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.