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Listserv and Mailing Lists

        Mailing lists are kind of like email clubs. You ask to join the club because you are interested in what they are talking about, and when you become a member, your messages are passed on to the other members, and their messages are emailed to you too.

        The hard part of this is the fact that to subscribe (join) or unsubscribe to the group, you usually have to send an email to a COMPUTER PROGRAM. Hard to believe, but yes, a program can have an email address. There are many programs that can run mailing lists, two of the most popular are LISTSERV and Majordomo.

        Once you find a group you want to join (by using one of the links below to search), how do you do it? Say that you searched for a group on ferrets, and you got the following result:

List Name: FERRET
Subscription Address: LISTSERV@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU
Owner: Bill Gruber
Last Update: 1/10/95
Description:(removed for space considerations)

The name of the list is "ferret" so the LIST address would be ferret@cunyvm.cuny.edu , this is the address you email your messages to AFTER you have subscribed. Note, some searches may list the email address for the list name, just remember to remove everything from the @ symbol onwards.

      So now, to join the list, you email to the program (the Subscription address) which in this case is listserv@cunyvm.cuny.edu with the following message:

subscribe ferret Phil Waclawski

(or whatever your name is). Note, Majordomo usually wants you to include your email address and not your name. PLEASE remember you are talking to a computer program. Typing "I would like to subscribe to" will not work. You'll get an error email back saying "I" command not found, "would" command not found...well, you get the picture.



Remember, to unsubscribe, you MUST send "unsubscribe ferret Phil Waclawski" to the SUBSCRIPTION address. Sending messages "Please unsubscribe me" to the mailing list makes you look, well, clueless. The people don't want to hear, and they (unless they are list operator) can't do anything about it. You have to send it to the subscription address.

        Finally, KEEP the email they send you if you like the list. It contains information on what the list is about, how to unsubscribe, and often even tells you how to access archives of old discussions by email. The links below are resources for finding lists, and give their own perspective to mailing lists. Have fun.

  1. Liszt, The Mailing List Directory
  2. Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists
  3. Links to several searches of Lists and GOOD help files
  4. List of Lists