Are Email Discussion Lists Over?

Email discussion lists are vibrant and useful for techies in the nonprofit technology space. But, are they still relevant to introduce as a communication tool for people who do not currently use them, especially with the boom of social networks?

What is an Email Discussion List?

From Matt’s SSC blog, “Originally, discussion lists were the first way to send an email to a group of people through a single address. The basic idea is that people sign up to be a part of the list and as a result, receive emails from anyone who sends to the list.” Read How to Manage an Email Discussion List to Invite Collaboration

Why We Started an Email Discussion List in the Central Valley

Since we are in San Francisco, we need to find ways to continue to provide assistance to folks in the Central Valley after our trainings. We set up an email discussion list where Central Valley nonprofits can communicate about their latest online struggles or accomplishments.

Email discussion lists can provide a place for shared discussion which offers benefit to everyone “listening” or viewing the email stream. Many people have the same questions so it’s a great way to pass the info along.

Currently, we do have a small uptake of individuals to the Ca-discuss list (Central Valley Email Discussion List). On the other hand, the people we work with mostly respond to me in real time when I tweet, text, or post on Facebook. With that info, should I really encourage everyone in the Valley to use a discussion list as a way to share info across organizations? Some Central Valley training participants already read the blog, joined the e-newsletter, follow us on Twitter, and like our Facebook page… and now an email discussion list too!

Is their enough value in email discussion lists to encourage folks to use one if they never have before? Or, have social networks taken over the shared information space?

Please give me some insight.