I am considering merging automatic and manual lists. If you have any comments to make on this, please do share them:

  • I’ve opened comments on this page,
  • you can email (replies to the “new post” message will reach me),
  • those of you have access to Cameo on GitHub, there’s an issue for manual and automatic lists you can add to (sorry, I can’t add any more as private repositories are limited)


A list groups membership records together in arbitrary ways and serves as the audience to which templates direct their email etc. Currently, a list is either automatic or manual.

Automatic lists (which in some systems are analogous to what they call saved searches, or smart groups) select memberships according to whether they match criteria (rules) you specify for them – people join or drop off automatic lists as they meet or no longer meet the criteria; people can opt-out of automatic lists.

In contrast, people are assigned explicitly to manual lists. There is no opt-out: they are simply removed from the list if they no longer wish to participate.

What would change

Instead, what I am thinking is that we would have just lists. People are included in a list either if they implicitly meet the criteria set for the list (and not opted-out) or if they are explicitly assigned to it.

(One implicit criterion would be “no-one”, which is equivalent to a manual list now. Indeed it would probably still be called Manual Subscriptions – as now – or maybe Manual Assignment [only].)

In fact, not much changes in what you see in practice. The main advantage (and why I am thinking about this) is that it avoids the particularly common case where you want to email an automatically selected group of people, plus a few “hangers-on” who need to be manually identified. Currently, that needs three lists: the automatic one, the manual one and another list to combine the two.

The words automatic and manual would go away, replaced with whether someone is implicitly or explicitly subscribed to a list. Maybe also move to assigned to a list rather than subscribed, given the word subscriber is potentially confused with paying member?

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