Using Email Discussion Lists
Using Email Discussion Lists
Mailing lists are subject-oriented email discussion groups. There
are more than 90,000 internet mailing lists, covering a wide array
of topics. Each list has between 10 and 30,000 subscribers.
Depending on the subject
of the list and the number of participants, the frequency, content,
tone, and local culture of the posts (email messages) will vary
significantly. What all have in common is the fact that they are
communities made up of individuals who communicate to the larger
group via email.
Specifically, an email discussion group is a list of electronic
mail addresses where each address corresponds to a "subscriber".
You join a list by subscribing, either directly for open lists or
indirectly through a list owner for private lists. When you send
a posting to the list, everyone on the list gets a copy. Each list
also has an "owner". An owner subscribes people to the list (if
it is a private list) and makes sure that the list is running smoothly.
There are a couple of ways
you can find mailing lists that cover topics of interest to you.
You can do it by browsing though Liszt
or via email.
Find Lists Through Email
To browse listserv groups by email, send an email message to this
- Don't write anything
in the subject line
- Do not include
your sig file
- At the top of the message
body, type: list global xyz
where xyz equals a word that best describes what you're
looking for. For example, if you send the command list global
disabilities, you'll get back a list of all known listservs
relating to disabilities. (There are 23 of them).
How the Lists Work
There are three different types of software that dictate how mailing
lists work: majordomo, listproc or listserv. The most common is
listserv. Each has specific instructions governing how you subscribe,
what kinds of information are available, what instructions you use
to do what, and how you post.
Use the Right Addresses
Each of the three mailing list types has two addresses. One is used
only by the owner/administrator of the list. The other is the public
The list name address
is where you post notes for all subscribers to read. It's also the
return address of the notes that will flood your email box.
The administrative address
is useful for subscribing to and finding out more about the list.
The standard addresses follow:
Use the administrative address
for basic commands. Send a blank subject line message with either
help (various commands to use)or info (to describe
list and its contents) in the body to the administrative address.
You'll get back an email notice that will help you learn a considerable
amount about the list. You can even learn who subscribes.
Some listservs have a third
address which is listserv-request@domainname. Using this address
forwards your message to the people who own the list. Often this
is used for subscribing to private lists.
For detailed information
about mailing lists and how to find them, go to
Basic Etiquette in Email
- Make sure you send your
list commands to the administrative address -- not the
- Read through the welcome
note that most lists send to become aware of any policies about
language use or topic restrictions that may exist.
- Spend a few days just
reading the posts. This is called "lurking". Doing this will give
you a clearer idea of the type of community you're getting involved
with and what types of posts are and are not acceptable.
- Sign your posts.
The Next article describes
"sourcing" techniques using