The Skinny on eGroups

Mike McDaniel
 


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eMail Discussion Lists (eGroups) allow for easy and fast exchange of ideas and thoughts and comments from people with similar interests all over the world.

There are tens of thousands eGroups out there, covering virtually every subject, topic, hobby and interest imaginable. Most are offered free and are automated with mailing list management software. You may have heard of Listserv, Majordomo, Listprocessor, Mailbase and others. Some eGroups are limited to a specific group, club or association, others are open to everyone. Some have private, unlisted addresses, others are published for all to see. Some have thousands of subscribers, some have less than ten.

Unlike the dreaded chat rooms, eMail Discussion Lists (eGroups) are not live, but offer a central eMail address to use for broadcasting messages to the entire list. With an eGroup you communicate with everyone else in the group by sending one eMail message to the central address

As a subscriber to an eGroup, you should expect to start receiving eMail shortly after you sign up - unless it is a dormant list. Hang back a while and read the posts before joining in to get a feel for the personalities and the scope of discussions. Reading and not posting is often called lurking, not a bad term in this context. All eGroups have lurkers. If everyone on the list was active with posts and replies, your eMail InBox would choke, gag and gasp.

When you do “post" a message to the central address, the eGroup software will route it to all the subscribers of the list - often 100s or 1000s of people from all over the world. eGroup messages will come to your mailbox in chronological order and intermixed with other eMail. If your eMail program is set to use filters and folders, you may choose to have all messages of your eGroup filtered to a specific folder for ease in reading and replying.

When your message is posted to the eGroup, those who read it and wish to respond must choose to reply either publicly through the eGroup, or privately, one on one, back to you. Set your own criteria for deciding if a reply should go to all or one. Be sure your eMail address is on the BOTTOM of your messages. Picking it out of the TCP/IP Header on every message is often a job for Colombo. Check into creating an automatic “signature" file to put your information at the bottom of every message.

Some eGroups have a frequently asked question (FAQ) file. It may be available when you first subscribe, or offered on a website of one of the moderators.

The FAQ often outlines the rules of the list, defining what is acceptable and unacceptable for posting to the group. Although it sounds strict, most lists are quite informal and operate with a conversational tone.

Some eGroups have limits on the topics discussed. Some have moderators to keep all messages relevant, others are loose and free. All, however, have one caveat, no personal attacks. It is bad enough for someone to make a personal attack or complain about another by eMail, but to post on an eGroup is a sort cut to trouble.

All eGroups have easy subscribe and un-subscribe instructions. Most have un-subscribe instructions on every message. Join as many as you want because you can quit at any time.

eGroups are a great way to meet other people with similar interests and to get advice and ideas from peers in your business or profession. eGroups are another useful benefit of having and using eMail.

©2005 BIG Mike McDaniel All Rights Reserved Mike@BIGIdeasGroup.com BIG Mike is a Professional Speaker and Small Business Consultant with over 30 years experience, http://BIGIdeasGroup.com

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