Automated Internet Mailing List Services (list)
Charter Status: Concluded October, 1992 Chair(s): David Lippke Description of Working Group: This Working Group will concern itself with ``list servers'', i.e., advanced mail exploders/reflectors which provide services such as automated subscription, archive maintenance, and coordination with similar systems on the network. The Group will initially focus its activities towards establishing a baseline user interface. Although most current systems support a command set patterned after Eric Thomas' BITNET LISTSERV, there is wide variance in the options supported and in the general patterns of interaction. This results in a great deal of user confusion. The Working Group's interface definition will address this by establishing a set of commands, options, interactions, and procedures which will (hopefully) be supported by all list servers as a subset of their full repertoire. As a part of the user interface work, the Group will also define an authentication service for users' list server transactions. Toward this end, and to address the privacy issue, the Group will consult with the Security Area Advisory Group (SAAG). The second phase of the Group's work will be to provide for the interconnection and coordination of list servers. Experience with the BITNET LISTSERV has shown that it is important for users be able to view the collection of list servers on the network as an integrated whole. Ideally, users should only have to deal with their local mailing list service---which knows where all public lists are, what they are, and is able to act on the user's behalf with respect to them. Interconnecting list servers allows this ``integrated user view'' to be created and also lets issues such as traffic minimization, timely distribution, and load sharing to be more easily addressed. Consequently, the Working Group will define the conceptual models, communication methods, and extensions to prior work which are necessary to bring this interconnection and coordination about. It is anticipated that further work on issues of authentication and privacy will continue in parallel with the ``integration'' effort --- perhaps manifesting itself as a separate RFC which extends the user interface definition produced during the first phase.