Introduction to mailing lists
So browsing the web isn't your style? Most likely there's a mailing list focused on your interests that you can participate using email alone.
An electronic mailing list
is a list of email addresses grouped under a single mail box; somewhat similar to postal mailing lists, except you can participate in the mailings and have full control over the process. Mailing lists are used for open and moderated group discussions, to send out product updates, or otherwise share information with groups of individuals using electronic mail.
When you send email addressed to the mailing list, it is automatically broadcast to everyone on the list. If the list is moderated, the message may not be posted to the list itself until the moderator has approved it. Some mailing lists, such as certain product announcement lists, are read-only lists. While you will receive information from such lists, you will not be able to post information.
Because mailing lists dedicated for open group discussions can generate large amounts of email from individuals, some mailing lists offer digest subscriptions
. Lists with digest subscriptions will send all of the messages for each day in a single large message, rather than broadcasting each message to the list as they are received.
Mailing lists are highly automated, for the most part, to make it fast and easy to handle subscriptions and to process other related commands. To subscribe to a list, simply send an email message to the mailing list server, the machine handling the automated commands, containing the action that you want to take.
The first command you want to send to a list server is usually a request to subscribe to the list. Because there are many different brands and types of mailing list servers, there is no exact standard command that you can use to subscribe. However, most servers will take subscription requests in one of the following forms:
- SUBSCRIBE <name-of-the-mailing-list>
- SUBSCRIBE <list-name> <your-first-and-last-name>
- JOIN <name-of-the-mailing-list>
So how do you find out the exact steps you need to subscribe to a mailing list? Simply refer to the web site, email message or other source where you found out about the mailing list itself. It should have an email address to send the subscription requests to, and the syntax of the "SUBSCRIBE" command.
Practicing your mailing list skills
Still not sure what do to? You shouldn't use "real" mailing lists to practice your mailing list skills, because this could take-up valuable time of its members. Not to worry, we've setup a mailing list that you can use to practice before subscribing to a real-world mailing list.
Don't forget that other servers using different mailing list software may use slightly different commands to control thier lists.
As with many other mailing lists, there are two email addresses that you have to deal with when using our test list. The first is the email address for our mailing list server:
Above address is where you'll send mailing list commands such as subscribe, unsubscribe, retrieve archived messages, postpone messages, etc. The second address is:
which is where you'll send your actual messages that you want to broadcast to the mailing list members.
Let's get started.
The first step is to subscribe to the list. To do this, send email to our mailing list server firstname.lastname@example.org with the following message text (you can leave the subject of the message blank, as it's not used by the list server):
- SUBSCRIBE list-test
Note that list-test is the name of our test mailing list.
Once your request is processed by the server (usually within a few minutes), you should receive a "command confirmation request." This is simply a message with a special code that you have to send back to the mailing list server. The purpose of this is to make sure that the email address you subscribed from is reachable, to avoid delivery failures in the near future.
Once your command confirmation is received by the server, it should send you a message welcoming you to the mailing list. Always read and save the welcome messages sent by mailing lists as it not only contains a list of commands you can send to the server, but it may also contain usage guidelines for the list.
You're now ready to receive messages from the mailing list and to post your own messages to the list. Since our list is a test list, you may not receive any messages unless someone else happened to be testing the list at the same time. However, you can send a message to the list yourself to see how you'd receive it. To do this, simply send a regular email message to email@example.com
After you send a few messages and test out few other mailing list commands, described in the welcome message, you should be ready to join a real-world mailing list. Following is a list of places where you can search for a list with your interests. Although the medium itself may be automated and seem emotionally distant, don't forget that you will be talking to real people possibly from all over the world. Respect the opinions of others, conduct yourself in a civilized manner and value others' time when posting to mailing lists, and you will be rewarded in return with the information you're looking for.
Listing #1 : List of lists
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