There’s a vast middle ground between your standard electronic-mail software and a powerful list-server like Listserv. That middle ground is served well by Arrow Mailing List Server.
Arrow is designed for creating and managing moderated discussion groups via electronic mail. These mailing lists have become ubiquitous in the Internet world — a moderated list means that messages are reviewed by the moderator (which, in this case, would be you) before being sent along to members of the mailing list. Arrow can also process unmoderated mailing lists — list where each submission is automatically sent along to all subscribers. Subscribers to both moderated and unmoderated lists served by Arrow also have the option of receiving messages in a digest form or individually.
Once installed, Arrow can be configured to run automatically, without much input from you. To create a mailing list, you run through a setup wizard that asks you for the commands that Arrow will recognize (these commands will be used by users to manipulate their settings, such as subscribing and unsubscribing to a list) and text messages to be sent out in response to specific commands. Incoming messages can be saved to a specific folder and manipulated via a Explorer-type interface.
In some respects Arrow is unique because it’s designed to work from your personal electronic-mail address, as opposed to dedicated accounts on a list server. To use Arrow, you don’t even need a dedicated mail server — all you need is access to a POP3 server (which comes with virtually every Internet-access account) and some version of Windows. Arrow is designed to work in conjunction with your daily e-mail needs: Arrow can be set up to leave incoming messages on your mail server until your e-mail program and Arrow have both read them.
Arrow also has the security measures that are (unfortunately) needed in mailing-list software. If a subscriber causes problems for the rest of the mailing list, they can be marked as a “twit,” and as a result messages from this subscriber are not sent along to the list subscribers until they are vetted by the moderator. (The twit doesn’t know that their messages are being vetted.) If things get out of hand, subscribers can be banned and their messages subsequently ignored.
Another appealing aspect of Arrow Mailing List Manager is its scheduling capabilities. You can schedule virtually every event possible under Arrow, including processing lists and mailing digests.
The Arrow Mailing List Manager isn’t really geared toward massive mailing lists with tens of thousands of subscribers and large amounts of messages. But for the majority of special-interest mailing lists, the Arrow Mailing List Manager is arguably the most affordable and efficient way for a group to communicate.
Pros: Easy to install and configure, excellent online help, perfectly geared for the casual mailing list
Cons: No UNIX version available; not really geared for very large mailing lists