Are Forums a Replacement for Listserv?

Posted by Adrian Speyer on Oct 24, 2013 1:28:47 PM
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Listserv (a system to let people send group emails to each other) is great way for a small group of people to discuss a single topic or for broadcasting time sensitive messages. There are lots of free or low cost Listserv (and listserv-like) products out there, for example Google Groups or Mailman. The drawback of Listerv is that it doesn’t scale well and doesn't provide you with many of the benefits that you get from a forum community. Here are just some of the limitations of using Listserv and why you might want to consider a forum to build your community:

  • If it gets too busy, people tune out or unsubscribe when their mailbox gets inundated with messages.

  • If you want to break out the list into different categories, you need to create multiple lists.

  • All the great knowledge sent to the list is lost. You're not creating a great searchable knowledge base

  • There are no SEO benefits.

  • You can't give people status or reward them for participation (no likes, ranks or badges).

  • You can't have a lively back and forth between a sub-set of members without annoying the rest of the list.

When your email list gets too big or too active, upgrading to online forum can give your members the best of both worlds: a rich online experience and the ability to manage email notifications and reduce the amount of email being received. In summary a forum is better for larger or more complex groups. While some will miss using email as the sole interface, the added benefits will outweigh this.

Now it's your turn. Do you still use Listserv? What prevents you from switching? Share your views in the comments.

Vanilla Forums lets members control granular email notification setting and supports posting by email. Please contact us here to learn more about this feature.

Topics: News

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