X-Message-Number: 3495
From: whscad1!kqb (Kevin Q Brown +1 201 386 7344)
Subject: CRYONICS CryoNet Options

Thanks to everyone for their comments on how the mailing list should
be run at cryonet.org.  You have given much food for thought.
For example, several people said that they found value in the
messages from the flame wars.  Other people suggested various
ways to partition the messages into different sub-lists and
some suggested that the messages should be sent separately rather
than just in digests.  Moderation of the list came up several
times, too.  Yet another suggestion was to make the software
check for certain keywords (such as "COPYRIGHT") and announce
the arrival of such messages in the digests, but not actually
insert them in the digests.

I'm still not certain what is best, but my preferences tend toward
whatever is cheapest and easiest for me to accomplish without
irritating too many people.  (How's that for high principles?)
Also, I can offer information about consequences of some of the
suggestions that probably nobody else had realized.

First, concerning what's easiest, the more automated the better.
(That also makes the system more impartial, I think.)  So thanks
to the people who have expressed confidence in me as a potential
moderator, but I really don't want to do that to myself.  I would
be happy to let someone else take the full feed and offer a moderated
list, as another option for receiving CryoNet.  We can even have
competing moderators, offering their own versions of a moderated list.
If the moderator(s) start receiving their own messages, rather than
receiving a message feed forwarded from cryonet.org, though, then
we may end up with an unfortunate fracturing of the mailing lists
into factions that don't speak with each other.

Another proposal was to partition the messages into N (where N >> 1)
different sublists, devoted to N different topics related to cryonics,
and let people subscribe to these ala carte, depending on their tastes.
While that does have some conceptual attractiveness, I forsee some
problems.  The first, and probably least important, problem is that
it could result in N flame wars in parallel as people in each of the
sublists complain that postings were not sent to the correct sublist. :-(
Another problem is that probably many people want just one or two
digests per night instead of N.  (I'll exclude for now the people
who want undigested email.  I'll also exclude the option of creating
about 2^N mailing lists so that each combination of the N sublists is
covered.)  The most important problem, though, is that those N sublists
will cost more money to run than one or two (or three?) lists.

I don't have the exact figures for the cost of N sublists, but I can
explain the current costs at cryonet.org and perhaps we can extrapolate
from that.  Here are the monthly costs for the single cryonet mailing
list currently set up at cryonet.org:

    $10   for shell account (kqb)
    $10   for domain cryonet.org
    $6    for six forwarders to the cryonet mailing list
    $M/10 for M members of the cryonet mailing list

Currently we have about 230 people on the regular cryonics mailing list,
plus 8 who receive the special digest that excludes sci.cryonics
messages.  That gives a monthly cost of $26 + $238/10 = $49.80.
This price includes up to 5 MB disk space (and 1 MB email spool)
plus Web pages.  (CGI scripts for Web pages will cost extra, though.)

As you can see, it would be cheaper if everything was run with "c2.org"
addresses rather than "cryonet.org", but the name "cryonet.org" gives
some important advantages.  First, it gives portability, since the host
machine can be changed without changing the email address.  Also, it
gives better name recognition; "cryonet.org" sounds more like a cryonics
mailing list than "c2.org".  Many sites do not offer such DNS (and MX)
services at all, or they charge a lot more for it.

You may also wonder what are those six forwarders that cost $6/month.
They are:
    cryonet - posting (and archive retrieval) address
    owner-cryonet - for mailing and/or receiving bounced email
    cryonet-owner - for mailing and/or receiving bounced email
    cryonet-approval - apparently for approving admin requests
    cryonet-request - just sends back its idea of useful info.
    majordomo - subscribe/unsubscribe/info/who/etc. (but not index)
I'm told that Majordomo needs most of those names and sendmail needs
another one, so the list needs all six to make sure nothing breaks.
(Those five *cryonet* names do not have corresponding login accounts.
Email to those IDs instead goes to either Majordomo or kqb.)
Additional lists will not necessarily require six more forwarders apiece;
perhaps as few as three more apiece will be enough.

What would it cost to run N mailing lists?  Certainly the monthly
cost would not exceed:
    $20 + $6N + $MN/10
for N lists and M members (to each list).  Since additional lists may
need only three more forwarders apiece and maybe that "$MN/10" somehow
may be reduced to something as low as "$M/10" (although I doubt it),
figure a lower bound of:
    $23 + $3N + $M/10
These costs are not certain because they are subject to negotiation.
What I do know is the cost of adding a politics list to reproduce
what we have right now.  Assuming that the politics list requires
only three more forwarders, the monthly cost of a CryoNet list and
also a cryonics politics list would be:
    $20 + $6 + $3 + $M/10 + $P/10
where P is the number of people on the politics list (currently 56).
This totals $29 + $294/10 = $58.40 per month.  A simple restructuring
can reduce that cost.  Replace the cryonics politics list with a
"regular CryoNet plus cryonics politics" list so that the P members
of the politics list no longer need to subscribe to the regular list.
This yields:
    $20 + $6 + $3 + $(M-P)/10 + $P/10
for a monthly cost of $52.80.

Oh yes, by paying six months in advance, all the above costs should get
reduced by 25%.

Another option some people mentioned was to get undigested email
throughout the day rather than a once-a-night digest.  These people
might as well get the full feed because anyone equipped to receive
all those messages either can program their own mail filters or hit
the "d" key quickly.  I don't know if an undigested mailing list would
cost more to run than a nightly digest mailing list, but I'll find out
once I get more feedback on what other costs, etc. I should ask about.
(I would rather ask the c2.org admin lots of questions in one message
than send lots of separate messages with little questions in each.)
One nice feature of having an undigested mailing list is that since
nobody would need to subscribe to both that and a digested list,
the total number of subscribers would remain the same.

In summary, I see several interesting possibilities:

  (1) We can have a default CryoNet digest list that filters out
      messages with special keywords (such as "POLITICS") in the
      Subject line.  (Of course, people on that list would be
      notified that filtered messages had arrived and would be
      able to retrieve them upon request, but their digests would
      not include them by default.)
  (2) Another digest list could send the full feed, no matter what
      keywords are in the Subject line.
  (3) An undigested list could receive the full feed, with separate
      messages arriving throughout the day.

Do these sound like good choices?  If so, what should be the names of
these lists?  In addition, if someone wants to receive an undigested
full feed and offer a moderated mailing list service, please let me know.

                              Kevin Q. Brown

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