|This material has been prepared to accompany the book "Searching and Researching on the Internet and the World Wide Web, Third Edition" (ISBN 1887902716) by Ernest Ackermann and Karen Hartman, and published by Franklin, Beedle and Associates, Incorporated, Wilsonville OR, ©2002. No part of this may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transcribed without permission of the publisher.|
These comments make more sense if we have a real example to work with. Here we'll use the list
Using the example: Send e-mail to email@example.com with the message subscribe PHOTO-L Your Full Name For example: subscribe PHOTO-L Chris Athana
Using the example: Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the message unsubscribe PHOTO-L
Using the example: Send e-mail to PHOTO-L@csuohio.edu
|Tools Available on the World Wide Web to Search for Lists|
Here are some excellent tools on the WWW for finding information about discussion groups. In each of these give a keyword or keyphrase, and the software searches a database of list names, descriptions, and associated addresses. You'll get the information you need (list name, address for joining the list, address of the list, address of the list owner or moderator, etc.) for the appropriate lists.
|Some of the Details|
All communication within an discussion group is carried on by e-mail. A user joins or subscribes to a group and then shares in the discussions of the group. A message sent to the group is usually broadcast via e-mail to all members of the group. So these discussions are public. There is an exception; some groups are moderated and a message sent to the group is first routed to the person serving as moderator. (The moderator either sends the message on to the group or takes some other action.) Some groups are very large, with thousands of subscribers, and some are very diverse, with members throughout the world. If you subscribe to an active group you can expect many e-mail messages per day. You'll find members at all levels of experience.
Being a member of a discussion group means that you can join in discussions, ask questions, help others with questions, make announcements related to the group, or just see what others are talking about. You don't have to respond to every message; you can use your e-mail system just to read or even ignore some of the discussions. It's usually a good idea just to read messages when you first join a group so you can get an idea of the general tone and level of the discussion. Some folks use the term lurking to describe the behavior of observing the discussions. Lurking is just fine; it may be exactly what you want.
When you're ready you can send a message to the group (this is called posting a message), reply to the individual author of a message, or send a reply to the group. Replying to the group means your message goes to everyone on the list.
Discussions in the group should be carried on in a polite and civil manner. Occasionally someone gets upset about what someone else has written and sends a message to the group that insults, scolds, berates, or is downright nasty about the author of the original message. This type of message is called a flame. To keep things from getting out of hand, users sometimes need to be reminded to calm down or tone down their remarks.
Most of the management of a list, tasks like adding new members or subscribers, removing members who choose to leave or unsubscribe from a list, and other tasks, is handled automatically by software (a collection of one or more computer programs) running on the computer that serves as the host system for the list. As a member of a list you usually can retrieve archives or collections of past discussions, get a list of the current members, and ask that the mail of the list be sent to you in one packet, called a digest, at regular intervals instead of getting each message individually. All of these functions or other requests for service are handled by commands you send to an e-mail address, called the administrative address, which passes the command on to the software managing the list. Since these requests are satisfied automatically by a computer program, the requests need to be in a specific form that can be understood by the software.
When you're a member of a list you need to know two addresses, and you need to know when to use them.
1. The address of the list, sometimes called the list address or group address. This is the address you'll use to communicate with the list. When you send e-mail to this address, the mail is delivered to all members of the list.
2. The address to request services from or give commands to the manager of the list. This address is sometimes called the administrative address of the list. Most lists are automatically managed by software, such as Listserv or Listproc, so the commands are executed automatically by software. Some lists are maintained and managed entirely by individuals or groups of users. These services or commands allow you to subscribe, unsubscribe, receive messages in digest form, retrieve a list of members, request archives, etc. This administrative address is the same address you use to join or subscribe to the list.
It's easy to make a mistake and confuse the two. If you send a request to the list that should have gone to the other address, a member of the list will usually remind you of the correct address. If you send a message that's passed on to the managing software but was meant for the members of the list, you'll usually get a reply back indicating the message wasn't in the proper form.
|How to Join a List|
In order to join a list you need to send e-mail to the administrative address for the list. The e-mail should contain the word SUBSCRIBE and the name of the list. For most lists you also need to include your full name (first name last name). Here are some discussion lists on the Internet.
List name: BIRDCHAT Administrative address: email@example.com List address: BIRDCHAT@arizvm1.ccit.arizona.edu Brief description: discussions related to birding, birding activities, and birding experiences. This list deals with wild birds; please, no messages dealing with pets. To Join: Send e-mail to LISTSERV@arizvm1.ccit.arizona.edu with the message subscribe BIRDCHAT Your Full Name For example: subscribe BIRDCHAT Chris Athana List name: PHOTO-L Administrative address: firstname.lastname@example.org List address: PHOTO-L@csuohio.edu Brief description: Unmoderated open non-commercial discussion of all aspects of photography. To join: Send e-mail to email@example.com with the message subscribe PHOTO-L Your Full Name For example: subscribe PHOTO-L Chris Athana List name: F-COSTUME Administrative address: firstname.lastname@example.org List address: F-COSTUME@lunch.asd.sgi.com Brief description: Concentrates on design, motivation and execution of fantasy costumes. To join: Send e-mail to email@example.com with the message subscribe F-COSTUMEYou're giving a command to some software and the command has to be in a specific form. Also, you don't have to supply your e-mail address. Since you've sent e-mail to the administrative address, your e-mail address is part of the message. The software that manages the list takes your name and address and adds them to the list of members.
Let's assume you've succeeded in subscribing to the list and you've received e-mail about the list. In some cases you'll be asked to confirm your request to join or subscribe, but in most cases you'll receive an immediate e-mail message welcoming you to the list. Save the welcome message! It usually contains important information about leaving or unsubscribing from the list and other commands to use to request services from the software that manages the list. It also tells you how to get more information. Once again, SAVE THAT MESSAGE! You'll probably want it and need it sometime in the future.
|How to Communicate with and Contribute to the List|
Send e-mail to the list address if you want all the members of the list or group to receive it. Don't send e-mail meant for the members of the list to the administrative address. E-mail that's sent to the list address is either sent to all members of the list, or sent to a moderator who may or may not distribute the message to the rest of the group.
One other address you may need is the address of the list owner or moderator. You'll probably get that address with your "welcome to the group" e-mail. Write to the owner or moderator when you have questions about the nature of the list if you think something is wrong with the list or to volunteer to help the moderator.
|How to Leave a List|
To leave or unsubscribe from a list, send e-mail to the administrative address. The message needs to have the name of the list you want to leave since several lists may be managed by the same software at a site. The name of the list is represented by LIST-NAME below. In most cases, you need to send the e-mail message to leave or unsubscribe from the same Internet address you used to join the list. If you have difficulty leaving a list, write to the list owner or moderator. Remember to unsubscribe or leave by sending e-mail to the administrative address, not the list address.
In the case of Listserv and Listproc, you send the message: unsubscribe LIST-NAME
If Majordomo is being used to manage a list, you may have to include your e-mail address, if you gave it when you joined the list or if you're leaving from a different address. Send either the message: unsubscribe LIST-NAME
or unsubscribe LIST-NAME YOUR-CURRENT-E-MAIL-ADDRESS
Here is how to leave each of the lists mentioned before. We're assuming the Internet address firstname.lastname@example.org was used for subscribing or joining the list.
List name: BIRDCHAT Send e-mail to: email@example.com Message: unsubscribe BIRDCHAT List name: PHOTO-L Send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org Message: unsubscribe PHOTO-L List name: F-COSTUME Send e-mail to: email@example.com Message: unsubscribe F-COSTUME or unsubscribe F-COSTUME firstname.lastname@example.org
|Requesting Services from the Software that Manages a List|
Lists and discussion groups generally offer a number of services to their members. In some cases all the messages to a list are archived or saved so members can retrieve them at any time. Lists also generally allow a member to specify the way she receives mail from the group, such as one at a time or in digest form. We'll explain some of the services a list provides as well as the commands used to get the services. All the commands are sent by e-mail to the administrative address. That way the commands may be detected by the software that manages the list. Sending a command to the list generally does nothing except to have several members of the list reply with reminders that the commands were sent to the wrong address.
Getting Help and a List of All Commands
Send a simple message: HELP
to the administrative address and you'll receive, again by e-mail, a list of all the commands you can use with the list. This works for any type of software managing a list. Some lists also provide a reference card, really e-mail, that explains all the commands. If the managing software is Listserv send the command: INFO REFCARD
to any system that supports Listserv. From the example in the previous sections you could send that message to email@example.com. Another site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
List Type Command Listproc REVIEW LIST-NAME or RECIPIENTS LIST-NAME Listserv REVIEW LIST-NAME Majordomo WHO LIST-NAME
List Type Command Listproc SET LIST-NAME CONCEAL YES SET LIST-NAME CONCEAL NO-use this to make your name visible again. Listserv SET LIST-NAME CONCEAL SET LIST-NAME NOCONCEAL-use this to make your name visible again.
List Type Command Listproc SET LIST-NAME MAIL POSTPONE use SET LIST-NAME MAIL to receive messages again. Listserv SET LIST-NAME NOMAIL use SET LIST-NAME MAIL to receive messages again.
List Type Command Listproc SET LIST-NAME MAIL DIGEST use SET LIST-NAME MAIL ACK to cancel digest mode. Listserv SET LIST-NAME DIGEST use SET LIST-NAME MAIL to cancel digest mode. Majordomo SUBSCRIBE LIST-NAME-DIGEST UNSUBSCRIBE LIST-NAME use SUBSCRIBE LIST-NAME UNSUBSCRIBE LIST-NAME-DIGEST to cancel digest mode.
Majordomo requires two commands, both included in the same message. The first subscribes to the list in digest mode. The second removes your name as a user to receive the messages as separate mailings.
to the administrative address for the list. Substitute the name of a specific list for LIST-NAME. For example, to get the archives for the list F-COSTUME, send the message INDEX F-COSTUME
You either use the command GET or the command SEND to retrieve a file from an archive (depending on the type of software that manages the list). Include the name of the list and the name of the file. Table 5 lists the commands to use for each type of software, and also includes an example. Substitute the specific name of a list for LIST-NAME and the specific name of a file for FILE-NAME. Remember to send your commands to the administrative address for the list.
List Type: Listproc Command: GET LIST-NAME FILENAME Example: GET PHOTO-L PHOTO-L.Sep-25 List Type: Listserv Command: GET FILENAME FILE-TYPE LIST-NAME F=MAIL Example: GET AOU91 TXT BIRDCHAT F=MAIL Listserv software also requires you to specify the type of the file, FILE-TYPE. This file type appears in the list of files in the archive. List Type: Majordomo Command: GET LIST-NAME FILENAME Example: GET F-COSTUME TOPICS
|How to Find the Names and Addresses of Lists|
There are thousands of discussion groups, or mailing lists on the Internet. How do you find lists that match your needs or interests? You're likely to hear about some lists from the folks you correspond with on the Internet; you'll also see lists mentioned if you read Usenet news, or you'll see some mentioned in other things you read.
There are many ways to use the services on the Internet to find the names, addresses, and descriptions of lists. Discussion lists, Listserv, and the other types of lists existed before the Internet became as popular or available as it is today. Also, some of these lists existed on other networks. Over the years a number of groups and individuals have kept "lists of lists." These lists are available on the Internet and you can get any of them through e-mail or other Internet services. The addresses of these collections of lists and the services used to retrieve them are given in the section "Internet Sources of Information of discussion Lists" below. In this section we'll talk about two ways to find the names and address of lists using Internet services: search the names of all Listserv lists by e-mail and use tools available on the World Wide Web to search for lists.
|Internet Sources of Information of discussion Lists|
Several groups or individuals have assembled collections of information about discussion groups, discussion groups, Listserv, and mailing lists. Some of the collections of lists are very large, often too large for an individual to store. But these lists can be searched on the Internet as described above. Also, some of the collections of lists are broken into smaller groups, so it may be feasible for you to retrieve some of these lists.
Before giving sources on the Internet for these lists we'll first discuss two files you might want to retrieve. These files contain documents about using mailing lists or discussion groups and about finding sources of information about mailing lists.
How to Find an Interesting Mailing List," by Arno Wouters, identifies and describes several sources of lists and other information related to discussion groups and mailing lists. The document also contains some information about using Internet services to search for lists. One URL for the document is http://www.webliminal.com/search/arcdocs/wouters.
The document " Discussion Lists: Mailing List Manager Commands," by James Milles contains information about working with discussion lists, interest groups, and mailing lists. The file is available by anonymous FTP and by e-mail. To retrieve the file by e-mail send the message GET MAILSER CMD NETTRAIN F=MAIL to email@example.com.
|Searching and Researching on the Internet and the World Wide Web||Learning to Use the Internet and the World Wide Web||Internet and Web Essentials|
This is a Webliminal.com Production. © 2002
Please send comments/questions to Ernest Ackermann, firstname.lastname@example.org or Karen Hartman email@example.com
FROM the fortune list ...
Its all up for grabs all the time.