= M =
mailing list n.
(often shortened in context to `list')
1. An email address that is an alias (or macro, though
that word is never used in this connection) for many other email
addresses. Some mailing lists are simple `reflectors',
redirecting mail sent to them to the list of recipients. Others
are filtered by humans or programs of varying degrees of
sophistication; lists filtered by humans are said to be
`moderated'. 2. The people who receive your email when you send
it to such an address.
Mailing lists are one of the primary forms of hacker interaction,
along with Usenet. They predate Usenet, having originated
with the first UUCP and ARPANET connections. They are often used
for private information-sharing on topics that would be too
specialized for or inappropriate to public Usenet groups. Though
some of these maintain almost purely technical content (such as the
Internet Engineering Task Force mailing list), others (like the
`sf-lovers' list maintained for many years by Saul Jaffe) are
recreational, and many are purely social. Perhaps the most
infamous of the social lists was the eccentric bandykin
distribution; its latter-day progeny, lectroids and
tanstaafl, still include a number of the oddest and most
interesting people in hackerdom.
Mailing lists are easy to create and (unlike Usenet) don't tie up a
significant amount of machine resources (until they get very large,
at which point they can become interesting torture tests for mail
software). Thus, they are often created temporarily by working
groups, the members of which can then collaborate on a project
without ever needing to meet face-to-face. Much of the material in
this lexicon was criticized and polished on just such a mailing
list (called `jargon-friends'), which included all the co-authors
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.