Why would you want to create a mailing list?
If you would like to create a resource for surname-specific
researchers, a mailing list is for you. Surname lists are the most popular
variety of mailing lists -- with more being added each week. The convenience
of a mailing list is stability, and ease with which interested persons
can contribute. These are the powering factors behind most list creations
-- if you want to talk to Benner researchers, what better way to encourage
participation than a Benner surname mailing list? Web sites are static
and don't offer immediate feedback (unless you are a very diligent webmaster),
don't allow multiple researchers to interact, and often don't welcome
data on similar surname/same surname/different family information. Mailing
list messages can be archived, providing researchers with information
long after the original message was posted.
A good example of a surname-specific mailing list is
the Whitney-L list at Rootsweb. The list welcomes anyone researching
Whitney families, not just one specific family. Members of the list
answer questions, post lineages and family information, submit material
extracted from a variety of sources concerning any Whitney family, and
maintain an archive of mailing list messages, A related Whitney page
has information gleaned from the mailing list presented to researchers
in a useful manner. As a Whitney researcher, I've found the information
on the list to be excellent, the volume within reason, and the members
helpful--three signs of a successful mailing list.
Sometimes you may come across a list in which you have
a mild interest, and you may wish to post a message to the list without
joining it. With the prevalence of spam, many mailing lists are now
"closed" -- that is, you cannot post to the list unless you have subscribed.
The debate about open vs closed lists is one that stirs up periodically,
and is something you should consider when you create a mailing list.
Do you want to have the mailing list accessible to anyone, thereby increasing
your chances of interested persons posting something worthwhile, or
do you want to close the list to just those people who have sub-scribed,
ensuring that little spamming takes place?
If you are interested in creating your own mailing
list, the place to go is Rootsweb. Rootsweb is a nonprofit organization
which offers web space to worthy genealogy organiza-tions such as the
US GenWeb project, and many genealogy societies. RootsWeb also hosts
a large number of genealogy mailing lists. If you would like to form
your own list, I highly recommend you use Rootsweb!