A mailing list is an email address that takes what it is sent and sends it back out to all the list's subscribers. Our mailing list, called “dorset”, requires you to subscribe to it before it will send on your emails. Subscribing is easy; enter your email address in the form and you'll be sent an email asking you to confirm by either visiting a web page or sending an email. From then on, you'll receive any emails sent to the list. As of 2007-07-14 we're sending emails to 125 addresses.
If you're concerned about spam, don't be cautious about subscribing. Since only subscribers' emails get through to everyone, little or no spam makes it through. As for a spammer harvesting your email address to send spam directly to you, the list of subscribers is only available to a couple of people that administer the mailing list. In theory, a spammer could subscribe in order to learn the email addresses people use but that hasn't happened. Some people subscribe with an address specifically for the list if their email program and ISP allow it, e.g. fred-dorset at bloggs dot net, so they can see if the address ever gets misused.
After subscribing, you're welcome to send an email introducing yourself; see the guidelines below. Try and pick a subject that doesn't look too much like spam, e.g. “Hi from an Ubuntu user in Bridport” rather than “Hello!”. Tell us whatever you like; technical experience or lack of, distribution preferences, location, etc. You'll probably get a few replies which helps confirm you're subscribed.
Feel free to post on any topic you think is related to the list. There's often people asking for help so don't be shy! Other subjects include discussing the next meeting, offering old bits of computer kit for sale, pointing out local offers, and suggesting online petitions to sign.
Every message sent to the list is archived and can be read if you're a subscriber. Since 2009-03-01, the list archives are also public. You may want to browse to get a flavour. Older messages are archived elsewhere. You don't have to be a subscriber to view those, but the email addresses have been disguised to avoid harvesting by spammers. Yes, it's a bit confusing. Basically, there was a middle period where people posting to the list expected their posts to be private, and we can't retrospectively change that.
Don't worry too much about doing something wrong. We're a friendly bunch and will happily point out any problems the first few times.