Among the services offered on a website, it is today often list of discussion or mailing list. This type of tool is very popular by users who wish to be kept informed of the news of a site, of a sector of activity or any simply exchange information with a group of people interested in the same subject.
These two types of list have in common to rely on messaging, however they do not have the same purpose. Despite this, there are still some blur in this area. Thus, it is not uncommon to being offered a subscription to a discussion list which is, in fact, a mailing list and vice versa. Conceptual development seems therefore necessary to try to see more clearly and avoid unfortunate confusion.
What is the fundamental difference between a discussion list and a mailing list? The first allows the members of a list to discuss and exchange information by e-mail. The second – still called newsletter – it simply allows the list owner to disseminate information to all its subscribers. The Exchange was therefore one-way, subscribers of the list merely to play a role of receiver of information.
1 – Discussion list
English: Mailing-list. French translation: discussion list.
A discussion list is a system that allows people interested in the same subject to share information and chat by email.
Very close to the groups of discussion forums (newsgroups) in its purpose, the list however has its own logic. Indeed, they can be defined as the forums using electronic mail. And essential difference with the newsgroups (or discussion groups), it is necessary to be technically a subscriber to participate.
All subscribers of a list send email to the list that all read and to which all can answer by the list, promoting true interactivity email lists. Hence the French name “discussion list”.
How technically a discussion list?
It relies, in fact, on a software robot, true automaton for distributing messages to all subscribers of the list. A message sent on a discussion list is then broadcast to all the participants to this list. And a response to a message received as a Subscriber will, in turn, sent to all other subscribers of the list.
All messages are therefore supported by this program running continuously on a machine.
Unlike most discussion groups (newsgroups), it is not necessary to go to a site to see the latest contributions. Indeed, they are sent and then directly available in the Inbox of the mail software (Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, etc.) subscribers.
To actually participate in a mailing list, should therefore have an e-mail and subscribe to this list, i.e. send a formal message to the robot asked him to register his own e-mail in the list. As soon as registration is effective, any subscriber receives all messages on this list.
When a Subscriber receives a message from the list, it can either respond to the sender only or to the list as a whole. Attention not to do error handling, especially when the list is not moderated (see the low word)! A private response published in error on the list is always the worst effect…
A mailing list in General has two e-mail addresses should not be confused. One is purely technical and is used to communicate with the robot and instruct: registration, suspension of registration (for the holidays, for example), unsubscribe to the list, request sending of the list of subscribers (less common for legal reasons), sending of the mode of use of the list (base to communicate with the robot commands)… Today the subscription and unsubscribe procedures are most often interfaced via a Web form, as is the case for example for the list Juriconnexion (see below). All orders are thus simplified since there is more than to complete boxes on a Web page to subscribe or unsubscribe.
The other e-mail address is designed to receive messages on the list. Therefore, to send a message to the list, it must send it as it will be released to this e-mail address. Known as owner of the list, the owner of this e-mail. If the list is not moderated (see below) the message is immediately broadcast to subscribers of the list. If the list is moderate, the messages remain waiting for validation by the person responsible for moderating the list to be sent to subscribers.
Institutional quality and typology
The Subscriber receives a message from home on the list in General, welcome, and also a message notifying him the rules of operation of the list, both techniques that ethical and legal. A Subscriber may be removed from the list if it does not observe the rules of it.
It is necessary to know the type of lists. Thus, a discussion list can take several forms: open or closed, public or private, moderate or non-moderate, “streaming” or “digest”.
Non-moderate list. All messages sent to the list are automatically released by the robot, without a priori control. A message sent by a member of the list will therefore be immediately sent to other subscribers that can, in turn, respond. This system thus fosters true interactivity in the discussion list.
Moderate list. All messages sent to the list are now waiting to be validated by a moderator who judge the appropriateness of their dissemination. The moderator can be a single person or a team that shared the work of control. Do not necessarily see this control a priori censorship. But moderation seems even necessary when the list is open and public, to avoid provocative messages that may interfere with the list, or even lead to its closure for reasons of information right.
Mixed situation. Some software allows intermediate situations. Thus some lists may be non-moderate for all their subscribers and moderate for the messages sent by non-subscribers.
Open list. In this case, no requirement to register on the list is required. No membership condition is therefore necessary to subscribe to such a list. Then just send a registration request message to be subscribed via the PLC either via the person, directly the list manager.
Another aspect of the opening of the list is the possibility for non-subscribers to send messages to it.
Closed list. A procedure for authorization and validation of entry in the list is set up, the will of its owner. This could be for example control of membership in an association or sponsorship of an another Subscriber to the list.
Public list. The list is termed public when the archives thereof (all of the messages on it) are searchable by any non-abonnée same person to this list. Most often, these messages are accessible via a Web interface. In most cases, a search engine allows to search by keywords or by publication date.
Private list. In this case, there are no archives. Only subscribers may have access to the history of the messages which have transited on the list.
List “continuously”. Messages sent by subscribers are sent directly, one by one, in real time or in slight delay (in moderation) and in their entirety, to the other subscribers.
List “Digest”. In this case, the list manager decides to send, at regular intervals, a compilation bringing together all messages sent in a single.
Intermediate cases. Some moderators in the laudable concern to avoid a too large number of daily messages, grouped them by package of two or three. They together, under a heading in very long General, the subjects of two or three thus grouped messages. This makes the difficult operation because most often, the reader is not any subject line. Therefore be read each message to be sure not miss anything… The Biblio-fr list still often works in this system.
We can mention, for example, lists of Territorial (site of the letter of the territorial framework) that is focused primarily on local professionals, or even list Juriconnexion legal documentation on electronic media and the dissemination of legal public data.
2 – Mailing list
Based on the same principle, there are simple mailing lists. These lists do not allow interactivity, that is, messages are sent by a single transmitter – the Manager of the list – to subscribers.
The members of the mailing list therefore regularly receive information without being able to respond publicly to the message directly by the list.
These lists have therefore not to promote discussions between the subscribers. As their name suggested, these lists serve only to provide general and specialized information.
It is useful to recall that many still are the sites which call mailing lists, lists dedicated to the discussion between registered members. Moreover, the majority of lists directories reference both mailing lists and discussion lists without clear distinction operate. This is all the more understandable that they often use the same technologies.
It should therefore be well to observe the reality to see more clearly and know what it is talking about.
Today, a large number of sites offer a mailing list which often takes the form of an information letter (newsletter) daily, weekly or less frequent. This tool enables the webmaster, responsible for the site (log line, institution, personal site, etc.), to announce updates or the latest developments in a given field.
Companies – particularly in the computer field – widely use this type of lists to keep their clients informed about improvements to their products. And advertisers also that sometimes turn into spam tool mailing list…