Mailing Lists

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Private messages on the Internet are sent using electronic mail. E-mail is an easy and efficient way to correspond with one person. If you would like to share information with a group, private messaging is also possible from within a mail program using a mailing list.

A mailing list is a list of addresses of people interested in a common topic or affiliated in some other way. When a message is sent to a mailing list, it goes to all the people whose addresses are on the list.

It is not necessary to belong to a mailing list in order to send messages to it; however, to read a message sent to a list, you must be a subscriber to that list.

Advantage: Using a mailing list you can share information with a pre-defined or self-selected group of people, easily sending the same message to all the members of a group.

Subscribing to a List

To participate in a mailing list, you must find the address of the person or program managing the list and send a message via e-mail asking to subscribe. A mailing list may be administered by a person or by a program, a piece of software set up to recognize specific commands sent in the body of a message. If the list is administered by a person, send a message to an address read by that person; if by a program, send a message to that program.

Programs that administer the process of subscribing to a mailing list are not forgivingăif you don't send what they're set up to recognize, they won't guess at what you mean. Programs you may encounter include listserv, listproc, and majordomo (the Geometry Forum uses majordomo).


There are a lot more examples of mailing lists

Confirmation and Participation

The confirmation message you receive notifying you that you have been added to a mailing list may contain other very important information, such as the address to which messages must be sent.

The address of a mailing list is not the same as the subscription address. To send a message to a mailing list, you must use the mailing list address, e.g., ELED-L@ksuvm.bitnet.

The confirmation message that you receive when you subscribe will also include directions for how to leave the list. SAVE THIS INFORMATION. You will need it later on.


In the case of high-volume mailing lists, subscribers may receive a hundred or more messages in as little as a day. One way to avoid this may be to receive messages in digest form. If a digest of a mailing list is available, information on how to set your mail option to digest will frequently be included in the confirmation message you receive upon subscribing. A digest supplies a whole set of messages and articles in one package. Sometimes it also includes a table of contents.

Unsubscribing to a List

You may find that the volume of a list is overwhelming, or that you're not all that interested in the topics discussed--or you may be going on vacation and would prefer not to return home to find hundreds of messages clogging your mailbox. How do you leave a mailing list?

To unsubscribe to a mailing list, send a message back to the person or program managing the list. (This is why you should keep the information you received in your confirmation message when you joined the list!)


Other Possible Commands

To issue commands other than subscribe and unsubscribe to a mailing list subscription program, send a message with a single line that contains a command; the software will read the message, carry out the command, and mail you the results. If you send the command help, you will receive a summary of all the basic commands. You might ask for info to get information on a particular topic (info ? should get you a list of topics). Send the command review to receive a description of the list and the names and e-mail addresses of the subscribers.

Three More Lists

Here are three additional mailing lists you may wish to sample:

Send a message to . . . . . . . . . . . . . To subscribe to . . . . . . .nctm-l . . . . . . ednet . . . . KIDLINK
Example: To: --- subscribe nctm-l firstname lastname

Many mailing lists can also be read as Usenet news, so you may have a choice about how you read a list.

Reading E-mail as News

If a mailing list is also a newsgroup, each message that is sent to it is automatically posted to the newsgroup. When possible, particularly in the case of high-traffic lists, it may be desirable to read lists via news rather than to have all the messages enter your personal electronic mailbox. You can save time, and in comparison with e-mail, Usenet conserves network resources.

You will find a list-of-lists that keeps track of public Internet mailing lists posted regularly in the Usenet newsgroup news.lists.

Reading Newsgroups through E-mail

It's also possible to read some newsgroups by subscribing to them via e-mail. This option was developed for people who have Internet e-mail accounts without full access to Internet resources such as news.

The Geometry Forum has eight newsgroups:


You can subscribe to a Forum newsgroup in the form of a mailing list by sending a message to with subscribe groupname in the body of the message (the subject line can remain blank), where groupname is replaced by one of the geometry groups, using a dash instead of a dot.

Example: subscribe geometry-pre-college

More information is available from For instance, send a message to this mail-server, and in the body put send help, or send/using the forum/ mail.

Workshop Participants' Mailing List

The Geometry Forum sets up a mailbox for each of its workshop participants. If you send a message to
it will go to the mailboxes of all those who have attended a Forum workshop at Swarthmore. As these workshop participants read their mail, each will receive your message.

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