by By Bob Walters | July 01, 2007

The Internet has provided the opportunity for each of us to contribute our knowledge or opinion in a number of ways, most notably via listservs and blogs. Starting a listserv or blog is a great way to get people involved, to share opinions and to draw them to your website, meeting or services. Following is a primer on these communities.


Many organizations have found over the past 10 years that managing or providing listservs, defined as a mailing list program for communicating with other people who have subscribed to the same list, is practical. Using e-mail, users can participate in listservs pertaining to their personal topics of interest. When you submit a message to the server, your message is relayed to all those on the listserv. You receive messages from other participants via e-mail.

A listserv requires software that allows people to add or remove themselves from the list. Typically, a listserv has a monitor who reviews people requesting to join and sends a confirmation if the person is accepted. The list monitor also may act as a filter by reviewing the content to make sure it is relevant.

Many listservs become self-policing, where members will identify inappropriate submissions or opt out if the listserv becomes irrelevant to them or a source of spam or marketing efforts.

There are several ways to implement a listserv. Many of the popular services like Yahoo! Groups ( will let you develop a list and invite people to join. These tend to be free services, but you will find general advertising from Yahoo! on the banners or footers of the pages. It’s a great way to get a grass-roots listserv started.

Services like ( will provide the formats and handle the messaging at rates starting as low as $35/month for up to 1,000 subscribers. Another service provided by Discuss This ( offers a free trial and monthly billings at a rate of $10 per month per 50 members.


Blogs exist for people to post and share their opinions. Here, the difference is that the conversation, rather than being distributed, is typically posted on a web page where people can join or enter their thoughts and comments. Blog is short for weblog and is a journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. Blogs typically represent the personality of the author or the website.

Blogs can be of a general nature, such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper offering his take on current events (and inviting feedback), or any of the countless personal blogs maintained by people from all walks of life; or they can be restricted blogs that are behind members-only log-ins, associated with a specific meeting or event or running internally on a corporate intranet.

Blogs have more of an immediate impact and, since messages are added to the list, just like a log, an individual can read the previous comments and respond.

Depending on the nature of the blog, they may or may not be monitored. Actually, monitoring a blog tends to reduce its effectiveness, since immediacy and personal opinions are the key goals.

There are several services available to help bloggers get started. Blogger (, which is hosted by Google (, has a free step-by-step process for creating a blog. TypePad ( is a paid service that costs as little as $4.95 per month for a personal blog and has a professional level at $14.95 that allows you to use your own domain name or embed the blog in your primary website. BlogFlux ( is another resource with many how-to links.

Bob Walters,based in Fort Worth, Texas, is founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak Software.