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Help with LISTSERV Mailing lists.

Most of the mailing lists on the Linguistics Funland pages are LISTSERV lists. LISTSERV is a computer program that distributes the e-mail to the listmembers and is designed to respond to commands in only certain ways. It's a good idea, therefore, to know a little bit about how these lists work.


When you want to join a LISTSERV list, you must send an e-mail message to the right address. The e-mail address must be LISTSERV@something.something. If you send mail to the list itself (e.g. TESL-L@cunyvm.cuny.edu) it won't work.

In your message, don't put a subject. Do put the words SUBSCRIBE LISTNAME YOUR NAME as the only words in the message, then send it off. If you have other words in there (such as your signature, organization, etc.), the Listserv program can get confused.

If you're joining a list from these pages, please be VERY sure that you enter your entire e-mail address. Often, someone will only put in part of it (e.g. bob@math) and the message will be lost. Maybe I should mention as well that when I say something like "LISTNAME" or "YOUR NAME" I mean that you should type out the name of the list (TESL-L, FLTEACH, etc) or your own name (John Smith, Lisa Yoshimura) and not those exact words. (Now, don't laugh--it happens because people know that sometimes computers are very literal.)

When you first sign on...

When you first join a list, the LISTSERV will send you a welcome message automatically. Keep this message!!! This message will contain a list of instructions for how to communicate with the list, get files from the archives, change your mail settings, and other very important things. Also, some people on discussion lists (I've NEVER encountered this on any of the TESL-L branches, but you never know) are very unforgiving of the mistakes of newcomers. For some reason, some people are much ruder via e-mail than they ever would be in person. To keep your mailbox from bursting into flames, therefore, it's a very good idea to at least skim the instructions. (I won't go into much more detail here, since the welcome message will do all that for you.)

List Etiquette

Many people have ideas about what constitutes courtesy on the net. However, most agree on these things:


To get off of a list that you are tired of, send a message to the LISTSERV (not the list itself) with the words SIGN OFF LISTNAME. Many times, "unsubscribe" or "get me the heck off this list, please" will not work.

Now, get going!

Well, this is not a comprehensive treatise on the subject, but now you've got the basics. Get ready to interact with colleagues all over the world--it can be quite an overwhelming experience. The Internet has brought many of us together in extraordinary ways. Welcome to the Chaos!

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