[Updated December 17, 2013: CASE's archive of ALUMNI-L messages will not be available after December 31, 2013, according to CASE.]
For 25 years the software called Listserv has powered millions of e-mail based discussion groups. CASE has relied on the software to host a number of specialized discussion topics since the late 1990s.
Now the professional organization is moving its members' online discussion to an entirely web-based platform, and today, the alumni relations discussion moves there. The home page for all of CASE's new online discussions (for CASE members) is here:
I created ALUMNI-L back in the early 1990s while working at Brown University ("L" in the name stands for the "list" of members receiving each other's emails on relevant topics). A few people from the annual Ivy Plus alumni relations conference wanted to communicate year-round, and I volunteered to create a way for them to do that. Listserv made it easy. The group started with perhaps eight members, and over time we invited our co-workers to join. Soon, people from other institutions were asking to participate, and in under a year we had an international discussion going.
[I created ALUMNI-L with eight members in the early 1990s...
Today it has more than 2,000 members]
In 1998 I asked CASE to take over ALUMNI-L, and they agreed. The list had more than 1,300 members at that time, and today, as CASE retires the list, it has more than 2,000. Before CASE took over, ALUMNI-L was even the subject of a dissertation written by a University of South Carolina doctoral student!
Today ALUMNI-L goes away, and list members (and others whom CASE expects will find the content relevant) have received their welcome message via the new system. CASE expects the new web-based alumni relations discussion to be available to approximately 9,500 individuals worldwide.
Despite the wording of CASE's message about the transition, every message on ALUMNI-L since August of 1998, when CASE took over, is easily searchable on CASE's own servers. But they also point out that the new system supports document sharing and other features not available before. The new system has site-wide search; member profiles, and more intuitive control over how and when one receives messages.
[Today CASE replaces ALUMNI-L with a new online community]
Using the System
Many of the same "best practices" for using ALUMNI-L apply to this (and any) online discussion forum too. To get the most out of it, keep in mind the following suggestions:
- If you ask for links or referrals, instruct others to send them to your email address, not to the entire list. Promise to compile and share what you learn. Later you can send a brief summary of your findings to the entire list. This is how you repay other members' generous information sharing, and it will dramatically decrease the number of messages others need to scan and wade through every day.
- Never post a message that says (in effect), "Me too." If someone asks for information, everyone else will see the response when it's eventually posted.
Good luck to CASE with its new format for discussion, and sincere thanks to everyone who gave ALUMNI-L an unexpected 19-year run as the central forum for global discussions about alumni relations.
- Welcome message to new community (CASE member login required)