This document will cover the basics of using LISTSERV lists specific to the University of Hawai‘i’s centralized servers. List owners, editors and moderators are encouraged to also read "Guide to Understanding and Managing a LISTSERV 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Instead of sending a message to twenty addresses:
TO: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org … email@example.com
You would send the message to the list address:
The address firstname.lastname@example.org 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/
You can perform actions in LISTSERV by sending a command through email or using the Web interface (https://listserv.hawaii.edu/). Some commands are only available to LISTSERV administrators and list owners while other commands are available to subscribers and non-subscribers as well.
There are two main email addresses that are used to work with LISTSERV lists. One is to communicate with the LISTSERV program — a “command address.” The other is used to post mail to the list — the “list address.” If you want to change a list configuration or subscription setting, you would email email@example.com. If you want you want to post a message to the list, you would email the list address (ex: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Sending email messages to LISTSERV containing commands and posting messages to the list is sometimes confusing for people who are new to mailing lists. To simplify this process, the Web interface provides a centralized location for interaction with LISTSERV. As a list owner, you can use the Web interface to issue commands directly to LISTSERV and post simple messages to the list.
To maintain your list via the Web, visit https://listserv.hawaii.edu/ and sign on using your email address (email@example.com). First time users must submit a request for a new password.
To increase security, there are a number of actions for which LISTSERV requires confirmation before proceeding. In some cases, LISTSERV will accept a password-based validation. In other cases, email confirmation is required. When this happens, LISTSERV sends an email message with a subject line such as:
Subject: Command confirmation request (787EF897)
The string of letters and numbers in parentheses (“787EF897” in the example) is called a “cookie” (sometimes referred to as a “confirmation code”) and is different every time.
Once an “OK” confirmation request is sent out, you must confirm it within 48 hours in order for the command to be executed.
There are three methods of confirming the command:
The cookie is the most important part of the “OK” confirmation method of validation. LISTSERV randomly generates a new cookie for each action that requires validation. All of the privileges within LISTSERV are tied to an email address. Only someone with access to your email address can make changes to your LISTSERV.
Caution: Never “OK” a cookie blindly. Make sure you are confirming a command that you initiated or a message that you want distributed to the list. Several cases of list “hijacking” or spam sent to well-secured lists have been tracked back to a list owner or moderator absent-mindedly clicking an OK link that they should not have clicked.
This section provides a quick tour of the subscribers corner part of the Web interface. For more information about each page, refer to the online help (Help in the navigation panel). For your convenience some common tasks have been included in the next section.
Messages sent to a LISTSERV list that has the web-archiving turned on, are saved on the server and can be viewed by using the Search Archive function. The Search Archive function can be found via clicking on the link on the main page of LISTSERV.
To search the archives: