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ListServ: Basics

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LISTSERVs are sophisticated e-mail lists running on a server that allows you to create, manage, and control access to those lists easily.  It enables a large group of people to communicate effectively with one another without requiring each person to maintain a list of all the other participants.  Additionally, LISTSERVs can archive postings in a searchable online database, send indexed digests to participants instead of individual messages, and make sets of files publicly accessible by email.  LISTSERVs can also be publicly searchable by the campus at large (or not), and can also be set up so individuals can subscribe and unsubscribe to the list at their leisure.

 This document describes the basic usages of a Listserv as an end-user.  If you would like information creating/managing a listserv, visit the "LISTSERV: List Owner Guide" documentation.

 

 

 

Basic Concepts

Listserv is just a fancy mail server that receives emails and does one of two things: 1) process the email as commands to update settings/accounts or 2) send messages to groups of people.  For every Listserv maillist, you have to deal with three main e-mail addresses: 

  1. the server address: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  2. the list address:  listname@listsrv.ucsf.edu (where listname is the name of your Listserv Maillist)
  3. the list owner address:  listname This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (where listname is the name of your Listserv Maillist)

The server address is used to interact with the server.  Generally, these interactions are handled by the computer directly and no human interaction actually takes place.  This is where commands are submitted to either update settings or modify account information. Examples would be include finding out which Listservs exist, subscribing/unsubscribing, finding out which listservs you belong to, etc etc.

To send a command to the server, you would email " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " with the command in the body of the message (leaving the subject line blank).  NOTE: All commands and messages sent to the server has to be sent from the e-mail address that is registered with the server!

The list address is used to interact with specific listservs.  This would be used to post messages to the group. If you are allowed to post to a Listserv, you must do so from the exact e-mail address that is registered with that Listserv.

The list owner address is used to send messages to the maintainers (owners) of a specific listserv maillist.

All UCSF Faculty, students, and staff are automatically subscribed to informational Listservs used to disseminate information to the entire community efficiently and effectively. 

Discovering Listservs

Listservs can be designated as private or public by their list owner(s).  Private Listserv's are considered confidential and their existence is NOT published anwhere.  Listserv designated as public can be discovered by querying the server.

To request a list of UCSF Listservs:

  1. send an email to " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "
  2. in the body of the message, only type "list"
  3. leave the subject line blank, and do NOT include your signature in the body of the message
The server will email you back a list of public Listservs along with the descriptions of those lists.  Note: There are over 700 Listservs currently on the server, so the list will be long.

Subscribing to a Listserv

To subscribe to a Listserv:

  1. send an email to " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    • NOTE: You have to send the email from the address you want added.   
  2. In the body of the message type: "SUBSCRIBE listname firstname lastname"
    • listname is the name of the Listserv (the part before @listsrv.ucsf.edu)
    • firstname is how you want your first name to appear on the list
    • lastname is how you want your last name to appear on the list
  3. Leave the Subject line blank

You should receive an auto-reply within a few minutes with one of three response:

  1. You've been subscribed
  2. Your request has been forwarded to the List Owner for review
  3. The list does not allow direct subscription requests
    • If you receive this reponse, you can still request to be subscribed by asking the Listserv owner via an e-mail sent to "listname This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ".  The subject line and body of the message are treated like a regular e-mail message.

Unsubscribing to a Listserv

To unsubscribe to a Listserv:

  1. send an email to " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    • NOTE: You have to send the email from the address you originally subscribed from.  If you no longer have access to that account, you will need to have the List Owner unscribe you manually.  Send an e-mail to "listname This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ".  The subject line and body of the message are treated like a regular e-mail message.  
  2. In the body of the message type: "UNSUBSCRIBE listname"
    • listname is the name of the Listserv (the part before @listsrv.ucsf.edu)
  3. Leave the Subject line blank

Posting to a Listserv

To send a message to a Listserv, compose your email message as you normally would and send it to "listname@listsrv.ucsf.edu" (where listname is the name of the maillist to which you want to send your email). 

NOTE: Messages posted to a Listserv must be sent from the e-mail address that was subscribed.  If all of your messages are forwarded or redirected to another e-mail address, you will need to send messages to that Listserv from the original e-mail address or request that your subsciption address be changed.  For example, if you are subscribed under " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ", but all messages are automatically redirected to " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ", in order to post/unsubscribe, you will need to use your " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " account or request that your subscription be changed to " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ".  Please be aware, some Listserv's will deny subscription requests of non-UCSF addresses.

Once you have "posted" to the list, you will receive on of four auto-replies:

  1. Your message has been posted,
  2. Your message needs to be confirmed
    • To review your posting prior to approving it, click on your original posting in the Attachment field of the Confirmation Request email.
    • To approve your posting via email, click Reply on the Confirmation Request email and type "OK" without the quotes (") in the body of the email and send it.
    • To approve your posting automatically, click the approval link at the bottom of the Confirmation Request.  Keep in mind that this link will immediately post the message to the Listserv, so use this link with care.
  3. Your message needs to be approved by the ListServ moderator and that it has been forwarded to that person for review.
  4. You are NOT authorized to post to that ListServ.  This can be for one of two reasons:
    • The list owner has set it up so only specific people can post to the list or
    • You are posting from an e-mail address that is NOT subscribed (please see the note above)

Viewing Listserv Archives

Listservs can be set to maintain an archive on the server.  The owner of the list must set the option and set who has access to the archives.  There are two types of archives: Web Archive and Notebook Archives.  Web Archives are viewable on the web via the ListServ Management site.  Notebook archives are sent to your e-mail as a digest, usually by month.

To view a web archive:

  • For postings from February 1, 2008 to present go to http://listsrv.ucsf.edu/OldArchives/hypermail_archives/
  • For postings before February 1, 2008, go to "http://listsrv.ucsf.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A0=ListName"
    • where "ListName" is the name of the Listserv (the part before @listsrv.ucsf.edu)
    • if it says "Login Required", click on the "Login Required" link and enter your ListServ email address and password
    • If you do not have a ListServ password:
      • click on the "get a new LISTSERV password" link and follow the instructions
      • you will need to use the same e-mail address as the one subscribed to the list

To vew a notebook archive:

  • To see a list of all notebook archives available for a particular Listserv:
    1. send an email to " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "
      • NOTE: You have to send the email from the address that is subscribed
    2. In the body of the message, type: "index listname"
      • listname is the name of the Listserv (the part before @listsrv.ucsf.edu)
    3. Leave the Subject line blank (empty)
  • Once you have a list of available notebook archives, to retrieve the archive:
    1. send an email to " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "
      • NOTE: You have to send the email from the address that is subscribed
    2. In the body of the message, type: "get listname logyrmo"
      • listname is the name of the Listserv (the part before @listsrv.ucsf.edu)
      • yrmo is a four digit number consisting of 2-digit year and 2-digit month of the archive
        • Example: "get Admin-L log0712" will get you archives for the Listserv 'Admin-L' for December 2007.

More Help

If you are part of the Biochemistry & Biophysics Department, you can email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

More documentation can also be found on through the OAAIS website at http://oaais.ucsf.edu/OAAIS/listserv.html

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 31 December 2008 01:37 )