Discussion Groups

1. Introduction: A discussion group is an electronic mailing list that exchanges ideas and thoughts on a wide variety of topics or on a single topic of mutual interest via e-mail messages on an Internet site. An individual subscriber can join a discussion group electronically, and all messages sent to the group are distributed to the members by e-mail. In discussion group the user posts a query and every member gets a mail and a few would answer replying everyone through the group or personally to the user. In the web based group, there will be a space on web for the users to discuss. Many groups have archives on the Web.

The term Groups refers to Internet communication which is a hybrid between an electronic mailing list and a threaded Internet forum, in other words, Group messages can be read and posted by e-mail or on the Group's webpage like a web forum. In addition, members can choose whether to receive individual, daily digest or Special Delivery e-mails, or simply read Group posts on the Group’s web site.


2. Features of a Discussion Group: A discussion group has the following features-

a) Subscribing to a Group: There are many groups over the web even in some minute topics of interest. So, one have the choice of choosing the right group that meets his/her need and expectation. The discussion group can have two options for the subscription- one through a web based form or button like “Join Group” and another by way of sending an email message to a specific email address of the group. An open group is configured to grant you immediate membership. A restricted group requires approval from an administrator before you are added to a group. A private group requires you to click on a link to request membership from the owner.

b) Determining the Mode of Subscription: Many of the users of discussion group or e-list now-a-days are overwhelmed by the number of discussion group mails they receive demanding more sophisticated approach to categorize and as a result many groups offer a “Digest” mode, where one receives just one message a day with postings as attachments.

c) Message Filters: Most modern mail programs have message filters to direct all discussion group postings into designated mail subfolders for reading and managing discussion groups much easier.

d) Posting to a Group: One can post to a discussion group by sending a simple email message to the group email address or by using its web form. Replying to a discussion group message is much the same as posting a new message.

e) Unsubscribing to a Group: You can stop receiving emails from a group by either leaving the group through its web button or by way of sending a designated email to a specific email address, or changing your settings. If you unsubscribe from a group, you'll no longer be a member, and you'll stop receiving emails.


3. Basic Guidelines for Composing and Posting a Quality Message: Before making a new query in the discussion group one should keep in mind the following things-

a) Reading Posting Guidelines: Many discussion groups have their own specific guidelines for what is allowed. Generally, after joining a group it sends the general posting guideline to the new subscriber of the group and before posting a message to a discussion group all such posting guidelines should be read carefully.

b) Aware of the Aims and Objective of the Group: Only that message should be posted to a group that meets its aim and objectives. Personal invitation like marriage and others should strictly be avoided for being considered for posting and all others that are not related to the aim and objectives of the groups in consideration.

c) Avoid Duplication of Post: If you are a new member of a particular mail based discussion group and the group has a search provision and an online archive, then before posting, it is advisable to make a query search to find out whether such a posting is made earlier or not. Duplication in query should be avoided.

d) Stop Forwarding Your Subscription: Some people send the e-mail and newsletter that they received as a subscription from some other sites. Some even go further and copy and paste some portion of some web sites periodically and post it to the group. Such bad practices must be avoided.

e) Aware of Audience: Think carefully about message’s audience. Before posting a message to a discussion group keep it in mind that you are addressing millions of potential readers on the web with different degree of expertise. Many groups have also archives on the Web and if it is then the posting message may attract millions of reader in the coming days.

f) Posting Original Message: Your post or message should say something new and substantial. The message that you are going to post will represent your profession, organization and yourself in a wide public. In all cases, your participation in a discussion or contribution is judged by the quality of your message or query. You can either create a good professional reputation, or permanently damage your image and credibility by posting just a single message.

g) Using Descriptive Title: Concise and descriptive subject titles should be used while posting in a discussion group.

h) Framing the Message Properly: Take much time to phrase the message well, and spell correctly, use any appropriate references if needed and recheck it before posting.

i) Introduce Yourself in the Message: If you are new to the group, then it is better to introduce yourself in front of the group member before the message or by giving all essential details about you at the end of the message.

j) Responding Properly: In posting a query or an answer or participating in a debate others should be treated with respect; insult and sending an angry message should be avoided. Also as message does not carry the clues of what is there in face-to-face conversation, so humor and sarcasm can be easily misunderstood in a message and this should always be kept in mind.


4. Concerns in Discussion Group: Discussion group creates following concerns-

a) Lots of E-mail in the E-mail Inbox: Many subscribers receive a lot of e-mail message a day as a result of their subscription to some mailing groups, and it is not possible for them to go through each and every e-mail and even it becomes hard job to give replays to them. So, in many cases they delete the e-mails by going through the subject only. So, if you know the expert who may answer to the question you want to send to a discussion group it is better to send it personally to the intended audience.

b) Spamming: One should generally avoid posting the same message to multiple discussion group. As there are many people who subscribe to multiple discussion groups which come under their purview of subject area this activity can make them offended.

Commercial messages, sexual and the like are considered unwanted content for posting and these should be avoided.

c) Auto Responders: At the time of subscribing to a discussion group or e-list it is better not to configure an automated response to one’s mailbox, such as for vacation notices or other as it may cause problems with any mailing lists one is subscribed to. Or if it is desirable to configure an automated response for vacation message then the subscription to the mailing list should be deactivated.

5. Examples: There are many discussion groups on a wide subject area in the public arena. A lot of free discussion groups are hosted by Google groups (http://groups.google.co.in), Yahoo! Groups (https://groups.yahoo.com/). If you are planning to host your own discussion group, in determining the hosting service for the group the facility of online archive, subscription option, speed, etc. should be taken care of. We recommend you to use Google Groups for this purpose.

a) Google Groups: Google Groups became operational in February 2001. Google Groups is a service from Google Inc. that provides discussion groups for people sharing common interests. The Groups service also provides a gateway toUsenet newsgroups via a shared user interface. Google Groups offers at least two kinds of discussion group; in both cases users can participate in threaded conversations, either through a web interface or by e-mail.

b) Yahoo! Groups: Yahoo! Groups is one of the world’s largest collections of online discussion boards. It is not necessary to register with Yahoo! in order to participate in Yahoo! Groups. The basic mailing list functionality is available to any e-mail address, but a Yahoo! ID is required to access most other features.


6. Conclusion: A LIS-Server or mail server is a discussion group created to share ideas and knowledge on a subject. Lisserver is the most common list server programme. Discussion groups are usually created and monitored by someone with an interest in that subject and are open to anyone. One can just join the list simply by sending an appropriate worded e-mail request to the list. The programme automatically reads your e-mail address and adds one to the circulation list. A message sent to the list is copied and then forwarded by e-mail to every person who subscribes to the list.

            Groups can be created with public or member-only access. Some Groups are simply announcement bulletin boards, to which only the Group moderators can post, while others are discussion forums. Groups are good to have a diverse opinion on a single topic. It used to open the minds of the user in different directions.

How to Cite this Article?

APA Citation, 7th Ed.:  Barman, B. (2020). A comprehensive book on Library and Information Science. New Publications.

Chicago 16th Ed.:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. Guwahati: New Publications, 2020.

MLA Citation 8th Ed:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. New Publications, 2020.