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So why should you use


Good question! If you actually asked this, then I will assume that you have never tried to run a notify list yourself, because frankly, it is a huge pain. Huge!

I (oh yeah, hi, I'm Andrew, I run have run a personal mailing list myself now for a few years now and it has some really good sides and really bad sides. On one hand, having a notify list is very important if you want your website to get as many visitors as it can. People don't want to check your page every day if you only update once a week, and after going back 2 or 3 times and seeing that nothing has changed, they'll just give up and stop going. By getting them to join your notify list, you can actually contact them when you do update, so they'll come and see the site again.

Now, not only are they visiting your site more often, but you're also making a personal connection with them. If you like getting email from your site's visitors (and let's face it, who doesn't?) this is great, because people are much more likely to reply to an email you have sent them and tell you "hey I've been reading your site for a while and...." than actually start writing you an email. If you send an email saying "I updated my site, and by the way, hello, who are you all?" I can guarantee you'll get a bunch of emails from people you never knew read your site who now have a reason to say hi to you.

So what are the down sides? Well before came along anyway (I am such a salesman, it's disgusting), you had 2 choices if you wanted to start a notify list: Make your own system or use a discussion list service:

If you use a service that is meant for 2-way discussions, good luck. You'll spend ages customizing it so it works for your purposes, and then when you finally get people to sign up, most will give up because of how long the signup procedures to join those lists are (for instance, you have to give a ton of personal info to sign up for the entire site, then confirm that, then sign up for the list, confirm that, get a password, stand on your head, jump through a hoop, etc etc). With, your visitors can sign up super-quickly and super-easily. This is what happens: A) They type their email address once B) they get an email saying "click on this url to confirm your membership" and they click on it. That's it! No password, no filling out forms, nothing. This simplicity will definitely get you more people on your list.

Well what about rolling your own system? I've done that and it's not pretty. If you have cgi access, you can write or try to find some scripts to collect subscriber addresses, and then you can CC or BCC the email to them. If you do this, you will have problems as soon as you get more than a couple of members. A lot of ISPs don't let people send mail to too many people at once (some figure that if you're sending to more than 20 or so you are probably sending spam). Also, eventually people will change their addresses and you'll start getting lots of bounce messages. My list has a few thousand people on it and I used to have to download about 200 bounce messages everytime I sent a mail out, and believe me, that is an incredible pain. of course takes care of all that for you!

Now, I realize I've gone on way too long already, but I really could go on all day about the advantages and problems to having a notify list on your site. In short: you do need a notify list, but you don't want the hassles of running it, believe me. So umm, sign up already, geeez! Or you can go back to the main page.


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