Quick Start instructions for LISTSERV subscribers

These instructions cover both the email and web interfaces. The web interface is much easier to use.

  1. What is LISTSERV?
  2. What is a List?
  3. What does the information in the List Header tell me?
  4. Where do I mail my LISTSERV requests/commands?
  5. How do I obtain a copy of LISTSERV commands?
  6. How do I find out what mailing Lists are available?
  7. How do I subscribe to a List?
  8. How do I unsubscribe to a List?
  9. How do I send email to the List owner only?
  10. How do I obtain documentation about LISTSERV?

What is LISTSERV?

LISTSERV is an electronic mailing list server designed to make group communication easier. It allows you to create, manage and control electronic "mailing lists" on the Internet. Listserv  distributes mail and files to predefined distribution lists and automatically notifies its users of updated files.


What is a LIST?

A list is an email address associated with a specific group or subject. If you subscribe to a list you can post information to, and receive information from, other LIST members. Each LISTSERV LISTS is managed by a list owner. The owner defines what the list is about and is responsible for all administrative matters, including answering questions from list subscribers.


What does the information in the LIST HEADER tell me?

Every Listserv list has a header that displays keywords. These keywords are important because they determine whether a user has the authority to view or subscribe to a list. If you want to subscribe to a list, it is a good idea to review the list header first. To review the information in a list header, issue the Listserv REView command. The format of the REView command is:

REView listname

For example, to review the header of the ACADCOM list at York, you would send mail to listserv@yorku.ca and in the body of you mail message you would type:

REV acadcom

Listserv will reply by sending you a copy of the ACADCOM list header. As a new user you will be concerned with the following keywords.

Review Review indicates who may obtain information about the list, and it specifies the network addresses and names of list subscribers. The level of review varies from list to list. Review may be defined as public(which is the default), privatepostmasterowner, etc. If review is defined as public, anyone can view the information in the list. If review is defined as private, only those who are subscribed to the list have access to the information in the list. If review is defined as owner, it means that only the list owner has access to the information in the list.
Owner Every Listserv list has at least one list owner, whether the list is owner controlled or not. The owner’s name and network address appear in the list header under the label owner. The owner maintains the list and has authority to perform list maintenance functions (add and remove subscribers). The list owner can also suspend and resume distribution of mail and other files. Contact the list owner when you have a problem with a list.
Subscription SUBscription indicates whether or not you can subscribe to a list, and if not, whether your request will be forwarded to the list owner. Subscriptions to a list can be openby owner (which is the default) orclosed. If subscription is open, it means that anybody who would like to subscribe to the list may do so. A subscription to an open list isimmediate. If subscription is by owner, you cannot subscribe to the list,but your request will be forwarded to the list owner. The owner will decide to accept or reject your request. A closed subscription means that you cannot subscribe to the list; nor will your request for subscription be sent to the list owner.

To obtain further information on list control keywords, send the following command to Listserv:

info KEYword

Where do I mail my LISTSERV requests/commands?

When you send mail to LISTSERV, you are actually sending a LISTSERV command. To send a command to LISTSERV, address your mail tolistserv@node (where node can be any node, for example listserv@yorku.ca) and then type the appropriate LISTSERV command in the body of your mail message. You can issue more than one command provided each command appears on a separate line.


How do I obtain a copy of LISTSERV commands?

To obtain a list of Listserv commands, issue the Listserv help command. Address the mail message to listserv@yorku.ca, type help in the body of your mail message and then send the message. Listserv will reply with a list of the most useful Listserv commands and their functions. The list will look like this.

Commands Options Description
Info <topic|listname> Order information about Listserv.
Lists <Detailed|Short|Global> Obtain a list of LISTSERV lists.
Subscribe listname <full name> Subscribe to a list.
Signoff listname Signoff a list.
Signoff * (NETWIDE Signoff from all lists on all servers.
Review listname <options> Review a list.
Query listname Query your subscription options.
Set listname options Update your subscription options.
INdex <filelist_name> Order a list of Listserv files.
Get filename filetype Order a file from Listserv.
Register full_name|OFF Register your name with Listserv.

How do I find out what mailing lists are available?

Listserv maintains files of discussion lists for specific nodes, and for the entire network. The Listserv lists command allows you to obtain a file of Listserv lists. You can specify one of three options with the lists command: shortdetailed or global.

  • Short (the default) produces a file of available lists and a brief description of each list.
  • Detailed produces a file of available lists; a brief description of each list; and keyword information about each list.
  • Global produces a file containing all the lists on the network.
    1. To obtain a file of the discussion lists at York, mail the lists command to listserv@yorku.ca.
    2. To obtain a file of the lists available at another node, specify the correct node name in the mail address. For example, to get a file of the Listserv lists at the University of Toronto, mail the lists command to listserv@Listserv.utoronto.ca. Note: Make sure you know the correct node name before sending a Listserv command. You can search for Listserv lists through the Web interface athttp://www.lsoft.com/lists/listref.html. This will allow you to view lists by host or country, and to check the node names.
    3. To obtain a more detailed list, regardless of the node, include the detailed option with your lists command. Type lists detailed in the body of your mail message.
    4. To obtain a list of Listserv lists for the entire network, the command format is lists global. However, because there are thousands of lists, it is suggested you use a search string to limit the size of the file that will be returned to you. For example, list global medicinewill return a description of all the lists related to medicine (lists whose name or topic contains the string "medicine").

You can also search for Listserv lists through the Web interface at http://www.lsoft.com/lists/listref.html.

Note: When requesting a global (network) Listserv list, you can mail the lists global command to any Listserv node.


How do I SUBSCRIBE to a LIST?

  1. Address your email message to listserv@yorku.ca.
  2. In the body of your email message, issue the command:

SUBSCRIBE listname LastName FirstName

where

SUBSCRIBE is the command you issue to subscribe to a list.

listname is the name of the list to which you want to subscribe.

LastName FirstName is your last and first name.


How do I UNSUBSCRIBE to a LIST?

  1. Address your email message to listserv@yorku.ca.
  2. In the body of your email message, issue the command:

SIGNOFF listname

where

SIGNOFF is the command you issue to signoff a list.

listname is the name of the list from which you want to signoff.


How do I send email to the List Owner only?

Send email to:Listname-request@yorku.ca

where

Listname is replaced with the name of the LIST whose owner you want to contact.


How do I obtain documentation about Listserv?

If you are a new Listserv user, you probably need some general information about Listserv. To obtain a list of available Listserv documentation, mail the command info to listserv@yorku.ca. Listserv will reply with a list of commands that you can use to retrieve Listserv information files. Here are some of the commands you will receive.

Command Description
REFcard Command Reference card.
PResent Presentation of Listserv for new users.
GENintro General information about Listserv.
KEYwords Describes list header keywords.
FILEs Describes file_server functions.
LPunch Listserv-Punch format.
JOB Describes command Jobs feature.
OWNers Describes list-owners commands.

Note: For a complete list, order your own info file. If you are new to Listserv, you should order the PResentation or GENintro guides.

When retrieving a Listserv information file, in the body of your mail message issue the info command followed by the appropriate command for the document you want to retrieve. For example, to retrieve the GENintro guide, in the body of your mail message you would type info genintro.