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Improving the Direct E-Mail Interface with Lyris
Can Be Used Free of Charge for Smaller Lists
December 9, 1999
What constitutes spam in this day and age is a matter of deep debate within the Internet industry. Still, there's no denying that e-mail marketing is one of the most effective tools when a company or organization wants to directly communicate with customers and interested parties, so the challenge is to effectively manage e-mail while giving end users the power to control what appears in their in-boxes.
That's why older tools like listserv and majordomo are increasingly viewed as being inappropriate for the needs of today's Internet users. To fully manage mailing lists, you'll need something more advanced.
We looked at a beta Linux version of Lyris, a relatively inexpensive list server that allows serving of several types of mailing lists, from announcements to open discussion forums to moderated discussion groups to auto-responder "doc-bots" (the same type of auto-responder feature found in many of the better e-mail clients). The server's best selling point is that it can be used at no cost by small businesses for creating an unlimited number of mailing lists. The only restriction when using Lyris as freeware is that a maximum of 200 members are allowed per list.
Of Lyris's many features, perhaps the best is its Web-based interface, which gives administrators the ability to make configuration and administration changes over the Web. The interface allows users to read, contribute, search, join and leave mailing lists over the Net. Users also have the option of choosing to receive their messages from Lyris mailing lists by regular e-mail or through direct Web access.
This Web functionality makes Lyris easy to use for both end users and system administrators, especially sysadmins who don't want to work with the sometimes cryptic commands found in many list management tools. Let's face it--most users aren't that thrilled with sending cryptic e-mail messages totally devoid of content and containing only the words "subscribe/unsubscribe" in the subject line. Neither are administrators who must handle misaddressed mail by hand. With Lyris, end users can connect to a Web page, enter a username and password, and make changes to their e-mail arrangements. If you want a glimpse at how Lyris handles mailing lists, check out this Web site.
System administrators will appreciate how duties can be delegated within Lyris. Each mailing list can have a designated List Administrator who can add and remove members of the group as well as approve moderated messages. On a higher level, Site Administrators create and remove whole mailing lists, as well as create documents and auto-responders. Site administrators can also disable mailing lists and limit a list's size. Finally, the Server Administrator oversees and creates sites, with control over all things that affect them on their servers.