Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(February 2001)

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Subject: Re: how to make mail lists scale well
From: James M Galvin <galvin @ acm . org>
Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2001 16:50:05 -0500 (EST)
To: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
Cc: List-Managers <list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM>
In-reply-to: <B6A97556 . 3E0F%chuqui @ plaidworks . com>

On Fri, 9 Feb 2001, Chuq Von Rospach wrote:
    I've more or less come to the conclusion that the discussion list
    via email is a bad technology. It's just until recently, there
    really weren't better technologies -- and if all you have are
    hammers, everything looks like a nail.

I hope you don't really mean this quite as literally as it is stated.  I
think it's short-sighted to suggest that mailing lists are universally
bad technology for discussion lists.

I prefer mailing lists over all other related technologies.  The
principal reason for this is that it is push technology and I really
like having everything in my local environment.  This way I get to
manage it in whatever way is best for me.  Of course, I recognize that
I'm not a typical user, but that certainly doesn't make what I want and
how I like things intrinsically bad.

In my opinion no technology deals exceptionally well with the problem of
a large group of people contributing to a discussion.  The analogy that
someone suggested to a lecture hall was an excellent one.  Each
technology (mailing lists, newsgroups, chat rooms, etc.) has its limits
on how well it functions as the number of participants increases.

Developers of Internet technologies know very well that the only real
problem to solve is "scalability".

Nonetheless, as a practical matter, I have another suggestion to the
problem of a large discussion mailing list.  You didn't like digesting,
which is fine, but how about we reach to a finer level of granularity.
Another solution I have seen work is to throttle or otherwise limit the
messages that can be submitted to the list.  Two popular limiting
criteria are by the domain name of the email address and by the entire
email address itself.  This can also be done entirely automatically.

The Cure For What (M)ails You:  <>

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