  • Some web browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Netscape, come with newsreaders.
  • There are freeware, shareware, or commercial software newsreaders available.

You can configure your system to handle USENET newsgroups. Follow the instructions appropriate to your system and software. For more information about accessing newsgroups, check out:

Mailing Lists

Much like bulletin boards, mailing lists are a great way to share knowledge and information with a group. However, mailing list messages are accessed using an email client. Professionals often use mailing lists to network electronically with other professionals in their field. For example, you are the head of a committee and oversee 15 volunteers. You need to communicate with your volunteers one or more times a week, but only meet once a month. Volunteers often need to contact one another.

You decide to set up a mailing list to help your group communicate more efficiently. A mailing list is a list of email addresses identified by a single email address called a mailing list name.

For example, volunteers@yahoo.com (the mailing list name) consists of members' email addresses (your
email address and each volunteer's email address). To receive mailing list email, members subscribe to the

Mailing list members include:

1. Moderators "own" the mailing list. They often start the mailing list. A good moderator not only reads and regulates messages, but also prompts members with discussion topics and questions when needed.
2. List members subscribe to the mailing list. They can read and post messages to the mailing list, and unsubscribe at any time.

When email is sent to that mailing list name, the message is sent to a server that handles the mailing list. The server sends copies of a message to all the members. They check their email, read new messages, and post replies to the mailing list.

Mailing List Pros and Cons
There are many pros and cons associated with mailing lists.


  • There are mailing lists available on almost any topic.
  • Learn and share information.
  • Read about tips, tricks, opinions, and events that interest you.
  • Meet others who share your interests, are in your same line of work, etc.
  • Some lists are moderated, meaning there is someone appointed as moderator to keep the discussion on topic.
  • Some lists are sent in a "digest" format. Periodically, you'll receive an email message containing several messages.


  • If a mailing list has even 100 members, it can generate a lot of email. Do you have time to read it all?
  • Some lists are not moderated, and discussion can quickly get off-topic.