Thanks are due to Leslie Foster (<aa079@ccn·cs·dal·ca>), who found a DOS/Windows software package called the mailto: Formatter at http://www.interaccess.com/users/rpfries/mtf.html. After you download a forms submission to your computer, MTF will read and reformat it, storing the results. (Note: I am in no way endorsing or recommending this shareware product.)
A mailing list is essentially just a list of email addresses. A user sends email to the list address, and software on the computer that holds the list resends the message to everyone on the list. Of course, that's not the only way that it can happen. Sometimes the owner of the list chooses to "moderate" it, deciding message by message which submissions deserve an audience and which deserve the bit bucket. Sometimes a list is closed to all but subscribers approved by the list owner. In fact, there are probably enough variations on the basic theme of mailing lists to fill three articles this size -- but we draw the line here and leave the rest to your own research. Hey, you need something to do with all those unproductive off-peak hours, right?
A mailing list differs from a newsgroup in that mailing lists are a bit more intrusive. For example, you may not always have enough of those aforementioned off-peak hours to follow your favourite high-traffic newsgroup. If you leave it for a week or two, some of the news articles may expire -- that is, the news server will delete them after a period of time -- but for the most part you can pick up relatively close to where you left off. Mailing lists, on the other hand, are piped directly into your email inbox, demanding immediate attention. If you are subscribed to several medium-volume mailing lists and slack off your email reading for three days, you may return to find that you've overrun your 500K email quota.
On CCN, in-house mailing lists such as the volunteer groups, IP lists and special-interest lists are processed using the Majordomo program. Each list is also archived publically. For more information on how to access these archives or create a mailing list of your own, [go lists]. This article deals only with CCN's mailing lists, not with external lists (lists stored on remote computers on the Internet). However, any Internet user, CCN user or not, can take advantage of CCN's lists, and as a CCN user you can subscribe to any public mailing list on the Internet -- provided, of course, that the list owner approves you.
CCN's Majordomo can be reached by sending email to
majordomo@ccn·cs·dal·ca . This email address
should be vaguely familiar to you if you have subscribed to any mailing
as the beta-lynx test group or one of the volunteer
teams. Majordomo accepts many commands, which must be placed in the
body of your email message. You may include more than one command in your
message, but give each command a separate line. Remove your signature
from the message so as not to confuse the list software. Majordomo will
send you one or more responses to your requests, and will attach the help
file if it doesn't understand your command. Here are some of the more
As an example, I'll enter Pine and
send a message to majordomo with no subject. In the "Message Text" area I'll
CTRL + K cut my signature and add the line:
Then I'll send my message and exit Pine for a minute or two, perhaps doing some research on different types of mailing lists while I wait for Majordomo to process my request. I'll re-enter Pine. Like a cheap Hallmark Christmas card, I'll find Majordomo's response (edited for brevity):
>>>> which The string 'aa529' appears in the following entries in lists served by CCN Majordomo <majordomo>: List Address ==== ======= all-ips aa529 beta-lynx aa529 beta-pine <aa529> ccn-ipe "Michael T. Smith" <aa529> ccn-nl aa529 [etc.] >>>>
Mailing lists were one of the pioneering forces of the Internet, bringing together electronically for the first time large discussion groups, as well as providing periodic news "digests" on a wide variety of subjects. CCN was set up as an access point for community information; if you have a good idea for a mailing list, I encourage you to follow the links on CCN's Mailing List Homepage, filling out the request for a mailing list. Approval for the list must come from our overburdened elected Metro*CAN Board members, so be patient.
One final note -- although almost all CCN mailing lists are archived, it can sometimes be hard to find those archives as not all lists have WWW homepages. From what I have seen, there is no general rule of thumb to find the URL for a particular mailing list. If anyone has any more information on this subject, please email me and I'll put your information in the next column.
Last Month: February 1996 Next Month: April 1996