This weekend the Stockholm Progressive group invited movers and shakers from various Scandinavian communities to join us in Stockholm for brainstorming and networking and such. It was very successful; we'd thought we would have to get people warmed up and encourage mingling between the groups, but in fact everyone was so enthusiastic we could hardly get them to cease chatting long enough to make official announcements.
I led a little mini service Friday night, and gave a short talk about this week's Torah portion this morning. It went so well that both communities (the Norwegian contingent is one couple, the Danes have a fully fledged serious community with a budget and long term plans and everything) have invited me to come and visit them and lead services / educational events for them. This is very cool, except that the Danish crowd want me to lead their Passover Seder, and I'm really not sure I can do that. I have only been away from my family for one Pesach in my life, and I know I would be horribly homesick if I miss it. Also, it's going to be only a few weeks before the end of my contract, which is a bad time to be taking significant time off work (they want me to come the weekend before, and stay for most of a week). I have already half-promised I'm going to teach the same course I did this year, which might clash. So I'm really in a dilemma about whether I should agree to do this. It would be a fantastic opportunity and a huge favour to a community who really need support, but it would disrupt two quite important parts of my life.
I volunteered to make a mailing list where we could discuss future collaborations and keep communication relatively centralized. And now I find this is actually harder to do than I thought. So can anyone recommend me a system? I need:
Both a web-based archive of old messages, and the ability for people to see everything by email without having to visit the website
Privacy, so that only people I choose can see the discussion
Identification based on email address, not requiring people to create accounts on a new system.
Ideally free or at least cheap
Preferably not requiring web hosting, certainly not advanced web hosting or any serious programming.
Google groups or Yahoo groups may work, but access is very limited if you don't have a Google / Yahoo account. Wordpress is basically hopeless if you want to do anything non-public. SA thought Typepad / Movable Type might have the functionality, but TP is quite expensive and MT is hassly. Does anyone have any experience with dedicated mailing list software? Another option is a bulletin board system of some kind but I'm not sure how or if that would work for this purpose.
Having finished the business, we went out to dinner at Fåfängan, mainly for the sake of the most amazing view of Stockholm and the harbour; as EBH warned us, the food is fairly mediocre. But all in all it was a delightful day, and there are some fascinating people running the various Progressive communities.
I do appreciate that I can't expect my parents to live forever, and you're right to point that out. Still, when I say family, I don't mean parents, I mean parents and siblings and Granny and Dad's sister and her family, my favourite cousins, and sometimes Dad's widowed cousin with her youngest daughter and sometimes her boys and her parents (her father is my official Mad Uncle).
We're not the kind of family where growing up means you form your own little nuclear unit with connections only to your spouse and eventual offspring. The natural thing that should happen is not that parents die and then all their kids are left stranded with no family seder. My generation should take over hosting once we are established enough to be able to deal with large dinner parties, and we invite our parents and as many of the rest of the family as we can cram in. My oldest cousin might be hosting in a few years; he's married, and they have just bought a proper house, and once their kid (now a couple of weeks old) reaches the age where bringing her to social events gets awkward, it will be most natural for them to host the family seder. Or my little sister might do it, despite being the youngest she's much more mature and grown-up than me, and is a chef who hosts dinner parties for pleasure.
Obviously big family occasions are hard for people who have lost parents, but I don't think that will change if I "practise" by celebrating Pesach away from home. Part of what Passover is about is renewing connections to your own history and origins, as part of the whole people, but as the specific branch of the people that is family.
Still, it's somewhat selfish to say, I can't help out a community who really need my knowledge and skills, because I want to be with my own family, in my own comfort zone. So I am seriously considering saying yes to the Danish crew.
OK, "Mailman" will do what you want. The question is where to find a company that sells mailman access. Mostly hosting companies do that, and you might have to buy (cheap) hosting to get it.
I get Mailman through Acornhost.com, where they (mostly correctly :/) host a subdomain of my domain. Their basic account is $8/mo, domain registration not included (they don't do domain registration.) This sounds like more money than you want, but their support for Mailman is pretty seamless.
Originally, I was looking for someone who could just sell me Mailman access, but all the places I found were either outrageously expensive in comparison with just getting hosting somewhere that has Mailman as a feature, or had weird usage caps. Or both.
Note: running your own Mailman server is something you wouldn't be able to do without your own box (or a virtual box, rented for serious bux). It requires root access to run. So you wouldn't want to be trying it yourself. You'd want to find a company running one for its customers.
P.S. Allegedly http://mejllista.se/ is a Swedish Mailman host. I can't read Swedish, so over to you. :)
Wow, that is most amazingly helpful, thank you so much for this detailed answer and even doing some research for me!
Mailman is what they use for the Dreamwidth discussion list, isn't it? That seems very sensible, but I have to admit I'd assumed that if Mark was involved he would have picked something that gave him access to lots of configuration and customization options, rather than something easy for a non-programmer to use. I will certainly look into it.
Well, it does give him access to lots of configuration and customization options, if only because it's open source, Python, and running on his box. But yes, it has a point-and-click web interface for the list administrator(s) to run things, which requires no understanding of programming, but some understanding of email lists. It does in fact have zillions of configuration and customization options, as you'll see. But they're all list phenomena, not email phenomena, e.g. "Do you want moderation on or not?", "Can non-subscribers post to this list, y/n?" (No!), "What should the footer read? Here's a nice default.", "What should the welcome message say? Here's a nice default.", "Should messages have the RCF list headers? If you don't know, say yes", "How about digest mode? Did you want to enable that?", "Did you want archives? If so, who should be able to read them?", etc.