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Internet Mailing Lists

Usenet is not the only forum on the Net. Scores of "mailing lists" represent another way to interact with other Net users. Unlike Usenet messages, which are stored in one central location on your host system's computer, mailing-list messages are delivered right to your e-mail box, unlike Usenet messages.

You have to ask for permission to join a mailing list. Unlike Usenet, where your message is distributed to the world, on a mailing list, you send your messages to a central moderator, who either re-mails it to the other people on the list or uses it to compile a periodic "digest" mailed to subscribers.

Given the number of newsgroups, why would anybody bother with a mailing list?

Even on Usenet, there are some topics that just might not generate enough interest for a newsgroup; for example, the Queen list, which is all about the late Freddie Mercury's band; or the Marillion & Fish list called "Freaks."

And because a moderator decides who can participate, a mailing list can offer a degree of freedom to speak one's mind (or not worry about net.weenies) that is not necessarily possible on Usenet. Several groups offer anonymous postings -- only the moderator knows the real names of people who contribute. Examples include 12Step, where people enrolled in such programs as Alcoholics Anonymous can discuss their experiences, and sappho, a list limited to gay and bisexual women.

You can find mailing addresses and descriptions of these lists in the news.announce.newusers newsgroup with the subject of "Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists." Mailing lists now number in the hundreds, so this posting is divided into three parts.

If you find a list to which you want to subscribe, send an e-mail message to


where "list" is the name of the mailing list and "address" is the moderator's e-mail address, asking to be added to the list. Include your full e-mail address just in case something happens to your message's header along the way, and ask, if you're accepted, for the address to mail messages to the list.

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