This chapter will introduce you to the way Mailster works and what you can do with it.
What is Mailster?

Mailster is a mailing list extension for Joomla. It enables you to offer automated electronic mailing lists. You may be familiar with similar software/services such as GNU Mailman, Listserv, Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups.

You can organize a group of persons using their email addresses and build either an announcement or discussion list setup. The two basic variants can be described as follows:

  • Announcement List - "Newsletter"
    You can think of this mailing list variant as the method where the communication flows only in one way, this is typically called newsletter. Only one or few senders are allowed to send messages to the members (subscribers) of the mailing list. In case a subscribers replies to the newsletter message the message is not forwarded to the rest of the mailing list.
  • Discussion List - "Newsgroup"
    You can think of this mailing list variant as communication flowing both ways. In most cases everybody of the mailing list subscribers is allowed to send messages to the other mailing list members. The replies to the messages then is again fowarded to all subscribers. This enables real discussion and information exchange.

All mailing list variants have in common that one central email address is used to send a message to all list subscribers. So a sender only has to remember one email address to create a message that is then forwarded to all subscribers. You can setup both of the mailing list types with Mailster and also fine tune the behavior.

How does it work?

First of all you need to setup a mailing list. For that you choose/create one email address, no matter if it is located at your own mailing server or at a free email service. The only prerequisite: it is possible to access the mails through one of the standard protocols POP or IMAP. Also, this email address can and should only be used for the mailing list communication, so you should not re-purpose your personal email address.

Mailster is ideal when you want your users registered in Joomla to be part of a group and communicate by email without having to log into the site or elsewhere. The mailing list administrator can easily select all recipients for the mailing list in Joomla's backend. Don't worry: of course also users can be subscribed or self-subscribe that are not registered Joomla users.
When the mailing list is setup and the subscribers are in place, everything is ready so that Mailster can process emails. From now on Mailster will periodically check your email address for new messages.

The email checks and the sending are only done as long as there is adequate visitor activity on your site.

Why is that?
Mailster is a part of Joomla which is a PHP based web application. That means: it can not act/run without being triggered and it can not run forever when triggered. This is a technical limitation coming from PHP, not from Mailster or Joomla. Triggering means that somebody accesses the site. During the page load Mailster is handling the jobs to do (mail retrieving/sending). Thus mails can only be send/retrieved when somebody is browsing your site, otherwise the delivery is delayed or never done.
As your site might not be browsed every few minutes 24x7 we recommend you to use a cronjob that opens the site periodically (e.g. by a command-line tool like wget). If this is a problem in your server environment you can also have us host your cronjob. Depending on your product edition this is already included in the yearly subscription.

Now back to the email conversation.
Mailster will check the mailing list's inbox. If there is a new message this message will be forwarded to all list recipients and stored for reference in your Joomla database.

The nice thing
All your list participants have to do is use the one mailing address to reach everybody - no more manual maintenance of the recipients in their clients - the admin takes care. You can also offer the possibility for users to self-subscribe and -unsubscribe.


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