A list administrator manages a mailing list by establishing the policies that determine how the list operates, adding and deleting members, and tending to list management tasks.
Some online conversations platforms are managed, while other are not. A mailing list is one type of managed communication platform, and the list administrator is the final authority in the management of the mailing list.
A list administrator has three primary responsibilities:
- Set and enforce rules: Every mailing list has its own set of policies and rules. The list administrator is responsible for establishing policies that encourage participation while enforcing penalties when the rules and policies are intentionally or repeatedly violated.
- Manage access: While most mailing list users manage their own subscriptions through a web-based interface or by using email-based commands sent directly to the mailing list management software, in some cases it may be necessary to manually add or remove subscribers. This may be the case when subscriptions are accepted in-person or if one or more users repeatedly violate mailing list policies and need to be removed from the mailing list.
- Perform maintenance: Mailing lists run on mailing list management software. From time-to-time, the software has to be updated. The software is installed on an Internet-connected server, and a certain amount of maintenance is involved in keeping that server up and running. The list administrator is ultimately responsible for making sure the mailing list management software and server are operating properly.
Also See: Mailing List, Listserv
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a list administrator the only person responsible for managing a mailing list?
The list administrator is the person who is ultimately responsible for all phases of mailing list operation. However, in many cases, they work with volunteers or paid employees to assist with certain mailing list tasks. For example, if a list administrator lacks certain technical skills they may work with an IT professional to ensure the server and mailing list management software are kept up to date. In addition, mailing lists that require that messages be approved prior to being forwarded to subscribers typically have several moderators. Moderators are users who have the ability review messages and either approve them for delivery or block them from being delivered to the mailing list subscribers.
How are administrators used in settings other than mailing lists?
Most of the places where conversations happen online are under some sort of administration. Each platform operates a little differently, but there is three basic levels of administration that come into play when dealing with a virtual conversation:
- User Rating Systems: This is a form of management that is completely self-administered by the users of a site. Some online platforms, and especially the comments sections of many popular websites, allow users to upvote or downvote comments based on merit. The lowest-rated comments are often automatically blocked or deleted, and not displayed to future visitors.
- Moderators: Moderators, or mods, have the ability to close discussion threads, delete conversations entirely, and in some cases they can even ban individual members from a website or group entirely.
- Administrators: These users have ultimate control over a platform. In the case of a website, the administrators, or admins, are the managers established by the website ownership. Admins have complete control to take whatever actions are necessary to manage a conversation. However, the actions of an admin are often balanced by a desire to foster open conversation and grow the user base of the website. As a result, admins are sometimes more forgiving than moderators who may not feel the same responsibility to the overall performance of the platform.