Finding Answers to Questions with ASP-Related ListServsBy Scott Mitchell
A college professor of mine once said that the most important skill in computer science was not knowing the latest technology or having the syntax of a particular programming language down cold. Rather, this professor insisted that the most important skill a computer scientist could hope for would be to know where, exactly, to look to find the answers to his or her questions. Let's face it, no one can possibly know everything about any computer science field, the field changes too quickly and there is simply just too much information for even the most specific technology. Even the most advanced and experienced ASP developer runs into programming situations where they are at a loss. While researching Microsoft's site and online ASP resource sites are good places to start, there are times when hours of research may yield no answers.
So where do you turn if your research has left you answer-less? In my experience I've found tools that allow you to interact with other ASP developers to be a prime place to find answers to questions. There are two categories of interactive means to find answers to your questions. One way is through on-line messageboards, such as ASPMessageboard.com or ASP101.com's message board. However, this article is about the second avenue: using listservs.
A ListServ is a software program that accepts incoming email messages; when it receives a message, it then rebroadcasts that message to a list of subscribers. The nice thing about ListServs is that you can have an interactive discussion with hundreds or thousands of people simply by sending and reading emails. This differs from on-line messageboards and newsgroups since the ListServ discussions are sent directly to you, not requiring you to visit some other site or launch some news reading program.
There are a large number of ListServs that ASP developers can sign up for. The best ASP-related ListServ resource, by far, is Charles Carroll's ASPLists.com. There you will find literally hundreds of very focused ASP-related ListServs, as well as a number of non-English ListServs. While I highly encourage you to check out the complete list of ListServs on ASPLists.com, some of the best lists, in my opinion, include:
- The many ASP.NET ListServs
- ASPFreeForAll - this list is not moderated
and is very busy! Expect hundreds of emails each day if you sign up for this list.
- There are a number of database lists, covering
specific topics from Microsoft Access to
Microsoft SQL Server to
Sybase to ... you get the point.
- There are a number of networking lists where you can communicate with people in your state or country. There's also a list to post jobs and resumes.
These lists may contain anywhere from 100 to 4,000 members and their volume can vary wildly. ASPFreeForAll, for example, receives hundreds of messages each day, whereas more tightly focused, moderated lists (such as ASPNotNewbie) might only receive two to five messages per day.
15Seconds.com, one of the first ASP-related Web resource sites, has a number of ListServs available as well. There are not nearly as many ListServs on 15Seconds.com as there are on ASPLists.com, but 15Seconds.com does contain lists for many of the most common ASP and ASP-related categories. The most popular 15Seconds.com ListServ is the General Active Server Pages ListServ. However, there are also more focused lists, such as ones on ISAPI, ADSI, XML, IIS, and plenty of other TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms).
Swynk.com, which focuses more on backend server management as opposed to ASP development, does have a number of ListServs that focus on BackOffice technologies. These lists are highly focused on backend issues. There are a number of Microsoft SQL Server lists, a Microsoft Exchange list, a Microsoft Transaction Server list, a couple of SMS lists, and other lists on related-BackOffice products.
If you have specific questions about Microsoft's Web server, IIS, you'll find over 30 such focused ListServs at IISLists.com. Some of the most useful lists avaiable at IISLists.com, in my opinion, are:
- The IIS Optimize list
- The IIS Monitor list
- The IIS Stress Test list
- IIS Experts (where all those IIS gurus hang out)
As you can see there are many ASP and ASP-related ListServ resources out on the Net. All serve as a great resource for finding out answers to your questions. Of course, before posting a question it is considered proper ListServ etiquette to take the time to thoroughly research your problem before asking the ListServ. Also, it is appreciated if you spend time asking questions on the list that you spend a bit of time answering questions as well.