A Few Thoughts About Idealware’s “A Good Email Discussion List Tools”

The good folks at Idealware have added another nice article to their “A Few Good Tools…” series, this one titled “A Few Good Email List Discussion Tools.”

While the article provides a pretty good overview of the space, it leaves out a few supporting details that I think are worth noting:

  • Idealware’s article mentions that many CMS platforms have some email discussion list support, including Democracy In Action, Convio, Kintera, Drupal and Joomla, but neglects to mention that Plone also has such features, through its add-on product Listen.
  • Idealware’s article mentions the great folks at Electric Embers, DGroups and OnlineGroups as nonprofit-oriented discussion list providers, but neglects to also mention the team at The Open Planning Project, whose OpenPlans service offers a very powerful, user-friendly web-and-email discussion list experience.
  • Idealware’s article gives rather short shrift to several powerful open-source email discussion list solutions that enable more sophisticated groups to take control of their own discussion list hosting. Sympa and Mailman are probably the two leaders.  Idealware dismisses Mailman in passing, saying it and (unnamed) similar tools “aren’t as easy to use as many others, and don’t include features like archives or online groups. They can also make it difficult to view or export a file of the list of subscribers.”While it’s true that Mailman and Sympa don’t have the polished usability of some commercial discussion tools, they do include web-based archives and offer simple subscriber views and one-click export of the subscriber list.  Some hosting providers may disable archiving, but that’s not the software’s fault. The host-it-yourself path is not for everyone, since it does require some technical expertise to configure and maintain, but that’s also true of many of the solutions Idealware does mention.

Overall, good article, worth a read.   I hope Idealware will consider incorporating some of these additional details to round it out a bit more.