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Site Seeing - music mailing listsMusic mailing lists

A recent Site Seeing article described music newsgroups and touched on some of the problems inherent in the newsgroup philosophy, where ever increasing amounts of material must be duplicated in special newsgroup areas on thousands of computers worldwide, and where a seemingly increasing number of unscrupulous persons post messages unrelated to the subject of the newsgroup.

These trends, and the growing need for specialization, are largely responsible for driving many of the real usenet communities 'underground', to private mailing lists, where much of the real community spirit now thrives. Mailing lists are simply e-mail messages sent to more than one person at once. Some - usually the smaller lists - are operated informally, with messages sent out by a real person, but most larger lists are run automatically by computer programs.

Whereas the operation of newsgroups is quite formal, so that, for example, it can be very difficult to create a new newsgroup, new mailing lists can be (and are) created very easily and frequently, and they reflect the expanding diversity of the internet community far more than newsgroups can. Mailing lists have been in use since the 1970s and they pre-date the use of newsgroups.

Using music mailing lists

  • Jason Greshes maintains a Classical Music Email List Directory at which lists many of the larger and better known classical lists, complete with information about subscribing and a helpful section about how to behave once you've joined a list!

  • Some mailing lists publish their archives on-line. Jason's directory gives details. Read these archives before joining to check that the content is to your liking.

  • is a searchable and browsable directory of mailing lists. In spite of the name, this is a general purpose list directory in which some music lists appear. Note that no mailing list directory can be complete, because some mailing lists have only a few members and are not publicised.

  • No special software is needed to join a mailing list - you only need to be able to send and receive e-mails.

  • Be prepared to receive many tens and sometimes hundreds of messages each day from each of your chosen lists. Not all lists will be as busy as this - some receive postings only very occasionally.

  • Use an advanced mail reader (such as Pegasus or Eudora) which allows automatic sorting of your e-mail into different mailboxes. Set the software to receive mailing list messages in a separate mailbox. The arrival of large quantities of list mail will then disrupt you less! Some mail readers will even display mailing list postings in a 'threaded' form similar to that used by many newsgroup readers.

Moderated lists

Moderated lists protect members from the irrelevant and/or low quality content appearing in newsgroups and some unmoderated lists. They operate in exactly the same way as normal (unmoderated) lists, except that a real person (the moderator or list owner) looks at each and every message and decides whether or not that message should be sent to all the list members. This job will sometimes be shared amongst two or more people, especially when a list receives hundreds of postings each day.

The extent of the moderation varies from list to list, and from moderator to moderator. Belonging to a well-moderated list is a real pleasure, because no junk or low quality material is allowed through.

Copyright © Keith Bramich, February 16th 1999.

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