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2006Spring: MusExMachina: Cases: Team Productivity Practices: Communication
Benefits of a Team Mailing List
Of course the benefit here is team communication. The nice thing about a mailing list is that it doesn't encourage collaboration, it creates collaboration. Although you could just create a group of email addresses in your favorite mail client, nothing but a mailing list will gaurantee that each group member will have the opportunity to read and contribute to all team communication.
- Our first benefit of the mailing list was the unexpected collaboration we had during the design process. While I was working on the CRC cards, some of the other members were discussing possible solutions to a cycle in class diagram. Because there discussion was automatically sent to the entire team, I was able to give them a solution (of course they didn't end up using my solution). Regardless of what your talking about, exposing more people to a brainstorming session always generates more (and hopefully useful) ideas; and using a mailing list guarantees this exposure.
- Another unexpected benefit was improved communication with the TA. Various members of our team had several informal meetings with the TA throughout the semester to review grades and parts of our design (meeting with a TA is a really easy way to improve your design BTW). Of course, only one or two team members at a time could make it to these informal meetings, and so we relied on the mailing list to send the notes from the meeting to the rest of the team. Another useful aspect was when the TA sent us an email with our official grades or an answer to a question, the mailing list would distribute the TA's advice to every member of the group. Without a mailing list, anything the TA sends to the group has to be forwarded by the contact person, which introduces another point of failure that you don't want on a busy project like this.
- A clear benefit of a mailing list is accountability. Using a mailing makes things official, so if someone says they're going to do something, the mailing list provides a clear record of such a promise. No one in our group slacked, but it's good to always be prepared. Besides, knowing what everybody is doing is just plain good thinking because otherwise you might end up with two people doing the same thing or you might miss a critical part of the application. As a group, we definitely relied on the mailing list to make sure everybody knew who was working on what.
Setting up a team mailing list
We recommend using a more reliable mailing service than the CoC (in the entire semester, the mailing list had two short outages), but for convenience, we will discuss how to setup a CoC mailing list. Because the mailing list does go down, you may still have want another mailing list as a backup. Once you setup your mailing list, you will want to distribute the address to the right people (your team hopefully and maybe your TA and professor) and convenient place to do this is on your team web page. Finally, you don't want to forget security (from spam and who knows what else) and to make sure that each member of your team can actually send/recieve messages.
- Review the setup and use of a CoC mailing list at https://mailman.cc.gatech.edu/mailman/listinfo. Of course, real Squeakers don't read the manual, so skip to step 2.
- Send an email to email@example.com asking for a mailing list. (If you actually need to take Technical Writing, see sample email below.)
- We strongly suggest asking for your list to NOT be listed in the mailing list directory, for privacy and security.
- Remember to give them your email address as the owner of the list.
- Make sure you suggest a name for the list that won't conflict with another list.
- Ask for a randomly generated password for the mailing list for security.
- Goto https://mailman.cc.gatech.edu/mailman/admin/yourlistname to double check the configuration of your list. Since the list is private, you need to manually add the email addresses of each member in your group using the "Mass Subscribe Users" section.
- Do not forget to have every member of your team test the mailing list. You don't want to find out halfway thru the semester that one of your members hasn't received any of team commmunications...
Sample email that will get you started with the mailing list process:
Subject: Mailing List request
Our 2006 Spring CS 2340 project group would like to request a mailing list
to help us in archiving and encouraging our research.
We would like to request a mailing list titled: cs2340-2006spring-team1
Should this request be processed, we have some requests:
-Please set me at my email: theOwner@gatech.edu as the owner.
-We also wish for our group to be private and hence not listed on
https://mailman.cc.gatech.edu/mailman/listinfo (at least until we finish our
-I would like to request that the password of the mailing list be set to a
randomly generated password.
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