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What is an observers alias?
Since the launch of JCP 2.7, every JSR has two e-mail aliases: an Expert Group-private one (jsr-xxx-eg), and an observers alias (jsr-xxx-observers). The EG alias is completely private to the people on the Expert Group. While Expert Groups are required to respond to all public comments, Expert Groups of JCP 2.7 and earlier JSRs may choose to operate in their day-to-day work on the JSR at some level of privacy in between EG-private and wide open. Such an option is the jsr-xxx-observers alias, which is accessible to any registered user who has requested access to the alias and been approved by the Spec Lead. Of course, you and your Expert Group are not constrained to use the observers alias in that way; you could use it as a way of making announcements to select members of the community about the progress of your JSR.
How is it maintained?
Interested parties can go to this form to submit a request to be added. You, the Spec Lead, then go to your JSR's Administration tab to review and process these requests. The e-mail addresses associated with those requests that you approve are then automatically added to the observers alias.
The alias itself works just like any of the other e-mail alias: you send messages to the alias, and, if you are subscribed, the message you send will then be redistributed to all other subscribers on the alias.
A note for JCP 2.8 JSRs: while JCP 2.8 JSRs also have the observers alias, since all Expert Group communication is required to be made publicly visible, it may be that you will not get many requests to use the observers alias for your JSR. You are free to direct people who request to be added to the observers alias to use the public communications channel you have created for your JCP 2.8 JSR instead.
The PMO welcomes suggestions and requests from the Spec Leads for improvements of this guide and the process: firstname.lastname@example.org