How Do I: Use Conversations and Distribution Lists

When sending messages to a group you have a choice of two different types of "threads":

  1. Distribution LIst
  2. Conversation

These choices are found in the Manage Threads dialog box that opens whenever you create a new thread or click the "gear" link next to an existing thread. Either method takes you to the Manage Threads dialog box that offers a dropdown menu that looks like this:AlertDispatcherPro-ManageChannel-ChannelTypeDropdown.jpg

When you choose a Distribution List you send a message to everyone in that thread.  When anyone in that thread replies to you, only you see that reply, along with all of the other replies.  This makes it a private two-way conversation between you and each individual person in that group.

When you choose a Conversation you send a message to everyone in that thread.  When anyone in that thread replies to that message the reply will be sent to you and to all of the other members of the thread.  It is exactly like a standard group text on a phone.  If someone receives a reply that was sent to a message that you originated they can reply to that message and it will be seen by everyone in the thread including the dispatcher.  

These two options give the dispatcher a granular level of control in determining who will see which messages.  You may have a Distribution List, for example, that deals with only office announcements and you don't want everyone to see the replies that come back from everyone else on that list.  On the other hand you might have a field crew that is coordinating about a repair and it is essential for all of them to see all of the messages sent to each other in that thread.  That is an ideal application for a Conversation instead of a Distribution List.