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7 Essential Email Discussion Group Hosting List Settings Every List Owner and Admin Should Know

by Andrew Lutts and Matt Sambito

Net Atlantic Email Discussion Group Hosting

If you are starting up a new email discussion group, pay close attention to these list settings which can have a profound impact on the quality of your group and discussions. We’ve owned, administered, participated in, and enjoyed a number of discussion group lists for over two decades. Benefit from our experience. Matt S. and Andy L. –


Seven Essential Email Discussion Group List Settings
Every List Owner and List Admin Must Know

1) Reply to Sender / Reply to All: This is the single most important setting to know and
use. If you want to encourage open communication and stimulate group activity, email
messages, and active dialog, then make sure that by default all message replies go to
the entire group (all email subscribers). This is how most people run their discussion
groups. This is the standard default setting.

The alternative method is to have email replies go to just the sender of the last email
message sent to the group. With this setting, messages are far more focused, because
not everyone on the group gets the reply to the sender. This greatly reduces email
volume sent to the list.

2) Maximum Number of Messages / Day: Active email discussion groups can get very
popular, and will have lots of emails sent to the group every day. If your group is
popular, this could mean 10, 20, or 30 or more emails every day. If you find that people
on the list are complaining that there are just too many messages every day, or you
notice that lots of people are unsubscribing, simply set a maximum number of messages
allowed to the list on a daily basis, such as 10, 15 or 20.

3) Maximum Number of Messages / Day by a Single Member: Just like with any group of
people that gather, some people are quiet, and some people love to talk. This happens
with online discussion groups too! If you find that you have a few people on your list
posting many (too many) messages every day, limit them by setting the maximum
number or messages that they can post to the group every day. This setting can be a
life-saver (and group-saver!) I’ve seen people try to post as many as ten messages to a
group in a day. Not on my list!

4) Moderate Message Posts: If your list is of a private, sensitive or personal nature, you
may want to approve all messages posted to the list. As a list administrator you can
moderate (approve or deny) all messages sent to the list. This function can go a long
way to improving the “quality” of message posts sent to a list. Even if you are just
filtering out unneeded posts like “me too” or “I agree” this can be a great help in
improving your signal (good posts) to noise (unnecessary posts) to the list.

5) Approving New Members / Banning Members: These are actually two different
settings, but I have included them both here in this tip. If you like, you can personally
approve or reject join requests to the list. There can be some really good reasons to do
this, such as filtering out competitors, lurkers, bad actors, uninvited guests, etc.. You can
also ban unwanted members, or troublesome members.

6) Your Footer Message: By default, your discussion group list will have some kind of email
message footer that goes out with every message, and is automatically appended to the
bottom of the email. It should say what the name of the list is, how to send a message
to the list, how to unsubscribe from the list, and if you like a link to read message posts
with a web browser (if you have that function turned on). The footer can also mention
who owns the list, or who is sponsoring the list. By default, your list will have an
appropriate standard message footer which gives this essential information to every list
member at the bottom of every email sent to the group. People on lists look for this
information. Including this on the bottom of all email messages sent to your list should
be automatically done by your discussion groups list provider.

7) Multiple List Admins: Although most discussion groups are easy to run and take very
little effort to manage once underway, if you want to more actively manage your group
(such as by moderating all message posts to the group) then get help. Ask a coworker or
friend or member on the list to become a list admin too (easy to do), and they can share
the workload. We’ve seen groups have as many as 10 list admins to share the load.


Good email mailing list group software also has many other settings that you can change. For
example, you can: allow / disallow message attachments, limit maximum email message sizes,
get daily weekly or monthly new subscriber reports and delivery reports, archive messages, turn
on digest mode (one message goes out at the end of the day with a summary of all posts),
establish recency limits (prevents members from posting too closely together), create and
customize welcome messages (for new subscribers) and goodbye messages, allow for web
based discussion forum to read posts or make posts, search message posts on forum, track
message open and clickthroughs, create and use message templates, set a maximum total
number of subscribers, set or require passwords, allow only List Admins to send to the list,
schedule message sends, add a word to each email subject line such as [MyList] Example email
subject, allow anonymous postings, change language from English, add a list logo image, confirm
new subscriptions, and lots more settings. See:

Net Atlantic Groups uses the popular and proven ListManager software to run all email
discussion groups. Now at version 15, and in use since 1999, ListManager is superior because of
its ease of use and comprehensive, powerful feature set. It is one of the most popular software
packages available today to run and administer email discussion groups.

Report written by Matthew Sambito and Andrew Lutts, Net Atlantic, Inc.

Net Atlantic Groups – 10 Federal St, Suite 26 – Salem MA 01970