One of the fun parts of being online is exchanging silly emails, news, websites, and more. I often received these. But there were several problems.
First was their sheer volume. I got many emails, often from the same person. I thought if they could be combined in one email, they would be easier to read, manage, and send.
Next was the problem of size. I realized that text is always the preferred method of communication and entertainment, mostly due to its small file size, as opposed to graphics.
Another problem was the inconsistent and sloppy appearance of email forwards. They often had leftover >>s down the column, or repeated their content.
Then came the content of the emails themselves. I dreaded emails containing virus warnings, cookie recipes, petitions, surveys, and most other forms of Urban Legends. I also didn't even enjoy jokes if they weren't funny.
So I resolved to create my own mailing list. But I wanted it to be
convenient, readable, entertaining, and sometimes informative.
So I decided to wait until I got several emails (usually between 5-8) and combined them into one, a digest. I wouldn't send anything with less than 3 pieces of humor, unless it was important or timely. My items often did have a timely slant, such as kid/school jokes/websites in September, or holiday jokes/websites in December.
Other mailing lists I subscribed to back then offered a choice of receiving individual emails, or combining them into one email, which was called a digest. So this is where I got this term. I figured one email a week or so wouldn't be too much. My subscribers could get all their laughs at the same time, when they wanted!
While this would make the size slightly larger, I vowed never to send any graphics. This kept the size of my emails down considerably. The Humor Digest averages 20k. The largest I've sent was 45k. If I ever had any graphics or pictures to display or share, I simply put them up on a website, and sent the link.
I then resolved to have neat and clean emails. No leftover > brackets. No paragraphs all over. And of course excellent English grammar would be employed. I often remove brackets, extra spaces, add spaces where needed, remove apostrophes, correct spelling, etc. I also felt that as a teacher, I should model proper language rules.
Finally I vowed never to send virus warnings, petitions, chain letters, or other forms of urban legends. Further, I tried to ensure that the humor that I did send was funny. Many pieces of humor were rejected over the years for just not being funny. Adult and dirty humor is ok, as long as it is not extreme, and as long as it is funny! I have rejected many pieces of humor for not being funny (and, yes, they get rejected if I don't get the joke).
Other popular occassional features have included cool websites/links, computer tips, upcoming events, and news from my life.
I began the Humor Digest shortly after I began exploring the Internet, back in 1996 (I still have an original few in my archives!). My initial goal was to send it out weekly. However, this rarely happened, due to school, work, and, well, life. While I would still like to do this, I realize that will continue to be infrequent.
I started out with around 20 subscribers. My subscription base reached its peak in 1999 with 110. It now hovers around 80 people. While the vast majority of my subscribers hail from the Chicago area, I do send the Digest to other states and countries.
My methodology for collecting material and sending it has remained the same throughout the lifespan of the Humor Digest. From the beginning, I used the Shrike/student server/account from DePaul. I transferred everything over to the current Chiguy server in 2001. I conduct most email activities on the server itself, using a program on my own computer that simulates a terminal connection. The first program to do this was Telnet. However, that program is unsecure, so we switched to Putty. We soon found better useability and functionality with SSH (Secure Shell Host).
The Operating System employed by these servers is not Windows, but Unix. Therefore, the mouse does not work, everything is done with the keyboard. I enjoy this. The email program I use is PINE. I continue to believe it is an excellent email program, and has also served me well in managing email lists.
In order to keep it personal, I have never considered an automated mailing list solution, like Topica. I have always added and subtracted email addresses manually. This makes it easier for both myself and my subscribers. Email addresses, or any information, will never be sold, given away, or otherwise compromised. They reside in my account only, and digests are always sent using the LCC (list carbon copy) protocol. It is similar to BCC, but tailored more towards lists; it also allows the title of the list to be visible.
Of course I never sell, give away, or otherwise reveal any of the email addresses on my list. The service is always free (But remember that April Fool's joke when I began charging? Or the April Fool's joke when I announced that we were pregnant? BTW, December 27 is the Day of Innocents in Venezuela, equivalent to our AFD).
So there are the FAQs of my Humor Digest!
For questions, comments, or to subscribe, as always, just email me and ask!
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