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Mailing list

Current situation

  • We applied for the creation of a mailing list on on 01.12.2014
  • The community would prefer not to create a new mailing list at the moment. Here the content of the discussion with the arguments:

[Start of conversation]

[Álvaro Herrera] Usual question applies here: do you *really* need a mailing list? We have turned down a few requests lately ...

[Charles] Well, I think that a mailing list is a meaningful way to coordinate activities and is better than, let's say a distribution list on each user's mail client. With a single address we can reach all people interested in our activities (a number that will hopefully grow with time). From your question I have the impression that you are aware of some good reasons not to use a mailing list. Since I honestly don't see any, I would be glad to learn about them in order to be able to understand if we should look for a different solution.

[Álvaro Herrera] Many people here use something like instead of a mailing list. Most PUG lists end up dead; only a few are active. It's a pain to get rid of dead lists, so our criteria now is to let the group prove itself active before we create the list. I guess if you have enough energy to get an NPO up and running, that should qualify.

[Charles] I see your point. I didn't know that it is difficult to remove a mailing list and, obviously, I cannot see into the future and guarantee that our list will never end up dead. The foundation of the SwissPUG as a formal NPO according to Swiss laws in still underway and will culminate in the first half of 2015 with the adoption of the bylaws and the election of the first board through the constituent assembly.

I will discuss the issue with my colleagues and see how we proceed.

[End of conversation]

  • From my point of view it would not be a good strategy to start a mailing somewhere and then switch to a new one on after we proved to be operational. This generates confusion. Other views?
  • As a consequence we should look for an alternative, which is the topic that we need to discuss here.


The first question that we must answer is actually what Álvaro asked: Do we really need a mailing list?

A mailing list is not just a distribution list. It also archives the complete history. So I see two different features that are relevant:

  • Central (single) addressing for a whole group: Ease of communication.
  • Archiving of messages: No need for storage on the recipients side.

The first feature is for me the most important. This provides us with a much simpler mean to reach our people. Archiving on the other hand, might be handy, but I guess that most people will store what they consider particularly important messages on their systems anyway. So I think we could live without it, but of course, I might be overseeing something important.

If we don't really need a message archive, I could probably implement easily a central distribution list. The server hosting has mailing facilities and such a list would be nothing more than a set of entries in a table (PostgreSQL obviously). The downside is that people cannot subscribe and unsubscribe that easy, unless I write a web interface to that table, i.e. list management could be an issue, at least at the beginning.

If we stick to having all the comfort of a real mailing list, including archiving, then I see 2 different scenarios:

1. Mailing list on the host. I asked our hosting server manager if the server has a mailing list software, such as mailman or, in case it doesn't, if it could be installed. To this point I can't say much more yet because I am still waiting for a response.

2. External hosting: In this case we could ask some mailing list providers, if they would create the list for us. As potential providers I currently see:

If these folks would help us needs still to be clarified.

Finally Álvaro mentioned I don't know that system and would need to take a closer look at it, before assessing if this would be a real alternative for us. Has anyone of you experience with it? If so please share it here.