listServer vs discussionForum

 hi fellow EATAWians,


one of the little delights of ending my working day ('down under' in Oz) isreceiving messages from Europe as it wakes up...


anyway... back to business


In Australia we faced exactly the same problem of 'list-server overuse/abuse', people being frustrated by receiving many unnecessary/personal eMails, etc., as what EATAW members have recently been grappling with.


So please allow me to clarify what Martin meant and what I have already suggested to EATAW to explore, which is what we did in Australia a few years ago: setting up ONE listserver and ONE discussion forum ( 2 quite separate platforms). Martin and I are not suggesting setting up  TWO listservers.  I do not believe this would work -  I understand EATAW tried to set up and run (unsucessfully) 2 listservers.


So, here's what we did:

step 1) we changed the 'settings' of our own listserver 'unilearn' (if you want to join, please see: when you hit reply, your response goes to the sender, not the whole list. If you want to reply to the sender AND the list, you need to hit 'reply all'. This can easily be changed, from the current EATAW listserver settings which mean that evryone's reply goes to the whole list. Here, simply changing this setting, solved some problems, but not all. In particular, many people (unilearn has about 600 subscribers) were still frustrated about the number of eMails they received. Others were frustrated that they couldn't find discussion 'threads' about discussions held on the listserver, some time ago, and which they had misplaced/deleted ...


step 2) we created a separate discussion forum (NOT a second listserver) incorpoarted within the website of the Association for Academic Language & Learning (AALL), which you can have a look at (read messages), but need to register with, in order to post a message (topic). You do not need to be a member of AALL and this is all free of charge, of course:


step 3) we encouraged members of AALL and unliearn listerver users to a) NOT use unilearn listserver to communicate/discuss, but 'notify/alert' only, b) use the 'unilearn' listserver to post BRIEF notifications of events (conferences, ...), jobs and discussions and refer members to the URL of the posting on the AALL discussion forum, and, c) use the AALL discussion forum to discuss, exchange views, files, documents, etc..


Let me illustrate: Gavin wants to know what he asked. 

a) he posts a message on the 'discussion forum' (as I did, to exemplify, see url below)

b) then, he sends a message through EATAW listserver asking his question and inviting replies, and refers EATAW lists-members to the URL of his posting on the forum, eg.:



1) only brief messages are received via EATAW listserver

2) (almost) no more personal communications are possible (see step 1)

3) discussion forum members can select what topics they want/do not want to be informed about ('subscribe to')

4) discussion/issues, information, notifications, are grouped and 'archived' so can easily be accessed whenever wanted/needed


By and large this set up has been working well over the past few years, for us here: fewer frustrations caused by eMail floods, more focused discussions, etc. Occasionally one of us (usually me) needs to remind a listserver user to 'would you mind moving your discussion from the listsever to the AALL discussion forum' so more of us can benefit and so it can be kept for later.


I hope this helps.