Friday, January 14, 2000

The whys and wherefores of e-groups

Friday, January 14, 2000

An e-group is a bit like a bulletin board in that, once registered, anyone can post messages and upload attachments. At regular intervals - usually daily or weekly depending on the activity level of the group - all the subscriber's contributions are compiled in an easy to read format and made available as one long e-mail for your convenience (this is known as 'digest mode'). They key difference between an e-group and a mailing list is that mailing lists are designed to be a one-way form of communication. The role of the latter is simply to keep you abreast of any important changes made to a particular web site, not to give you a platform to voice your own opinion.

One advantage of joining an e-group is that your subscription is very quick and effortless to set up - more likely than not you will already have the necessary software installed on your computer; an email client such as Mozilla Thunderbird or simply a web browser. Besides, if you have a pop 3 or web based e-mail address you are already half way there. To find some interesting groups to join you can begin by visiting an e-group search engine - Yahoo Groups, Google Groups, Your Mailing List Provider, Topica, Smart Groups, Message Bot, List Power and Cool List are particularly good ones to try.

All you have to do is type in your search criteria, select the group you wish to join and submit your e-mail address. Note that with most e-group providers you will first have to register with the company themselves before being allowed to join any of the communities they host. This involves some obligatory form filling, but should not take any longer than a couple of minutes in any case. Once you have completed this initial registration procedure you will never again have to repeat the process should you decide to join additional groups managed by the same company. In future subscribing to a new group merely involves typing your e-mail address into a dialog box and prodding the 'join group' button. The number and scope of e-group communities available to join is only limited by the range of topics comprising life, the universe and everything. So quite a few to explore then!


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