When you want the latest and best information about diabetes, you can read this blog or my website. But where do you go when you are looking for a sense of community with other people who have diabetes and need emotional support?
You can add a comment to these blog entries, and I do reply to email messages asking for advice. But that’s not the same thing as what mailing lists about diabetes can offer.
Mailing lists are the place to share your concerns and questions about diabetes. If you stay with one of these groups for years, as many people do, they can become almost like an extended family.
The most popular type of mailing lists send their messages right to your computer’s inbox, once you have subscribed. The other type requires you to go to a website to read the messages.
Yahoo hosts the great majority of the email mailing lists. If you search that site for “diabetes,” you will find more than 1,000 of them that have that word in the group’s name or description.
I list, describe and link a large number of the best of both types of mailing lists in the first part of my “On-line Diabetes Resources” directory. Right now this directory includes 74 email lists and 24 groups at websites.
To make the search easier in my directory I highlight in red six of the biggest and best general interest groups about diabetes that I subscribe to and read. Yahoo hosts four of them.
I don’t have a single favorite mailing list, and if I did it probably wouldn’t be yours. In fact, you might prefer one of the specialized lists focusing on everything from Byetta to military families with diabetes.
The main problem with mailing lists is misinformation. Mailing lists can give you ideas to check out, but they are not the place to go for information about diabetes.
Many of the lists also have the burden of a high signal to noise ratio. But some of the best groups have moderators who prevent excessive idle chit chat and off-topic discussions.
The other problem is the number of their members and more specifically how many messages they post. On a small specialized list you might find so little message traffic that no sense of community ever develops. On a large general list, like a couple of them that have more than 1000 members, your inbox can be stuffed full of messages every day.
You can easily deal with the problem of too many messages. Instead of subscribing to receive individual messages, you can read them on the website or, even better, receive a daily digest of the messages in your inbox.
The term “daily digest” can be misleading. I know that when I first subscribed to a mailing list, I was confused. I thought that the digest would be just the message highlights. Actually, digesting in this sense just means that you get all the messages in one or two emails each day.
Even with these problems, many people find that subscribing to one or more of these mailing lists offers real support in dealing with diabetes. If you try it, you might like it.
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.