Vinyl Lovers Rejoice

Stereophile readers with a hunger for licorice pizza may wish to turn their attention to the Phonogram mailing list---an online, noncommercial discussion forum for those interested in vinyl and related topics. According to Phonogram's material, "the group is an open, informative, interesting, and just plain fun place for people to share their enthusiasm for, knowledge of, and opinions on music on shiny black discs. Although the focus is primarily on 33 1/3rpm vinyl LPs, comments and questions on 45s, 78s, open-reel tapes, or other media (even CeeDees) are welcome. Discussion of hardware supporting record playback (e.g., turntables, tonearms, cartridges, phono stages, and accessories) is fair game as well."

Writers from Stereophile, The Abso!ute Sound, Ultimate Audio, vinyl experts, and others frequent the postings, which are open to all who wish to participate. There is no membership application process, no spam, and messages are not reviewed prior to being posted; i.e., it is not a moderated list. The list is also protected to prevent its use by spammers. Members of the list do tend to conduct themselves in a civil manner, however; the childish squabbles of many of the newsgroups are noticeably absent.

Subscribing to a mailing list is pretty straightforward: send an e-mail to majordomo@graphics.cornell.edu with the words "info phonogram" in the message body. If you prefer to just sign up, place the words "subscribe phonogram" or "subscribe phonogram-digest" (for the digest version instead) in the message body. Subscribers receive messages posted as individual e-mail messages, just as they are posted to the list, while digest subscribers receive postings with messages bundled together into a single larger piece of e-mail called a "digest." Digests are distributed at least once, and usually several times, each day.

For those who prefer a web-based interface to an e-mail one, head to http://www.graphics.cornell.edu/majordomo, enter your e-mail address, select "All" for "Browse Which Lists?," and then press "GO." Retrieving list information or activating a subscription is pretty easy from there.

According to James Durkin, who helped establish the list in August 1997, "Phonogram was founded, in part, to provide a much more open forum for vinyl-related discussions than was available at the time of its origin. There were other motivating factors, but that was a very strong catalyst. This aspect of its structure doesn't make it better than other lists, just different. It has its upside as well as its down, but it has been, continues to be, and likely will remain, a fundamental aspect of the list."

The Phonogram charter states that it is intended "to provide an open forum where membership isn't by invitation and the topics open to discussion are determined by the members themselves rather than by the owners; to embrace analog software and hardware equally, avoiding the need to look to a record-collecting or audio-equipment forum, depending on the nature of the discussion; to offer a sanctuary to analog fans from the often acrimonious world of today's Usenet newsgroups."

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