Email discussion groups are a powerful and enjoyable means of sharing information. There are discussion groups on just about every conceivable subject.
How Discussion Groups Work:
When you subscribe to an email discussion group, your email address is added to the group mailing list. Henceforth, you can send one email to the discussion group email address and it will be automatically delivered to all members of the group. Thus, if a member posts a question or comment, other members can respond if they wish, creating a multi-way email "conversation". Often these conversations, or "threads" as they are generally known, continue for quite some time and may move onto other subjects as well. Depending on the size and activity of the group, you may receive a lot of email. Most email discussion groups have a "digest" option, which means that you receive a number of group posts consolidated into one email. If you no longer wish to be a part of the group, you can follow the group's directions for unsubscribing, and your email address will be removed from the list.
Discussion Groups Hosting:
There are a number of companies that provide free discussion group hosting. Generally, the hosting company will place advertisements in group emails in exchange for providing the service free of charge. Many offer extra features such as a customizable home page for the group and intuitive group and account management features. Most email discussion group hosts make it very easy to join and participate in the groups of your choice. Usually, you can also start your own group with little effort or experience.
Two popular email discussion group hosting providers are:
Email Discussion Group Etiquette
Generally, there are certain "rules of conduct" that it is advisable to follow when participating in a discussion group.
First, if the group has a set of rules, make sure you familiarize yourself with them before posting. Other things to consider are:
Remember to trim posts
After repeated replies, a message can end up very long, so it's a good idea to trim obsolete material from the bottom of your email before sending. This enhances the clarity of your message and saves bandwidth.
Use meaningful subject lines
It is courteous to use a subject line that allows other members to have an idea of what the post is about. If people get a lot of email, they may not have time to open and read every email, so the subject line can help them decide.
Proof read your post for clarity, spelling and grammar
A poorly spelled and structured email with a number of obvious grammatical errors will make you look bad, and may confuse or irritate recipients.
THINK before posting
The immediacy of email means that you can fire off an irate, insulting or even slanderous reply very quickly and easily. Hitting the "send" button too quickly is an action that many have resoundingly regretted. Before sending, take a deep breath and make sure you really want to send the reply you have written.