Family Resource Centre Internet Guide
Mail Lists in Detail
The mail characteristics of mail lists are that they are:
- They have a carefully defined topic of interest;
- The have a list address to which you send correspondence;
- They have a listserver address to which you send commands;
- There is a listserver program which controls the operation of the
- There is a list owner who is a person who manages the list;
- There are a number of important characteristics of lists that
govern how they work; and
- There are different commands which you can send to the
listserver to find out information and to control your status in the list.
Lets look at the last two in detail.
What kind of mail lists are
In general mail list can have the following kinds of features:
The owner of the list has determined which characteristics a particular list
will have. When joining you should find out its features and work with
- Lists can be Open or Closed
- Anyone can subscribe to an open list.
- You must receive approval from the list owner to subscribe to a
- Lists can be Public or Private
- Anyone can find out who is subscribed to a public list.
- Only current subscribers can find out who is subscribed to a
- Lists can be Moderated or Unmoderated
- Every submission to a moderated list must be approved by the
- No approval is necessary to send a submission to the list.
- List can be Archived or not.
- A permanent archive of submissions is kept in an archived list.
- No such record is kept for an unarchived list.
How do I work with mail
Different listservers have slightly different capabilities and slightly different
commands to you those features. In this example we will look at
majordomo, one of the most popular and versatile listserver
There are a number of basic commands that you need to know to work with
a mail list. The important thing to bear in mind is that because majordomo is
just a computer program, you have to be very particular and very exact in the
commands that you send it. Any typo or glitch in the syntax of the command
will make majordomo choke and your command won't be executed.
Some Basic Majordomo Commands.
With this basic set of commands you can do all the important things you
need to do with a mailing list. Just remember to follow the syntax of the
- subscribe <list> [<address>]
- Subscribe yourself (or <address> if specified) to the named
- For example 'subscribe lobsters firstname.lastname@example.org' to subscribe to the
- unsubscribe <list> [<address>]
- Unsubscribe yourself (or <address> if specified) from the
- For example 'unsubscribe lobsters email@example.com' to unsubscribe
from the list 'lobsters'.
- who <list>
- Find out who is on the named <list>.
- For example 'who lobsters' would tell you who is a member of the
- info <list>
- Retrieve the introductory information for the named
- For example 'info lobsters' will tell you what the lobsters list is all
- Gives you a listing of the lists administered by this Majordomo server.
- Will send you a help file with a list of commands and what
Also, if you have more than one Email address you need to be aware of
which address you subscribed to a listserver with and if you want to
unsubscribe from one you need to do it from that same address. The
listserver won't know that two different addresses belong to the same
Now, lets go to Section 3 - Some Mail List
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