E-mail Discussion List Questions

© 2001 Walt Howe
(last updated 9 April 2001)

What is a listserv or a mailing list?
Listservs and mailing lists are groups dedicated to discussing specific topics, in which people from all over the world can participate. They are similar to newsgroups, but use mail for distribution rather than the Usenet. You subscribe by sending mail to the list's administrative address. Once you have subscribed, all messages sent to the list come to your mailbox. Most lists are open to all, but some are restricted to those the list owner accepts. Many lists have a digest option so that you only get a compiled set of messages once a day or so, instead of receiving each message separately.

The address you send subscriptions and cancellations to is never the same address as the one you send messages to. You can find list names and addresses from our Listfind menu. When you subscribe to a list, you will get instructions by return mail that will tell you how to unsubscribe and other things you may be able to do with the list like search its archives. Keep this message! If you lose the instructions, and you want to unsubscribe, check back with our Listfind menu for help.

A listserv is just one type of mailing list which runs the listserv software originally developed for an IBM mainframe network called Bitnet. There are many other types of mailing lists, such as listproc, majordomo, mailbase, and mailserv. The procedures for subscribing, unsubscribing, and searching the lists are a bit different for each of these. You can check the procedures for each in the How to Subscribe and Search Lists page.

TIP: Most e-mail software lets you set up a mail filter to put all your mail from a mailing list into its own mailbox.

How do I start my own mailing list?
A number of sites let you create your own mailing list. Here are a few of them:

Back to top
Back to Learning Tree
Go to Top Go to Learning Tree