Newsgroup vs. Mailing list

Ken suggested I bring this topic up on the list so we could all discuss it.

Ken Fuchs <> (Ken) writes:

[ From the RFD ]
Ken> Although average traffic in November was only 7 messages per day, there
Ken> were numerous days with 30-40 messages. The only reasonable way to deal
Ken> with this traffic for many people, is the creation of a related newsgroup,

Seth Golub <> (SG) wrote:

SG> People may point out the option of a mailing list digest, which I think is a
SG> valid alternative. The traffic could be reduced to one message per day for
SG> those people subscribing to the digested version.

SG> Since this will be brought up by opponents, it needs to be discussed. We may
SG> find that it’s a better solution than a newsgroup, in which case we go with
SG> it, or else (assuming we are rational people) we’ll have valid reasons why a
SG> digest is not an acceptable solution, in which case those reasons should be
SG> summarized and stated somewhere appropriate.

Ken replied:

Ken> I’ve never subscribed to a digested format of a mailing list, but have come
Ken> across digests of the nihongo mailing list in the sci.lang.japan newsgroup.
Ken> I could never tell what various subjects the digests contain.

I’m sure it’s possible to have the digest make a table of contents.
i.e. have a list at the top of all the subject lines of the messages in
the digest.

Ken> Please post your digested mailing list suggestion to the list, so we know
Ken> can discuss how we want to deal with it. We must either provide a digest
Ken> option to our mailing list, or come up with a good reason why a mailing
Ken> list gatewayed newsgroup is a better solution.

For those of you just joining this in-progress conversation:

I’ve never subscribed to a mailing list in the digest format, so I’m a little
fuzzy on the details. The way I understand it, a mailing list digest is a single
piece of mail which contains all the mail that went through the mailing list
that day. It’s useful for mailing lists which get a lot of traffic.

Some people might subscribe to the list as a digest and receive at most, one
piece of mail per day from the list. This would not affect their ability to send
mail to the list. Not everyone would have to use the digest. Some people could
use the digest while others continued as we are now.

Re: Newsgroup vs. Mailing list

Hi all,

I happen to subscribe to some of the mailing lists at, which uses
the Majordomo software for the administration/ distribution. I have no idea if
this is publicly available
(i.e. FREE) software or not, but here’s the details I found about the digest

              *** / New Majordomo with Digest Option / ***

i.f. folks. Here’s what you’ve all been waiting for. I have upgraded the mailing
list software (Majordomo) to the latest and greatest version (1.92). The
most important consequence is that all lists on are now also
available in digest mode.

What is “Digest Mode”?

Some lists (such as are experiencing a lot of volume (many
messages per day). Some people would rather not receive all these postings one
at a time since it can be difficult to get any work done if you are always being
interrupted by incoming mail. In digest mode, Majordomo collects all the
messages sent to the list during a given day and then sends you a single
composite message at the end of the day which contains all the individual
messages glued together.

Are there any Drawbacks to Digest Mode?

If a message announcing some event is posted to the list the same day as the
event, you will not see the posting until after the event has occurred. Of
course, if you are expecting an important announcement, you can always subscribe
to the regular form of the list for that day.

How Do I Sign Up for Digest Mode?

For each list on, there is a companion digest list called
`listname-digest’. For example, the digest form of the mtb list is called
mtb-digest. The digest form of the ww-chat list is called ww-chat-digest, etc.
You decide whether or not you want to receive postings in digest mode on a per
list basis. For example, if you are currently on the mtb list and want to switch
to digest mode for that list, unsubscribe yourself from the mtb list and
subscribe to the mtb-digest list. You would do this by sending the following
three-line message to

unsubscribe mtb subscribe mtb-digest end

That’s all there is to it. In all other respects, digest lists work the same way
as normal lists. For example, you can unsubscribe from a digest list and
re-subscribe to the normal form of the list by reversing the list names in the
example above; i.e.,

unsubscribe mtb-digest subscribe mtb end

To find out who is on the regular form of the list and who is on the digest form
you would send the following message to

who mtb who mtb-digest end

Replying to Digest Messages

Since messages digest contain several messages, usually from several different
people, you will have to pay attention to the From: or Reply-To: fields on the
headers of the individual messages if you want to reply to the author of that
message. Simply replying to the incoming digest message will direct your message
back to the list address where everyone on the list will see it.

Do I Post to or

Even if you are signed up for the digest form a list, you still send your
postings to the regular form of the list address. For example, if you are signed
up for mtb-digest, you would still send your own messages to

Can I be Subscribed to Both listname and listname-digest?

Yep. Of course, in general this would defeat the purpose of digest mode.
However, you might want to be on the digest form of a list for most of the time
and periodically subscribe to the regular form of the list if you were expecting
an important announcement that day.

Have fun!

-------------------------------------------------------------------> Patrick
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