[saymaListserv] List-server "reply-to" options

Susan Jeffers SusanJeffers at compuserve.com
Thu May 25 11:37:36 JEST 2000

Hi Mary --

I subscribe to a number of different list-server type groups.

Some of them default to "reply-to-list" and some to "reply-to-sender" so
I've learned to check when I press "reply" what ends up in the "to" spot.

Some of the lists are mainly for "one-way" communication, for example
Friends-Church, where missionaries might post a newsy letter about what's
been happening in their corner of the world, or someone might post a prayer
request, or the Quaker Information Center might post a job opening for some
Quaker organization.  Anyone who "replies" to these posts would most likely
want to reply only to the individual who originated the message, although
occasionally people do consider their response sufficiently "general
interest" that they respond to the whole list.  I don't know what
Friends-Church default is, but "reply-to-sender" would make the most sense
to me.

Other lists are mainly for "discussion" -- someone posts a topic or
question and asks the list what folks think about it.  Every now and then
someone will say -- "feel free to respond off-list" when the question or
topic is clearly of limited interest, but mostly the purpose of the list is
hashing things over "in public."  Also occasionally people will respond
"privately" ("reply-to-sender") to a "public" question if they prefer their
response to be private for whatever reason -- protecting a third party's
reputation, for example, or wishing not to give offense, or wanting to
disclose information about ones own experiences without making the details
"public."  Two examples of such "public discussion" lists are Quaker-L and
Friends-Theology.  I don't know what these lists' defaults are, but
"reply-to-list" would make the most sense to me.

I haven't been on the SAYMA list all that long, but it seems to be a cross
between the two.  

Any way you set the preferences will probably be inconvenient and possibly
embarrassing for some people some times.  

New users of EMail and/or lists often won't realize there's a choice to be
made or an assumption implicit in not choosing how to reply.

Some people posting sensitive, private material may find out later it went
to the whole list when they meant it only for the eyes of one person.

Some people urgently needing input from the whole list may find out too
late that it only went to one individual.

There's no perfection in the world of EMail, that's for sure!  Thanks for
your work on this!

Grace and peace to you and the rest of the SAYMA-ites!

Susan Jeffers

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