Discussion Groups: A group is an electronic mailing group that exchanges ideas and thoughts on a wide variety of topics or on a single topic of mutual interest via email 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 email. In mailing list the user posts a query and every member gets a mail and a few would answer replying everyone through the forum 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.
According to NetSetGo Marketing (www.netsetgo.com/glossary.php) a discussion group is “a Web that supports interactive discussions by users. Users submit topics or responses by entering text in a form”.
According to Vikont Solutions corp. (www.vikont.com/clients/glossary.htm) it is “a particular section within the USENET system typically, though not always, dedicated to a particular subject of interest. Also known as a newsgroup”.
A LIS-Server or mail server is a discussion group created to share ideas and knowledge on as subject. Lisserver is the most common list server programme. Discussion groups are usually created and monitored by some one with an interest in that subject and are open to anyone. One can just join the list simply by sending an appropriate worded email request to the list. The programme automatically reads your email address and adds one to the circulation list. A message sent to the list is copied and then forwarded by email to every person who subscribes to the list.
a) Features of a Discussion Group: A discussion group has the following features-
i) Subscribing to a Group: There are many groups over the web even in some minute topics of interest. So, you have the choice of choosing the right group that meets your need and expectation.
Determine 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.
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.
ii) Composing and Posting a Quality Message: Before making a new query in the discussion group please keep in mind the following things-
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* Stop Forwarding Your Subscription: Some people send the email 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* Descriptive Title: Concise and descriptive subject titles should be used.
* Framing the Message: Take much time to phrase the message well, and spell correctly, use any appropriate references if needed and recheck it before posting.
* 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.
iii) 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.
b) Concerns: Discussion group creates following concerns-
i) Lots of Email in the Email Inbox: Many subscribers receive a lot of email 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 email and even it becomes hard job to give replays to them. So, in many cases they delete the emails 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.
ii) Spamming: One should generally avoid posting the same message to multiple discussions. 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.
iii) 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 reflectors or 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.
c) 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 (http:// in.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.