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Some of you might be interested in how easy it's become to make a mailing
list and how I set up one to notify people of screenings in the Atlanta
area, called Atlanta Film.  It was inspired by a similar one from the
Tuscaloosa-Birmingham area and by the number of little-publicized films
that appear around the city.  The process is so simple that lists could be
put together for various uses that might not be so attractive if it was
more complicated:  update notifications for websites, lists for
organizations or for limited interest topics, new arrival/sale info for
home businesses, your own cyberzine, etc.

For ease of use, I decided to go with a Web-based service and looked at a
few of the ones available.  Listbot (http://www.listbot.com) offered nearly
every function I'd want (though there's no vacation/hold option, at least
that I've discovered yet).  Like most of these services, there's no charge
but the company makes its money by adding a small ad to the end of each
message.  For Lisbot, it's two lines, one for Lisbot and one for another
company, both pretty inconspicuous at the bottom.  For an extra $4.95 a
month you can have a list with no ads and added functions.  One advantage
to Listbot is that it handles messages bounced from bad addresses without
the list owner having to do them.

Actually getting Atlanta Film started took not more than five minutes tops.
 You give Listbot a name, real mail address and e-mail before getting to
the specifics of the list.  Lists can be announcement (only the owner sends
messages), moderated (like Screen-L, anybody can send messages but they're
only distributed to the whole group when the owner/moderator OKs them) or
unmoderated (any message sent to the list immediately goes to everybody).
There are numerous other options such as whether the archive is public,
whether members can read the membership list, restrictions on who can join,
etc.  For Atlanta Film, I wanted maximum accessibility so I made the
archive public (each list automatically gets its own website) and let
anybody join.  However, I disallowed letting anybody but me read the
membership listing and also didn't ask any demographic info of members
(there's a selection of demographic questions that can be asked, I almost
wished I got names at least but on the other hand that's really not
important).  Since I didn't want the list to be flooded with duplicate info
or turn into a discussion group (we can start one of those if people want
it) I made it moderated.  Though only members can send e-mail directly to
the list, there's a public e-mail address that kicks any messages over to
my normal address which is essential if I want people not on the list to
tell me about screenings.  There are a few non-Listbot details to work out,
such as whether to do several smaller mailings (my choice) or larger weekly
ones, whether to include the list name in the subject line, how many
notices of commercial screenings to include, etc but these will be resolved
when members say what they'd like.

One other point about Listbot and most of these other services is that they
only support "opt-in" lists, which means that only people who ask to join
directly to the service are allowed in.  Not even the list owner can add
anybody.  This serves the dual function of preventing people being added as
a prank/mistake as well as keeping the service from being used for spam.
It does mean Listbot wouldn't be very useful for something like an internal
department list unless you can get each person to sign up individually.

If you want to see the Atlanta Film website (which has the archive), it's
at  http://atlantafilm.listbot.com

To subscribe send an e-mail to [log in to unmask]

An example of how Listbot can be used for website update notifications go
to my World Cinema Review site (http://www.tcf.ua.edu/wlt4/wcr.htm).  A
simple e-mail address to join is in the opening and a graphic button option
is at the bottom of the page.

LT
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Lang Thompson
http://www.tcf.ua.edu/wlt4

World Cinema Review
http://www.tcf.ua.edu/wlt4/wcr.htm

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For past messages, visit the Screen-L Archives:
http://bama.ua.edu/archives/screen-l.html