Thursday, March 27, 2014 - Painless E-mail Lists for Small Groups

There's a regular group of us that attend Thursday Morning Minyan at my shul, and one of the members smartly attempted to connect us all via an e-mail list (or Listserv, for all you old schoolers out there). This would allow 15 or 20 of us to be notified of an upcoming special yahrtzeit or the like.

The obvious way to do this, which I've done in the past, is to hop over to Yahoo Groups and create a new group. Which he did. Except, getting everyone attached to this group turned out to be non-trivial. First of all, Yahoo discourages, if not makes completely impossible the simple act of explicitly adding people to a group. Instead, people need to be invited. And then they need a Yahoo account. And to create a Yahoo account they need to enter their cell phone number or address or promise a first born. In other words, it's a headache.

I realize, of course, this isn't exactly all Yahoo's fault. Sure, some of this process may be made more complicated by Yahoo's marketing department's wish to have as much data as possible on each member. But I suspect most of the headache is caused by the fact that for every little group like ours that's created to follow the rules, many more are created to do nasty things like SPAM the heck out of the Internet.

Anyway, Yahoo Groups was a bust. Google also has a groups platform, but again, I suspected that if you don't have a Google account everything gets hairy, quickly.

I Googled around for Alternatives to Yahoo Groups and was surprised to see how many people kvetch about the system, yet continue to stick with it.

After a couple of false starts; I found the curiously named It promised free and easy access.

And I'm happy to say, they deliver. It is indeed free to create and manage a group with less than 50 folks in it. And best of all, you simply add in the e-mail addresses you want on the list. There's even a "Spreadsheet" and CSV entry that allowed me to copy and paste my list of e-mails into. The members of the group had to do nothing, zilch, to have access to the group.

I added folks, and sent a message to and everyone got it. To send an e-mail to the group, folks just need to email, like you would expect.

As list manager, I have the ability to tweak a number of settings on the group, most of which are "locked" until I upgrade to a paid plan (which is as expensive as $25/yr; quite the bargain). For now, the free setup seems to more than do the job.

I know e-mail is far from the most sexy platform to implement. But the ability to make a group e-mail list in just a few minutes is definitely handy, and one I'm glad a I have a solution to. I love the technology that Google and Yahoo offer, but I've got to say, this is one case where using the little guy means I don't have to deal with all the big guy's problems (of SPAM, abuse and fraud) and the workarounds that go with them.

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