What is a Mailing List?

A mailing list is a tool that provides users with the means to disseminate information via email to groups of people. Rather than manually entering many individual email addresses on the message, you need only enter a single email address: that of the list. This list will contain the email addresses of those in the intended audience, called subscribers, thus simplifying the task of reaching all members of the group. Making use of a mailing list is especially useful when messaging to a particular group of people is frequent.

Individual mailing lists can be set up within email client software such as Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, Mac Mail, etc. However, these lists are specific to one account, and are only available from this account and possibly the specific email software Other people cannot use the list to send to the same group of people, unless they manually enter the group members’ email addresses or import the list from the source computer. Due to their disparate nature, these types of mailing lists can be difficult to use, share, maintain, and manage - especially at a larger scale. To address these issues, UH offers a mailing list service called Listserv.

UH Listserv mailing lists are stored on the UH Listserv server. To send a message to a group of email addresses, you would only need to send the message to the Listserv list’s email address. When the UH Listserv server receives the message, it will distribute the message to the members (subscribers) of that list. Other people besides the list's creator/owner may also be given permission to use the list's email address to distribute a message to subscribers of the list. When sending to a UH Listserv mailing list, it does not matter what computer or what email software you are using. Management and maintenance of a UH Listserv list can also be performed from any device with access to the internet, and management duties can be shared among many users if desired.

The owner(s) of a Listserv list can configure it to behave differently according to their needs. The owner(s) may set specific permissions using keywords and/or templates to create different types of Listserv lists. The following are some common uses of Listserv lists:

·         One-way announcement – The list owners/administrators are the only people who are allowed to send messages to the subscribers. This type of list is primarily used for newsletters, announcements, and dissemination of information that does not require feedback from the list's subscribers.

·         Two-way discussion – The list administrators and subscribers are all permitted to send messages to the list. This type of list is primarily used for discussion groups engaged in the exchange of ideas and information centered around a specific topic or for members of an organization to discuss ideas and information related to that organization.

·         Moderated – The list administrator(s) will review all incoming messages. The list administrator(s) decides whether or not to allow the message to be sent to the subscribers of the list. Moderated lists can be used to control the discussion by keeping inflammatory, inappropriate, spam, or other unwanted messages from the reaching subscribers.

To use a Listserv list you would type 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 subscribed to the list. For example, if there are twenty people that you normally send email to, you could create a Listserv list named "group-l" and add the twenty people as subscribers. The email address of this list would be group-l@lists.hawaii.edu. Once this list is created, 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

Everyone who is subscribed to the group-l list will receive a copy of the message. This becomes especially helpful when the amount of people you need to email is very large. Rather than typing in the addresses of everyone individually, you can create a Listserv list and enter just one address. Using a Listserv list may also help prevent messages sent to a large number of individuals from being flagged as "spamming" behavior by Google or other email service providers.

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

This article is part of the Getting Started with LISTSERV (Subscribers) and Getting Started with Managing a LISTSERV Mailing List (Owners) articles.
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Article ID: 1067
Created: Thu, 15 Oct 2009 8:38am
Modified: Tue, 08 Jun 2021 2:30pm