Mailing Lists on CCN

Mailto Formatter

Thanks are due to Leslie Foster (<aa079@ccn·cs·dal·ca>), who found a DOS/Windows software package called the mailto: Formatter at 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.)

What is a mailing list?

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 lists such 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 common commands:

Tells Majordomo to email you a list of common commands.
subscribe listname
Tells Majordomo to attempt to subscribe you to the mailing list listname, where listname is the name of the list that you wish to join.
unsubscribe listname
Tells Majordomo to unsubscribe you from a list that you are currently part of.
Tells Majordomo to email you the names of CCN's mailing lists.
info listname
Tells Majordomo to send you a brief summary of the purpose of the specified list.
who listname
Tells Majordomo to email you a list of all email addresses subscribed to the specified list. On a private list, only list members can use this function.
Commands Majordomo to tell you which of CCN's lists you are subscribed to.

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


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.


Chebucto Connections TIPS FOR POWER USERS
is edited by Michael Smith
who is happy to receive Questions, Comments or Suggestions.
If your browser does not support mail, write to Michael later at aa529@ccn·cs·dal·ca.

Last Month: February 1996 Next Month: April 1996