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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!

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