What is a Mailing List?

A mailing list is a tool that provides users with the means to disseminate information to groups of people. Rather than list every address individually, the user need only enter a single address on the message. This address will reference a list, which will contain the addresses of the intended audience, thus simplifying the task of reaching all of the members of the group.

Personal mailing lists can be setup within email client software such as Microsoft Outlook, Eudora, Netscape mail, etc.  However, these lists are stored on the local computer and are only available to the owner. For others to send to the same group of people on a different computer, they would have to either manually enter the group members’ email addresses individually or import the list from the source computer.

UH mailing lists, on the other hand, are stored on the UH list server.  To send a message to a group, you only need to send the email to the mailing list’s email address.  When the mail server receives the message, it distributes the message to the members of that list.  It does not matter what computer or what email software you are using.

UH mailing lists are much more than email address reference lists.  The owner(s) of a mailing list can configure it to behave differently according to their needs.  Setting specific permissions using keywords and templates creates different types of mailing lists. These are four common examples of mailing lists, each with its own advantages for specialized use:

·         Mail Alias – An email address that is used to redirect a message to one or more addresses. Emails sent to the list are not archived and no record of who sent what and when it was sent is kept on the server.

·         One-way announcement – The owner(s) and editor(s) of the list are the only people who are allowed to send messages to the subscribers. This type of list is primarily used for newsletters, product announcements, and dissemination of information that does not require feedback from the subscriber.

·         Two-way discussion – The list administrators and the list subscribers are both permitted to post messages to the list. This type of list is primarily used for discussion groups engaged in the exchange of ideas and information centered on a specific topic.

·         Moderated – This type of discussion list has an editor(s) who reviews all incoming messages. The editor decides whether or not to allow the message to be sent to all the subscribers on the list. Moderated lists can be used to control the discussion by keeping inflammatory or inappropriate messages from the reaching subscribers.

To use a mailing list you would simply type in the name of the list in the To: field of the outgoing email message. When you send the message, it will go to everyone who is on the list. For example, if there are twenty people that you normally send email to, these people can all belong to a mailing list called group-l@lists.hawaii.edu. Instead of sending a message to twenty addresses:

TO: user1@hawaii.edu, user2@hawaii.eduuser20@hawaii.edu


You would send the message to the list address:

            TO: group-l@lists.hawaii.edu

The address group-l@lists.hawaii.edu will redirect your message to everyone whose email address is in the group-l mailing list. This becomes especially helpful when the size of your group gets very large. Rather than typing in the addresses of everyone individually, you can create a mailing list that will do the same thing for you.

For a more detailed description of the different features of using a mailing list, please refer to online documentation available at: https://listserv.hawaii.edu/

This article is part of the Getting Started with LISTSERV (Subscribers) and Guide to Understanding and Managing a LISTSERV Mailing List articles.
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Article ID: 1067
Created: Thu, 15 Oct 2009 8:38am
Modified: Wed, 17 Dec 2014 2:48pm