Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

4.27. What's a Listserv?

Listserv is the name of a very common mailserver. Listservs are the de facto standard on Bitnet, and there are versions that work on the Internet as well. Listservs provide three kinds of services: mailing list management, file archives, and address registration.

You can receive a manual on using Listservs by sending the command INFO GENERAL to any Listserv (for instance to LISTSERV@BITNIC.BITNET). The command HELP will get you a short list of commands, INFO REFCARD a longer list.

Be aware that not all lists are run on Listservs. If you want to subscribe to a mailing list but you aren't sure if there's a person or a program behind the scenes, assume the list is maintained by a human. Don't send listserv commands unless the contact address starts with majordomo or *listserv or the instructions explicitly say to send listserv commands. Some list owners will get annoyed if you send them listserv commands rather than polite messages complete with "please" and "thank you."

If you're not sure if a human or a machine is on the receiving end, send a message like this:

SUB listname My Name

Hi! If a human is reading this, please sign me up! Thanks!

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