This question came up in response to the blog post from last week, “Keeping Forum Members Engaged With A Forum Newsletter”.
The answer depends on the level of traffic of your forum and how often salient events occur that bear mention in a “cannon blast” to all users. We prefer to send newsletters on a monthly or quarterly basis although it’s possible that an extremely busy forum could warrant a weekly or bi-weekly digest.
Some communities we have studied communicate with users several times per week. Due to the frequency of such emails, the content is not particularly valuable or interesting. Often times such emails are simply advertisements with no redeeming value at all. Because this practice persists, it must provide some benefit to the sender but we wonder how much benefit a constant barrage of emails provides to the user.
We can envision a scenario in which users opt-in to receive forum updates at a frequency of their choice. Allow power users can sign up for weekly updates, and more casual users to sign up for monthly or quarterly updates. This seems to be the optimal approach.