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Mailing Lists

Overview

There are a few things to consider when creating a mailing list at the University of Kansas. Currently Information Technology offers two different list serving methods: KU Group Lists (Microsoft Exchange Distribution Lists) and ListProc. Both offer many similar features but also have distinct advantages and disadvantages. First I will briefly explain how each method works.

KU Group Lists

These lists are housed on one of the university's Exchange servers. Exchange also handles university email. By creating a KU Group List (distribution list) on this server you can link multiple addresses to one simplified address or list of addresses. This list can be used for other purposes including group calendars and assigning rights to folders. Only KU users with a KU Online ID can be included in a KU Group List. 

ListProc Lists

These lists are housed on one of the university's UNIX servers. The ListProc software only handles mailing lists. It has no other purpose. It has an internal collection of lists that hold the names and addresses of each list created for ListProc. These lists are used only internally with ListProc


Comparison

KU Group List Listproc Lists
Automatic creation and subscription User/Owner creation and subscription
Enhanced capabilities with Outlook Stand-alone system no functionality with Outlook
Only uses the Outlook Global Addressbook email addresses Can use any email address
Only for departments, classes and official KU clubs and organizations For other groups on campus and groups involving external email addresses

The advantages of KU Group List over ListProc or vice versa are very much dependent on the intended purpose of the list, as well as the list membership. Some properties of KU Group Lists may be advantages in some situations, and disadvantages in others. It's ultimately up to the List owner to decide which list server will work better, according to the needs of the list. Those aspects of the lists which can be either good or bad, depending, also happen to be some of the most significant in choosing a server, so I'll cover them first:


Creation and Subscription Methods

The list creation process - For any KU Group List, there is the ability to have a nightly program manage the membership of the list. This removes the need for anyone to do any maintenance of the list. Once created, it maintains itself, and the list owners can always be assured that it contains the right people. For departments and classes, this is a big advantage for KU Group Lists. However, the automatic nature of the lists, by centralizing the control of the membership, makes manual upkeep more difficult than ListProc. Any user who wants to be a part of an existing list would first have to Go Through Channels.

For any list on a UNIX ListProc system, the membership configurations are very flexible. Control over list membership can be handed over to designated people easily, thus decentralizing control of the list and putting it in the hands of the list owners, or even opening up the list for self-subscription. In such a list, any person who wanted to join a list can do so by merely sending a Subscribe Me email to the list. Thus, for informal discussion, hobby, and interest groups, ListProc is the best choice.

Conversely, there are very few automated tools for generating lists without manual effort. No such tools exist at KU to do so on any regular basis, so as to maintain an ongoing list, and the only automated list tools currently in use for ListProc are employed only as needed, usually in preparation for a university-wide mass mailing.


Enhanced Abilities

KU Group Lists offers enhanced capabilities with Outlook (both Mac and PC) Advantage: If the vast majority of the list members have Exchange accounts, they will be able to take advantage of the other ways which KU Group Lists can be used from within Outlook, including Calendaring features. Disadvantage: Any members of the list with non-Exchange registered email addresses will miss out on all the KU Group List usage, and can only make use of the list's email capabilities.


Allowed E-mail Addresses

KU Group Lists can only consist of Exchange Address Book entries. Any object in the Global Address Book, including resources like conference rooms, is eligible for KU Group List membership. However, ONLY objects listed in the Global Address Book are eligible. To include anyone outside the university on a mailing list, that list must be run with ListProc. 


Types of Groups Supported

KU Group Lists can only be made for departments, classes, and officially approved and recognized university organizations. If a new club on campus wants to set up an email list for announcements and discussion, that list must be created on ListProc, rather than KU Group Lists. If the club were to reach official status then they could, upon receiving approval from the appropriate channels, request an KU Group List. For most faculty and staff requesting lists for university-related purposes, this is not an issue. For lists of any sort created on ListProc, this is never an issue.


Summary

In summary, there are certain questions you can ask about the list you want, how you want it set up, and how you intend to maintain it. The answers to some of those questions will determine which list option is best for you:

Do you want the list membership to be maintained from Human Resources and Student Records data, without any manual input? Yes = KU Group List

Do you want list members to be able to subscribe and remove themselves from the list? Yes = ListProc

Will your list contain members who are not directly affiliated with KU? Yes = ListProc

Are you requesting a list for use by an informal group, club, or some other organization which is not recognized by KU in any official capacity? Yes = ListProc

The major selling-point of KU Group Lists is the automatic update. In the right situation, this aspect of the lists can make email lists an option for people and groups who never before had the time to spare for maintaining one themselves. The main points in favor of ListProc are the option for self-subscription and other list-management choices, and the ability to include members who are not found in KU's Global Address Book. For collaborative efforts between multiple institutions, and for interest groups where members join on a voluntary basis, these points will keep ListProc in operation far into the future.

 


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