[LISTSERV logo] [Online documentation]

L-Soft international, Inc.

List Owner's Manual
LISTSERV®, version 1.8d

1 March 1999
Initial Release

The reference number of this document is 9903-UD-02.

Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Companies, names and data used in examples herein are fictitious unless otherwise noted. L-Soft international, Inc. does not endorse or approve the use of any of the product names or trademarks appearing in this document.

Permission is granted to copy this document, at no charge and in its entirety, provided that the copies are not used for commercial advantage, that the source is cited and that the present copyright notice is included in all copies, so that the recipients of such copies are equally bound to abide by the present conditions. Prior written permission is required for any commercial use of this document, in whole or in part, and for any partial reproduction of the contents of this document exceeding 50 lines of up to 80 characters, or equivalent. The title page, table of contents and index, if any, are not considered to be part of the document for the purposes of this copyright notice, and can be freely removed if present.

The purpose of this copyright is to protect your right to make free copies of this manual for your friends and colleagues, to prevent publishers from using it for commercial advantage, and to prevent ill-meaning people from altering the meaning of the document by changing or removing a few paragraphs.

Copyright © 1996-1999, L-Soft international, Inc.
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

LISTSERV is a registered trademark licensed to L-Soft international, Inc.
L-SOFT and LMail are trademarks of L-Soft international.
LSMTP is a trademark of L-Soft international, Inc.
EASE and CataList are service marks of L-Soft international, Inc.
UNIX is a registered trademark of X/Open Company Limited.
AIX and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation.
Alpha AXP, Ultrix, OpenVMS and VMS are trademarks of Digital Equipment Corporation.
OSF/1 is a registered trademark of Open Software Foundation, Inc.
Microsoft is a registered trademark and Windows, Windows NT and Windows 95 are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
HP is a registered trademark of Hewlett-Packard Company.
Sun is a registered trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc.
IRIX is a trademark of Silicon Graphics, Inc.
PMDF is a registered trademark of Innosoft International.
Pentium and Pentium Pro are registered trademarks of Intel Corporation.
Apple and Macintosh are registered trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc.
All other trademarks, both marked and not marked, are the property of their respective owners.

All of L-Soft's manuals for LISTSERV are available in ascii-text format via LISTSERV and in popular word-processing formats via ftp.lsoft.com. They are also available on the World Wide Web at the following URL:


L-Soft invites comment on its manuals. Please feel free to send your comments via e-mail to MANUALS@LSOFT.COM, and mention which manual you are commenting on. (However, please do not send support questions to this address.)

"Hot fix" revisions to this and other L-Soft manuals are posted as they are made to the master document, on the announcement-only mailing list:


Reference Number 9903-UD-02

Table of Contents

Preface: LISTSERV Command Syntax Conventions

1. About Mailing Lists and LISTSERV

2. Starting a Mailing List -- The Basics

2.1. Avoid duplication of effort

2.2. What skills do I need to start and maintain a LISTSERV mailing list?

2.3. Creating a mailing list -- Where can it be done, and Who can do it?

2.3.1. Naming Conventions

2.4. List Header Keywords and what they do

2.5. Sending commands to LISTSERV

2.6. Defining Personal Passwords

2.7. Retrieving the list -- some considerations

2.8. Editing the list header

2.9. Defining list owners

2.10. Storing the list on the host machine

2.11. Fixing mistakes

2.12. Security Options

2.12.1. First line of defense: The VALIDATE= keyword

2.12.2. Controlling subscription requests

2.12.3. Controlling the service area of your list

2.12.4. Controlling who may review the list of subscribers

2.12.5. Controlling who may access the notebook files

2.12.6. Controlling who may post mail to the list

2.12.7. The "OK" confirmation mechanism

2.12.8. Restricting subscriber privileges

2.12.9. Restricting the number of postings per user to the list per day

2.13. How to set up lists for specific purposes

2.13.1. Public discussion lists

2.13.2. Private discussion lists

2.13.3. Edited lists

2.13.4. Moderated lists

2.13.5. Semi-moderated lists

2.13.6. Self-moderated lists

2.13.7. Auto-responders

2.13.8. Announce-only lists

2.13.9. Restricted subscription lists with automatically-generated questionnaire

2.13.10. Peered lists

2.13.11. "Super-lists" and "sub-lists"

2.13.12. "Cloning" lists

2.14. List passwords are now obsolete

2.15. Allowing/Blocking MIME Attachments

3. Advertising Your Public Mailing Lists

3.1. Lists of Lists maintained by LISTSERV

3.2. Adding HTML to a list header for the CataList

3.2.1. Update latency

3.2.2. Inserting a pointer to another list

3.2.3. Restrictions on the placement of equal signs

3.3. Defining search categories in a list header for the CataList

3.3.1. Examples of category settings

3.4. The INFO <listname> command and how to implement it

3.5. The NEW-LIST project

3.6. The Internet Network Information Center (INTERNIC)

3.7. The Global List Exchange (GLX) and why you should mention it

3.8. How NOT to advertise a mailing list

4. Managing Subscriptions

4.1. How to add and delete subscribers to/from a list

4.1.1. Adding users whose address and real name exceed 80 characters

4.1.2. X.400 and X.500 addressing--Special Problems

4.1.3. Continuation card syntax

4.2. Finding users who do not appear in the list

4.3. Converting existing lists from other systems to LISTSERV

4.3.1. Converting mailing lists

4.3.2. Converting message archives

4.4. Adding subscribers to lists in bulk

4.5. Deleting subscribers from lists in bulk

4.6. Using the QUIET option with commands

4.7. Dealing with bounced mail

4.7.1. What is a bounce, and what can typically cause one?

4.7.2. The owner-listname address

4.7.3. What to do about several types of bounces

4.7.4. Redistribution and forwarding

4.7.5. "Sender:", "From:" or "Reply-To:" field in body causes bounce

4.8. Delivery error handling features

4.8.1. Auto-Delete considerations for holidays

4.9. Address probing

4.9.1. Active address probing

4.9.2. Passive address probing

4.10. Subscription confirmation

4.11. Subscription renewal

4.12. Using the SERVE command when a user is "served out"

5. Setting Subscription Options For Subscribers

5.1. How to review current subscription options with QUERY

5.2. How to set personal subscription options for subscribers

5.3. Options that may be set

5.3.1. Mail/NOMail

5.3.2. DIGest/NODIGest


5.3.4. INDex/NOINDex

5.3.5. ACK/NOACK/MSGack

5.3.6. Options for mail headers of incoming postings

5.3.7. Putting the list name into the Subject: field


5.3.9. REPro/NOREPro

5.3.10. TOPICS





5.4. Setting original default options with the Default-Options= keyword

6. Moderating and Editing Lists

6.1. List charters, welcome files, and administrative updates

6.2. The role of the list owner as moderator

6.3. The role of the list owner as editor

6.4. Setting up an edited list

6.5. Submitting subscriber contributions to an edited list

6.6. Message Approval with Send= Editor,Hold

6.7. Using list topics

6.8. The <listname> WELCOME and <listname> FAREWELL files

6.8.1. Creating and storing the listname WELCOME and FAREWELL files

6.8.2. Using the listname WELCOME file as a moderation tool

6.8.3. Using the listname FAREWELL file as a feedback tool

6.8.4. The alternative to using WELCOME and FAREWELL files

6.9. Social conventions (netiquette)

6.10. Spamming: what it is, and what to do about it

6.11. Appropriate use policies: considerations

7. Overview of List Archives

7.1. What is the list archive?

7.2. Setting up and managing archive notebooks

7.2.2. Indexing available archive notebooks

7.2.3. Deleting existing archive notebooks

7.3. Database Functions Overview

7.3.1. LISTSERV Command Job Language Interpreter

7.3.2. A basic database session (VM servers running 1.8b or earlier only)

7.3.3. A basic database session (All servers running 1.8c or later only)

7.3.4. Narrowing the search

7.4. Where to find more information on Database Functions

8. Overview of File Archives

8.1. What is the file archive?

8.2. Starting a file archive for your list

8.3. Filelist maintenance (VM systems only)

8.3.1. Retrieving the filelist

8.3.2. Adding file descriptors to the filelist

8.3.3. File Access Codes (FAC) for user access

8.3.4. Deleting file descriptors from the filelist

8.3.5. Storing the filelist

8.4. The listname.CATALOG system on non-VM systems (1.8c and later)

8.4.1. Updating the sub-catalog

8.4.2. Indexing the sub-catalog

8.5. Storing files on the host machine

8.6. Deleting files from the host machine

8.7. Automatic File Distribution (AFD) and File Update Information (FUI)

8.8. File "Packages"

8.9. Where to find more information on File Archives

9. Customizing LISTSERV's Default Mail Templates

9.1. What LISTSERV uses mail templates for

9.2. The DEFAULT.MAILTPL file and how to get a copy

9.3. Mail template format and embedded formatting commands

9.3.1. 8-bit characters in templates

9.4. Creating and editing a <listname>.MAILTPL file for a list

9.4.1. The INFO template form

9.4.2. Other useful template forms

9.4.3. Tips for using templates

9.5. Storing the <listname>.MAILTPL file on the host machine

9.6. Other template files: DIGEST-H and INDEX-H

9.7. Templates and template forms for the WWW interface

9.7.1. Forms contained in DEFAULT MAILTPL

9.7.2. The www_archive.mailtpl file

9.7.3. The default.wwwtpl file

9.7.4. The site.wwwtpl file (optional)

9.7.5. National language template files (idiom.mailtpl) (optional)

9.7.6. Template precedence

9.8. Using the DAYSEQ(n) function

9.8.1. Rotating bottom banner

9.8.2. Rotating FAQ via the PROBE1 template and "Renewal= xx-Daily"

9.8.3. Calculating the value for DAYSEQ()

10. Solving Problems

10.1. Helping subscribers figure out the answers

10.2. Loop-checking can cause occasional problems with quoted replies

10.3. User can't unsubscribe and/or change personal options

10.4. Firewalls

10.5. What to do if LISTSERV won't store your list

10.6. If I can't find the answer, where do I turn?

11. Using the Web Adminstration Interface

11.1. Default LISTSERV Home Page

11.2. Logging in

11.3. Setting a LISTSERV password

11.4. The List Management main page

11.5. Maintaining subcriptions via the web

11.5.1. Examine or delete a subscription

11.5.2. Add a new user to the list

11.6. Maintaining the list header via the web

11.7. Customizing how a list's pages look

11.8. Maintaining mail and WWW templates via the web

11.9. Bulk operations via the web

11.10. Sending interactive commands via the web

11.11. Mail merge

Appendix A: LISTSERV Command Reference for LISTSERV® version 1.8d

Appendix B: List Keyword Alphabetical Reference for LISTSERV® version 1.8d

Appendix C: Sample Boilerplate Files

Appendix D: Related Documentation and Support

Appendix E: Acknowledgments

List Owner's Manual
LISTSERV®, version 1.8d

1 March 1999
Initial Release

Copyright © 1996-1999, L-Soft international, Inc.

All Rights Reserved Worldwide

The reference number of this document is 9903-UD-02.

Preface: LISTSERV Command Syntax Conventions

Generally, parameters used in this document can consist of 1 to 8 characters from the following set:

A-Z 0-9 $#@+-_:

Deviations from this include:

fformat Netdata, Card, Disk, Punch, LPunch, UUencode, XXencode, VMSdump, MIME/text, MIME/Appl, Mail
full_name first_name [middle_initial] surname (not your e-mail address)
listname name of an existing list
node Either: the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) of an Internet host; or the BITNET nodeid or Internet hostname of a BITNET machine which has taken care of supplying an ':internet' tag in its BITEARN NODES entry;
host Generally the same as node, but normally refers specificallly to the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) of an Internet host rather than to a BITNET nodeid.
pw a password containing characters from the set: A-Z 0-9 $#@_-?!|%
userid Any valid RFC822 network address not longer than 80 characters; if omitted, the 'hostname' part defaults to that of the command originator

Other deviations from the standard set will be noted along with the affected commands.

Also please note the following conventions for representing variable or optional parameters:

italic type always indicates required parameter names that must be replaced by appropriate data when sending commands to LISTSERV
< > Angle brackets may sometimes enclose required parameter names that must be replaced by appropriate data when sending commands to LISTSERV. Sometimes used for clarity when italic type is inappropriate
[ ] Square brackets enclose optional parameters which, if used, must be replaced by appropriate data when sending commands to LISTSERV

1. About Mailing Lists and LISTSERV

LISTSERV® is a system that allows you to create, manage and control electronic "mailing lists" on a corporate network or on the Internet. Since its inception in 1986 for IBM mainframes on the BITNET academic network, LISTSERV has been continually improved and expanded to become the predominant system in use today. LISTSERV is now available for VM, OpenVMSTM, unix®, Windows NTTM, and Windows 95/98TM.

Consider for a moment what the users of your electronic mail system actually use electronic mail for. Do they discuss problems and issues that face your organization, down to the departmental level? In an academic setting, do your faculty and students communicate via electronic mail? As with "real world" distribution lists, electronic mailing lists can make it possible for people to confer in a painless manner via the written word. The electronic mail software simply replaces the copying machine, with its associated costs, delays and frustrations. In fact, electronic mail lists are easier to use than most modern copiers, and a lot less likely to jam at just the worst possible moment.

Because electronic mail is delivered in a matter of seconds, or occasionally minutes, electronic mailing lists can do a lot more than supplement the traditional paper distribution lists. In some cases, an electronic mailing list can replace a conference call. Even when a conference call is more suitable, the electronic mailing list can prove a powerful tool for the distribution of papers, figures and other material needed in preparation for the conference call. And, when the call is over, it can be used to distribute a summary of the discussion and the decisions that were made. What before might have been an exchange of views between two or three people can now become an ongoing conference on the issue or problem at hand. Announcement lists and even refereed electronic journals can be made available to your audience, which can be as small as a few people or as large as the entire Internet community.

If you need a further overview, please see Appendix D, Related Documentation and Support, for information on how to get one.

2. Starting a Mailing List -- The Basics

Note: This chapter (and much of the balance of this manual) assumes that you are administering your list by mail. LISTSERV 1.8d includes a new web administration interface for lists which is described in Chapter 11 and which can handle most of the operations described in this chapter.

Lists that are coded "Validate= Yes,Confirm,NoPW" or "Validate= All,Confirm,NoPW" must imperatively be managed by mail, since the web administration interface is secured by passwords and these settings reject password validation, instead requiring validation by the "OK" method.

2.1. Avoid duplication of effort 1

Before you start your list, it pays to do a careful search in several places to find out if you are duplicating an already-existing list, or if the name you are considering is already in use for a list on a differing subject.

The first place to check is the "CataList" service maintained by LISTSERV itself. This service lists all public lists running on LISTSERV servers worldwide. Point your Web browser of choice at the URL http://www.lsoft.com/CataList.html to access CataList.

If you don't have a web browser, you can alternately send the command

LISTS GLOBAL search_string

in the body of mail to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.NET (or to LISTSERV at any host site). You will receive a mail message in return containing a list of all lists known to LISTSERV where either the name of the list or the short list description contains your search string. For instance, LISTS GLOBAL IBM would result in the following being returned to you:

 Excerpt from the LISTSERV lists known to LISTSERV@PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM
                            30 Aug 1996 12:50

                          (search string: IBM)

                Copyright 1996 L-Soft international, Inc.

L-Soft international, Inc. owns the copyright to this compilation of
Internet mailing lists (the "Compilation") and hereby grants you the
right to copy the enclosed information for the sole purpose of
identifying, locating and subscribing to mailing lists of interest. Any
other usages of the Compilation, including, without limitation,
solicitation, tele-marketing, "spamming", "mail-bombing" and "spoofing"
are strictly prohibited.

* To subscribe, send mail to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.NET with the following *
* command in the text (not the subject) of your message:              *
*                                                                     *
*                         SUBSCRIBE listname                          *
*                                                                     *
* Replace 'listname' with the name in the first column of the table.  *

Network-wide ID  Full address and list description
---------------  ---------------------------------
9370-L           9370-L@NIC.SURFNET.NL
                 IBM 9370 and VM/IS specific topics list
Figure 2.1. Sample output of LISTS GLOBAL IBM

(Quite a few more lists were deleted for brevity)

You might want to make your search more specific, as this particular search locates every list that has IBM somewhere in its title. For instance, if you wanted to start a list on some aspect of the IBM 370, you might do better to search for IBM 370.

Alternative searches you can do include:

2.2. What skills do I need to start and maintain a LISTSERV mailing list?

You should already be familiar with your mailing system and text editor. Otherwise, there are no special skills required. It is the goal of this manual to give you what you need to know about LISTSERV user commands, privileged LISTSERV owner commands, and how to read and interpret RFC822 Internet-style mail headers. LISTSERV itself is designed to operate in an identical manner no matter which operating system it is running under. Thus the fact that LISTSERV is running under VM, VMS, some flavor of Unix, or Windows NT should not be a concern to the list owner, who may not even know which version of LISTSERV his lists are running on.

Additionally, we have made an attempt to give you a basic "list owner's course" in anticipation of some of the issues you may encounter in the course of moderating a list.

2.3. Creating a mailing list -- Where can it be done, and Who can do it?

If you are looking for a site to host a list, consider the following:

Please note also that many sites (predominantly, but not necessarily limited to, those in .EDU domains) will not host commercial or potentially-controversial lists because of internal policies regarding appropriate use of their computing facilities. In such a case, your only option may be to seek a commercial LISTSERV site.

Physically creating the list is the task of the LISTSERV maintainer (sometimes referred to as the "LISTSERV postmaster") at a given LISTSERV host site3. Specific procedures for requesting a list startup vary from institution to institution. It is usually best to contact the computing center at the site for more information.

Because most list owners do not have the appropriate permissions to create lists, instructions on how to physically create lists are not included in this manual. If you are a LISTSERV maintainer, you can find these instructions in the Installation Guide that came with the software, or in the Site Manager's Operations Manual for LISTSERV.

2.3.1. Naming Conventions

When choosing a name for a list, there are a few conventions and restrictions that you should keep in mind.

The "-L" convention

The "-L" convention isn't required, but it can help people to realize that the mail is coming from a mailing list rather than from a real person. The people we are referring to here are people who run Internet mail systems, who may see a great deal of mail coming from a single host and begin to wonder why. If it comes from a userid that ends in a "-L", they will be more likely to recognize it as list mail.

Reserved characters

Generally you want to avoid "special" characters such as the ones above the number keys on your keyboard. For example, don't use:

! which can be confused for "bang-path" addressing, e.g., UUCP
@ which is a reserved character
# which can cause problems with some mail software which uses it for addressing
$ which may have a special meaning to the unix shell
% another addressing character that could cause problems
& is sometimes reserved by non-unix systems (specifically on NT it has a special meaning to the shell). However, please note that use of this character in the name of a list or in a sendmail alias for a list will cause LISTSERV on unix to choke. Note that it is possible under unix to create a list with a "&" character in the name quite easily, and it is also possible to create a sendmail alias with a "&" character in the alias. That does not mean it will work.
* is, of course, the wildcard character.
() Parenthesis are generally reserved and can't be used in file names.
+ The plus character should be avoided because recent versions of sendmail deliver mail addressed to "user+whatever@somedomain" to "user@somedomain." Whether or not this is an intelligent thing to do on sendmail's part is left as an exercise for the user, but it can affect mail being sent to a list with a "+" character in the listname.
/ The slash character is reserved and can't be used in file names.
. Although on some systems it is physically possible to create lists with a dot character in the name, in general LISTSERV will not accept this nomenclature. The only place a dot can or should be used is before the word "LIST" in the PUT command; e.g., PUT MYLIST-L.LIST is equivalent to PUT MYLIST-L LIST.
" Double-quote characters are not allowed.

It is best if you avoid the use of special characters altogether and stick exclusively to the letters A-Z, numbers 0-9, and the underscore and hyphen characters when naming lists. Note that the "_" (underscore) character may cause problems with some non-compliant receiving systems. Also note that the space character (ASCII 0x20) is illegal in a list name, and L-Soft recommends that, although apostrophes (aka "single-quotes", ASCII 0x27) are valid in an RFC822 username, they not be used in list names since some mail programs may not accept them. (Prior to 1.8d, not all LISTSERV commands will work for lists whose names contain an apostrophe.)

If you have any question about the validity of a particular name, you can of course refer to RFC822 for the Internet standards for e-mail addressing.

Maximum length of the list name

The length of the list name (that is, the name of the list file and thus the "official" name of the list) is restricted as follows:

VM: 8 characters
Non-VM:unlimited (starting with 1.8c)

If you need a longer list name for a list running on a VM server, you should use the List-ID= keyword (see Appendix B).

PLEASE NOTE CAREFULLY that L-Soft recommends using names of 32 characters or less whenever possible as they provide for correct alignment of the results returned by certain commands. Very long (program generated) list names are likely to conflict with mail system limits and L-Soft recommends other solutions to the problem of dynamically generated lists. As a rule, list names in excess of 70 characters are likely to result in mail delivery problems.

Make it easy on your users

While you can (within limits) name a LISTSERV mailing list just about anything you want, you will probably want to follow a couple of simple guidelines:

1. Keep the name simple.

2. Keep the name as short as possible without causing confusion.

No doubt you could name a list MY-LIST-FOR-MATH-STUDIES, but who wants to type that? Conversely, MLFMS-L wouldn't mean much to Joe Random User. Somewhere in the middle is a reasonable compromise, e.g., MATH-STUDIES (or even just MATH-S).

2.4. List Header Keywords and what they do

How a LISTSERV mailing list performs its tasks is defined by its header keywords. There are several different categories of keywords, each of which is discussed below in general terms. A complete alphabetical listing of list header keywords, including default settings and all options available, is provided in Appendix B.

Access Control Keywords. These keywords designate the level of "openness" for a list. They determine who can post to the list, who can review the list of subscribers, and whether or not the list is open to general subscription.

Distribution Keywords. This group has to do with how LISTSERV distributes postings to subscribers, including whether or not acknowledgments are sent back to posters, how many postings may go through the list daily, whether or not the list is available in digest form and whether it is available to USENET through a gateway. These keywords also determine whether or not list topics are enabled, and how LISTSERV will configure outgoing postings for replies.

Error Handling Keywords. Included under this group are the keywords controlling automatic deletion, loop-checking, and to whom error messages are sent for disposition when received by LISTSERV.

List Maintenance and Moderation Keywords. A fairly large group of keywords having to do with how the list is operated, including definitions for the list owner, list editor, and the list archive notebook; whether or not (and whom) to notify when users subscribe and sign off; how often subscriptions must be renewed, and so forth. These are perhaps the most basic keywords that can be set for a given list, and one of them ("Owner=") must be set for a list to operate.

Security Keywords. These keywords control who can "see" the list (that is, whether or not the list appears in the List of Lists for a given user, based on the user's host site), and the level of security necessary for changes to the list itself. The "Exit=" keyword is also contained in this group.

Subscription Keywords. These control whether or not the list is open to general subscriptions, whether or not a mailing path confirmation is required, and what user options are set by default upon subscription.

Other Keywords. These control other aspects of list management that are not generally changed from their defaults, and which do not fit readily into the categories listed above.

2.5. Sending commands to LISTSERV

In the following sections, you will see numerous references to "sending commands to LISTSERV". All LISTSERV commands are sent to the server either by email or (in LISTSERV 1.8d and following) via the web administration interface described in Chapter 11. For mailed commands, this means that you must create a new mail message using whatever command this requires for your mail client (click on "New message" or its equivalent for most mail clients) addressed to the LISTSERV address. Let's say for the sake of argument that the list you want to subscribe to (or are currently subscribed to) is running on a server called LISTSERV.MYCORP.COM. In order to send a command to that server, you would create a new message and address it to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MYCORP.COM , and place the command(s) in the body (not the subject) of the message.

Depending on how you have security set up for your lists, some or all commands may require that you validate them with a personal LISTSERV password.

2.6. Defining Personal Passwords

The passwords recognized by LISTSERV for various operations (assuming that the NOPW parameter is not used with the "Validate=" keyword) are of two distinct types:

To add a personal password, send mail to LISTSERV with the command

PW ADD newpassword

in the body of the message. LISTSERV will request a confirmation via the "OK" mechanism (see above) before it adds the password.

If you want to remove your password altogether, send the command


This command will also require confirmation.

And finally, if you simply want to change your personal password, send the command

PW CHANGE newpassword [PW=oldpassword]

If you do not include the old password in the command (e.g., you've forgotten it), LISTSERV will request an "OK" confirmation. Otherwise, it will act on the command without need for further confirmation (unless, of course, the oldpassword provided is incorrect).

Personal passwords may also be defined via the web administration interface at login time.

2.7. Retrieving the list -- some considerations

If you are a LISTSERV maintainer, never attempt to hand-edit a production list file in place and restart the server. The GET and PUT operations (or the web administration interface/TCPGUI functions) are the only supported methods. Particularly under unix and Windows, LISTSERV will not always accept the hand-edited list file because some editors will insert control characters or CR-LF combinations that LISTSERV cannot parse. Under VM or VMS, it is always possible that hand-editing the list will introduce some sequence that will cause an operational error. L-Soft suggests that this method be used sparingly, if at all, and does not support it.

Once your list has been created by the LISTSERV maintainer, you can have a copy of the list sent to you for editing purposes. Simply issue the command

GET listname (HEADER

to LISTSERV. This will cause the server to mail you a copy of the list header only (without the subscriber list).

Note that you can retrieve the entire list, subscribers and all, by omitting the (HEADER switch. However, L-Soft strongly discourages getting the entire list at any time. This is because you do not need the entire list file if all you want to do is to change list header keyword settings. Also, since LISTSERV has well-documented commands available to manage user subscriptions, you should never attempt to hand-edit a list file in order to add or delete subscribers. Therefore there should normally be no reason to issue the GET listname command without the (HEADER switch.

The GET command automatically locks the list so that no changes can be made to the operating copy on the server until you do one of two things:

Leaving the list locked also prevents new subscribers from signing up. It is therefore not advisable to leave the list locked for long periods of time. This necessitates remembering to issue the UNLOCK command if you decide not to make any changes.

It is possible to request that LISTSERV not lock the list when it is sent to you. This is accomplished by adding the (NOLOCK switch to the GET command. You can use (NOLOCK and (HEADER together as in the following example:


(Note that the "(" switch character is used only once.)

CAUTION: It is not advisable to use the (NOLOCK switch in at least two cases:

Another caution (1.8c and earlier): If you GET the header with the (HEADER switch, do not add new subscribers "on the fly" to the bottom of the header. If you do, your subsequent PUT will replace the entire list online with what you have sent, canceling the subscriptions of every user on the list (except for the ones you added to the header). Note carefully that LISTSERV will parse a signature file as if it were new subscribers; you should therefore turn off your signature file whenever you PUT your list header.

Under 1.8d and following the above problem has been alleviated by the new PUTALL command and a modification to PUT. A PUT command containing new subscribers added "on the fly" will result in only the header of the list being updated and a warning being generated that says if you really wanted to PUT the entire list, subscribers and all, that you should use the PUTALL command.

LISTSERV maintainers should note one further caution: It is considered extremely inadvisable to "hand-edit" subscriber lists, as columns at the far right of each subscriber's entry contain list control codes corresponding to the subscriber's personal option settings. The only case in which it might be appropriate to "hand-edit" would be to delete a user entirely, and then only if all attempts to delete the user via the DELETE command fail. For instance, X.400 or X.500 addresses can cause DELETE to fail because of their use of the "/" character. You can use wildcards to delete these subscriptions. You can also enclose the address in double quotes:


Finally, note that depending on your list configuration, you may have to use a password or respond to a confirmation request in order to GET your list header. The syntax for using a password with the GET command is

GET listname (options PW=password

For instance,


See the sections below regarding list passwords, personal passwords, and the "OK" command confirmation feature.

2.8. Editing the list header

Once the LISTSERV maintainer has notified you that the basic list has been created, you can send a GET command to the server to make any modifications necessary, as explained above. For instance,


might cause LISTSERV to send you the following list header file:

* The Descriptive Title of My List
* Owner= NATHAN@LSOFT.COM (Nathan Brindle)
* Notebook= Yes,E:\LISTS\MYLIST-L,Monthly,Public
* Errors-To= Owner                  Send= Public
* Subscription= Open,Confirm        Ack= Yes             Confidential= No
* Validate= No                      Notify= No           Reply-to= List,Respect
* Review= Public                    Default-Options= NoFiles,NoRepro
* This list installed on 96/11/02, running under L-Soft's LISTSERV
* for Windows NT.
* Comment lines...
Figure 2.2. A sample list header file for a list called MYLIST.

You can now physically edit this file in a couple of different ways, depending on what tools you have on your workstation:

In Figure 2.3, we've made some changes to the list header and it is ready to be included in a mail message and sent back to LISTSERV. Note that the PUT command has been modified to include your personal password (see 2.6 for instructions on how to obtain a personal password).

* The Descriptive Title of My List
* Owner= NATHAN@LSOFT.COM (Nathan Brindle)
* Owner= Quiet:,nathan@linus.dc.lsoft.com,ncbnet@linus.dc.lsoft.com
* Notebook= Yes,A,Monthly,Public          Auto-Delete= Yes,Full-Auto
* Errors-To= ncbnet@linus.dc.lsoft.com    Subscription= Open,Confirm
* Ack= Yes                 Confidential= No              Notify= No
* Validate= Yes,Confirm
* Reply-to= List,Respect   Review= Public                Send= Public
* Default-Options= NoFiles,NoRepro
* This list installed on 96/11/02, running under L-Soft's LISTSERV
* for Windows NT.
* Comment lines...
Figure 2.3. The edited list header file ready to be sent back to the server.

If LISTSERV responds to your PUT operation with error messages, bear in mind that the most common problems are:

2.9. Defining list owners

List owners should be persons who will undertake the responsibility of managing the list in all of its aspects. A list owner may be a moderator; a list owner may be called upon to determine why a user can't unsubscribe from the list, or to handle delivery errors, or to fix other problems that may arise.

The primary list owner (the first owner defined) has special responsibilities as well. This owner is considered the Editor and the primary Moderator for lists that have Send= Editor but do not haveEditor= or Moderator= defined. This owner receives all error messages when Errors-To= is set to "Owner". In short, the primary list owner is generally the person who is ultimately responsible for the workings of the list.

Secondary list owners fall into two categories: Quiet and non-Quiet.

Here is a sample list header excerpt for a list with all three types of list owners defined:

* Owner= NATHAN@LSOFT.COM (Nathan Brindle)
* Owner= nathan@linus.dc.lsoft.com
* Owner= Quiet:
* Owner= ncbnet@linus.dc.lsoft.com,cheng@linus.dc.lsoft.com
Figure 2.4. Example: How to define list owners in the list header file.

Note that all list owners defined after the * Owner= Quiet: line will be quiet list owners.

You can define multiple owners on a single line by separating them with a comma. Note that if you put "Quiet:" on a line with list owner userids, you must place a comma after "Quiet:", e.g.

* Owner= Quiet:,ncbnet@linus.dc.lsoft.com,cheng@linus.dc.lsoft.com

There must always be at least one non-quiet list owner. Otherwise LISTSERV sends all error messages and other administrative mail to the LISTSERV maintainer by default.

2.10. Storing the list on the host machine

When you are ready to store your list back on the host, include the list file in a mail message to LISTSERV. Ensure that the PW=XXXXXXXX command is in the first line of the mail body. Change XXXXXXXX to the personal password you have previously defined with the PW ADD command (see section 2.6). Then send the message.

If LISTSERV has trouble processing the edited list file, it will return a discrepancy report to you with each error noted. If the errors are categorized as "warnings only," LISTSERV will go ahead and store the list. However, if any one error is categorized as a serious error, the list will not be stored and the old version will be retained.

Caution: If you are using a mailer such as Pine or Microsoft Mail that allows "attachments" to mail, do not "attach" the list file to your mail message. It must be in plain text with the PUT line at the top. LISTSERV will not translate encoded attachments.

2.11. Fixing mistakes

LISTSERV always backs up the current list file before it stores a new copy. Should you discover that you have made a mistake (for instance, you have deleted all users by storing a header and adding users "on the fly"), it is possible to retrieve the previous copy of the list by issuing a GET listname(OLD command to the host server. You must then add the PUT listname LIST PW=XXXXXXXX command to the top of the file and store it. (In LISTSERV 1.8d and later you should use the PUTALL command for this purpose since you will be storing the entire list, not just the header.)

2.12. Security Options

LISTSERV's security options are wide ranging, from almost no protection (easiest to administer your list, but also most open to hacker attacks) to total protection requiring validation of each and every command sent to LISTSERV for your list. It is also possible to limit access to various aspects of your list, such as who can subscribe, who can review the list of subscribers, and who can access the list archives. You can hide your list from the LIST command, either at the global level or from all requests, including those from users on LISTSERV's local machine, or from a definable range in between.

2.12.1. First line of defense: The VALIDATE= keyword

The Validate= keyword controls the level of command validation desired for your list. The default, Validate= No, requires password validation only for storing the list on the server. This is often sufficient for general needs. However, when a list is set this way, LISTSERV only compares the RFC822 "Sender:"/"From:" headers against the Owner= keyword(s) in the list header to determine whether or not the person ostensibly sending the commands has authority to do so. Otherwise at this level LISTSERV does not validate commands it receives for the list, under the assumption that the mail it receives is genuinely coming from a list owner. This level of validation does not protect the list from commands issued by hackers who have forged mail in the name of the list owner. If you run a list on a controversial topic or just don't feel comfortable without at least some security, Validate= No is probably not for you.

The next level is Validate= Yes. At this level, LISTSERV requires a password for all of its "protected" commands. This password is the sender's personal LISTSERV password as defined by the PW ADD command. The commands protected by this level are those that affect subscriptions or the operation of the list, e.g., DELETE or ADD. Users will also have to validate most commands that affect their subscriptions, but generally can do so using the "OK" mechanism rather than defining a personal password. Note that some user commands will be forwarded to the list owner for validation rather than accepting password validation from the user.

The next level is Validate= Yes,Confirm. At this level, LISTSERV will require validation with the "OK" mechanism (see below) by default, but will still accept passwords where appropriate. While the less-secure passwords are still accepted, this is considered a good compromise between list security and list owner and user convenience.

The next level is Validate= YES,Confirm,NoPW. At this level, LISTSERV will no longer accept passwords as validation for protected commands. The logic is that because of the way the "OK" mechanism is implemented, passwords are not as safe as "magic cookies". This is the recommended setting for lists that must be kept secure.

Two other levels are Validate= All,Confirm and Validate= All,Confirm,NoPW. These levels require "OK" validation for all commands that cause a change in state except for the PUT command. If NoPW is not specified, passwords are accepted where appropriate. With these levels, commands that do not cause a change in state (e.g., QUERY) do not require validation.

Note that LISTSERV requests coming from the local system via CP MSG or CP SMSG on VM systems or via LCMD on NT, VMS or Unix systems never require validation, as they cannot be forged.

Lists which are set to either Validate= Yes,Confirm,NoPW or Validate= All,Confirm,NoPW may not be managed via the web administration interface, which is password-driven.

See Appendix B for more information on the Validate= keyword.

2.12.2. Controlling subscription requests

You can control subscription requests by use of the Subscription= keyword. By default, this keyword is set to Subscription= By Owner, meaning that all subscription requests will be forwarded to the list owner for disposition. You can also refuse all subscription requests by setting Subscription= Closed.

To code a list for open subscriptions without list owner intervention, you set Subscription= Open. If you would like to add protection against forged subscription requests or bad return mailing paths, code Subscription= Open,Confirm. The latter will cause a subscription confirmation request to be sent to the prospective subscriber, which he or she must respond to using the "OK" confirmation mechanism.

In order to restrict subscriptions to persons in a specific service area, see the next section.

2.12.3. Controlling the service area of your list

It may be desirable to restrict access to your list to people in a small area. For instance, you probably would not want a list for students in a class section at a university to be advertised or accessible by people all over the world. However, without setting certain keywords appropriately, such a list will be visible to a LIST GLOBAL command.

If you wish to simply hide your list from a LIST command, but still allow people to subscribe to it if they know it is there, use the keyword Confidential= Yes. Note that users subscribed to the list as well as the list owner(s) will be able to see the list if they issue a LIST command.

If you wish to hide your list from and refuse subscription requests from users outside the local area, you define two keywords:

* Service= bitnode1,bitnode2,some.host.edu
* Confidential= SERVICE

Service= can also be set to Service= Local, meaning it will use either LISTSERV's global definition of which machines are Local, or the machines defined by the list keyword Local=. If you wish to set Service to Local, you should check with your LISTSERV maintainer to find out which nodes are considered local. If the global definition is not suitable, you can override it by defining the Local= keyword:

* Local= bitnode1,bitnode2,some.host.edu,another.host.com
* Service= Local
* Confidential= Service

If there are many subdomains within your primary domain, you may wish to use the wildcard when defining the Local= or Service= keywords. For instance:

* Service= HOST.COM,*.HOST.COM

defines the service area as "HOST.COM and all subdomains ending in .HOST.COM".

2.12.4. Controlling who may review the list of subscribers

For whatever reason, you may wish to restrict the ability to review the subscriber list either to subscribers or to list owners. This is done by setting the Review= keyword appropriately.

To restrict reviews of the list to subscribers only, set Review= Private. This is the default starting with LISTSERV 1.8c.

To restrict reviews of the list to list owners only, set Review= Owners.

To allow anyone, including non-subscribers, to review the list, set Review= Public. Prior to LISTSERV 1.8c this was the default; it is no longer recommended to use this value unless your LISTSERV server is operating on an intranet.

You can also restrict reviews to users within the list's service area by setting Review= Service , and defining the Service= keyword appropriately (see the preceding section).

2.12.5. Controlling who may access the notebook files

Restricting access to the list's notebook archive files is similar to controlling who may review the list. It is accomplished by setting the fourth parameter of the Notebook= keyword to an appropriate value. For instance,

* Notebook= Yes,A,Monthly,Public

defines a monthly notebook on LISTSERV's A disk that is accessible by anyone. Change Public to Private if you wish only subscribers to be able to access the notebooks. The same access-levels are available for this keyword as for Review=. (See Appendix B for a discussion of access-levels.)

Note: The location (second) parameter of the Notebook= keyword may be changed only by the LISTSERV maintainer.

If enabled, notebook archives are private by default.

2.12.6. Controlling who may post mail to the list

The Send= list header keyword is the basic control for who may post mail to the list. If the list allows non-subscribers to post, set Send= Public.

For a list that does not allow non-subscribers to post, set Send= Private. (This is the default.)

If you want a further level of security for Send= Private, you may set Send= Private,Confirm , which requires each poster to confirm (via the "OK" mechanism) that the posting actually came from them. This can help in cases where a hacker might be trying to "spoof" mail from an otherwise legitimate subscriber. It is not recommended to set this in normal circumstances.

For a list where all posts should be forwarded to a moderator/editor, there are three settings:

A fourth method (called "self-moderation") exists for lists where subscribers should be allowed to post freely, but non-subscriber posts should always be sent to an editor for approval. To enable self-moderation, set

* Send= Editor
* Editor= userid@host,(listname)

Ensure that "listname" is in parenthesis. Note that self-moderation will catch all posts from non-subscribers--including posts from subscribers who are posting from a different address. For instance, if the subscriber originally signed up as joe@foo.com but is posting from joe@unix1.foo.com, LISTSERV will treat his mail as non-subscriber mail. Self-moderation may require some slight changes in individual user subscriptions in order for it to work seamlessly.

2.12.7. The "OK" confirmation mechanism

Depending on the setting of the Validate= list header keyword, certain LISTSERV commands have always required a password for execution. However, with a recognition that mail can be forged ("spoofed") by just about anyone on the Internet today, L-Soft introduced a "magic cookie" method of command validation that is considered much more secure than passwords.

In essence, the "magic cookie" method requires that the sender of the command must confirm his command via a reply containing only the text "OK". (This is actually simplistic; see below.) If mail is spoofed from the list owner's user id, the command confirmation request will always be sent to the list owner's user id, thus preventing the spoofer from confirming the command. Moreover, the "cookie" itself (a six-digit hexidecimal number) is registered to the "From:" user id of the original command.

A typical command confirmation request looks like this:

Date:         Wed, 5 Aug 1998 09:50:06 -0400
From:         "L-Soft list server at LISTSERV.EXAMPLE.COM (1.8d)"
Subject:      Command confirmation request (5C019D91)
To:           joe_user@EXAMPLE.COM

Your command:

                             PW REP XXXXXXXX

requires confirmation. To  confirm the execution of  your command, simply
point your browser to the following URL:


Alternatively, if  you have no WWW  access, you can reply  to the present
message and type  "ok" (without the quotes) as the  text of your message.
Just the word "ok" - do not  retype the command. This procedure will work
with any mail  program that fully conforms to the  Internet standards for
electronic  mail. If  you receive  an error  message, try  sending a  new
message  to  LISTSERV@LISTSERV.EXAMPLE.COM  (without  using  the  "reply"
function - this is very important) and  type "ok 5C019D91" as the text of
your message.

Finally, your  command will be  cancelled automatically if  LISTSERV does
not receive your confirmation within 48h. After that time, you must start
over and resend the command to get a new confirmation code. If you change
your mind and decide that you do  NOT want to confirm the command, simply
discard the present message and let the request expire on its own.
Figure 2.6. A typical command confirmation request.

The general method of replying to a command confirmation request is as follows:

If you prefer, or if you are using 1.8c or 1.8b, you can use the old method of responding by mail:

If this does not work, it is possible that the Subject: line was corrupted in transit and you may need to try the following:

It is also possible to confirm multiple command confirmation requests with a single message (for instance, if you have Send= Editor,Hold and have a number of requests to be responded to). This eliminates multiple "Message approved" mails from LISTSERV. However, make sure that you send the confirmations in a new mail message rather than replying to one of them.

Note that confirmation requests for messages containing MIME attachments will show the "raw" attachment. This is because LISTSERV does not generate MIME headers for confirmation request messages. When the "OK" is sent, MIME attachments will be processed correctly.

Prior to LISTSERV 1.8d, the "OK" confirmations must come from the user id that originated the command, i.e., you cannot send a command from one account and then approve it from another.

Starting with 1.8d you can send the "OK" from any userid, which helps when the address field of your mail gets changed somewhere along the line. For instance if you are logged into the web administration interface as joe@example.com and issue a command that requires mail confirmation, LISTSERV will send the request to joe@example.com (as expected). If your mail system expands joe@example.com to Joe_Doakes@mail.example.com, responding to the request under 1.8c would result in a failure because the cookie and the address in your From: line wouldn't correspond to what LISTSERV has on file. Under 1.8d the "OK" will succeed and Joe_Doakes@mail.example.com will get a message that says

> ok
> QUIET DELETE * jane@example.com
[reply sent to joe@EXAMPLE.COM]

while as a protection against "spoofed" commands the actual command response will be sent to joe@example.com like this:

jane@EXAMPLE.COM has been removed from the TEST list. No notification has
been sent.

Global deletion process complete, one entry removed.

Three further enhancements were added to the "OK" confirmation mechanism in 1.8d:

2.12.8. Restricting subscriber privileges

Another security issue involves protecting the list from people who refuse to play by the rules. LISTSERV includes several different levels of privilege restriction for these users, some of which are available for use by list owners without the intervention of the LISTSERV maintainer.

  1. The REVIEW personal option setting. By issuing a SET listname REVIEW FOR userid@host command to LISTSERV, you can moderate postings at the individual subscriber level. Postings from subscribers set to REVIEW are passed on to the Editor(s) or Moderator(s) of the list, or, if neither of these keywords are defined for your list, the postings are passed on to the primary list owner. At this point, the person who receives the postings can determine whether or not to approve them. Note that the subscriber always receives notification that his or her posting has been forwarded to a moderator for approval. This is to avoid the impression that the subscriber's posting has been lost before reaching LISTSERV.

  2. The NOPOST personal option setting. By issuing a SET listname NOPOST FOR userid@host command to LISTSERV, you can prevent a subscriber from posting to the list entirely. LISTSERV will reject postings from these subscribers and will not pass them on to a moderator. As with the REVIEW setting, note that the subscriber always receives notification that his or her posting has been rejected.

  3. The FILTER= list header keyword. You can filter individual users from subscribing and/or posting to your list by adding them to the Filter= list header keyword. For instance, if you have a list called MACTALK-L and you want to discourage redistribution lists from using the same name as your list, you can add

    * Filter= Also,MACTALK-L@*

See Appendix B for more information on the Filter= syntax.

2.12.9. Restricting the number of postings per user to the list per day

Beginning with 1.8c, you can control the maximum number of postings per day per subscriber on a list-by-list basis by setting the new (optional) second parameter of the "Daily-Threshold=" list header keyword. The default is to have no such daily limit per user.

If set, when the per-subscriber threshold is reached, the subscriber is told that his message cannot be processed because he has reached the limit for today, and that he should repost his message at a later time. The counter for this limit resets to zero at midnight for all lists.

This limit is waived for the list owner(s) and any list editors/moderators.

If you want to set this limit, note that an overall daily threshold must be set for the list in the first parameter of the keyword. If no "Daily-Threshold=" keyword is already present in your list header, the default is "Daily-Threshold= 50". Thus, to leave the default value in force and to add a daily limit of 5 postings per day per user, you would code:

* Daily-Threshold= 50,5

For more information see Appendix B.

2.13. How to set up lists for specific purposes

2.13.1. Public discussion lists

Public discussion lists have always been the "classic" type of LISTSERV mailing list. Such lists are available to discuss just about everything imaginable. In the last few years it has become desirable to secure mailing lists against random spamming and mailbombing, but no discussion of different types of lists would really be complete without talking about this kind of list.

Typically, a public discussion list is wide-open (although some things, like the ability to review the subscribership, may be restricted). Anyone can subscribe (with a confirmation to verify the mailing path), anyone can post, anyone can read the messages in the archives, and security is set fairly low. Very large lists (hundreds or even thousands of users with hundreds of postings every week) may likely be set up this way as it is a "low-maintenance" way to run a list (and most spams tend to be caught by LISTSERV's anti-spamming filters anyway). For instance you might have

* My public discussion list (MYLIST-L)
* Subscription= Open,Confirm
* Ack= Yes
* Confidential= No
* Validate= No
* Reply-to= List,Respect
* Review= Owners        Send= Public      Errors-To= Owner
* Owner= joe@example.com
* Notebook= Yes,E:\LISTS\MYLIST-L,Weekly,Public

For more security, you might want to code

* Validate= Yes,Confirm

and if you want to cut down on the amount of "me-too"ism on the list, you could set

* Reply-to= Sender,Respect

to force the default Reply-To: header to point back to the original poster instead of to the list.

There is one major caveat with regard to the use of the Reply-To= list header keyword. You should note carefully that not all subscriber-side mail clients either recognize or properly handle an RFC822 "Reply-To:" header. This may result in users posting replies to your list even though LISTSERV put the correct Reply-To: header on the mail. There is absolutely nothing that L-Soft can do to correct this problem since it exists on the subscriber's end in non-compliant mail software that L-Soft does not and cannot support.

2.13.2. Private discussion lists

Private discussion lists are similar to public discussion lists, but with varying restrictions on who may subscribe, who may post and who may view the archives. Such lists are relatively safe from random spamming since typically only a subscriber can post (but note that a spammer spoofing mail from a subscriber's address will probably be successful unless first caught by the anti-spamming filters). For instance:

* My private discussion list (PRIVATE-L)
* Subscription= By Owner
* Ack= Yes
* Confidential= Service
* Validate= No
* Reply-to= List,Respect
* Review= Owners
* Send= Private
* Errors-To= Owner
* Owner= joe@example.com
* Notebook= Yes,E:\LISTS\PRIVATE-L,Weekly,Public

is a low-security private discussion list where subscriptions requests are passed on to the list owner(s) for review, only subscribers may post, and only subscribers may view the list archives. Here again, for more security you might want to set "Validate= Yes,Confirm", and of course you can have replies go to the original poster rather than to the list with "Reply-To= Sender,Respect".

2.13.3. Edited lists

An edited list is one which requires a human editor to approve messages sent to the list. Some list software and most USENET newsgroups refer to this as "moderation", but to avoid confusion between two types of moderated LISTSERV lists, the present example will be referred to as an "edited" list.

Examples of edited lists range from refereed electronic journals to lists where the list owner simply wishes to exercise control over which postings are allowed to go to the list.

To set up a basic edited list, simply add

* Send= Editor
* Editor= someuser@somehost.com

to the basic list header. Note that the primary Editor= specification (that is, the first editor defined by an Editor= keyword for the list) must be a human person who will be able to act on postings sent to him or her for approval. You may not use an access-level specification (such as "Owner") when defining the primary editor for a list.

Please note that L-Soft recommends setting "Send= Editor,Confirm" so as to add a level of security against malicious users forging mail from an "Editor=" address to get around your moderation settings, or against badly-configured "vacation" programs that simply reflect the message back to the list in a manner that makes it appear that the mail is coming from the editor's address. The "Confirm" option causes LISTSERV to request an "OK" confirmation from an editor when it receives mail claiming to be from that editor.

You can define multiple editors, but only the first editor will receive postings for approval. Anyone defined as an editor may post directly to the list without further intervention. Multiple editors can be defined on separate Editor= lines or can be grouped several on a line, e.g.,

* Editor= someuser@somehost.com,anotheruser@anotherhost.com
* Editor= yetanotheruser@his.host.com

To approve postings with the above configuration, the editor simply forwards (or "resends", or "bounces"--the terminology is unclear between various mail programs) the posting back to the list address after making any desired changes to the content. This should be done with a mail program that supports "Resent-" fields; if "Resent-" fields are not found by LISTSERV in the headers of the approved posting, the posting will appear as coming from the editor's address rather than from the original poster. If your mail program does not support "Resent-" fields, you should use the "Send= Editor,Hold" option and approve messages with the "OK" mechanism described below.

If you do not need to physically edit the content of your users' posts (for instance, to remove anything considered "off-topic" or to remove included mail headers and so forth), you can code

* Send= Editor,Hold

The "Hold" parameter causes LISTSERV to send you a copy of the posting along with a "command confirmation request". To approve the posting, you simply reply to the confirmation request with "ok".

For security purposes, you can code

* Send= Editor,Confirm

which will cause LISTSERV to request a command confirmation ("ok") from the editor sending the approved posting back to the list. This makes it impossible for an outside user to "spoof" mail from an Editor address.

Naturally, you can also code

* Send= Editor,Hold,Confirm

Finally, please note that the NOPOST subscriber option will take precedence over Editor=, if set for someone defined as an editor. This means that if you have "Default-Options= NOPOST" for your list and you add an editor as a subscriber, you will have to manually reset the editor to POST (with "SET listname POST FOR userid@host") before things will work properly. You will know that this is necessary if your editor can successfully approve postings but is then told that he or she cannot post to the list.

2.13.4. Moderated lists

Note: The Moderator= keyword is disabled in LISTSERV Lite.

A moderated list is similar to an edited list, but for LISTSERV's purposes it refers to a list that uses the Moderator= list header keyword to "load-share" posting approvals among several editors. It is set up similarly to an edited list, as follows:

* Send= Editor,Confirm
* Editor= someuser@somehost.com
* Moderator= someuser@somehost.com,anotheruser@anotherhost.com
* Moderator= yetanotheruser@his.host.com

This list will "load-share" the approval process between the three moderators, who will each receive one-third of the postings for approval. Note that a primary editor should still be defined.

If it is desired to have one editor handle more than a single share of the approvals, you simply define the editor more than once in Moderator=. For instance,

* Send= Editor,Confirm
* Editor= someuser@somehost.com
* Moderator= someuser@somehost.com,anotheruser@anotherhost.com
* Moderator= someuser@somehost.com,yetanotheruser@his.host.com

would cause every other posting to be forwarded to someuser@somehost.com for approval.

Beginning with 1.8c, if the parameter "All" is coded at the beginning of the list of moderators, LISTSERV will send copies of all postings to all moderators, any of whom may approve the message. An example of this would be

* Moderator= All,kent@net.police.net,joe@bar.edu

Please note that something like

* Moderator= kent@net.police.net,All,joe@bar.edu,alex@reges.com

is not valid. "All" must appear at the beginning of the list of moderators.

Assuming "Send= Editor, Hold", once a message is approved by one of the moderators, any other moderator attempting to approve the same message will be told that the message cannot be found and has probably expired (since the cookie for that message will be gone).

If the message body is edited in any way before it is approved (i.e., by forwarding an edited copy back to the list), and more than one moderator is involved, duplicates are possible. Thus it is important that the moderators of any list set up this way pay close attention to whether or not the posting has already been approved by another moderator. Note carefully that this means if the "All" parameter is used in "Moderator=" with "Send= Editor" (that is, without the "Hold" parameter), again a separate synchronization method will have to be used to prevent duplicates, as two moderators are unlikely to make exactly the same edits to the message. Even if LISTSERV were able to identify the two submissions as being the same message, it would not know which to choose over the other.

2.13.5. Semi-moderated lists

"Semi-moderation" was developed some years ago after a great debate on whether or not an "urgent" message should be allowed to be posted to an edited list without having to go through the approval process. Although this option is still available, it can be misused by anyone who knows about it, and is therefore not generally recommended for use. However, should this feature be deemed necessary, it is activated by setting

* Send= Editor,Semi-Moderated

Then anyone needing to send an "urgent" message to the list simply types "Urgent:" in the subject line of their mail, followed by the subject of the message. Messages that do not have the "Urgent:" subject are forwarded to the list editor for approval as usual.

2.13.6. Self-moderated lists

So-called "self-moderated" lists were invented in 1993 or 1994 when the current epidemic of spamming was beginning to get cranked up and before the "spam filter" was developed by L-Soft. With the spam filter in operation, self-moderation is not as much of an issue anymore, but some lists still run this way.

Self-moderation takes advantage of the ability to make an access-level a secondary list editor, and is implemented as follows:

* Send= Editor,Confirm
* Editor= someone@someplace.com,(listname)

(The "Hold" and "Confirm" parameters for "Send=" may naturally be used if required. L-Soft recommends that "Confirm" be used by default.)

Usually, one of the list owners is the primary editor (here "someone@someplace.com") and the specification of (listname) makes all of the subscribers of the listname list editors, and thus eligible to send messages directly to the list without editor intervention. Postings from non-subscribers (e.g., spammers) are deflected to the primary owner for his or her disposition.

There is one caveat to this kind of list. If a user subscribes to the list, and later his mail address changes (for instance, the hostname changes slightly but mail sent to the old address is automatically forwarded to the new address), any postings from him to the list from the new address will be forwarded to the editor because the new address is not subscribed to the list. Thus there is a certain amount of list-owner overhead on this kind of list in keeping track of users whose addresses have changed and modifying the subscriber list to reflect those changes.

2.13.7. Auto-responders

Since LISTSERV Lite does not support list-level mail templates, this functionality is effectively not available in LISTSERV Lite.

An "auto-responder" is a type of list that simply responds with a set message whenever it receives mail from someone. This kind of list can be useful for things like service messages or upgrade availability, or even to simply send back a standardized message to a user who has sent mail to a "support" address.

A simple auto-responder header might look like this:

* Auto-responder for service messages
* Owner= someone@someplace.com
* Send= Public     Notebook= No     Subscription= Closed

In other words, it can be very simple, since you probably don't want notebook archives for this kind of auto-responder, you don't want people to subscribe to the list as it isn't really a mailing list, and so forth. To make the auto-response message for this list, you'd then create a listname.MAILTPL file (see chapter 10 for details) that includes a POSTACK1 template, like the following:

>>> POSTACK1 Service Message for &MYNAMES
&MYNAMES will be down Sunday from 0200 EST until 0500 EST for backups 
and upgrades. For more information contact LSTMAINT@&MYHOST.

This particular template would inform the user that LISTSERV would be down (&MYNAMES translates to LISTSERV@NODE where NODE is the value of NODE= in the system configuration file) and to send questions to LSTMAINT@ the local host. In order to change the service message, it would be necessary only to change the POSTACK1 template.

2.13.8. Announce-only lists

An "announce-only" list would be used to distribute a newsletter or other timely information where responses to the list are neither expected nor desired. A typical announce-only list header might look like this:

* The FOO Product Announcment List
* Owner= foo@myhost.com
* Owner= Quiet:
* Owner= anotheruser@myhost.com,yetanotheruser@myhost.com
* Editor= foo@myhost.com
* Editor= anotheruser@myhost.com,yetanotheruser@myhost.com
* Notebook= No
* Errors-To= Owner
* Subscription= Open,Confirm
* Validate= No
* Review= Owners
* Send= Editor,Confirm
* Reply-To= foo@myhost.com,Ignore
* Sender= None

This list is set up so that generally any response to postings will go back to foo@myhost.com, which might be a special account set up specifically to handle such things, or a mail alias pointing to another account. The newsletter can be posted by foo, or anotheruser, or yetanotheruser, all of whom are editors, but the likelihood is that it would be posted from the foo userid so that the From: line would read "From: foo@myhost.com".

2.13.9. Restricted subscription lists with automatically-generated questionnaire

Since LISTSERV Lite does not support list-level mail templates, this functionality is effectively not available in LISTSERV Lite.

Sometimes it is desired to send out a little questionnaire before approving a subscription to a list with a very narrowly-defined topic or to lists created for members of specific organizations. By setting "Subscription= By Owner", you can of course force all potential subscriptions to require list owner approval. In the "old days", if you wanted more information before you approved the subscription request, you had to manually send a questionnaire out to the user and wait for him or her to return it to you.

By setting "Subscription= By Owner" and adding two simple template forms to your listname.MAILTPL (as explained in chapter 9), you can now have LISTSERV send your questionnaire out automatically, as soon as the subscription request is received.

The first template form you need to add to listname.MAILTPL is called SUB_OWNER, and in this case it would typically look like this:

>>> SUB_OWNER &LISTNAME: &WHOM requested to join
A copy of the &LISTNAME membership questionnaire has been sent
to you.  Please read it carefully and follow the instructions
to complete it and return it to the list owners.

The .TO &WHOM directive is required so that the message is sent to the subscriber rather than to the list owner. If you want the non-quiet list owners to receive a copy of this message (which is admittedly unlikely), you can simply add CC: &OWNERS to the end of the .TO line, e.g.,


Or, if you want to cc: a specific user such as joe@unix1.example.com, use

.TO &WHOM CC: joe@unix1.example.com

Note that you cannot format the SUB_OWNER template; it all comes out as one long paragraph without formatting no matter what you do, because it is a "linear" template. But you should modify it from the default to let people know that they will receive a questionnaire to be filled out and returned.

The second template form you need to add to listname.MAILTPL is called ADDREQ1 and it can be as simple or as detailed as you want. All of the available template formatting commands can be used in ADDREQ1. For instance:

>>> ADDREQ1 &LISTNAME Membership Survey
.CE &LISTNAME Membership Survey
NOTE:  Please make sure when you send this back that it goes to
the address &LISTNAME-Request@&MYHOST.  Thanks.

This is a standard questionnaire required for all prospective
subscribers to &LISTNAME. Blah blah blah...

In this case you want the message to go to the subscriber, with a Reply-To: header pointing back to the (non-quiet) list owners. The first line indicating the return address is added for those users with mail clients that don't recognize Reply-To: headers.

You can also put a pre-formatted ADD job into the questionnaire to simplify your job when the questionnaire comes back. For instance,

.fo off
For List Owner's Use Only --  Be sure to include with your Reply
// JOB
// EOJ
.fo on

For more detailed information on mail templates, see chapter 9.

2.13.10. Peered lists

This functionality is not available in LISTSERV Lite.

Please consult your LISTSERV maintainer before peering lists.

Occasionally the need to split a very large list may arise. This was more common when LISTSERV ran only on BITNET, whereas the TCP/IP version of LISTSERV is not limited by BITNET constraints. However, because of the fact that subscribers may be scattered all over the world, in rare cases it can make sense to split (or "peer") a list and share the mail load among two or more LISTSERV servers. Peering also makes it possible to have list archives located in more than one place; for example, a list might be peered between a European host and a North American host, making it possible for subscribers on each continent to retrieve archives from the nearer host.

Although there is no problem about peering to another L-Soft LISTSERV list, linking to a non-L-Soft mailing list manager is not supported and can and will cause serious problems (including mailing loops) for which L-Soft international, Inc. could not be held responsible.

After the link operation has been completed, it is recommended that you define "Peers=" keywords on lists you just linked. For lists running on LISTSERV for VM, this makes it possible to EXPLODE them for better network efficiency. (Because peering is not widely used today, it is unlikely that the EXPLODE command will be ported to other platforms.)

Note also that the peer lists MUST have the same list password (PW= list header keyword setting) or messages approved on one peer will not be accepted by the other peer and an error message will be generated, i.e.,

The approval request code received together  with your posting for the MYLIST-L
list is  incorrect. For  a peered  list, this  may be  a normal  condition. The
approval protocol  is not  guaranteed to  work among  peer chains with pre-1.8b
servers, and  will also  fail if  the peers  have a  different password.  For a
non-peered list, the only likely explanation is a failure in the mail system or
a recent change in mail  system version or  configuration. At any  rate, please
resubmit your message and go through  the approval procedure a second time, and
contact the LISTSERV administrator if the problem persists.

------------------------ Rejected message (73 lines) --------------------------

This means that under LISTSERV 1.8c and later you must explicitly set the PW= list header keyword for each peer and not use the password LISTSERV generates automatically at list creation time. This is the only situation in which the PW= keyword must explicitly be set to a specific value.

Moving users from one (peer) server to another:

You should be aware of the fact that a MOVE operation is not just an ADD to the new server and a DELete to the current one. This would effectively transfer the person from the old server to the new one but his distribution options would be lost in the process. Besides, you should make sure that the user does not lose any mail in the process. The proper course of action to be taken when people are moved from one list to the other is the following:

1. Send mail to the list telling people that a new peer server is being linked to the list, and that some subscribers will be moved to it.

2a. If the prerequisites for using the MOVE command are met, you should use either individual MOVE commands (in the case that there are very few users to move) or a batch-MOVE command with associated DDname (see the LISTJOB MEMO guide for more information on commands-jobs) to move the users. You may want to use the QUIET option to suppress notification if there are a lot of users to move.

Warning: the MOVE command should not be used to move peer list servers. See the MOVE command description for more details.

If you cannot use the MOVE command, you should try one of the following two methods:

2b. For each user to be moved, issue the following commands in the following order:

2c. If there are a lot of users to move, the following method is preferred:

Special commands for peered lists only

ADDHere listname userid@host <full_name> <PW=list_password>

The ADDHERE command is strictly identical to ADD, with the exception that the placement of the user is not checked against the list of peer servers, i.e. the specified user is added to the local list without any further verification. (By comparison, the ADD command causes LISTSERV to check automatically to see if there is no better-suited peer list for the specified user.)

EXPLODE listname <F=fformat> [VM only]

The EXPLODE command provides a means whereby a list can be automatically analyzed by LISTSERV to optimize the placement of its recipients over the various peer servers hosting the list. It requires a "Peers=" keyword to be defined in the list header (see Appendix B). Non-BITNET userids will be exploded according to the network address of the corresponding gateway (as per the SERVICE NAMES file), or ignored if the gateway could not be identified. LISTSERV will create a commands-job file containing the necessary MOVE command to transfer all the users which were found to be (possibly) mis-allocated to the peer server which is nearest to them. This file will then be sent to you so that you can review it before sending it back to the server for execution.

MOVE listname userid@host <TO> newhost <PW=list_password>
     DD=ddname listid@newhost [VM only]

The MOVE command allows list owners to easily move users from one peer server to another. It will move the complete user entry from the source server to the destination one, including full name as it appears in the specified list and all list distribution options. The MOVE operation will be done in such a way that no mail can possibly be lost by the target while the MOVE operation is in progress (duplicate mail might be received for a short duration, however). Notification will be sent to the target user unless the QUIET option was used.

If the source and destination list names are identical, only the destination node ('newhost') needs be specified. Otherwise, the full network address ('listid@newhost') must be specified.

The MOVE command requires both source and destination lists to have the same password. Since each server will have to send a password to the other to validate the (special) ADD/DELETE commands it is sending to the other, it has potentially a way to trap the password specified by the server, thus thwarting any attempt at inventing a protocol to allow use of this command on lists which have a different password. Besides, no MOVE operation will be accepted on lists which do not have a password at all, because for technical reasons it would allow unauthorized users to easily add someone to a list (since there would be no password validation).

The MOVE command is the proper way to effect a move operation. You should not use any other command/set of commands unless you cannot use MOVE. THE MOVE COMMAND SHOULD NOT BE USED TO MOVE DISTRIBUTION LISTS!!! Since a MOVE is basically an ADD + DELETE, with the latter being done only AFTER the ADD is completed, moving a distribution list address with the MOVE command can cause a duplicate link to be defined for a short period of time. This could result in a transient mailing loop, which could become permanent if the size of the looping mailfiles is less than the size of the inter-servers "DELETE" command jobfile, and the RSCS priority of the latter has been altered.

2.13.11. "Super-lists" and "sub-lists"

This functionality is not available in LISTSERV Lite.

Please note that the LISTSERV maintainer must create the super-list.

In LISTSERV 1.8c it is possible to define a "super-list" (as in opposite of sub-list), that is, a "container" list that includes all the subscribers in a predefined set of sub-lists. This can be done recursively to any depth. Only the LISTSERV maintainer can create a super-list, for security reasons. Concretely, the "Sub-lists=" keyword is protected from owner tampering in the same fashion as "Notebook=". The value is a comma separated list of all the sub-lists, which must all be on the same (local) machine. For instance:


The default value for this keyword is null, e.g., to have no sublists. Please note that the super-list and all of its sublists must reside on the same LISTSERV server.

The only difference between a normal list and a super-list is what happens when you post to it. With the super-list, the membership of all the sub-lists is added (recursively) and duplicates are suppressed. Other than that, the super-list is a normal list with its own archives, access control, etc. You can even subscribe to it, and this is actually an important aspect of the operation of super-lists. If you are subscribed to the super-list itself, the subscription options used to deliver super-messages to you are taken from your subscription to the super-list, just like with any other list. All combinations are allowed, and in particular NOMAIL is allowed, meaning you don't want to get messages posted to the super-list. When you are subscribed to multiple sub-lists, on the other hand, things work differently:

  1. NOMAIL subscriptions are ignored. You will get the super-message if you have an active (not NOMAIL) subscription to at least one sub-list. The idea is that the super-message must be equivalent to posting to all the sub-lists, without the duplicates. Since all it takes to get a message posted to all the sub-lists is a single non-NOMAIL subscription, this is how the super-list works. The only way not to get the super-messages is to subscribe to the super-list directly and set yourself to NOMAIL.

  2. The DIGEST and INDEX options are ignored and internally converted to MAIL. The first reason is that, since in most cases the user will be on multiple sub-lists (otherwise you don't need a super-list in the first place), the only safe method to set subscription options for super-messages is by subscribing to the super-list so that there is no ambiguity. The second reason is that, in most cases, super-lists will be used for out of band administrative messages rather than for large volume discussions, so it is actually preferable to have the message sent directly. The third reason is that the super-list and sub-lists may not necessarily offer the same options (DIGEST and INDEX). In particular it is expected that many super-lists will not have archives. If you want a DIGEST or INDEX for the super-messages, you must subscribe to the super-list directly.

Topics, if defined, are evaluated on a per-list basis. That is, for every sub-list (and for the super-list), LISTSERV determines whether the topic of the message is one that you want to see. If not, it acts as if you were not subscribed to this particular list. Roughly speaking, this works very well if all the sub-lists have the same set of topics (or a well-defined set of common topics), and doesn't work well at all if every list has its own set of topics.

Postings to a super-list are always archived in the super-list's notebooks (if enabled), and never in the notebooks of the sub-lists. This is because by its nature a posting to the super-list is not equivalent to cross-posting a message to all of the sub-lists. Rather, LISTSERV recurses into the sub-lists and generates an "on the fly" listing of all of the users on the super-list and the sub-lists (this is how it avoids duplicates, among other things) and then treats this "on the fly" listing as if it were the subscriber list of the super-list itself. You will note that a super-list posting is always identified as coming from the super-list, regardless of whether a given user is subscribed to the super-list or to one or more of the sub-lists.

Note carefully that a REVIEW command sent for the super-list will not recurse into the sub-lists pointed to by the super-list. If you have a super-list called SUPER and you send a REVIEW SUPER command, LISTSERV will respond with only the people who are subscribed directly to SUPER.

Similarly, access to the super-list's notebook archives is not automatically recursive. If you want sub-list subscribers to be able to access the archives of the super-list (but don't want the sub-list subscribers to have to subscribe to the super-list), then you must configure the Notebook= keyword for the super-list so that it contains references to each of the sublists. For example, say we have a super-list called SUPER and two sub-lists called SUB-A and SUB-B. We want the subscribers of both SUB-A and SUB-B to be able to read the archives of SUPER (since postings to SUPER won't be archived in SUB-A or SUB-B), but we don't want people who aren't susbcribed to any of the three lists to be able to access the archives. So we set

* Notebook= Yes,C:\LISTS\SUPER,Monthly,Private,(SUB-A),(SUB-B)

and anyone subscribed to the SUPER list or to the SUB-A or SUB-B lists can access the SUPER archives.

If you have many sub-lists, you can specify multiple Notebook= lines, e.g.,

* Notebook= Yes,C:\LISTS\SUPER,Monthly,Private,(SUB-A),(SUB-B)
* Notebook= (SUB-C),(SUB-D),(SUB-E),(SUB-F)

LISTSERV will read these two (or more) Notebook= lines and concatenate the values.

2.13.12. "Cloning" lists

Some sites may have a need for many lists that are essentially identical. For instance, a series of class section lists for a university department may have the same owner, allow the same class of users to subscribe, and so forth. LISTSERV makes it possible to maintain large collections of lists by "including" keywords from an external file.

For instance, consider a mathematics course with ten sections. Each section should have its own list (for instance, called M101-001, M101-002, and so forth), but the lists will otherwise be identical. The LISTSERV maintainer simply creates a text file (in this case called M101 KEYWORDS) containing the keyword definitions that will be shared by the lists, as follows:

PUT M101 KEYWORDS PW=createpw
* Owner= mathwhiz@someuni.edu (Professor J. Random User)
* Owner= Quiet:
* Owner= gradasst@someuni.edu (Joe Doakes, Graduate Assistant)
* Notebook= Yes,/home/listserv/archives/m101,Monthly,Private
* Auto-Delete= No
* Errors-To= gradasst@someuni.edu
* Subscription= Closed
* Notify= Yes               Confidential= Yes        Validate= Yes,Confirm,NoPW
* Reply-to= List,Ignore     Review= Owners           Send= Private
* Default-Options= Repro

Next, the LISTSERV maintainer stores this file in the usual way, by first making a filelist or catalog entry for it (as outlined in chapter 8) and then storing it with a PUT operation. Generally the GET and PUT FACs for this file should specify that the list owner(s) should be able to retrieve and store it. The file must be stored in LISTSERV's A directory (the same directory that contains the *.LIST files).

Note that it is also possible to create this file directly in LISTSERV's A directory with a text editor; if you do so, make sure that you do not include the PUT command shown above. You should still make the filelist or catalog entry for the file so that the list owners can retrieve and store it.

Next, the LISTSERV maintainer creates and stores a skeleton list header for each of the section lists. The first section list (M101-001) is illustrated below:

PUT M101-001 LIST PW=createpw
* Math 101 Section 001 Mailing List
* .IK M101

The .IK command tells LISTSERV that whenever it uses this list, it should read the keyword definitions from the file M101 KEYWORDS (note carefully that the syntax is ".IK M101", not ".IK M101 KEYWORDS"). Now, whenever the professor in charge of the class wants to make a change to all of the M101 lists (for instance, he has a new graduate assistant), he simply GETs the file M101 KEYWORDS, makes the changes, and PUTs the file back, instead of having to GET separate headers for each list and make the changes to all of them individually.

Note: On some servers the LISTSERV maintainer may have to stop and restart LISTSERV (or do a GET+PUT of all of the list headers involved) to make changes to the KEYWORDS file appear. This is because LISTSERV may have the KEYWORDS file and/or the list headers that use it cached at the time you modify it.

In order to see the complete list header, send a REVIEW listname command. The response to a GET will be only the skeleton header with the .IK command.

Special note: The sample KEYWORDS file above includes a Notebook= keyword. This will cause the notelogs for all of the lists that use this KEYWORDS file to be written in the same directory, per the example, /home/listserv/archives/m101 . This means that in that directory you would have notelogs for the M101-001 list, the M101-002 list, and so forth (depending of course on what lists use the example M101 KEYWORDS file). If this behavior is not desired, simply don't put a Notebook= keyword in the KEYWORDS file, and define it in the list header for the cloned list instead, either before or after the .IK directive.

For the web archive interface, note carefully that if you do use the same directory for all of the cloned lists' notelogs, the LISTSERV maintainer will still have to make separate web archive directories for each list under your WWW_ARCHIVE_DIR directory if you intend to serve the archives via the web interface. In other words, the web interface doesn't care where you keep a list's notelogs as long as it has a directory specified under WWW_ARCHIVE_DIR for it to write the list's web archive indexes into. So while all of your notelogs may go into /home/listserv/archives/m101 , regardless of the name of the cloned list, the LISTSERV maintainer still needs to make (for example) /usr/local/etc/httpd/htfiles/archives/m101-001 and so forth in order to serve the notelogs on the web.

2.14. List passwords are now obsolete

In LISTSERV 1.8c and later, when creating the list, a random password is assigned for security if the LISTSERV maintainer does not define one explicitly. In 1.8c and later it is no longer necessary to use the list password in all but one situation; it is simply another line of defense, and you can substitute a personal password in any command that formerly called for a list password. See section 2.9, above, to learn how to create a personal password.

The only situation in which a list password MUST be defined explicitly in a list header is in the case of peered lists, where the PW= list header keyword must be set to the same value on all peers.

2.15. Allowing/Blocking MIME Attachments

LISTSERV 1.8d kits starting in May 2000 contain a new MIME attachment-filtering feature which is configured by setting the new Attachments= list header keyword. The new keyword allows three distinct modes:

In addition, you can configure specific MIME types to reject or filter while allowing other types through (for instance, you can block executable files but allow images or word processing files based on their MIME type).

For information on the various settings, please see the section on the Attachments= keyword in Appendix B of this manual.

3. Advertising Your Public Mailing Lists

3.1. Lists of Lists maintained by LISTSERV

LISTSERV automatically produces a List of Lists that may be reviewed by users anywhere on the Internet in one of two ways:

Note that it is possible to code a descriptive title in your list header that is more than 40 columns long, but the List of Lists will include only the first 40 columns of that title. It is therefore important from this respect to be sure that the descriptive title of your list is succinct and to the point.

3.2. Adding HTML to a list header for the CataList

L-Soft's CataList service (http://www.lsoft.com/lists/CataList.html) allows users to search the global list of public LISTSERV lists via the World Wide Web. Adding an HTML description to a list is easy, and can do a lot to enhance the appearance of a list in the database. All you have to do is update your list header and add the text of your choice. Here is an example:

* The coffee lovers' list
* Review= Public    Subscription= Open         Send= Public
* Notify= Yes       Reply-to= List,Respect
* Notebook= Yes,L,Monthly,Public
* Owner=  claudia@espresso.xyz.it (Claudia Serafino)
* <HTML>
* COFFEE-LOVERS is an open list for, well, coffee lovers! Our
* motto is: <cite>"Instant -- just say no!"</cite>
* That's pretty much our whole charter, although there are a
* few other <a href="http://www.coffee.org/charter.html">
* rules</a> that you may want to read before joining. For
* instance, we don't allow flame wars about decaf: if you like it,
* well, it's your body after all.
* <p>The list is maintained by
* <a href="http://www.coffee.org/claudia.html">Claudia
* Serafino</a> (that's me!) and you will find all sorts of
* useful info about coffee on my home page.
* </HTML>

In other words, you just insert your HTML text in the list header and bracket it with <HTML> and </HTML> tags (these tags tell the web interface where the HTML text begins and ends -- they are not actually sent to the web browser). There are three simple rules that you must follow when inserting your HTML data:

  1. The <HTML> and </HTML> tags must appear on a separate line, as shown in the example above. You cannot have anything else on that line and, in particular, you cannot mix keyword definitions with HTML data.

  2. The HTML data you are providing is embedded into the document shown by the web interface when users query your list. Because you are given some space between two horizontal rules on an existing page, rather than a whole new page. you should not include tags that affect the whole document, like for instance <TITLE>.

  3. While this procedure is compatible with all versions of LISTSERV, there are a few restrictions on the placement of equal signs within your HTML text with versions that do not have any specific support for the <HTML> and </HTML> markers. In practice, you can ignore this rule unless you get an error message while storing your list.

When reformatting your list header description for HTML, bear in mind that the text will not always be viewed using a web browser. It is best to keep the formatting as clear as possible and minimize the usage of HTML tags, since there are still many people without WWW access. For instance, do not hesitate to use white space between paragraphs for clarity.

3.2.1. Update latency

Barring network outages, a list header update takes a maximum of 24h to be reflected in the distributed LISTS database. Database updates are usually scheduled to be broadcast at night, so the changes take place overnight. Once the LISTS database has been updated, it can take a maximum of 24h for the frozen copy of the database used by the web interface to be updated. In most cases, both the LISTS database and its frozen copy on the web server will be updated overnight. However, if the site hosting your lists is several time zones west of the site hosting the web server, and if that server only updates itself once a day, you may have to wait two days for your update to be reflected.

3.2.2. Inserting a pointer to another list

Sometimes it may be useful to link a number of related lists together so that the viewer can quickly examine all the lists without having to go back to the search screen and retyping the names you are providing. You can do this using the special HTML sequence:

<!--#listref listname@hostname-->

This sequence is internally translated to an <a> tag with a URL that will bring up information about the list you indicated. You must then provide a suitable caption and a closing </a> tag. Example:

Don't forget to take a look at
<!--#listref COFFEE-L@COFFEE.ORG-->
the coffee list!</a>

3.2.3. Restrictions on the placement of equal signs

While all versions of LISTSERV are supported, servers which have no specific support for the <HTML> and </HTML> tags will process your HTML data as an ordinary list header line and attempt to determine whether it contains a list header keyword or descriptive text. The exact algorithms vary from one version to another, but in general the parser looks for a single word followed by an equal sign. With HTML text, it is possible (if unlikely) to generate such patterns. Here is an example:

* Sample list with problem pattern
* <HTML>
* For more information on the list, just check <a
* href="http://www.xyz.edu/mypage.html">my home page.</a>
* </HTML>

In that case, you can just reorder the HTML data so that the equal sign does not appear in this position. Alternatively, if the equal sign was meant to be actually displayed as an equal sign (as opposed to being part of some HTML tag), you can use the HTML escape sequence &#61; instead.

3.3. Defining search categories in a list header for the CataList

Note: The complete list of search categories may not yet be available when LISTSERV 1.8d is released. Note also that during the "pilot" phase of categories implementation, all categories will be "open", and you can define search categories for your list as long as the categories you define are in compliance with the rules for defining categories. When the "production" phase begins, only categories defined below as "open" will be open, and if a list is created or modified without a "Categories=" keyword, LISTSERV will issue a warning (but will go ahead and store the list without it).

Another feature of the CataList service discussed in the preceding chapter is the ability to search for lists based on topic categories. For instance, a user might be looking for lists that discuss various aspects of opera. The same user might want to search not just for lists that discuss opera in general, but great operatic tenors in particular.

In order to implement search categories for your list, you use the new "Categories=" list header keyword, in conjunction with the list of categories that can be found at the CataList site. The URL for the category list is http://www.lsoft.com/listcat.html.

If you do not have a web browser, you can issue the command


to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.NET or any LISTSERV server running version 1.8c or higher to have a list of categories mailed to you.

A typical category listing is in two parts. The first part is the category title itself (this is what you code in the "Categories=" keyword). The second part is an optional description of what the category covers. For instance:

Category:SubCategory:MinorCategory Description of this category

There are two types of categories that you need to be aware of.

Open Categories: These categories have a description indicating that they are open and can be added to. Taking our example of great operatic tenors above, you might see the following category listed:

Arts:Music:Opera:Singers Operatic Singers (Open)

You notice that there are further subcategories like


and so forth, but (gasp!) no category for your favorite tenor, Luciano Pavarotti! And your list is PAVAROTTI-L. Not to worry, however. Because the category of "Singers" is open, you can simply code:

* Categories= Arts:Music:Opera:Singers:Pavarotti_Luciano

and LISTSERV will accept the new subcategory "Pavarotti_Luciano".

Note that when you create a new category, it will not show up until the central categories list has been updated.

Note also that there are two "root level" open categories, Misc and Local. The Misc category is world-searchable. If, however, you code a Local category, it will only be searchable from the search engine running on the server hosting your list.

Closed Categories: These are categories that cannot be added to. In other words, if you see a category like:

Computers:Internet:Mailing_List_Managers:LISTSERV:Manuals:List_Owners_Manual List Owner's Manual for LISTSERV

whose description does not indicate that it is open, then you cannot add new categories after the last term. If you try to create a new subcategory under a closed category, you will receive an error message when you PUT your list header, and your updated header will not be stored.

3.3.1. Examples of category settings

Categories are defined by the new "Categories=" list header keyword. Each category string's subcategories are internally delimited with colon (":") characters. Each separate category string is separated from the others with commas. If your "Categories=" keyword setting gets too long to fit on one line, simply define multiple "Categories=" keywords. Note that spaces are not allowed in categories; therefore

* Categories= Arts:Music:Opera:Singers:Luciano Pavarotti

is not legal, but

* Categories= Arts:Music:Opera:Singers:Luciano_Pavarotti


A simple category setting would be:

* Categories= Arts:Music:Opera:Singers

and if someone searched on that category, they would find our list. But we saw above that we can create a new category if we are running a list dedicated to Luciano Pavarotti. So instead, we might code

* Categories= Arts:Music:Opera:Singers:Pavarotti_Luciano

If, however, we're running a list for the Three Tenors, we might want to code:

* Categories= Arts:Music:Opera:Singers:Pavarotti_Luciano
* Categories= Arts:Music:Opera:Singers:Domingo_Placido
* Categories= Arts:Music:Opera:Singers:Carreras_Jose

Or even:

* Categories= Arts:Music:Opera:Singers:Three_Tenors

depending on our preference.

If you code a sub-category that does not exist in a "closed" upper-level category, LISTSERV will respond with an error message that will list the legal sub-categories that you can use.

3.4. The INFO <listname> command and how to implement it

This functionality is not available in LISTSERV Lite.

Chapter 9, Customizing LISTSERV's Default Mail Templates, includes details on how to include an informative paragraph in the information mail template file for your list. When a user sends the command INFO listname to your server, LISTSERV responds with either:

If listname.MAILTPL does not exist, the default response is sent. Also note that the user may send the INFO listname command to any L-Soft LISTSERV host (including the Global List Exchange discussed below), which will forward the request to the appropriate server.

3.5. The NEW-LIST project

The NEW-LIST project was started in 1989 to promote mailing lists via a mailing list. Originally hosted on NDSUVM and later on LISTSERV.NODAK.EDU at North Dakota State University, NEW-LIST was moved to the Internet Scout Project in July of 1998. NEW-LIST@SCOUT.CS.WISC.EDU distributes announcements of new and changed mailing lists to over 9500 subscribers every day. The NEW-LIST administration asks only that your list be well-tested and ready for new subscriptions before you send your announcement to them. You also want to make sure that your announcement is as correct and comprehensive as possible, as news on the Internet spreads quickly and a mistake in a NEW-LIST announcement may cause problems for both you and other users months later.

For more information on the NEW-LIST project and what you need to use it, you should point a World Wide Web browser at the URL


(The NEW-LIST Project also published a hard-copy version of their archive in 1992 with a newer edition in 1993 under the title Internet: Mailing Lists [ISBN 0-133-27941-3], edited by Edward T. L. Hardie and Vivian Neou.)

3.6. The Internet Network Information Center (INTERNIC)

Unlike many other lookup services on the Internet, the INTERNIC is not necessarily free. Its three distinct sections are run by General Atomics, Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), and AT&T.

You can register your list with the INTERNIC, but be forewarned. A "basic" listing is free, while an "extended" listing is not. (On the other hand, anyone with net access can search the INTERNIC databases for free.)

For more information, point a WWW client at the INTERNIC web site at http://www.internic.net .

3.7. The Global List Exchange (GLX) and why you should mention it

The Global List Exchange, or GLX, is a central clearinghouse for LISTSERV subscriptions and List of List requests. For instance, If a user knows the name of a list but not the name of the host server, GLX simplifies the process by giving the user a single address where all subscription requests for lists running on L-Soft's LISTSERV can be sent.

By adding the GLX address in all advertisements for your list, you help other list owners as well as yourself by making it simple for users to subscribe to any list. Additionally, if for some reason a user is unable to contact your server directly, the GLX gives him an alternate subscription method.


3.8. How NOT to advertise a mailing list

It is generally considered a breach of netiquette to invade the privacy of other lists with a broadcast announcement that your list is up and running. The only time when this might be acceptable is when your list addresses a concern of people already subscribed to another list. If you feel it necessary to post an announcement on someone else's list, it is good manners to first send private mail to the owner of that list and ask his or her permission to do so. (The same policy applies to USENET newsgroups, though it may be more difficult to find out who the moderator is.)

It is certainly a breach of netiquette (and many networks' appropriate use policies) to blindly post multiple copies of your announcements to multiple lists. This kind of behavior is termed a "spam", something about which you may read more in Chapter 6, Moderating and Editing Lists. This kind of announcement is guaranteed to reap a good deal of bad will and may well result in the revocation of your network privileges.

4. Managing Subscriptions

4.1. How to add and delete subscribers to/from a list

A list owner may add and delete subscribers manually. The command syntax is:

ADD listname netaddress full_name
DELete listname netaddress

In a perfect world, subscribers would understand intuitively how to subscribe and unsubscribe from mailing lists. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Depending on an individual's style of list management, a list owner may choose to add or delete subscribers to the list manually, or send the potential subscriber instructions on how it is done. (See Appendix C for sample "boilerplate" instruction files that can be modified to suit local purposes.) And for lists coded Subscription= By Owner or Subscription= Closed, it is of course necessary to use the ADD command to subscribe a user.

If the list is set to confirm mailing paths for new subscriptions (Subscription= Open,Confirm), it is probably wisest to use the latter option, since if a subscriber is added manually to a list, the confirmation process is bypassed.

Note that full_name should contain at least two discrete words, but it is also possible to add users without knowing the value for full_name. Simply use an asterisk ("*") character. Note that if the user is already subscribed to another list on the same host, LISTSERV will pick up the value for full_name from its signup files. Examples are:

RIGHT:ADD GOV-L vice-president@whitehouse.gov Al Gore
RIGHT:ADD GOV-L vice-president@whitehouse.gov *
WRONG:ADD GOV-L vice-president@whitehouse.gov Al
WRONG:ADD GOV-L vice-president@whitehouse.gov Al-Gore

When adding users, ADD will also accept a full RFC822 address that you can cut and paste from the "From:" line of a message. Be sure that you remove the "From:" part of the line. For example, the "From:" line

From: Al Gore <vice-president@whitehouse.gov>

becomes an ADD command as follows:

ADD GOV-L Al Gore <vice-president@whitehouse.gov>

4.1.1. Adding users whose address and real name exceed 80 characters

This problem happens particularly with the X.400 and X.500 addressing schemes, but can happen as well with any system which allows users to have a very long "local part" (i.e., the part to the left of the "@") in their userid, or with users on systems that just have very long names, such as some of the hosts in the .US domain generally have. For instance, you might try to send the following ADD to LISTSERV:

QUIET ADD MYLIST someone.with.a.real.long.userid.that.wraps@hishost.com
His Name

"His Name" wraps to the next line. If you send this to LISTSERV, LISTSERV treats the two lines as separate commands even though you did not hit RETURN after the user's address, and it responds:

> QUIET ADD MYLIST someone.with.a.real.long.userid.that.wraps@hishost.com
someone.with.a.real.long.userid.that.wraps@HISHOST.COM  is not  yet in  the
signup file. Please specify the full name of that person, as in "ADD MYLIST
JOE@XYZ.EDU Joe H. Smith".

> His Name
Unknown command - "HIS". Try HELP.
To avoid this problem, set up your ADD command with a "continuation card" as follows:

// QUIET ADD MYLIST someone.with.a.real.long.userid.that.wraps@hishost.com ,
His Name

4.1.2. X.400 and X.500 addressing--Special Problems

X.400 and X.500 addressing schemes can cause problems for the list owner who is trying to add or delete one. These addressing schemes use the "/" character to separate address elements, but to LISTSERV, "/" is a special character and you would not be able to add or delete one of these addresses by simply cutting and pasting it into an ADD or DELETE command.

For instance, you might have an address like:


In order to either add or delete this address, there are two issues:

  1. The address may wrap to the next line once you add the DELETE listname command, and LISTSERV will not accept it.

  2. The address contains characters that LISTSERV will reject as illegal (the "/" character).

For adds, to get around both of these issues, you must use a LISTSERV JOB syntax as follows:

//X500 DD *


Any other method will trigger an RFC822 parser error because of the "/" characters in the address. (Note that a user who is subscribing from an address like this will have no trouble; it is only when the list owner uses the ADD command that this difficulty surfaces.)

For deletions, to get around both of these issues, the wildcard character ("*") can be used. You may not need the entire address in order to delete it, so you might just use


which solves both the line wrap problem and the illegal character problem at the same time.

You can also use double-quotes around the address if it contains illegal characters, and a "continuation card" (see 4.1.3) if the address is too long to fit on one line:


4.1.3. Continuation card syntax

The basic syntax of a continuation card is

//<space><beginning of command><space><comma>
<continuation of command><space><comma>
<continuation of command>....

for example,

// QUIET ADD MYLIST someone.with.a.real.long.userid.that.wraps@hishost.com ,
His Name PW=mypassword

or, for instance, for a large GETPOST job,

// GETPOST MYLIST 10769-10770 10772 11079 11086 11095 11099-11100 11104 ,
11111 11115 11118 11121 11124 11131 11144 11147 11153 11158 11166 11168

Without going into a lot of detail, the "//<space>" at the beginning of the command causes LISTSERV to look for a comma at the end of the first line and, if if finds the comma, to add anything following the comma on the second line to the end of the first line. Be sure to put a space before the comma at the end of the first line, as LISTSERV will not add the space for you.

For more information, see the chapter on LISTSERV's Command Jobs Language Interface (CJLI) in the Developer's Guide to LISTSERV.

4.2. Finding users who do not appear in the list

Sometimes the list owner will get a message from a subscriber who says, in essence, "I keep trying to (unsubscribe/change to digest/etc.) and LISTSERV says I'm not subscribed. Can you help?" This requires some detective work.

There are a couple of strategies for figuring out what is wrong. List owners should first use the powerful SCAN command to search for a pattern anywhere in the subscriber list. The syntax is:

SCAN listname search-text

For instance, "SCAN TEST-L Nathan" might return:

> scan test-l Nathan
Nathan Brindle <nbrindle@INDYCMS.IUPUI.EDU>
Somebody Else <nathan@LSOFT.COM>
Jonathan Smith <jsmith@FOO.BAR.COM>
SCAN: 3 matches.

Note that SCAN is not case-sensitive. "Nathan", "NATHAN", and "nathan" all return the same results.

Searches with SCAN should start out simple and become more complex as needed. For instance, if there are only three people in the list with the string "NATHAN" as part of their subscription record, it will be unlikely that you will need to make the search any more complex. If you are looking for "SMITH", however, it may be necessary to further qualify your search string, say to look for "JOE SMITH". Another reason it is important to begin with a simple search string is that your user may not be subscribed under the exact address the error is returning to you. For instance, say you don't have the user's id, but you have a host name. You can search for all occurrences of the host name, but note that the search:


will not find the user jsmith@foo.bar.com. If you run the following search:


however, you will find Mr. Smith's subscription.

Another possibility is that the subscriber may be using more than one address to work with his subscription. For instance, say the user's complaint to you came from JOE@SUN6.SOMEUNI.EDU. Looking at the list, you find a subscription for JOE@SUN8.SOMEUNI.EDU. LISTSERV has no way to know that JOE@SUN6 is the same person as JOE@SUN8, even though Joe and you know they are. The solution to Joe's problem above is for you to delete his SUN8 subscription and add his SUN6 address. Then Joe needs to be sure that he uses SUN6 in the future, if not for reading mail, then at least for managing his own subscription.

Another strategy would be to submit a wildcard QUERY to the list. The drawback to this method is that it might require multiple tries to find the subscription, depending on the complexity of the wildcard query.

Note also that not only can this sort of problem arise from a subscriber using more than one workstation to read mail, but it can also arise when a particular site changes its domain configuration, forwards mail from the old addressing scheme to the new addressing scheme, and doesn't inform its users of the change. In these cases, users often don't realize there is a problem until they try to unsubscribe or change personal options, because the change has been transparent to them.

4.3. Converting existing lists from other systems to LISTSERV

4.3.1. Converting mailing lists

Currently there are no supported conversion programs that will take (for instance) a Majordomo or ListProc mailing list and convert it to LISTSERV format. However it should be possible to extract the address list from the non-LISTSERV list and use a bulk add operation (see chapter 4.4) to populate your new LISTSERV list.

4.3.2. Converting message archives

Note also that existing list archive notebooks will probably not be in LISTSERV format (a modified VM MAILBOOK format), but rather, in the standard unix mailbox format. Again there are no supported programs to convert such archives to the LISTSERV format, but the basic format is as follows:

Message separator
Body of Message
Message separator
Body of Message

The MAILBOOK message separator is a line of 73 "=" characters (ASCII &H3D). Each archive notebook file must start with a message separator as the first line, e.g.:

Date:         Tue, 3 Mar 1998 10:36:55 -0500
Sender:       Test list <TEST@LISTSERV.EXAMPLE.COM>
From:         Nathan Brindle <nathan@lsoft.com>
Subject:      Test
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

First test message
Date:         Tue, 3 Mar 1998 10:39:11 -0500
Sender:       Test list <TEST@LISTSERV.EXAMPLE.COM>
From:         Nathan Brindle <nathan@lsoft.com>
Subject:      Test2
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Second test message

and the notebooks must be named in a standard LISTSERV format, e.g., TEST.LOG9803A, so that LISTSERV will see them and include them in the output of the INDEX listname command.

Note that for unix mailbox-formatted archives you must remove the first line of each message, which begins with "From" followed by a space (this is the standard unix mailbox delimiter). Below is an excerpt from a unix mailbox for illustration purposes:

From owner-test@listserv.example.com  Mon Dec 29 15:17:20 1997
Return-Path: <root@listserv.example.com>
Received: from localhost (root@localhost) by listserv.example.com (8.8.3/8.8.3) 0
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 1997 15:17:20 -0500 (EST)
From: root <root@listserv.example.com>
To: test@listserv.example.com
Subject: Test
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.971229151703.711A-100000@listserv.example.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
Status: RO

This is a sample message from Majordomo in unix mailbox format.

From owner-test@listserv.example.com  Mon Dec 29 15:23:51 1997
Return-Path: <root@listserv.example.com>
Received: from localhost (root@localhost) by listserv.example.com (8.8.3/8.8.3) 0
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 1997 15:23:51 -0500 (EST)

Each of the lines beginning with From owner-test@listserv.example.com is the delimiter separating one message from the next.

4.4. Adding subscribers to lists in bulk

If you are moving a list from a non-LISTSERV site, you can quickly and easily convert the existing subscriber list to the LISTSERV format by following these instructions:

  1. Have the LISTSERV maintainer at your new site create the new list header and install it on the machine.

  2. Create an add job as follows. The QUIET and IMPORT command words are optional; omit the square brackets if you use them. The "full name" field is optional as long as you use the IMPORT option; otherwise you must either specify "*" (for an anonymous subscription) or a full name consisting of at least two separate words.

    [QUIET] ADD listname DD=ddname [IMPORT] PW=yourpassword
    //ddname DD *
    userid1@host1.com [*|full name]
    userid2@host2.com [*|full name]
    ...more users, one per line...
    useridn@hostn.com [*|full name]

    For example (what fun:),

    //MYDD DD *
    IVANOVA@BABYLON5.MIL Susan Ivanova

    If you are importing from an existing non-LISTSERV list, you should remove any lines from the original list that do not actually identify subscriber addresses. If you are converting to LISTSERV from ListProc, note that LISTSERV will not convert ListProc user options to their LISTSERV equivalents; you must take a line like

    user1@somehost.com POSTPONE NEWLIST NO user's name

    and reduce it at least to

    user1@somehost.com user's name

    Otherwise, the ListProc options will become part of the full name field.

  3. Send the job to LISTSERV.

The IMPORT option implies a QUIET ADD (in other words you do not need to specify QUIET if you use IMPORT) and otherwise vastly speeds up the ADD process by loosening syntax checking and omitting success messages. If you do not use the IMPORT option and do not specify QUIET, the users you bulk add will receive the normal SIGNUP message and/or WELCOME file as usual.

4.5. Deleting subscribers from lists in bulk

If you have a large number of users to delete at one time, you can use a bulk delete syntax that is similar to the bulk ADD documented above. However please note that there is no "IMPORT"-type option for this feature, and as usual for the DELETE command you specify only the user's address in the data DD.

There is, however, a BRIEF option that can be specified which is good when you don't want a long list of "userid@host has been deleted from list xxxx" messages, one for each user deleted. Use of the BRIEF option tells LISTSERV to return only a count of the users that were deleted.

Once again you construct a LISTSERV JOB framework as follows and then send it to LISTSERV:

[QUIET] DELete listname DD=ddname [BRIEF] PW=yourpassword
//ddname DD *

You will probably want to use the QUIET modifier when doing a bulk delete, in order to suppress the notification message to the users being deleted.

4.6. Using the QUIET option with commands

Prepending the command word "QUIET" before any LISTSERV command that you issue on behalf of a subscriber causes LISTSERV to suppress any notification to the subscriber of the changes you have made. This is particularly helpful when deleting subscribers whose accounts have expired and when setting subscribers with full mailboxes to NOMAIL, as it will help avoid another error message from the host when the notification message bounces. It is also helpful when adding subscriptions to the list that should not receive any welcome mail, such as redistribution lists and USENET newsgroups.

Examples of the usage of QUIET include:

QUIET ADD EXCEL-L comp.spreadsheets.excel@netnews.somenode.edu
QUIET DELETE EXCEL-L Bouncemeister@somenode.edu

4.7. Dealing with bounced mail

4.7.1. What is a bounce, and what can typically cause one?

A bounce is simply an undeliverable e-mail message. The term "bounce" is used to describe it because normally the system that discovers the delivery error "bounces" a copy of the message back to you with some sort of delivery error message. Sometimes these messages are easy to decipher -- "No such user at foo.bar.com" -- but uncomfortably often they are not that easy. Certain systems, as noted above, kindly format error notifications in a format that LISTSERV can understand, and if your list is configured for auto-deletion, these bounces will be the least of your worries -- in fact, they will not be worrisome at all.

4.7.2. The owner-listname address

If you receive bounces processed through LISTSERV you will note that they normally say something like the following at the top:

The enclosed message has been identified as a delivery error for the MYLIST-L
list because it was sent to 'owner-mylist-l@LISTSERV.EXAMPLE.COM'.

------------------------------ Message in error -------------------------------

What this message means is simply that LISTSERV has received mail sent to the owner-listname mailbox for your list. Mail sent to this special address is automatically forwarded by LISTSERV to the address(es) you have defined in the Errors-To= list header keyword. The little "error-header" shown above is prepended to the actual error message to let you know that this is an error for your list (rather than unceremoniously dumping it into your mailbox and making you wonder "why did I get this?", since some delivery errors aren't specific about what list or even what user they are for). So whenever you get mail saying it was found in the owner-listname mailbox, it means that it is an error that you need to deal with for the list referred to by listname.

If you find that you have users trying to contact you (as list owner) at the owner-listname address, you should tell them that the correct generic address for contacting the list owner(s) is listname-request, not owner-listname. Mail sent to the listname-request address will be sent to all non-quiet list owners and furthermore will be automatically responded to with the REQACK1 mail template form from your listname.MAILTPL file (or its default from DEFAULT.MAILTPL; see chapter 9) while mail to owner-listname will not be responded to at all unless you do so explicitly. The nice thing about having people use the listname-request address is that you can store your list's FAQ (if you have one) in the REQACK1 mail template form and probably not have to answer all of the questions you get as list owner--like "how do I subscribe?" and "how do I sign off?".

4.7.3. What to do about several types of bounces

Please note carefully that it is not the intent of (nor would it be reasonably possible for) this manual to document each and every kind of delivery error that you may ever see as a list owner. Unfortunately, and completely outside the control of anyone at L-Soft, new types of cryptic, difficult to understand, and totally misleading errors appear all the time. If you run across something not otherwise documented here, the best place to ask for help is the LSTOWN-L mailing list (see chapter 10.6).

That being said, here are a few of the typical mail errors you will have to deal with as a list owner. Newer, so-called "Notary" format error codes are documented in RFC1893, which can be found at the WWW URL


  1. no such user at host , user unknown (or "notary" format error number 5.1.1)

    Most of the time, this is authoritative and indicates that the user's access has been curtailed for some reason (graduation, no longer employed, etc.). A quiet delete (syntax: "QUIET DELETE listname userid@host") is in order unless you have reason to believe that the message is not authoritative. Variations on this message include "Recipient unknown" and "Ambiguous address: userid". The latter doesn't really mean the user doesn't exist, but it's almost as bad, and many list owners choose to classify it as "no such user".

    Microsoft Exchange servers send back the following message for an unknown user:

    Joe@EXCHANGE.EXAMPLE.COM on Wed, 4 Mar 1998 13:31:50 -0600
        The recipient name is not recognized
        MSEXCH:IMS:Example Corp:EXAMPLE:EXCOMEXCH 0 (000C05A6)
    Unknown Recipient

  2. no such host, host unknown (or "notary" format error number 5.1.2)

    This is sometimes authoritative and sometimes not. If a host goes down or a gateway fails, often this message is returned by an intermediate host or gateway. If the user is bouncing a great deal of mail from a high-volume list, it is probably best to set the user to NOMAIL (syntax: "SET listname NOMAIL FOR userid@host") rather than to summarily delete him. This way, the error messages stop, the user is sent an automatic message telling him his personal options have been changed by the list owner, and the user doesn't have to go through the subscription process again if the problem has been solved in the interim.

    The problem is that some hosts go down on a regular basis and this error makes it impossible to tell if the host in question is gone forever or gone until the local sysadmin reboots his machine. After a while, you will begin to recognize the transient hosts and may elect to ignore them. If you choose to set the user to NOMAIL, you should send a message to the user just in case the system has come back up, and you should keep some sort of record of the users you've set this way so you can follow up later with another message.

  3. no MX or A records for host (or "notary" format error 5.4.4)

    Similar to "no such host". This means that the Domain Name Service (DNS) can't find any routing information for host but has found at least one reference to it. This generally indicates a DNS configuration error and may or may not be transient.

  4. Transient failure: cannot deliver for n days

    A host is experiencing periodic failures, and the gateway or intermediate host has not been able to deliver the message for n days. Usually the host will attempt redelivery. Usually there is nothing wrong with the user address, so it is a list owner decision as to whether it is worth waiting out the transient failure or going ahead and setting the user to NOMAIL. Unfortunately, by the time you get this message, the failure is n days in the past, the "transient failure" is very probably over, and you are likely to receive further error messages for n more days until the intermediate host's queue is exhausted.

  5. mailbox full, quota exceeded (or "notary" format error number 4.2.2)

    Self explanatory. This usually happens on systems with tiny user mailbox space, but it can happen on any system if a user subscribes to too many lists or goes on an extended vacation without setting lists to NOMAIL. The best solution is to set the user to NOMAIL yourself. Variations on this message include VMS's "file extend failed writing to [disk.user]MAIL.MAI".

  6. unknown mailer error x

    This is a favorite Unix sendmail configuration bounce. NOMAIL or DELETE, according to your preference. Since it is a configuration problem, it is usually transient. One system sent the following under an "unknown mailer error 1" heading:

    binmail: /usr/spool/mail/userid: too big to accept new messages.
            It's size is 205735 bytes which is 935 bytes over quota.
    mail: cannot open dead.letter
    554 <userid@node>... unknown mailer error 1

    This is apparently a "mailbox full" error, as "userid's" mail spool is "over quota". It is also possible that it means your message would put the user over quota by 935 bytes. Either way, there isn't enough space in the user's mailbox to store your message (in this case, it was a daily digest). Note that "unknown mailer error x" does not always mean the user's mailbox is full -- what it always means is that sendmail cannot identify the cause of the error.

  7. Bounced, but sent successfully

    This error comes from cc:Mail systems and is extremely misleading. It claims that the mail bounced to one address, but was sent successfully to another.

    While talking to smtp.ccabc.com:
    >> DATA
    << 554 I/O error to mailbox
    554 MILLERT@smtp.ccabc.com... Service unavailable
    ----- Recipients of this delivery -----
    Bounced, cannot deliver:
    Sent successfully:

    What this means (assuming that the mail hasn't gone through a redistribution list or a mirror site) is that you have a user MILLERT@ABC.COM on your list, and the server accepted the mail for that address successfully. However, that address actually maps to a different internal address (in this case MILLERT@smtp.ccabc.com) and for whatever reason, the server can't forward the mail on. This is the equivalent of a "user unknown" error for MILLERT@ABC.COM.

  8. Too many hops (or "notary" format error number 5.4.6)

    Means that the message has transited through too many intermediate mail systems (1 transit = 1 hop). Most of the time this will be due to a temporary looping condition on the user's end (despite the "permanent" 5.4.6 error). For instance, the following Internet routing headers indicate a loop between three different mail machines (starting from the bottom and working back to the top):

    Received: from un1.sample.com (root@un1.sample.com [])
           by un7.sample.com (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id RAA22765
           for <user@example.com.ar>; Wed, 4 Mar 1998 17:17:10 -0300
    Received: from ul1.sample.com (root@ul1.sample.com [])
           by un1.sample.com (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id RAA27352
           for <user@example.com.ar>; Wed, 4 Mar 1998 17:16:00 -0300
    Received: from un7.sample.com (un7.sample.com [])
           by ul1.sample.com (8.8.8/8.8.8) with ESMTP id RAA13496
           for <user@example.com.ar>; Wed, 4 Mar 1998 17:15:40 -0300 (GMT-3)
    Received: from un1.sample.com (root@un1.sample.com [])
           by un7.sample.com (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id RAA22034
           for <user@example.com.ar>; Wed, 4 Mar 1998 17:15:27 -0300
    Received: from grape.EASE.LSOFT.COM (grape.ease.lsoft.com [])
           by un1.sample.com (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id RAA25235
           for <user@example.com.ar>; Wed, 4 Mar 1998 17:08:43 -0300

    The problem here appears to be that the mailers at sample.com are MX (mail exchanger) sites for example.com.ar, but that they can't decide which one of them should hold onto the mail until it can be delivered to example.com.ar. So it looped through 7 iterations until the un7 machine finally decided that enough was enough (including the passage through LISTSERV it had taken 26 hops and un7 was set to accept a maximum of 25 hops) and generated an error.

    You may occasionally see a "too many hops" message that isn't a loop. Usually the non-looping variant is due to the recipient being many hops away from the mail originator and the maximum hop count being set too low on the recipient's machine. Many older sendmail installations, for instance, will accept only 10-15 hops before they reject the message. With today's Internet a setting of 30-40 is probably much more reasonable.

A particularly annoying error you may have to deal with comes from Banyan networks and is of the form:

LLONG@StarShip@Dora: Mailbox full

Obviously this is not a properly-configured address (at least, not as far as LISTSERV is concerned), and if you SCAN or QUERY the list for it, you will get a negative response. If, however, you SCAN the list for LLONG, you may find a user such as:

> scan test-l LLONG
SCAN: 1 match.

This user can now be set to NOMAIL and the errors will stop after the Banyan host has emptied its queue. If you do not find the user on the first SCAN, try using another part of the address as your search text. Note that a user may have his mail forwarded from the account that is actually subscribed to an account on another machine where he reads his mail. If the second machine is bouncing the mail, it may not be immediately apparent from the bounce messages that the mail is actually being forwarded. It is important to check for variants of the userid in the bounce message as it may be related to the userid that is actually subscribed to the list.

Note that there are many forms of error messages. Many mail systems do not conform to Internet "standards" (some of them even return non-English error messages!) and LISTSERV's auto-deletion feature will not always catch their bounces.

4.7.4. Redistribution and forwarding

Perhaps the worst type of bounce is one that comes from a user who is "hiding" behind an account that redistributes mail (a "redistribution list"), or a user whose Internet address has changed slightly but who is still subscribed to your list under his original address.

Redistribution lists typically (but not always) take some form of your list's name (such as "xxxxx-L-REDIST@foo.bar.com"), and thus their subscriptions tend to be easy to find. What is difficult is that you have no way of knowing which users (or how many users) are hidden behind this interface, nor any way of knowing what their userids are.

Forwarded accounts generally fall into one of two categories -- those where the user has forwarded his own mail from one account to another rather than changing his subscription, and those where the user's system name has changed and the old address is still valid but is forwarding mail to the new address without the user being aware of it.

Let's say that suddenly you are bombarded with delivery errors for someuser@baz.net. Your immediate reaction is to set this person to NOMAIL or (in some cases) to delete him/her altogether. You therefore send set xxxxx-L nomail for someuser@baz.net to LISTSERV. LISTSERV responds: "No subscription for someuser@baz.net in list XXXXX-L."

In a best-case scenario, you can query the list for *@*.baz.net and find either a user like someuser@glork.baz.net (the address has changed and the local sysadmins didn't inform the user) or a redistribution-list account like xxxxx-L@baz.net. These are easily-fixed redistribution bounces. In the first case, you delete the user and let him or her resubscribe. In the second case, you can try sending a message to owner-xxxxx-l@baz.net with a cc: to postmaster@baz.net and inform them of the problem. If it persists, you could send a further message informing them that you are suspending the redistribution list's subscription until such time as they tell you the problem on their end is fixed, and simply set xxxxx-l@baz.net to NOMAIL.

The worst-case scenario is as follows: baz.net may be bouncing the mail to you, but there may not be a single subscription for baz.net in your list. Here's where you have to do some careful sleuthing. First, run a wildcard query such as QUERY xxxxx-l FOR *@*baz* or QUERY xxxxx-l FOR *baz*@*. The former will find users at baz.com, for instance, where baz.net is a synonym for baz.com. The latter query may seem somewhat strange, but it's possible that the mail is being routed through a gateway and the actual subscription is for xxxxx-l%baz.net@cunyvm.cuny.edu or something of that sort.

4.7.5. "Sender:", "From:" or "Reply-To:" field in body causes bounce

Sometimes you will receive bounces from LISTSERV with a error header like this:

The enclosed message,  found in the VISBAS-L mailbox and  shown under the spool
ID 19630445 in the system log, has been identified as a possible delivery error
notice  for  the following  reason:  "Sender:",  "From:" or  "Reply-To:"  field
pointing to the list has been found in mail body.

Sometimes this is a legitmate bounce from a mail system that isn't compliant with Internet standards for mail, and the reason the "Sender:", "From:", and/or "Reply-To:" headers are significant is because if this mail were to be allowed through to the list it could very possibly start a loop with the non-compliant mail server. Normally this is a good thing; however, an unfortunate side-effect of the loop-checking code that catches this kind of bounce means that LISTSERV may treat replies to list mail from some mail clients as if they are delivery errors. LISTSERV has no way to know the difference between a bounce and a legitimate message that just happens to have unquoted included headers so it takes the conservative route and bounces it to the list owner as a "possible" delivery error. This way the list owner can (if he or she wants to) return the message to the user in question and ask them to either quote out or delete the headers from their replies.

In any case this is specifically known to be a problem with Pegasus Mail and some incarnations of the Microsoft Exchange Client, but there are probably other mail programs that do the same thing. The problem arises when the user's mail client includes the "Sender:", "From:", or "Reply-To:" fields that point back to the list itself (for instance, the above error was for VISBAS-L@PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM) in the quoted material and doesn't quote them correctly--that is to say, without a quoting character, or with a space between the quoting character and the included text. For instance, a reply from Pegasus with quoted material would include the following lines:

User's reply, blah blah blah

> Date:          Tue, 31 Dec 1996 17:00:00 -0700
> Reply-to:      Visual Basic List <VISBAS-L@PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM>
> From:          Joe User <JOE@UNIX.FOO.COM>
> Subject:       Re: 97 Style ToolBars

The quoted lines below the user's reply would trigger LISTSERV's loop detection functions because there is a space between the ">" character and the "Reply-To:" and the "From:" headers.

The correct, netiquette-approved method of quoting these headers is to delete them entirely from the body of your message. Quoting is generally done for reasons of context and message headers are not needed for context. (Pegasus actually lets you toggle this on and off via the "Advanced options for replies" dialog. Other clients don't seem to have this function.) Note that Eudora quotes messages with no space between the ">" character and the quoted text, so this is not an issue with Eudora.

If necessary, subscribers using Pegasus can change the quoting character (at least they can in the current version of Pegasus) by editing their copy of PMAIL.INI and changing the value in

Commenting string                         = >

Normally this variable contains "> ", that is, ">" followed by a space character. If you remove the space, Pegasus quotes "properly" and this is no longer a problem. Other mail clients may or may not have similar configuration settings.

(See also 10.2, below).

4.8.Delivery error handling features

LISTSERV supports several levels of automatic deletion based on error messages passed back to it in LMail format by certain remote systems. While auto-delete will not solve all of your bouncing mail problems, it has the potential to take care of most "permanent" errors (including "no such user" and "no such host"). However, note that auto-delete ignores "temporary" errors such as "host unreachable for 3 days", "system error", "disk quota exceeded", and so forth, such that users whose accounts generate "temporary" errors are not summarily deleted from the list.

By default, lists running under LISTSERV Classic 1.8b and higher generate a report which lets the list owner know what userids are causing problems, rather than deleting users at the first error LISTSERV understands. If the Delay() and Max() parameters are set to non-zero values for a list coded "Auto-Delete= Yes", LISTSERV will not take immediate action on mail delivery errors. You will receive an "auto-deletion monitoring report" daily to show you which subscribers are bouncing mail, what the error is, when it started, when the last error arrived, and how many errors have been received for the subscriber in total. By default, LISTSERV will wait 4 days (or for a maximum of 100 error messages per individual user) before deleting a subscriber.

If you code "Delay(0)", LISTSERV will not wait to take action, but will delete the subscriber at the first error LISTSERV understands. Note carefully that LISTSERV will not generate a daily error monitoring report when Delay(0) is used.

By default, lists with "Validate= All" are set "Auto-Delete= No", while all other lists are set "Auto-Delete= Yes,Semi-Auto,Delay(4),Max(100)".

Under LISTSERV Lite, Auto-Delete= is available but deletes on the first bounce (e.g., "Delay(0),Max(1)") regardless of the Delay() and Max() settings.

Implementation of the "Auto-Delete=" keyword is discussed in detail in Appendix B, List Keyword Alphabetical Reference, under "Error Handling Keywords."

4.8.1. Auto-Delete considerations for holidays

Making a big increase to the DELAY threshold to provide more leniency during a holiday may not be a good idea. While it will indeed disable the monitor for the duration of the holiday, switching back to the normal threshold when you return will cause the monitor to delete all the users that had been bouncing during the holidays. In general, you should avoid making temporary changes to the DELAY threshold, because it takes the monitor a while to adapt to the new settings.

The best way to relax the rules during a long holiday is to leave the DELAY threshold unchanged but switch the monitor to passive mode ("Auto-Delete= Yes,Manual"). Noone will be deleted over the holidays, but the monitor's cycle will not be perturbed. When you return, you should wait about a week before switching back to automatic mode. This is because, after a long holiday such as Christmas, it usually takes about 2 working days for system administrators to solve all problems. In some cases, the problems will have caused bounces to remain undelivered. So, by fixing the problems, the system administrators may actually send a flood of new bounces corresponding to problems that have now been solved. Unfortunately, since the monitor only receives NON-delivery reports, it has no way to know that these problems have in fact been solved. As a rule of thumb, you will note that your daily delivery error reports are much longer than usual over the vacation. When you return, you should wait until they are back to their normal size before switching back to automatic mode.

4.9. Address probing

This functionality is not available in LISTSERV Lite.

There are two levels of automatic address probing available in LISTSERV.

4.9.1. Active address probing

This functionality is not available in LISTSERV Lite.

Active address probing was introduced in LISTSERV 1.8c, for two reasons: first, to enhance subscription renewal functionality so that no "CONFIRM listname" response was required from subscribers in order to stay subscribed, and second, to enhance the ability of the auto-deletion feature to handle bounces that can't be parsed into something LISTSERV can recognize.

"Renewal= ...,Probe" activates this enhanced bounce processing feature, whereby subscribers are probed at subscription renewal time using the PROBE1 mail template. The "Probe" option makes subscription renewal passive rather than reactive; no "CONFIRM listname" response is needed from the user. In fact, the desired response from the user is to discard the message and do nothing, making the process very simple. LISTSERV also probes addresses that return mail delivery errors, and probe messages have a special signature in the return address that allows LISTSERV to uniquely identify any bouncing address, without having to understand the bounce itself.

If the probe bounces, LISTSERV first sends the PROBE2 template with a copy of the bounce, to show the user (if the account actually works in spite of the bounce) what garbage his mail system is sending people. LISTSERV then schedules a new probe for the next day, or deletes the user immediately, depending on the auto-delete policy. Every failure triggers a new daily probe until the user gets deleted or the problem gets fixed. The user can also save his subscription manually by sending a CONFIRM listname command (this is explained in PROBE2). This doesn't solve the underlying problem, so eventually the user should get tired of confirming in an emergency and notify his system administrators that the system is generating bounces saying (for instance) "Your message was registered at the MORONICUS mail gateway. Press F1 for more information" that cause the problem in the first place.

When used together with "Auto-Delete= ...,Full-Auto", the probe option deletes all delivery errors that LISTSERV can't understand. This means THE LIST OWNER NEVER EVER HAS TO SEE A SINGLE BOUNCE! Hurray! :-) The list, however, is kept clean because bad addresses are always detected. In fact, the biggest risk is that the users of the MORONICUS mail gateway will be deleted even though they do get their mail.

Note that errors bounced by non-compliant mail hosts to the wrong address will still show up in your error queue. Since the bounce goes to the wrong address, LISTSERV never sees it and cannot probe it. However, the author saw an error queue of 1300 errors/day shrink to under 50 errors/day by applying the ",Probe" parameter to seven high-volume lists, which in his opinion was much more acceptable.

4.9.2. Passive address probing

This functionality is not available in LISTSERV Lite.

Passive address probing is available beginning with LISTSERV 1.8d. In effect passive probing is very similar to active probing, but it is not tied to subscription renewal. Passive probing is enabled by default for small lists (e.g., <1K subscribers) but not for large ones due to the fact that passive probing does cost additional resources and large lists are often used for one-shot mailings where it is simply not effective to use those resources to probe addresses that will not be used a second time.

Passive probing operates by turning a certain percentage of your regular list messages into transparent probes that look like a normal message but also double as a probe, rather than sending out the explicit PROBE1 template as in active probing. You enable (or tune) passive probing by adding a ",Probe(xx)" parameter to the Auto-Delete= keyword setting. For instance,

Auto-Delete= Yes,Full-Auto,Probe(30)

where "30" is the number of days to wait between probes for any given user (the default is Probe(30). Subscribers with working mail systems will not see any difference, subscribers with flaky mail systems will occasionally receive a message showing that their mail bounced and saying that they should report the problem to their ISP, and of course plain bad addresses will go away.

In order to disable passive probing you set the probe parameter to 0, i.e.,

Auto-Delete= Yes,Full-Auto,Probe(0)

If you have users who for whatever reason should not be probed, you can deactivate passive probing (and any other renewal you have set for the list) with the SET userid@host NORENEW command.

4.10. Subscription confirmation

For lists coded "Subscription= Open", you can require confirmation on all new subscription requests, thus ensuring that LISTSERV has a clear mailing path back to the subscriber. In the past, a user could send a subscription for an open subscription list to LISTSERV, which upon acceptance would immediately start sending the user list mail. If the user was located behind a "broken" or one-way gateway, this produced immediate bounced mail until the list owner noticed and deleted the subscription. Note that requiring confirmation at the time of subscription does not guarantee that the clear mailing path will continue to exist permanently.

"Subscription= Open,Confirm" causes LISTSERV to send a Command Confirmation Request to the potential subscriber before actually adding the user to the list. The subscriber is requested to reply to the request by sending a validation "cookie" back to LISTSERV (this "cookie" being the hexidecimal number pulled from the subject line).

The Command Confirmation Request, while straightforward, has the potential to cause confusion if users do not read carefully the instructions that make up the request. LISTSERV expects confirmation codes to be sent in a specific way because some mail gateways add lines to the header of the message that LISTSERV doesn't understand. If a user forwards the request back to LISTSERV, or creates a new mail message to send the 'cookie' back, it usually will not work correctly. The sequence should thus be as follows:

  1. SEND the subscription request to LISTSERV.

  2. REPLY to the confirmation request ('ok')

  3. SEND the confirmation code (if necessary) ('ok 23CBD8', for example)

  4. Send mail to the list owner (not the list) if the subscription request fails after step 3.

Note that if a list owner adds a user manually, the confirmation process is bypassed.

4.11. Subscription renewal

You can code subscription renewal into your lists. This is one method to keep lists "pruned down" and avoid having large lists that are actually distributing mail to only a fraction of the users. For instance, you may have a number of subscriptions set to NOMAIL for one reason or another. NOMAIL user(a) may have forgotten that he has a subscription; user(b) may have set NOMAIL instead of unsubscribing; user(c) may no longer exist because she graduated or no longer works for the service provider; you may have set user(d) to NOMAIL because of recurrent mail delivery errors. Requiring a periodic confirmation of subscriptions is therefore a reasonable course of action for large, non-private lists.

Subscription renewal is disabled by default. If you do not want subscription renewal, or if you wish to turn it off, simply do not include a "Renewal=" keyword in your list header.

To add subscription renewal, you add the following keyword to the header of your list:

* Renewal= interval


* Renewal= interval,Delay(number)


* Renewal= interval,Delay(number),Probe

where interval is a period of time such as Weekly, Yearly, 6-monthly, or something similar, and Delay(number) is an integer corresponding to how many days LISTSERV will wait for the renewal confirmation to arrive. (See "Renewal=" in Appendix B for more information on renewal and delay periods; see chapter 4.8.2., above, for more information on the "Probe" parameter.) Note that you can have multiple interval parameters; again, see the entry for "Renewal=" in Appendix B for details.

The confirmation request mailing asks the subscriber to send the command CONFIRM listname back to LISTSERV. If the subscriber does not do so within a certain length of time, LISTSERV automatically deletes the subscription. The default delay time is 7 days. If you wish to use the default delay time, it is not necessary to code ",Delay(7)" into your Renewal parameters.

Note: You may wish to increase the delay time to accommodate users whose subscriptions expire over holidays (such as the Christmas/New Year's week) in order to avoid accidental deletions. Also, be aware that confused subscribers can and will send the CONFIRM command back to the list, rather than to LISTSERV. LISTSERV's default filter will catch these commands and forward them to the userid(s) defined by the "Errors-To=" keyword.

It is possible to waive subscription renewal for certain users (such as list owners, editors, redistribution lists, etc.). In order to do this, simply issue the command

[QUIET] SET listname NORENEW FOR net-address

to LISTSERV. It is most advisable to do this in the case of redistribution lists, as they broadcast the renewal notice to their users, who a) cannot renew the subscription and b) become very confused when they see the notice, often sending "what does this mean?" mail to the list.

You can also issue the CONFIRM command for a subscriber:

[QUIET] CONFIRM listname FOR net-address

Note that "active" users of the list (that is, people who post regularly to the list) will never be required to renew their subscriptions, nor (if subscription "probing" is enabled) will they ever be sent the passive subscription probe. LISTSERV presumes that such users have valid addresses and does not require a renewal confirmation from them.

4.12. Using the SERVE command when a user is "served out"

If a user sends more than 50 consecutive invalid commands to LISTSERV, LISTSERV automatically serves that user off so that further commands from that user will be ignored. Should a user become served off in this fashion, it is possible for the list owner or any other user to issue a SERVE net-address command to restore that user's access. As with all other LISTSERV commands, the SERVE command is sent to LISTSERV.

Please note that the number of invalid commands allowed before the user is served off was increased from 20 in 1.8b to 50 in 1.8c and later.

While served off, the user will be unable to set personal options and will be unable to subscribe or unsubscribe to lists on that server. Note that a user will likely be served off of one particular LISTSERV site but not others, and also that the user may not even realize that he has been served off (in spite of the fact that LISTSERV sends notification to the user to that effect).

Note that the SERVE command will not restore service to users who have been manually served off by the LISTSERV maintainer.

5. Setting Subscription Options For Subscribers

5.1. How to review current subscription options with QUERY

The syntax is similar to the subscriber's method of reviewing his options, except that the list owner must specify for whom the options are being checked.

Query listname FOR userid@host

Note that it is possible to use wildcards in the subscriber address. For instance,


will return option listings for subscribers such as JIMJ@UBVM, JOHN@UBVMS.CC.BUFFALO.EDU, etc. This can be handy if you are searching the list for someone whose subscription address differs from the address you are given in an error report (see the examples, above, in "Dealing with bounced mail").

Using the WITH qualifier, you can also query a list for users who have a specific option set. For instance, you might want to know which users are set to NOMAIL. Send the command

Q listname WITH NOMAIL FOR *@*

and LISTSERV will return a list of those users. It is also possible to query a list for multiple options:

Q listname with DIGEST CONCEAL FOR *@*

will return a list of those subscribers who have set their subscription to DIGEST and also to CONCEAL.

Version 1.8c adds the ability to query users by the list topics they are subscribed to. For instance:


shows all members subscribed to both the ADMIN and FORUM topics.

Q listname WITH TOPICS: -ADMIN FOR *@*

shows all members who are not subscribed to the ADMIN topic.


shows all members who are subscribed to the ADMIN topic but not to the TEST topic.

5.2. How to set personal subscription options for subscribers

Again, the syntax is similar to the subscriber's method.

[QUIET] SET listname option FOR userid@host

5.3. Options that may be set

5.3.1. Mail/NOMail

Setting this option to Mail indicates that the subscriber will receive mail from the list. NOMail is the complementary command that stops mail but leaves the user subscribed to the list. (NOMail is often a good compromise for users who are leaving the office for vacation or on extended business trips, and who don't want a full mailbox on their return.) The format of the messages received is controlled by the DIGEST/INDEX/NODIGEST/NOINDEX options (see below).

5.3.2. DIGest/NODIGest

Causes the subscriber to receive one posting per digest cycle (typically daily) rather than individual messages as they are processed by LISTSERV.

In version 1.8b and later, the MAIL/NOMAIL option has been isolated from DIGEST/INDEX. The MAIL/NOMAIL option controls whether messages should be delivered, and the DIGEST/INDEX/NODIGEST/NOINDEX option controls the format in which messages should be delivered. Thus, switching to NOMAIL and back to MAIL now preserves the digest/index/normal delivery setting. To provide as much compatibility with the old syntax as possible, the four options operate as follows:

DIGEST: enable digest delivery mode (which negates INDEX), enable mail delivery. No change from version 1.8a.

INDEX: enable index delivery mode (which negates DIGEST), enable mail delivery. No change from version 1.8a.

NOMAIL: disable mail delivery. No change from version 1.8a.

MAIL: restore mail delivery, without altering the digest/index/normal delivery setting (new behavior). For compatibility with 1.8a, if mail delivery was already active, the MAIL option negates INDEX/DIGEST. Thus, a user going from NOMAIL to MAIL will keep his previous delivery options, whereas a user going from DIGEST or INDEX to MAIL will in fact deactivate index/digest mode.

To revert from digest/index subscription mode to normal delivery, you can use either the MAIL option as before, or the NODIGEST/NOINDEX option. The NODIGEST and NOINDEX options were actually present in versions 1.7f and 1.8a, as synonyms for the MAIL option. In other words, you can update your instructions to indicate that the DIGEST/INDEX options are negated by the NODIGEST/NOINDEX options, even if you are still running an older version of the software.

Note that for backward compatibility, the command SET listname MAIL sent by a user who is set to DIGEST but not also set to NOMAIL will cause the user to be set to NODIGEST (the behaviour is identical for users set to INDEX but not to NOMAIL). SET listname MAIL sent by users set to DIGEST/NOMAIL or INDEX/NOMAIL will simply remove the NOMAIL setting and leave the user set to DIGEST or INDEX as the case may be.

Note that in extreme cases, subscribers using the DIGEST option may receive more than one digest per cycle if the digest limit is reached before the end of the cycle.


Toggles MIME functions on and off. Currently this is only useful if the user has a mail client that supports MIME digests. Note that users who send their SUBSCRIBE command using a MIME-compliant agent will have this option set automatically unless "Default-Options= NOMIME" is specified for the list.

In future versions, this toggle may control other MIME functions.

5.3.4. INDex/NOINDex

Causes the subscriber to receive one posting per digest cycle containing only an index of subject topics for all messages during that cycle. See the section on DIGEST (above) for further information.

5.3.5. ACK/NOACK/MSGack

These three command words control the level of acknowledgment the subscriber receives when posting to the list. ACK causes LISTSERV to send a short confirmation message to the subscriber when the post has been received and distributed. NOACK disables the confirmation feature for the subscriber (although BITNET subscribers will receive a short interactive message on their terminal). For BITNET subscribers, MSGack provides the same information as ACK via interactive messages.

5.3.6. Options for mail headers of incoming postings

By specifying one of the following command words, the subscriber can control the amount of mail header information prepended to list mail. The syntax is SET listname headertype, where headertype is one of the following:

FULLhdr "Full" mail headers (default) (formerly FULLBSMTP)
SHORThdr Short headers (formerly SHORTBSMTP)
IETFhdr Internet-style headers
DUALhdr Dual headers, useful with PC or Mac mail programs
FULL822 "Full" RFC822 mail headers
SHORT822 Short RFC822 mail headers
SUBJecthdr "Full" RFC822 mail headers (like the default), except that LISTSERV adds the list's default subject tag to the subject line of mail coming from the list. To turn this off, simply set another mail header option.

Note: do not use FULL822 or SHORT822 unless debugging specific problems or unless directed by L-Soft. Use of these options can seriously slow performance as they force LISTSERV to generate a separate "envelope" for each user so set. FULL822 and SHORT822 are obsolete but remain available for compatibility with certain older BITNET mailers still in use.

Quite a few non-technical users are relying on non-RFC822 user interfaces for reading their mail. Quite often these user interfaces are user-friendly, quality implementations of a proprietary mail protocol which the users are proficient with, but which happens not to lend itself to bidirectional mapping to RFC822. The users may have a good reason for using this particular program, and they complain that it is not always clear what list the postings come from, or who posted them. Other users have very primitive mail programs which do not preserve the original RFC822 header and may not even have a "message subject" concept. The user knows which list the message came from, but not who posted it, making private replies impossible.

The DUALHDR (minimum abbreviation: DUAL) header option is provided to help solve this problem. Dual headers are regular short (SHORThdr) headers followed by a second header inside the message body. This second header shows what list the message is coming from ('Sender:'), the name and address of the person who posted it ('Poster:'), the poster's organization, if present, and the message subject. The date is not shown because even the most primitive mail programs appear to supply a usable message date.

The SUBJECTHDR (minimum abbreviation: SUBJ) header option is provided for users who want to see a "tag" in the subject line of their incoming list mail that indicates where the mail is coming from (e.g., to activate a filter in their mail program to drop the message into a specified notebook). Note that if you have SHORT headers (or any other header option) set, setting your option to SUBJecthdr will automatically change you to FULLHdr, as subject tags require full headers. Also, subject tags are not generated for messages sent without a RFC822 "Subject:" header.

Generally, users will be well-served by the FULL header option, which is the default.

5.3.7. Putting the list name into the Subject: field

To do this, use the SUBJecthdr personal option as explained in the previous section. To set this option by default for new subscribers, include it in the Default-Options= keyword setting for your list (see 5.4, below). To set it for existing subscribers, use the SET command.


Occasionally, a subscriber may not want his presence to be known to someone else making a casual REView of the list. Subscribers may choose to "hide" their subscription from the REView command by using the CONCEAL command. Conversely, a subscriber may choose to remove this restriction by issuing the NOCONCEAL command. Note that the list owner can always obtain a list of all subscribers, both concealed and unconcealed, by issuing the GET listname (NOLock) command, or by issuing a QUERY listname WITH CONCEAL FOR *@* command.

5.3.9. REPro/NOREPro

This option controls whether or not the subscriber will get a copy of his or her own posts back from the list after they are processed. Generally, if a subscriber's mail program is configured to file copies of the subscriber's outgoing mail, or if the subscriber has one of the acknowledgment options (ACK/MSGack) enabled, this option should be set to NOREPro. If, on the other hand, the subscriber is set to NOACK and doesn't keep a copy of outgoing mail, this option should probably be set to REPro.

5.3.10. TOPICS

Topics are not available in LISTSERV Lite.

If list topics are enabled, this option allows the subscriber to specify which topics he or she will receive. The syntax of a SET TOPICS statement is significantly different from that of the other options. See Chapter 6, Section 7, for more information on this syntax.


This option may be set only by list owners or the LISTSERV maintainer. It is not available in LISTSERV Lite.

A subscriber set to NOPOST may not post to the list. NOPOST gives the individual list owner the ability to serve out abusive or obnoxious posters without having to add such users to the list's "Filter=" setting. Subscribers set to NOPOST will still receive list mail -- they just won't be able to post mail to the list.

The list owner or LISTSERV maintainer may issue the

SET listname POST FOR userid@host

command to reverse a previously-set NOPOST.

Note for peered lists: NOPOST must be set globally or a user can bypass the setting by simply posting to another peer. Thus you must add the user manually to the other peers and then set the user to NOMAIL as well as NOPOST on the peers.

Setting NOPOST for a user cancels any previous EDITOR or REVIEW setting for that user.

Note that list editors who are set to NOPOST will be able to approve messages but will then be told they cannot post to the list. The NOPOST subscriber option does override any Editor= or Moderator= definition in the list header, so be sure that your editors and moderators are set to POST.


This option may be set only by list owners or the LISTSERV maintainer, and is effective only on moderated lists. It is not available in LISTSERV Lite.

A subscriber set to EDITOR on an edited/moderated list may post directly to the list without a moderator's intervention. It is virtually identical to adding the subscriber's address to the "Editor=" keyword, but easier to manage. The only difference between the EDITOR option and the "Editor=" keyword, other than not being visible in the list header, is that the "Editor=" keyword also defines a (seldom used) access level class which can then be used in keywords such as "Review=". Thus, one could have a list with "Review= Editor", indicating that only the users listed in the "Editor=" keyword are allowed to review the list. The EDITOR option does not confer this privilege. Note that the EDITOR option is only meaningful on moderated lists.

The list owner or LISTSERV maintainer may issue the

SET listname NOEDITOR FOR userid@host

command to reverse a previously-set EDITOR.

Setting EDITOR for a user cancels any previous NOPOST or REVIEW setting for that user.


This option may be set only by list owners or the LISTSERV maintainer. It is not available in LISTSERV Lite.

When a subscriber is set to REVIEW, all postings from that subscriber are forwarded to the list editor or list owner for approval. Approval for these postings is always via the OK mechanism -- there is no need to forward the posting to the list, simply reply to the approval confirmation with "OK".

Note that if a list is unmoderated, it is still possible to direct REVIEW postings to a specific person by adding an "Editor=" or "Moderator=" keyword to the list header.

The list owner or LISTSERV maintainer may issue the

SET listname NOREVIEW FOR userid@host

command to reverse a previously-set REVIEW.

Setting REVIEW for a user cancels any previous NOPOST or EDITOR setting for that user.


This option may be set only by list owners or the LISTSERV maintainer.

Enables or disables subscription renewal confirmation on an individual subscriber basis. Setting a subscription to NORENEW is particularly useful for exempting list owners, redistribution lists, and other subscriptions which should not or must not receive the confirmation request message from the renewal process.

The list owner or LISTSERV maintainer may issue the

SET listname RENEW FOR userid@host

command to reverse a previously-set NORENEW.

5.4. Setting original default options with the Default-Options= keyword

The list owner may specify original defaults for many subscriber options by using the "Default-Options=" keyword. This keyword takes regular SET options as its parameters. Examples include:


* Default-Options= REPRO,NONE

You may have more than one "Default-Options=" line in your header, as needed.

Note that any default topics are set with the "Default-Topics=" keyword. See Appendix B for details on this keyword.

Also note carefully that your existing subscribers are not affected by any change to the Default-Options= keyword. This keyword sets initial options only for people who subscribe after it is defined. If you want to update your existing subscribers to the Default-Options settings, you must use the SET command with a wildcard (i.e., FOR *@*) to do so.

6. Moderating and Editing Lists

Please note that much of this chapter is subjective, based on personal experiences during several years of list ownership, and may not necessarily match your own philosophy of "the way things ought to be." The following sections are offered as one way to run a list, and the author does not mean to assert that the one way offered -- his way -- is the only way. As we seem to say so often, "your mileage may vary."

6.1. List charters, welcome files, and administrative updates

One of the most important things you can do as a list owner is make it clear from the outset what policies are in place and will be enforced if it becomes necessary. Due to a potential for controversy, for instance, some lists may require a formal "list charter" by which all subscribers must agree to abide before they are allowed to subscribe. Other lists may be able to get by with a simple welcome file (see below) that spells out basic netiquette, polices on "flaming" and commercial posts, and anything else that seems appropriate (such as how to get in touch with the list owner in an emergency, where the list archives are located, etc.).

It is particularly important on open subscription lists that you make a concerted effort to remind your subscribers on a regular basis of the policies you have set for your list, as well as any other information they need in order to make best use of your list. If you have a great deal of subscriber turnover, it may be necessary to do this every few weeks. You may decide to put together a quarterly or semi-yearly post for more stable lists. Ensure that the subject line is indicative of what the administrative posting is so that there is no question as to whether or not you posted it (even if subscribers don't read it). (Note that with LISTSERV 1.8c or later you can use the PROBE1 mail template form and automatic address probing to do this automatically.)

6.2. The role of the list owner as moderator

By default, the list owner becomes a moderator of sorts, even if the list in question is neither edited nor officially moderated. This means that, as a list owner, you must be prepared to maintain order if it becomes necessary. At the same time, you must moderate yourself so that you do not alienate users and cause your list and/or host institution to suffer as a result. Thankfully, mailing lists have generally enjoyed relative peace and quiet over the years in comparison to newsgroups, but mailing lists have unique problems of their own.

Lists dedicated to controversial subjects are more likely to become arenas for "flame wars" between subscribers with hard-held and differing opinions than those dedicated to the discussion of popular software packages, but this does not mean that the latter are immune any more than it means that the former are constantly plagued by flames. The example set by you as list owner and as a participating subscriber to the list is perhaps the most important factor in whether or not your list becomes a site known for strife and controversy. In other words, if you appear not to care about whether or not discussion is on topic and/or civilized, no one else will, either. Yet if you become a policeman -- the other end of the spectrum -- no one will want to subscribe or participate for fear of your wrath. Either way, your list is unlikely to last very long.

The middle ground is, as in most things, the place to be when administering a list. Some call this "firm but fair," letting things go pretty much as they will but stepping in with a wry or gently chiding remark from time to time when exchanges get heated. And they will! Software discussion lists are particularly bad about this when new subscribers ask "frequently-asked questions" (FAQs) and veteran subscribers respond in exasperated fashion with "RTFM!" (Read The Fine Manual) and similar nasty retorts. Good list owner practice at this point is likely to be a good-natured reminder from you that flames belong in private mail, pointing out that new subscribers have no way of knowing that the particular questions they ask have been asked (and answered!) n random times before, and possibly adding a link to the list's archives (if they are available on the web) or instruction on how to use the SEARCH command to look for answers before asking.

Finally, if your mailing list has an international audience, you must be careful to account for language problems and cultural differences. You will need to decide which languages are allowed or not allowed on the list; this should be mentioned shortly in the list abstract or welcome message. Unless the list is specific to one country or is explicitly for discussion in a specific language, the official language will probably be English. As your list grows, some subscribers may object to this decision, arguing that people who have trouble expressing themselves in English should be allowed to use their own language, with the understanding that many people will be unable to understand what they are saying. As the list owner, it will be your call. Usually, the best compromise is to start a separate list for discussions in the new language. However, you must be careful in wording your decision. In multi-lingual cultures, it is usually considered a courtesy to use the other person's language. It is certainly considered rude for people to demand that everyone else should speak their language. Thus, if your native language is English, you will be in a delicate position. To avoid a flame war, you will want to make sure that your decision does not come out as a unilateral demand. Politely suggesting a separate list, and tolerating an occasional non-English posting when the poster genuinely cannot speak English, is often the best course of action.

Another possible source of flame wars is unintended rudeness. It is easy to forget that non native speakers are making an effort every time they post something to the list. People will make mistakes, sometimes appearing rude when they did not mean to, simply because they used the wrong word. Another cause of apparent rudeness is cultural difference. Things which are perfectly normal in one culture can be insulting in another. For instance, ad hominem attacks are perfectly acceptable in some countries. Conversely, referring to other people by their first name ("As Peter said in his last message, ...") can be downright insulting in some cultures, where anything short of the full title is at best condescending. But, of course, in other countries the use of the full title is considered sarcastic... There is no middle ground here, because there are too many conflicting cultures and too many languages. The only way to successful cross-cultural communication is through the tolerance of other people's cultural habits, in return for their tolerance of yours.

6.3. The role of the list owner as editor

Edited lists are generally used for the purpose of "full moderation" or for refereed electronic journals or the like, for which random postings from subscribers and/or non-subscribers may not be welcome for general distribution. This places the list owner and any editors in the position of being full-time monitors of what is and is not allowed to go through to the list.

A word of warning to potential list editors: Rules on the Internet are not set in stone. Some people will insist on their right to post without what they will term "censorship" by the list editor. Some will become upset to the point of threatening to report you to your local computing center administrators for abridging their freedom of speech, or (in the U.S.) even threatening to sue your institution and you personally for an abridgment of their First Amendment rights. It is therefore vitally important to you that you keep a "paper trail" of such complaints in the event that threats become reality and you are asked about them. This common practice in the business world should be common practice in list ownership as well.

Freedom of speech and copyright issues on the Internet have not yet been tested in the courts as of this writing. These are both areas in which list editors and list owners in general must tread carefully. Always document any problems you may have in these areas.

6.4. Setting up an edited list

Please note that the "Moderator=" keyword and moderation "load-sharing" are not available in LISTSERV Lite.

Note that L-Soft currently recommends that edited lists be coded with the ",Confirm" parameter to the "Send=" keyword, in other words:

* Send= Editor,Confirm


* Send= Editor,Hold,Confirm

This will help prevent malicious users from forging mail from an editor address in order to get around your moderation settings, by telling LISTSERV to require an "OK" confirmation whenever it receives a posting from an editor address. The "OK" request goes to the editor address, so the forger is stymied.

Note also that some vacation programs and broken mailers have recently been "reflecting" mail back to lists in such a way that the mail appears to be coming from the editor's address (and the mail therefore gets through). Setting the ",Confirm" option will stop this phenomenon as well.

When confirmation is required for Editor postings, please note that the confirmation request always goes to the Editor who posted, even if you have moderation "load-sharing" configured as noted below. Moderation "load-sharing" applies to postings from general users only.

Should you decide that an edited list is the way to go for your particular situation, you need only add the following lines to your list header file:

* Send= Editor
* Editor= userid@some.host.edu

where "userid@some.host.edu" should be replaced with the network address of the person who will be handling submissions to your list.

There can be multiple editors as well (and multiple Editor= lines, if desirable), and they do not have to be list owners:

* Send= Editor
* Editor= alex@reges.org,joe@foo.bar.edu
* Editor= tony@tiger.com

Normally, LISTSERV forwards submissions only to the first editor defined by the "Editor=" keyword. In the case above, all submissions would go to the primary list owner.

NOTE CAREFULLY that the first editor CANNOT be an access-level; e.g., you cannot use the notation "Editor= Owner" to define the first editor. LISTSERV requires that the primary editor of a list must be the e-mail address of a real person.

Note also that this does not apply to second and subsequent editors. For instance, in order to allow subscribers to post directly but have non-subscriber posts sent to an editor for approval, you can code something like:

* Send= Editor
* Editor= alex@reges.org,(MYLIST-L)

On a high-volume list, LISTSERV allows you to share the editing load via the "Moderator=" keyword. By default, this keyword is set to the same value as the first editor defined by "Editor=". When you define more network addresses with the "Moderator=" keyword, LISTSERV sends submissions to each moderator in sequence. The difference between the "Editor=" and "Moderator=" keywords lies in the fact that while any editor can post directly to the list, only moderators receive the forwarded submissions from non-editors.

Here is an example of a list with both Editor= and Moderator= keywords defined:

* Send= Editor
* Editor= joe@foo.bar.edu,tony@tiger.com,kent@net.police.net
* Moderator= kent@net.police.net,joe@foo.bar.edu

This list will "load-share" the editing duties between Kent and Joe. Tony is able to post directly to the list, but will not receive forwarded subscriber posts for editing.

Note that whereas an Editor is not required to be a Moderator, a Moderator should always be listed as an Editor. LISTSERV currently compares the contents of the "Editor=" and "Moderator=" keywords and consolidates the two sets of parameters if necessary, but coding lists this way is not considered good practice and the "compare/consolidate" feature may be removed in a future upgrade.

Beginning with 1.8c, if the parameter "All" is coded before any moderator addresses, LISTSERV will send copies of all postings to all moderators, any of whom may approve the message. An example of this would be

* Moderator= All,kent@net.police.net,joe@foo.bar.edu

Assuming "Send= Editor, Hold", once a message is approved by one of the moderators, any other moderator attempting to approve the same message will be told that an identical message has already been posted to the list.

If "Send= Editor" (e.g., without "Hold"), please note that if a note is appended or prepended to the edited post, or if the body of the post itself is edited (that is to say, if the body of the approved message is changed), duplicates are possible. Thus it is important that the moderators of any list set up this way pay close attention to whether or not the posting has already been approved by another moderator.

6.5. Submitting subscriber contributions to an edited list

By default, LISTSERV forwards subscriber contributions to the Moderator/Editor with the following paragraph prepended to the message body:

This message  was  originally  submitted  by  JOE@FOO.BAR.COM  to  the ACCESS-L
list at PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM. If you simply  forward it back to the list, using
a mail command that generates "Resent-"  fields (ask your local user support or
consult  the documentation  of  your mail  program  if in  doubt),  it will  be
distributed  and  the  explanations  you   are  now  reading  will  be  removed
automatically. If on the other hand you edit the contributions you receive into
a digest, you will have to  remove this paragraph manually. Finally, you should
be able  to contact  the author  of this  message by  using the  normal "reply"
function of your mail program.

------------------ Message requiring your approval (25 lines) -----------------
 [message body]
Figure 6.1. The "editor-header" prepended by default to subscriber contributions forwarded to the list moderator.

If you leave this paragraph prepended to the message, LISTSERV will strip it off when it processes the message and to all intents and purposes the message will appear to have come directly from the original sender. Warning: If your mail program or client does not generate "Resent-" fields, the forwarded postings will appear to be coming from you rather than from the original sender.See Section 6.6 for an alternative if your mail program does not generate these fields.

(If you leave the editor-header paragraph on the message, make sure that your mail client or mail server does not insert quoting characters (e.g., ">") at the beginning of all of the lines in the message when you use the forwarding function of your mail program. If this happens then the editor-header will not be stripped from the message.)

When you are ready to edit and/or submit the contribution to the list, simply use the "Forward" function of your mail client. You can make any changes you feel are appropriate to the message body, but be sure to read sections 6.2 and 6.3 above before deciding to do so.

6.6. Message Approval with Send= Editor,Hold

LISTSERV includes an optional mechanism allowing you to simply "ok" messages which are then posted with all the correct headers. This option is targeted mainly at list moderators who just approve/reject messages, as opposed to people who actually edit the content of messages. The option is also a good choice if you have a mail client that does not insert "Resent-" header lines into forwarded mail.

To activate this feature, code your list "Send= Editor,Hold" and be sure that you have defined at least one editor who will be in charge of approving the messages. A copy of the message on "hold" is sent to the editor with minimal instructions (in order to avoid adding a long message before the text needing approval each time).

To approve a message forwarded to you with "Send= Editor,Hold", simply reply to the approval request and type "OK" as the body of your reply. LISTSERV will normally pick up the confirmation request number from the subject line. If there is a problem, LISTSERV may ask you to resend the approval confirmation along with the number. For instance,

OK 6A943D3C

If the message has been in the spool longer than the time-out period (LISTSERV holds these jobs for a minimum of 7 days), you will receive notification that the confirmation number does not match any queued job. If you need to increase the time-out period, you can set a value for the "Confirm-Delay=" list header keyword that is greater than 168h, but please read the section on "Confirm-Delay=" in Appendix B before doing so.

If you do not want the message to be forwarded on to the list, you need not do anything. The message will expire automatically at the end of the time-out period and will be deleted from the queue.

6.7. Using list topics

List topics are not available in LISTSERV Lite.

List topics provide powerful "sub-list" capabilities to a list. When properly set up and used, topics give subscribers the ability to receive list postings in a selective manner, based on the beginning of the "Subject:" line of the mail header. It is important to note the following points about topics:

The basic keyword syntax for defining list topics in the list header file is:

* Topics= topic1,topic2,...topic21

And the basic syntax used to set topics for users once they have been defined is:

SET listname TOPICS: xxx yyy zzz for userid@host

where xxx, yyy, and zzz can be:

The colon after the keyword TOPICS: is optional, and TOPICS= is also accepted. The subscriber should not forget to include the special OTHER topic if you want to receive general discussions which were not labeled properly. On the other hand, if the subscriber only wants to receive properly labeled messages it should not be included. ALL does include OTHER.

With the "Default-Topics=" keyword, you can also set default topics for users that will be effective as soon as they subscribe to the list. For instance,

* Default-Topics= NEWS,BENCH,OTHER

would set the new user to receive topics NEWS, BENCHmarks, and any messages that are incorrectly labeled.

In LISTSERV 1.8d and following, you may get a listing of topics with the number of subscribers who have them set by issuing the command

REVIEW listname Short TOPics

(if you do not specify Short then the topic listing follows the list of subscribers in the review output). The following is a sample output (assuming you actually have topics enabled; if topics are not enabled then the TOPics option is ignored):

*  Topic                    Subscribers
*  -----                    -----------
*  Apps                           1,411
*  Backup                         1,330
*  Beta                             951
*  Bugs                           1,416
*  Comm                           1,395
*  Desktop                        1,407
*  Hardware                       1,401
*  Install                        1,373
*  Internet                       1,002
*  Network                        1,399
*  Wish                           1,336
*  "Other" topic                  1,294
*  Digest/index subscribers       1,384

See Appendix B under the Topics= keyword for more information on setting up and using list topics.

6.8. The <listname> WELCOME and <listname> FAREWELL files

When a user subscribes and signs off of a list, LISTSERV looks for list owner-supplied files called listname.WELCOME and listname.FAREWELL, respectively. If found, it sends the user a copy of the appropriate file in addition to its own administrative message. The WELCOME and FAREWELL files allow the list owner to send a more personal message to the user that can help set the tone for how the list is used. The WELCOME file may contain information about the list charter and netiquette rules, or be simply a message welcoming the user to the list. The FAREWELL file can be used to gather feedback about how the list is serving users.

6.8.1. Creating and storing the listname WELCOME and FAREWELL files

The procedure differs slightly on VM systems, but the following will work for unix, VMS and Windows systems:

  1. Create the file. If you place a "Subject:" line at the top of the document, i.e., as the first line, LISTSERV will pick that line up and use it as the RFC822 "Subject:" header line. Otherwise, LISTSERV places a generic subject line in the mail message.

  2. If the file contains special characters (i.e., non-7-bit ASCII characters) and you want to specify a character set for LISTSERV to include in the headers of the messsage, place a line such as:

    Character-Set: ISO-8859-7

    at the top of the message (or directly following the "Subject:" line if one is configured). The value "ISO-8859-7" is used here as an example only and should be replaced with the appropriate character set descriptor. If the file does not contain any non-7-bit ASCII characters, this line will be ignored.

  3. Be sure that you have defined a "personal password" to LISTSERV with the PW ADD command before you PUT the welcome file. If you have done this but can't remember the password, send LISTSERV a PW RESET command. You will then be able to add a new password with the PW ADD command.

  4. Send the file to LISTSERV with a PUT listname WELCOME PW=XXXXXXXX command at the top of the file, just as if you were putting the list itself. Replace XXXXXXXX with your personal password.

The variation for VM systems is that the LISTSERV maintainer will have to create a fileid for the file before you can PUT it on the server. Contact the LISTSERV maintainer before trying to store your WELCOME and/or FAREWELL files.

Here is the format of a very simple WELCOME file. (Note that the FAREWELL file is created and stored in an identical manner.)

Subject: Welcome to Songtalk!
Welcome to Songtalk, the list for Songwriters talking about their work.
Your list owner is Susan Lowell (susan@example.com).
Figure 6.2. Sample WELCOME file.

6.8.2. Using the listname WELCOME file as a moderation tool

The WELCOME file should contain information geared toward orienting the new subscriber to several areas. The outline of a suggested WELCOME file follows:

  1. The revision date for the WELCOME file.

  2. A heading including the short and long names of the list, along with the name and network address of the primary list owner (or the list owner who handles subscription issues/problems).

  3. Any warnings about the list that you want people to see immediately. These might include

  4. A short abstract of what the list is all about. This might be a duplicate of the description you send to NEW-LIST.

  5. The author includes the following paragraph at this point:

    Users new to the use of L-Soft's LISTSERV are encouraged to read the online 
    files LISTSERV REFCARD and LISTSERV GENINTRO, which can be obtained by sending 
    the following commands in the body of a mail message to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.NET:

  6. Any guidelines for use of the list, including the list charter if you have one.

  7. Information about the notebook archives and how to retrieve them.

  8. Other list-specific information that might be important to new users.

Naturally, list owners should write WELCOME files based on their own experience of what is needed. A WELCOME file should not be static -- review it once in a while to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of new subscribers.

6.8.3. Using the listname FAREWELL file as a feedback tool

The following FAREWELL file used to be used on the ACCESS-L list on PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM, and was intended as a tool to get feedback from users. When it was in use ACCESS-L's list owner typically received 3-5 responses to this message each week.

Subject:  Your ACCESS-L Signoff Request
I'm sorry to see that you're leaving ACCESS-L.  If there is anything you
believe ACCESS-L should have offered but didn't, or there are any other 
suggestions you may have for the list, please feel free to write directly 
to me.

Nathan Brindle <nathan@ubvm.cc.buffalo.edu>
ACCESS-L List Owner
Figure 6.3. FAREWELL file used as a feedback tool.

6.8.4. The alternative to using WELCOME and FAREWELL files

It is possible to modify LISTSERV's default mail template so that only one message is sent to users when they subscribe and unsubscribe, rather than an administrative message from LISTSERV and a WELCOME or FAREWELL file from the list owner. See Chapter 9 for the details on modifying the default mail templates.

However, it is likely that the average list owner will prefer to use the WELCOME and FAREWELL files over changing the more-complicated templates. Thus both avenues are provided, and may be used depending on the list owner's level of comfort.

6.9. Social conventions (netiquette)

Like so many other things, network users tend to expend a great deal of virtual gunpowder about the subject of etiquette on the network (otherwise known as netiquette). Part of the culture of the network is built on the fact that an individual user can put forward any face he or she cares to present. Thus over time, the network has evolved various sets of rules that attempt to govern conduct. To avoid taking up a great deal of space arguing the merits of differing systems of netiquette, the following general pointers that should be accepted by most users are offered for the convenience of the list owner.

Recognize and Accept Cultural and Linguistic Differences

The Internet is international, and while English is generally accepted as the common language of the network, list owners and list subscribers cannot afford to take the position that everyone on the Internet understands English well. In a medium that is invariably connected to language, special understanding is required to deal with questions or statements from people for whom English is not the primary tongue. Often today (at least in the US) a person's first sustained interaction with others on an international basis is via the Internet. It is imperative that this interaction be on the highest level of cordiality and respect from the outset in order for all concerned to benefit.

Additionally, care should be taken when using local idiom and slang. A common word or phrase used by Americans in everyday speech, for instance, might be taken as profanity or insult by those in other English-speaking countries, and may not be understood at all by non-native speakers of English. When a list has a high international readership, it is probably best to avoid non-standard English so as to provide the clearest and least-objectionable exchange of ideas.

Private Mail Should Dictate Private Responses

If someone on a mailing list has sent a private message to you (i.e., not to the list at large) and you have lost that person's address but want to respond, do not post private mail to the list. The REVIEW command will give you a copy of the list membership that you can search for the person's address. If this approach does not work, contact the local postmaster or the list owner for help.

Flaming is (Usually) Inappropriate

Flames (insults) belong in private mail, if they belong in mail at all. Discussions will often result in disagreements. Rebuttals to another person's opinions or beliefs should always be made in a rational, logical and mature manner, whether they are made publicly or privately. What is a flame can range from the obvious (ranting and raving, abusive comments, etc.) to the not-so-obvious (comments about how many "newbies" seem to be on the list these days, "RTFM!" exhortations, etc.).

Foul Language

Subscribers should refrain from abusive or derogatory language that might be considered questionable by even the most liberal and open-minded of networkers. If you wouldn't say it in front of your mother, don't say it in electronic mail.

Unsolicited Advertising and Chain Letters

Most of these are contrary to appropriate use policies governing the use of the poster's Internet access provider. Not only that, they are annoying and (in the case of chain letters) often illegal. See Section 6.10 on the subject of "spamming" for more details.

Other Disruptive or Abusive Behavior

Self-explanatory. It is rarely possible to catalog all forms of anti-social network behavior. Be sure that you as a list owner cover as many bases as you think necessary when promulgating a code of netiquette for your list. Then -- be sure to adhere to it yourself.

6.10. Spamming: what it is, and what to do about it

"Spamming" is a network term invented to describe the act of cross-posting the same message to as many newsgroups and/or mailing lists as possible, whether or not the message is germane to the stated topic of the newsgroups or mailing lists that are being targeted. A "spam" is defined therefore as either (1) a specific act of spamming, such as the so-called "Green Card Spam", or (2) the message that actually comes to your list as a result of someone initiating a specific act of spamming ("The message you just saw was a spam, and it should be ignored"). Spams are fairly easy to recognize at a quick glance; they often have "To:" fields directed to large numbers of lists, usually in alphabetical order.

If a spam gets through to your list, it will probably engender sarcastic replies (often with the spam quoted in its entirety) -- and if your list is coded "Reply-To= List", they will likely come back to the list. It is therefore imperative that you make subscribers aware that when a spam occurs:

Perhaps the best policy an individual subscriber can adopt toward spammers is simply to ignore them and allow list owners and newsgroup moderators to take care of the problem. If this does not work and subscribers send their complaints to the list anyway, it might be a good idea to moderate the list for a few days until the furor dies down.

LISTSERV attempts to detect "spams" using a variety of proprietary methods. When LISTSERV decides that a message is a spam, it locks out the user for 48 hours, worldwide in the case of backbone servers4. While locked the user is still able to use LISTSERV normally and to post to mailing lists, but all messages will be forwarded to the list owners for human verification. The user is informed that this has happened but is not informed of which lists caught the message and which didn't, denying him any idea how successful he has been.

L-Soft will not document how LISTSERV decides a message is a spam because the point has been reached where a number of authors are writing and selling books detailing how to avoid such precautions. If L-Soft were to document its methods, the next editions of these books would simply include updated instructions on how to bypass them.

If you are interested in a discussion of the phenomenon of SPAM, you can join the SPAM-L mailing list on LISTSERV@PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM.

6.11. Appropriate use policies: considerations

As a list owner, it is important that you take into consideration any appropriate use policies that might apply to your list. For instance, if your list is hosted by an educational site that has a policy restricting mail with commercial content from being sent out by its users, your list will technically be in violation of that policy if it distributes mail from users advertising commercial services. You would be well advised to request a copy of the appropriate use policy (if any) from your host site and make sure that your subscribers are aware of it by including pertinent sections in your WELCOME file and/or your administrative postings.

Host sites are not the only entities that might have appropriate use policies. The network your host is a part of may have such policies as well.

7. Overview of List Archives

7.1. What is the list archive?

The list archive consists of all of the notebook logs for your list. (If your list is coded "Notebook= No", then it does not have a list archive, of course.) Users can find out what notebook logs are available for a specific list by sending the command INDex listname to the appropriate LISTSERV host.

7.2. Setting up and managing archive notebooks

If your list is coded "Notebook= No", you should consult your LISTSERV maintainer before changing the keyword to create list archive notebooks. The LISTSERV maintainer will have to tell you where the notebook should be kept (the second parameter in the "Notebook=" keyword). Also note that depending on local policies, you may or may not be allowed to archive your list, or keep more than a few months' or weeks' worth of archives available at a given time.

7.2.2 Indexing available archive notebooks

To find out what archive notebooks are available for your list, simply send the

INDex listname

command to LISTSERV.

7.2.3. Deleting existing archive notebooks

To delete an existing archive notebook, simply execute a PUT operation for the notebook in question without sending any other text along with the PUT command line. For instance:

PUT MYLIST LOG9607 PW=mypersonalpw

without any other additional text would delete MYLIST LOG9607 from the server.

7.3. Database Functions Overview

This functionality is not available in LISTSERV Lite.

In this section, we will detail the basics of a LISTSERV command job and show you a sample database query session. Please note that it is not the purpose of this manual to provide the user with a detailed database function reference. See Section 7.4 for more information.

For information on the new database functions available in 1.8c, please see section 7.3.3, below. For non-VM servers running 1.8c, you can skip sections 7.3.1 and 7.3.2 entirely.

7.3.1. LISTSERV Command Job Language Interpreter

The LISTSERV database command syntax used to access database functions is English-like in structure. This syntax is called LISTSERV Command Job Language Interpreter, or CJLI for short.

Database commands are sent to LISTSERV in CJLI "batch jobs". When accessing the database in "batch" mode, you must construct a CJLI job which you must then submit to the appropriate server for execution. This means that you must know in advance what you want to do exactly. If you are not familiar with CJLI, you can use the following "job skeleton" to build up your database search job:

//      JOB  Echo=No
Database Search DD=Rules
//Rules DD   *
command 1
command 2
Figure 7.1. Sample database job skeleton

This CJLI job is sent in e-mail to the appropriate LISTSERV host. You will then receive by return e-mail a "DATABASE OUTPUT" file containing the results of your search. This file might look like this:

> Select * in TEST-L
--> Database TEST-L, 4 hits.

> Index
Item #   Date   Time  Recs   Subject
------   ----   ----  ----   -------
000001 95/10/18 13:09   12   This is a test looking for upcasing
000002 95/08/24 09:18    9
000003 95/10/18 13:09    8   Test - please acknowledge receipt
000004 95/10/18 13:09    7   Does Reply-To=Both work correctly?
Figure 7.2. Sample DATABASE OUTPUT: Each of the commands in the original job is echoed in the output file (unless specifically disabled).

If you realize that the items you were interested in are number 1 and 3, you will have to submit a new job to ask for a copy of them. The new job must include the "Select" command, as LISTSERV does not cache CJLI commands in the expectation that you will send another command job.

7.3.2. A basic database session (VM servers running 1.8b or earlier only) (See 7.3.3 for VM 1.8c and later, and for non-VM servers)

Let's say that you are looking for messages in the LSTOWN-L mailing list that pertain to the list header keyword "Digest=". You set up a very simple CJLI job as follows and mail it to LISTSERV@SEARN.SUNET.SE:

//      JOB  Echo=No
Database Search DD=Rules
//Rules DD   *
Search 'Digest=' in LSTOWN-L
Figure 7.3. Sample CJLI database search job for VM servers

Figure 7.3, when sent to LISTSERV, says: "Look for the string 'Digest=' in all of the archives you have for list LSTOWN-L. Then, send me back an index of all messages in the archives that include that string."

LISTSERV at SEARN obligingly searches the LSTOWN-L archives, finds the following, and sends it back to you in an e-mail message:

> Search 'Digest=' in LSTOWN-L
--> Database LSTOWN-L, 37 hits.

> Index
Item #   Date   Time  Recs   Subject
------   ----   ----  ----   -------
001215 93/01/06 21:58   50   New feature in 1.7f - automatic digests
001339 93/01/18 02:46  110   New features for 1.7f - "Filter=" and list keyword+
001375 93/01/28 10:02   19   Initial reports from 1.7f beta tests?
001401 93/02/08 16:39   58   Re: List of LISTSERV header keywords?
001616 93/03/18 13:42   70   DIGEST boilerplate announcement/reference
001727 93/04/04 15:22  916   Changes from release 1.7e to 1.7f
Figure 7.4. Part of the LISTSERV response to the CJLI job in Figure 7.3.

The next step is to send a CJLI job to request the specific message(s) you are interested in. Let's say that you are interested in changes from one version of LISTSERV to another, and you therefore would like to see messages 1215, 1339, and 1727. You set up the following CJLI framework:

//      JOB  Echo=No
Database Search DD=Rules
//Rules DD   *
Search 'Digest=' in LSTOWN-L
Print 1215 1339 1727
Figure 7.5. CJLI job instructing LISTSERV to send specific messages to the requestor.

This example says: "Look for the string 'Digest=' in all of the archives you have for list LSTOWN-L. Then, send me back message numbers 1215, 1339 and 1727."

LISTSERV will repeat the search from Figure 7.3 and will package the three messages you have requested into a return mail message and send it back to you.

7.3.3. A basic database session (All servers running 1.8c or later only)

We'll take a similar situation as described in 7.3.2 and apply it to all servers running LISTSERV 1.8c or later. To search for the term "Digest=" in the EASE-HOME list on HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM, you would make a new mail message and simply type:

Search 'Digest=' in EASE-HOME

No CJLI is necessary (in fact, it should not be used). LISTSERV would respond to you with the following:

> Search 'Digest=' in EASE-HOME
-> 10 matches.

Item #   Date   Time  Recs   Subject
------   ----   ----  ----   -------
000058 96/01/26 14:44   41   What happened
000059 96/01/26 18:14   38   Re: What happened
000066 96/02/02 22:51   31   Digest Problem
000074 96/02/03 15:01   75   Re: Digest Problem
000075 96/02/03 18:52   49   Re: Digest Problem
000076 96/02/03 16:27   52   Re: Digest Problem
000112 96/02/13 23:37   29   not receiving mail
000126 96/02/25 20:20   63   error/bounce msg posted to list How?
000172 96/03/13 09:11   12   Digest Mailing Time
000483 96/06/22 17:36   34   Header Info

To order a copy of these postings, send the following command:

            GETPOST EASE-HOME 58-59 66 74-76 112 126 172 483

>>> Item #58 (26 Jan 1996 14:44) - What happened
   I never touched the Limits= command or the notebook= All I did was
try and add: Digest= Yes,Daily
I have tryed this several times with the same reply message:

>>> Item #59 (26 Jan 1996 18:14) - Re: What happened
>   I never touched the Limits= command or the notebook= All I did was
>try and add: Digest= Yes,Daily
(remainder deleted)
Figure 7.6. Sample SEARCH output from non-VM servers

Note that LISTSERV includes excerpts from the indexed postings showing the context of the search term(s). We've deleted all but the first 2 in the example above to save space.

You would then use the new GETPOST command to order the specific posts you wanted to read. For instance, we want to read posts numbered 66, 74 through 76, and 126. We would make another new message (or reply to the response from LISTSERV) and type in the body:

GETPOST 66 74-76 126

LISTSERV would then respond with the desired postings. For the non-VM servers, GETPOST is analogous to the old database command "PRINT". There is no corresponding command for the old database command INDEX, since the response to a SEARCH command includes the index of matching postings.

7.3.4. Narrowing the search

(Works on both the VM and non-VM servers)

It is possible to add further parameters to your search in order to narrow it. You can limit a search by date with a "since. . . " predicate. Likewise, you can limit by sender and/or by the subject line with a "where . . ." predicate. For instance:

Search 'Digest=' in LSTOWN-L since 94/01/01
Search 'Digest=' in LSTOWN-L where sender contains 'Thomas'
Search * in LSTOWN-L where sender is ERIC@SEARN
Search * in LSTOWN-L since 94/01/01 where subject contains 'Digest'

are all valid search commands that will (hopefully) dramatically reduce the number of index or print entries returned to you.

7.4. Where to find more information on Database Functions

You can get more detailed information on database functions and the database command syntax by requesting the file LISTDB MEMO from LISTSERV@LISTSERV.NET . You can send either a "GET LISTDB MEMO" command or an "INFO DATABASE" command to retrieve the file. There is also more information on the database functions in the General User's Guide to LISTSERV, available on L-Soft's WWW site.

8. Overview of File Archives

There are three file server systems currently in use by various versions of LISTSERV:

In general, the three systems are compatible, with the understanding that the temporary system does not include all the possible options. However, the mechanism for registering files (defining them to the file server system) is different.

Since the first and third systems will eventually be replaced by the second system, rather than providing an exhaustive chapter detailing all filelist aspects from the management side, we have provided only a basic overview of the two systems currently in the field with 1.8d, with pointers to where further information may be obtained.

8.1. What is the file archive?

The file archive consists of all files other than notebook logs that have been stored on the LISTSERV host for your list. Users can find out what files are available for a specific list by sending the command INDex listname to the appropriate LISTSERV host.

8.2. Starting a file archive for your list

On VM Systems ONLY

With the traditional system (running on the VM servers), the LISTSERV maintainer creates files called "xxxx FILELIST", which contain definitions for all the files belonging to a particular archive. These FILELIST files must be created by the LISTSERV maintainer at the site before they can be edited by the list owner5.

On Workstation and PC Systems

With the new cataloging system introduced in 1.8c, the LISTSERV maintainer creates a definition for your listname.CATALOG in a system-global file called SITE.CATALOG. The list owner then follows the instructions in chapter 8.4, below, to register files and store them on the server.

Please note carefully that the instructions in chapter 8.3 and the instructions in chapter 8.4 are not interchangeable. If you are not sure which system your list is running on, you can send the command RELEASE to the server to find out.

8.3. Filelist maintenance (VM systems only)

If your list is running on LISTSERV under unix, Windows, or VMS, please skip this section as it does not pertain in any way to your implementation of LISTSERV.

Maintaining the filelist for your archive is not difficult. It requires only that you have a working knowledge of VM XEDIT (or your local system's editor) and understand how to send files via e-mail.

8.3.1 Retrieving the filelist

To retrieve your filelist in an editable format, send the command


to the LISTSERV host where the filelist is stored. The (CTL switch causes LISTSERV to lock the filelist until you store it again or explicitly unlock it with an UNLOCK listname FILELIST command. (If you don't want to lock the filelist, use (CTL NOLOCK instead.) If your mail account is not located on the same host as LISTSERV, you will need to provide your personal password (same as your password for getting and putting your lists).

A filelist retrieved with the (CTL option does not look like the filelist you get with an INDEX command. A sample (CTL option filelist appears below:

*  Files associated with MYLIST and available to subscribers:
*                             rec               last - change
* filename filetype   GET PUT -fm lrecl nrecs   date     time   Remarks
* -------- --------   --- --- --- ----- ----- -------- -------- --------
  MYLIST   POLICY     ALL OWN V      79    45 94/03/16 12:04:23 Mission Statement
  MYLIST   BOOKLIST   ALL OWN V      79   177 94/04/19 16:24:57 Books of interest
  MYLIST   QUARTER    ALL OWN V      73   113 95/03/11 08:57:04 Quarterly posting

*  Listowner's files (not public)
  MYLIST   FAREWELL   OWN OWN V      78     9 95/03/11 08:53:41 Goodbye memo
  MYLIST   WELCOME    OWN OWN V      73   105 95/03/11 09:14:38 Hello memo
Figure 8.1. Sample filelist retrieved with (CTL option.

Note that the filelist does not include the comment lines you would normally see at the top of an INDEX filelist; nor does it include any notebook archives. LISTSERV creates these lines dynamically at the time the INDEX command is received from a user. If the filelist you have retrieved has any of this kind of material in it, either a) you have not retrieved the filelist correctly, or b) you or someone else has stored the filelist previously with this material included. If you did a GET with (CTL, you should be able to remove these extraneous lines by simply deleting them.

If you do an INDEX of your archive and it has (for instance) two sets of comment lines or duplicate notebook archive listings, then you should GET the filelist with (CTL and edit out the offending lines. While the extra lines will not affect the operation of the file server, they are a source of potential confusion for your users.

8.3.2 Adding file descriptors to the filelist

"Adding a file to a filelist" is not exactly accurate terminology, although it is a widely-used phrase. Adding files to file archives is a two-step process: First, add a file descriptor to the appropriate filelist and store the filelist on the server. Second, store the file itself on the server.

To add a file descriptor, start a line with a space and then type in your file's name, access codes, five dots (periods) and a short description, each separated by a space. For example:

 MYLIST FAQ ALL OWN . . . . . Frequently-Asked Questions for MYLIST

Note that the line must begin with a space. Also, you must place five dots separated by spaces between the PUT file access code (here it is OWN) and the short description. These dots are place holders for the record format (recfm), longest record length (lrecl), number of records (nrecs), and the date and time of the last update. If these dots are not present, LISTSERV will return an error message when you try to store the filelist.

You will note that the line you have just added does not look like the other lines in the filelist. Ignore the "pretty" formatting. LISTSERV will reformat the information for you. After adding the line, your filelist should look like this:

*  Files associated with MYLIST and available to subscribers:
*                             rec               last - change
* filename filetype   GET PUT -fm lrecl nrecs   date     time   Remarks
* -------- --------   --- --- --- ----- ----- -------- -------- --------
  MYLIST   POLICY     ALL OWN V      79    45 94/03/16 12:04:23 Mission Statement
  MYLIST   BOOKLIST   ALL OWN V      79   177 94/04/19 16:24:57 Books of interest
  MYLIST   QUARTER    ALL OWN V      73   113 95/03/11 08:57:04 Quarterly posting
 MYLIST FAQ ALL OWN . . . . . Frequently-Asked Questions for MYLIST

*  Listowner's files (not public)
  MYLIST   FAREWELL   OWN OWN V      78     9 95/03/11 08:53:41 Goodbye memo
  MYLIST   WELCOME    OWN OWN V      73   105 95/03/11 09:14:38 Hello memo
Figure 8.2. Adding a file descriptor to the filelist

Note that you can add comment lines to the filelist by placing an asterisk in the left-most column instead of a space. Comment lines can act as indexes, descriptions, or pointers to other resources.

Once you are finished adding file descriptors, save the filelist to disk.

8.3.3. File Access Codes (FAC) for user access

FACs define which users have access to files in the file archive. The FAC for GET indicates who may retrieve the files, and the FAC for PUT indicates who may store the files on the server. (Note that some special FACs exist for "superusers" such as the LISTSERV maintainer(s) and the LISTSERV Master Coordinator, who may GET and PUT any file regardless of its GET/PUT permissions.)

The basic FAC codes that are always available for the VM server are:

ALL universal access.
PRV only members of the associated mailing list have access.
OWN only the owners of the associated mailing list have access.

(The FAC codes PRV and OWN work only on the VM filelist system. They do not work on the non-VM catalog system. See section 8.4 if you are configuring the non-VM systems.)

(Note that this assumes the name of the filelist is identical to the name of the associated mailing list -- for instance, MYLIST@FOO.BAR.EDU would have a MYLIST LIST file and a MYLIST FILELIST file. Ask your LISTSERV maintainer for assistance if this is not the case or if you need special FACs added for special user access to files.)

8.3.4. Deleting file descriptors from the filelist

Before you delete file descriptors from the filelist, you should delete the files themselves from LISTSERV's archive disk. See section 8.6, below, for instructions.

If this step is not followed, LISTSERV may not be able to find the file you want to delete after you edit the filelist and store it.

8.3.5. Storing the filelist

  1. Create a mail message to LISTSERV at the appropriate host. (Sending a filelist to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.NET will not work. The filelist must be sent to the host it resides on.)

  2. Include the filelist file as plain text in the body of the mail message. Do not attach it with MIME or another encoding scheme, as LISTSERV does not translate encoded messages.

  3. Make sure that your mail client does not automatically add a signature file to the bottom of your mail. If it does, your signature file will be treated as part of the filelist and will be stored along with it.

  4. At the top of the filelist, add a single line as follows:


    where XXXXXXXX is your personal password for LISTSERV on that host. Note that this is similar to the PUT command used when storing the list file.

  5. Send the filelist to LISTSERV.

Once LISTSERV acknowledges the receipt and storage of the filelist, you can send the files that correspond to the file descriptors in your filelist. See section 8.5, below, for instructions.

8.4.The listname.CATALOG system on non-VM systems (1.8c and later)

NOTE: If your list is running LISTSERV 1.8b, please refer to the List Owner's Manual for LISTSERV 1.8b for information regarding the file server. The information below is specific to 1.8c and will not work on pre-1.8c servers.

Please note that list-level file catalogs are not available in LISTSERV LITE; you must register files in the SITE.CATALOG file per the instructions in the installation guide.

LISTSERV version 1.8c introduces a new file archive registration system similar to (but differing in important respects from) the old VM FILELIST system. This new system is available on the VMS, unix, and Windows ports only. VM sites will continue to use the old FILELIST system indefinitely as it still offers more functionality than the new system.

This "sub-catalog" enhancement allows the LISTSERV administrator to delegate file management authority in a controlled and secure manner. Multiple list owners can be given the authority to maintain their own sub-catalog in a predefined directory.

From a list owner's point of view, the procedure works as follows:

  1. Ask the LISTSERV administrator to create the sub-catalog for your list. You will need to provide the e-mail addresses of the person(s) who will be in charge of managing it ("catalog owners").

  2. The catalog owners use the GET and PUT commands to update their catalog and register new files in their directory. Each file has the usual GET and PUT file access codes, allowing the catalog owners to further delegate the management of individual files to third parties ("file owners").

  3. The file owners manage the files in question using the GET and PUT commands. Authorized users can retrieve the files using the GET command.

If your list is being migrated from VM to one of the non-VM versions of LISTSERV, please note that it is not necessary to create entries in your sub-catalog for WELCOME, FAREWELL and MAILTPL files. If entries for these files are not created, they simply do not appear in the output of an INDEX command. However, if desired, you can force them to appear by defining them in your sub-catalog.

8.4.1. Updating the sub-catalog

Once the sub-catalog is created, the catalog owner(s) can register new files using the following procedure (in this example, it will be assumed that the sub-catalog is called MY.CATALOG):

  1. Send a GET MY.CATALOG command to LISTSERV (or, if the catalog is brand new, start from an empty file).

  2. Register new file(s) in the catalog (see below).

  3. Use the PUT MY.CATALOG PW=XXXXX command to store the updated catalog.

Alternatively, if the catalog owner has an account on the LISTSERV host system and write access to the directory associated with the sub-catalog, the file can be edited directly. Note however that, in that case, the LISTSERV-ISP quota system will be inoperative as it has no control over disk accesses which do not go through LISTSERV itself.

The format of sub-catalogs is similar to that of SITE.CATALOG:

MY.FILE        my.file                      ALL JOE@XYZ.COM
(1)            (2)                          (3) (4)


(1) This defines the name of the file as seen by LISTSERV users. That is, the command to retrieve the file will be GET MY.FILE.

(2) This defines the name of the actual disk file where the contents of MY.FILE will be stored. Normally, you should specify the same as (1), or just an equal sign (LISTSERV will then substitute the name you provided for (1)). However, in some cases you may want to make a particular file available under multiple names. This can be done by registering multiple files (ie multiple values for (1)), and using the same (2) value every time.

(3) This file access code determines who can order the file through a GET command. The following file access codes are available:

ALL universal access.
PRIVATE(xxx) only members of the xxx list have access.
OWNER(xxx) only the owners of the xxx list have access.
SERVICE(xxx) only users in the service area of the xxx list have access.
NOTEBOOK(xxx) same access as the archives of the xxx list.
user@host the user in question is granted access.

Except for ALL, which must occur on its own, multiple file access code entries can be specified, separated by a comma with no intervening space. For instance:


defines a file that Joe, Jack and the subscribers of the XYZ-L list can order via the GET command, but that only the LISTSERV administrator can update.

(4) This file access code determines who can update the file with the PUT command. See note (3), above, for more information on FAC codes.

Note: (2) defaults to the value of (1), and (3) and (4) default to the GET and PUT access codes of the sub-catalog itself, respectively. So, in most cases a sub-catalog entry will be as simple as:


Additionally, comment lines (starting with an asterisk) or blank lines can be interspersed with file definitions. These comments will be echoed when the sub-catalog is indexed (see below), in sequence with the file definitions. For instance, your catalog could read:

* Files for the XYZ sub-project

8.4.2. Indexing the sub-catalog

If MY.CATALOG is defined as:

MY.CATALOG     /home/lists/xyz/my.catalog   xxx JOE@XYZ.COM

then any user who matches the 'xxx' file access code is authorized to issue an INDEX MY command to get a formatted version of the catalog. For compatibility with older versions of LISTSERV, GET MY.FILELIST will produce the same results. If there is a mailing list called MY, a list of the archive files will be appended automatically.

8.5. Storing files on the host machine

To store a file on any LISTSERV host, first ensure that it has been registered with an entry in a filelist or catalog. Then follow these instructions:

  1. Be sure that you have defined a "personal password" to LISTSERV with the PW ADD command before you PUT the new or edited file. If you have done this but can't remember the password, send a PW RESET command to LISTSERV, then a new PW ADD command.

  2. Edit your file and save it. Add a single line at the top of the file as follows (square brackets indicate optional parameters):

    PUT filename extension [filelist|catalogname] PW=XXXXXXXX

    (This line will not appear to people who GET the file from LISTSERV.) Replace XXXXXXXX with your personal password. If you specify the filelist or catalog name, do not put the square brackets around the name.

    There are a couple of issues that need to be noted here:

  3. Be sure that the file has been registered with an entry in a filelist or the site catalog.

  4. Send the mail message to LISTSERV.

8.6. Deleting files from the host machine

To delete a registered file on any LISTSERV host:

  1. Be sure that you have defined a "personal password" to LISTSERV with the PW ADD command before you PUT the delete job. If you have done this but can't remember the password, send a PW RESET command to LISTSERV, then a new PW ADD command.

  2. Create a new mail message addressed to LISTSERV. Add a single line at the top of the message as follows:

    PUT filename extension [filelist|catalogname] PW=XXXXXXXX

    (Replace XXXXXXXX with your personal password.) The same issues noted in 8.5 regarding the filelist/catalog name are operative here.

  3. Send the mail message to LISTSERV.

  4. LISTSERV will tell you that the file has been successfully deleted.

  5. For VM Systems ONLY: GET the listname FILELIST for your list and delete the line for the file you've just deleted. PUT the listname FILELIST back on the server.

  6. For Workstation and PC Systems ONLY: Get the listname.CATALOG for your list and delete the line for the file you've just deleted. PUT the listname.CATALOG back on the server. Note that this is not necessarily required since under non-VM, if the physical file does not exist, LISTSERV will not include it in the output of an INDEX command. This is primarily a housekeeping measure.

Note that #5 and #6 are not necessary when you are deleting notebook archives. LISTSERV generates the notebook archives index "on the fly" when needed.

8.7. Automatic File Distribution (AFD) and File Update Information (FUI)

If your list is running on LISTSERV under unix, Windows, or VMS, please skip the rest of this section as it does not currently pertain in any way to your implementation of LISTSERV.

AFD and FUI have not yet been ported to the workstation and PC environments. However, this feature is supported on VM and will be supported in the near future on the other platforms.

These two features are similar in their command syntax, but do different things. AFD provides a method whereby users may subscribe to specific files, which will be sent to them any time the files are updated. For instance, if you have a FAQ file that is updated monthly, a user could send an AFD subscription to that FAQ file and LISTSERV would send it to the user every time you updated and stored the FAQ.

FUI, on the other hand, is a method whereby a user subscribes to a file but receives only a notification that the file has been updated. The user can then GET the file at his own discretion.

AFD and FUI can be password-protected to protect users from network hackers who might forge mail from the user subscribing him to large or frequently-updated files. If a password is not provided in an AFD or FUI ADD command, LISTSERV warns the user that it would be a good idea to password protect the subscription.

8.8. File "Packages"

This feature is available for VM (all versions) and non-VM (beginning with 1.8d).

You can define a group of files as a "package" that can be retrieved by users with a single GET command. First, ensure that all the files in the package are defined in the appropriate filelist and stored on the server as detailed above.

Next, create a file descriptor in the appropriate filelist or catalog for a file called filename $PACKAGE (or filename.$PACKAGE for non-VM), where filename is the name you have chosen for the group of files. Be sure that the filetype or extension is $PACKAGE, with a leading $ sign, and store your filelist.

Now create the actual filename $PACKAGE file. At the top of the file you can insert comment lines beginning with asterisks, e.g.:

* Packing list for MYLIST PACKAGE
* You can make other comments here, such as
* the contact email address.
* filename filetype filelist

Following these comment lines, you insert lines for each of the files contained in the package. There are two ways to format entries in your $PACKAGE file:

Note that anything that is not the name of a file in the package must be commented out with an asterisk in the leftmost column of the line. It is possible to create a package file without any comment lines at all, but this is not preferable in practice. Often users will get the package file itself just to see what is in it. You should include a reference to the package file itself so that the user will get a copy of the "packing list" to check against the files he receives from LISTSERV.

The final step is to send the package file to LISTSERV like any other file.

Now users can do one of two things:

  1. They may get the entire package of files sent to them by sending LISTSERV the command GET filename PACKAGE (without the $ sign); or

  2. They may request that LISTSERV send only the package file itself by sending LISTSERV the command GET filename $PACKAGE (with the $ sign).

Packages may be subscribed to with the AFD and FUI commands (VM only).

8.9. Where to find more information on File Archives

Guides that refer to File Archive setup and maintenance for VM systems only are referenced in Appendix D, Related Documentation and Support. LISTSERV maintainers can also find more information in the Site Manager's Operations Manual for LISTSERV.

9. Creating and Editing LISTSERV's Mail and Web Templates

9.1. What LISTSERV uses templates for

Templates are used to generate some of the mail LISTSERV sends to users in response to commands it receives. Among these are the "You are now subscribed . . ." message, the message sent to users when LISTSERV cannot find a subscription for them in a specified list, and others. Note that certain administrative mail (for instance, the response to the STATS and RELEASE commands) is hard-coded into LISTSERV and cannot be changed.

Other templates are used to generate the HTML code used by the web archive and administration interfaces.

A word about nomenclature: When we talk about "templates" we are talking about "files that contain one or more template forms", in other words, files like DEFAULT MAILTPL or DEFAULT WWWTPL. A "template form" is an individual section of a template which begins with a title line (three ">" symbols followed by a space, the name of the template form, and (optionally) a short description of the template, which for some template forms is also used as the subject of the mail LISTSERV constructs with the template form), followed by one or more lines of copy and/or imbedded commands, and ends at the next title line or the end of the file, whichever is reached first. A template may contain one or more template forms.

9.2. The default template files and how to get copies

LISTSERV stores its default mail template forms in a file called DEFAULT.MAILTPL, which can be requested by list owners from LISTSERV with the GET command, just like any other file. Note that DEFAULT MAILTPL contains some (but not all) of the web interface template forms.

LISTSERV stores the rest of its default web interface template forms in a file called DEFAULT WWWTPL, which can be retrieved in a manner identical to that for DEFAULT MAILTPL.

Under 1.8d and following, all template forms may be edited using the web administration interface described in chapter 11. Edited template forms are placed in template files that will not be overwritten by software upgrades.

9.3. Mail template format and embedded formatting commands

Each individual template form starts with a form name and subject line, such as:

>>> EXAMPLE1 This is the subject line

The template form starts with the line containing the form name and subject, and ends with the next line starting with '>>> ', or at the end of the file. The subject line may contain substitutions (such as "&LISTNAME: &WHOM requested to join"). Ensure that there is a blank space between '>>>' and the name of the form, or LISTSERV will not recognize the form. Also note that the names of the template forms must be typed in UPPER CASE.

A template form contains text and, optionally, formatting/editing commands, which start with a period in column 1. All other lines are treated as normal text: sequences starting with an & sign are substituted, then lines are joined together to form a paragraph, which is finally formatted like with any non-WYSIWYG text processor. You can suspend formatting with .FO OFF and resume it with .FO ON; when formatting is suspended, LISTSERV no longer joins lines to form a paragraph, but simply writes one line of text to the message for each line read from the template form. This makes it possible to include tables or a text-mode logo, but can create seriously imbalanced text if substitutions are used. For instance, a typical &WHOM substitution can range from a dozen characters to 60 or more, even though it only takes up 5 characters on your screen when you enter it.

The following substitutions are always available:

&DATE Long-style date (04 Jan 1998)
&TIME hh:mm:ss
&WEEKDAY Three-letter day of the week, in English
&MYNAMES The substitution you will use most of the time when you need to refer to LISTSERV. For Internet-only or BITNET-only servers, this will display LISTSERV's only e-mail address. For servers with both Internet and BITNET connectivity, it will say "LISTSERV@hostname (or LISTSERV@nodeid.BITNET)".
&MYSELF LISTSERV's address, in the form LISTSERV@XYZ.EDU or, if no Internet hostname is available, LISTSERV@XYZVM1.BITNET.
&MYNODE LISTSERV's BITNET nodeid, without the '.BITNET', or its Internet hostname if no NJE address is available.
&MYHOST LISTSERV's Internet hostname or, if none is available, its NJE address (with '.BITNET').
&MBX(addr) Looks up the specified address in LISTSERV's signup file and displays "name <addr>" if a name is available, or just the original address otherwise. This is typically used to give the name of the command originator or target, along with his e-mail address: &MBX(&WHOM) or &MBX(&INVOKER). Please note however that &WHOM and &INVOKER are not always available in every template.
&RELEASE LISTSERV's release number (e.g., "1.8d").
&OSTYPE The operating system under which LISTSERV is running, e.g., VM/VMS/unix/Windows.
&OSNAME The full operating system name including the version number, e.g., "VM/ESA 1.2.3", "Windows NT 3.51", "Linux 2.0.27", "SunOS 5.4", etc.
&HARDWARE The type of machine LISTSERV is running on, e.g., "Pentium (128M)".

The following substitutions are also available for templates related to mailing lists:

&LISTNAME Either the short or long name of the list based on the value of "List-Address=" and/or its system default. By default the long ("List-ID=") name is used if present.
&TITLE Title of the list, or empty string.
&KWD(kwd) Value of the specified keyword for the list. You do not need to specify the name of the list - it is implicit. You need not put quotes around the keyword names either, although quotes will be accepted if present. Optionally, you can specify a second numeric argument to extract just one of the terms of a list header keyword; for instance, if the list header contains "Notebook= Yes,L1,Monthly,Private", &KWD(NOTEBOOK,4) has the value "Private". A third argument, also optional, specifies the default value for the keyword in case it was not initialized. It is meant to be used for conditional formatting in the default templates and list owners should not worry about it.
&LITE (1.8c and following) Has the value 1 when running the LISTSERV Lite product, and 0 otherwise. This variable can be used to write generic templates that account for the differences between the two products.
&ISODATE (1.8c and following) Returns today's date in ISO format, i.e., yyyy-mm-dd.
&DAYSEQ(n) (1.8c and following) Used to create FAQ templates with rotating topics. May also be used to create bottom banners with rotating text (e.g., for lists with multiple commercial sponsors who get "ad space" in the banner on a rotating basis).
.ASIS text Tells LISTSERV to leave the text immediately following the .ASIS directive alone, ie, don't convert "<" and ">" characters into HTML < and > when creating pages. This is specifically for use in HTML templates where it is important not to convert parts of a URL reference. For instance,

.ASIS Click <a href="http://some.host.com/some-doc.html">here</a>.

As with the .CE directive, the text you intend to affect with the .ASIS directive must not wrap. The .ASIS directive will only work on text it finds on the same physical line into which it is coded.

In addition, many template forms have their own specific substitutions, meaningful only in their specific context. For instance, a message informing a user that he was added to a mailing list may have an &INVOKER substitution for the address of the person who issued the ADD command. This is not meaningful for a template form intended to inform a user that he must confirm his subscription to a list within 10 days, so it is not generally available. If you attempt to use a substitution which is not available, the template processor writes an error message to the mail message it is generating, but sends it anyway, in the hope that the recipient will be able to figure out the meaning of the message in spite of the error. If you need to include a sentence with an ampersand character, you will have to double it to bypass the substitution process, as in "XYZ &&co."

Starting with 1.8c, the mail template processor supports HTML-like variable closure, in addition to the traditional LISTSERV closure (both methods are supported concurrently; there is no need to select one over the other). For example:

Traditional: For more information, please send mail to &EMAIL or call &PHONE.
HTML: For more information, please send mail to &EMAIL; or call &PHONE;.

Previously, HTML writers who used HTML closure conventions would not get the expected results. This change makes it easier for webmasters to get the desired results the first time.

Any line starting with a period in column 1 is processed as a formatting command. Note that neither substitutions nor formatting commands are case sensitive. Here is a list of the formatting commands list owners may need to use:

.* Comment: anything on this line is simply ignored. This is useful for recording changes to template files when there are multiple owners. Just add a comment line with the date and your initials every time you make a change, for the benefit of the other owners.
.FO OFF Turns off formatting: one template line = one line in the final message. You can resume formatting with .FO ON.
.CE text Centers the text you specify (just the text you typed on the same line as the .CE command). This can be useful to highlight the syntax of a command.
.RE OWNERS Adds a 'Reply-To:' field pointing to the list owners in the header of the generated message. Use this command when you think users are likely to want to reply with a question. You can also use .RE POSTMASTER to direct replies to the LISTSERV administrator, if this is more appropriate.
.CC OFF Removes all "cc:" message recipients, if any. You can also add message recipients by specifying a series of e-mail addresses after the .CC statement, as in .CC JOE@XYZ.EDU. PC mail users should note that in this context "cc:" is a RFC822 term that stands for "carbon copy". RFC822 messages may have "cc:" recipients in addition to their "primary" recipients. There is no real technical difference between the two, the "cc:" indicator just denotes a message that is being sent for your information. Some administrative messages sent to list owners are copied to the user for their information, and vice-versa; this behavior can be disabled by adding a .CC OFF statement to the template.
.TO Replaces the default recipients of a message with the value specified. For instance, if you use the ADDREQ1 template form to send new subscribers a questionnaire, application form or similar material, you will need to add a '.TO &WHOM' instruction to your modified template form, as by default the user will not receive a copy.
.QQ Cancels the message. LISTSERV stops reading the template form and does not send anything. This is useful if you want to completely remove a particular message; note however that this can be confusing with certain commands, as LISTSERV may say "Notification is being sent to the list owners" when in fact nothing will be sent because of the .QQ command in the template form.

A number of more advanced commands are available to list owners with more sophisticated needs and some programming experience. If you encounter one of these commands in a template, you will probably want to leave it alone.

.IM name Imbeds (inserts) another template form at this point in the message. This is used to avoid duplicating large pieces of text which are mostly identical, such as the templates for "you have been added to list X by Y" and "your subscription to list X has been accepted".

As noted above, LISTSERV will not pick up an "imbedded" template form from $SITE$.MAILTPL. If you wish to include an "imbedded" template form (e.g., $SIGNUP) in $SITE$.MAILTPL, you must also include the template form that calls it with the .im command.
.DD ddname Copies the contents of the specified DD into the message. This is meaningful only if a DD has been set up by LISTSERV for this purpose. As a rule of thumb, you should either leave these statements unchanged or remove them.
.BB cond Begin conditional block. The boolean expression following the keyword is evaluated and, if false, all the text between the .BB and .EB delimiters is skipped. Conditional blocks nest to an arbitrary depth. The expression evaluator is recursive but not very sophisticated; the restriction you are most likely to encounter is that all sub-expressions have to be enclosed in parentheses if you are using boolean operators. That is, ".BB &X = 3" is valid but ".BB &X = 3 and &Y = 4" is not. String literals do not require quoting unless they contain blanks, but quotes are accepted if supplied. Comparison operators are = <> ^= IN and NOT IN (the last two look for a word in a blank-separated list of options, such as a keyword value). These operators are not case-sensitive; == and ^== are available when case must be respected. Boolean operators are AND and OR. Note that a conditional block must be contained on one physical line and may not wrap, so be careful when sending MAILTPL files back to LISTSERV that you do not accidentally wrap long .BB lines.

Starting with LISTSERV 1.8d the operators =* and ^=* are available to perform wildcard matches in conditional blocks. For instance JOHN_DOE@UNIX.EXAMPLE.COM =* J*DOE@*EXAMPLE.COM is a true statement. The wildcard specification is on the right-hand side whereas the actual text (or variable) you are evaluating is on the left.
.EB End conditional block (see .BB).
.SE var text Defines or redefines a substitution variable. This is convenient for storing temporary (text) expression results which need to be used several times. Even standard variables such as &LISTNAME can be redefined - at your own risk. You must enclose the text expression in single quotes if you want leading or trailing blanks.
.CS text Define a (non standard) character set for the template in question, i.e.,

.CS ISO-8559-7

This setting is ignored if the template does not actually contain special characters (for instance, if the template is written in 7-bit ASCII). Otherwise the appropriate headers are created for the message in question when it is sent out, i.e.,

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-7
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
.TY text Types one line of text on the LISTSERV console log. This can be useful to the LISTSERV maintainer for debugging, and also to record information in the console log.

9.3.1. 8-bit characters in templates

Starting with 1.8d, if you include 8-bit characters (e.g., accented or national language characters) in templates, LISTSERV will automatically encode the templates on-the-fly in MIME quoted-printable encoding. While there is no guarantee that every mail program will be able to properly display 8-bit characters, those mail programs that understand MIME quoted-printable encoding should have no trouble doing so.

9.4. Creating and editing a <listname>.MAILTPL file for a list

Please note that list-level mail templates are not available in LISTSERV Lite.

Make a copy of DEFAULT.MAILTPL on your local machine and name it listname.MAILTPL6. Keep the original DEFAULT.MAILTPL around in case you make a mistake and need to start over.

At this point, you could theoretically store the listname.MAILTPL back on the LISTSERV host. However, without making any changes that would be somewhat pointless. At the very least you should edit the INFO template form before storing the template. Note also that you need only store the sections of the template that you have changed. For instance, if you edit the INFO template form but leave the rest of the template untouched, you can delete the rest of the template and store the INFO template form alone as listname.MAILTPL. The benefit to this approach is that any administrative changes to the rest of the default template are automatically applicable to your list as soon as they are made, rather than requiring that you edit your mail template individually to reflect such changes. L-Soft recommends that this approach be followed as the default.

Under LISTSERV 1.8d and following it is not necessary to do the GET and PUT; you can edit individual template forms by using the web administration interface (described in chapter 11) instead.

9.4.1. The INFO template form

The first section of DEFAULT.MAILTPL is called the INFO template form, and it is LISTSERV's response to the command INFO listname. By default, it contains the following:

>>> INFO Information about the &LISTNAME list
There is no information file for the &LISTNAME list. Here is a copy of
the list "header", which usually contains a short description of the
purpose of the list, although its main purpose is to define various
list configuration options, also called
"keywords". If you have any question about the &LISTNAME list, write to
the list owners at the generic address:


Figure 9.1. The default contents of the INFO template form of DEFAULT.MAILTPL.

Note the replaceable parameters &LISTNAME and &MYHOST. Don't change &MYHOST; LISTSERV replaces it with the correct value for the name of the host site. &LISTNAME automatically inserts the name of the list. It's probably best to use &LISTNAME to refer to the list throughout the document rather than to replace it with something like "MYLIST-L". This ensures that the template form will be consistent with the default and will be simpler to debug should a problem arise. Also, in the event the name of the list changes, it will be unnecessary to edit the template form (although it would have to be renamed to match the new name of the list, of course).

Should it be desirable to replace the default INFO template form with information about the list, it is probably best to remove the .dd &LISTHDR line. This line instructs LISTSERV to read in the header of the list and add it to the response in lieu of any other data about the list. Many list owners add descriptive comment lines to their list headers, thus this default.

Here is a minimally-edited sample INFO template form for a list called MONKEYS:7

>>> INFO Information about the &LISTNAME list
&LISTNAME is an open, unmoderated discussion list featuring
monkeys.  Things such as how to care for a pet monkey, monkey
diseases, monkey lore, endangered species of monkeys, and
monkey psychology are likely to be discussed.  The list is
NOT intended for discussion of Darwinism and/or theories of

If you have any question about the &LISTNAME list, write to
the list owners at the generic address:

Figure 9.2. Sample edited INFO template form.

9.4.2. Other useful template forms

Traditionally, message templates have contained the text of "long" administrative messages, such as messages informing subscribers that they have been removed from a mailing list. These notices were sent unconditionally, as a separate message. Since version 1.8b, the template processor has supported "linear" messages, which are sent as a normal command reply and allow the list owner to modify the replies from selected commands, and "optional" messages, which are only sent if a template for this action has been specifically provided by the list owner.

In a linear message, most special instructions are ignored. This is because the contents of the template form are just a few lines out of a larger message that is being prepared by LISTSERV to contain the reply to the user's command(s). For instance, you do not have any control over the "Reply-To:" field of the message, because the message in question is shared with other commands and, in fact, may not be a mail message at all but an interactive message to the user's terminal, a GUI request, etc. Generally speaking, with a linear message you are providing the TEXT of the reply to be shown to the user, but you do not have any control over the methods used for delivering this information.

Here is a list of all of the template forms (other than INFO, described above) available in DEFAULT.MAILTPL, in the order in which they appear and with a short description for each. Linear and optional template forms are noted where applicable.

Several template forms for the WWW archive interface follow PROBE1. L-Soft does not recommend that list owners modify these templates. Please contact your LISTSERV maintainer for details.

The following are template forms that can be defined, but which are not present in DEFAULT.MAILTPL. Note carefully that these are templates which are defined as part of the listname.MAILTPL file; they are not stored as separate files. If you attempt to store a file such as listname.BOTTOM_BANNER, your PUT operation will be rejected.

9.4.3. Tips for using templates

9.5. Storing the <listname>.MAILTPL file on the host machine

The procedure differs slightly on VM systems, but the following will work for unix, VMS and Windows systems:

  1. Get a copy of DEFAULT.MAILTPL and edit it.

  2. Be sure that you have defined a "personal password" to LISTSERV with the PW ADD command before you PUT the template file. If you have done this but can't remember the password, send a PW RESET command to LISTSERV, then a new PW ADD command.

  3. Send the file to LISTSERV with a PUT listname MAILTPL PW=XXXXXXXX command at the top of the file, just as if you were storing the list itself. Replace XXXXXXXX with your personal password.

The variation for VM systems is that the LISTSERV maintainer will have to create a fileid for the file before you can PUT it on the server. Contact the LISTSERV maintainer before trying to store your template file.

9.6. Other template files: DIGEST-H and INDEX-H

Two other template files that are available pertain to the automatic digestification feature. You may create and store files called listname DIGEST-H and listname INDEX-H. These files define custom digest headers and custom index headers, respectively. The DIGEST-H and INDEX-H files are plain text files, like the WELCOME and FAREWELL files, and the instructions for storing them on the server are identical. Note that, as with the WELCOME and FAREWELL files, you cannot use the template formatting commands and replaceable parameters discussed above.

A typical DIGEST-H or INDEX-H file for a list called MYLIST might contain:

The MYLIST list is sponsored by ABig Corporation.

See http://www.abig.com for information on ABig Corporation's products.
Figure 9.3. Typical contents of a DIGEST-H or INDEX-H file.

The contents of DIGEST-H and INDEX-H are appended to the digest or index, respectively, immediately following the list of topics. For instance,

Date: Tue, 11 Jun 1996 11:52:41 -0500
From: Automatic digest processor <LISTSERV@MYHOST.COM>
Reply-To: My test list <MYLIST@MYHOST.COM>
To: Recipients of MYLIST digests <MYLIST@MYHOST.COM>
Subject: MYLIST Digest - 10 Jun 1996 to 11 Jun 1996

There is one message totalling 10 lines in this issue.

Topics in this issue:

  1. Testing 125...3 sir!

The MYLIST list is sponsored by ABig Corporation.

See http://www.abig.com for information on ABig Corporation's products.

Figure 9.4. Sample DIGEST output for a list with a DIGEST-H file. The INDEX-H output would be similar, following the list of postings.

(Note that you can't add a digest or index "footer" because anything after the end of the digest text is supposed to be discarded.)

9.7. Templates and template forms for the WWW interface

The following describes the available template files and their respective template forms for the WWW archive and administration interface. L-Soft does not advise modifying these templates unless you know exactly what you are doing. If you modify the templates it is strongly recommended that you keep copies of the originals in a safe location for fall-back.

9.7.1. Forms contained in DEFAULT MAILTPL

Note that, although these template forms are available in DEFAULT MAILTPL (and thus theoretically available for list owners to modify), individual list owners cannot tamper with them. If the LISTSERV maintainer desires to change the "look" of the site, it is preferable to create a file called www_archive.mailtpl (see the Site Manager's Operations Manual, chapter 5.4.5 and below) rather than to edit the forms in DEFAULT MAILTPL, since DEFAULT MAILTPL will be overwritten during a software upgrade.

The following will help clarify the page placement of WWW_LIST_HEADER and WWW_LIST_TRAILER when they are defined in listname.mailtpl:

[page content]

Except as noted for the main list archive page (listname.html), list owners may not override WWW_ARCHIVE_HEADER or WWW_ARCHIVE_TRAILER as they are defined on a site-wide basis.

9.7.2. The www_archive.mailtpl file

Rather than changing DEFAULT MAILTPL to customize your site's "look", it is recommended that the LISTSERV maintainer(s) place modified templates from DEFAULT MAILTPL in a file called www_archive.mailtpl , which must be located in the same directory as DEFAULT MAILTPL and which will not be overwritten by a software update. (List owners cannot change this file but some of its templates may be overridden in a listname.mailtpl file.)

9.7.3. The default.wwwtpl file

The DEFAULT WWWPTL file contains the default templates for the parts of the WWW archive interface that are not defined in DEFAULT MAILTPL. This file should not be edited, as DEFAULT WWWTPL will be overwritten by a software update. Any site-wide emendations should be made in SITE WWWTPL (editable by LISTSERV maintainers only; see the next section) and list-level emendations should be made in listname WWWTPL. Both of these files can be edited via the web administration interface (see chapter 11).

When editing these templates please note two fundamental differences between them and the templates in DEFAULT MAILTPL:

The templates currently included in DEFAULT WWWTPL are:

9.7.4. The site.wwwtpl file (optional)

If desired, the LISTSERV maintainer(s) can override the default.wwwtpl file by providing a customized site.wwwtpl file in the same directory. This will prevent site-wide definitions being overwritten in an upgrade (i.e., when default.wwwtpl will normally be overwritten). The site.wwwtpl file takes precedence over default.wwwtpl but (for list-level templates only) will itself be overridden by definitions in any listname.wwwtpl files you have installed.

9.7.5. National language template files (idiom.mailtpl) (optional)

National language templates can be written and used with LISTSERV (L-Soft does not provide them). The use of such templates is governed by two settings:

Since national language templates can be created only by the LISTSERV maintainer(s), further information on creating them can be found in the Site Manger's Operations Manual.

9.7.6. Template precedence

For template forms found in DEFAULT MAILTPL, the following precedence is used when LISTSERV searches for a given template form:

listname MAILTPL

That is to say, if LISTSERV needs a copy of the ADD1 mail template form, it will look first in the listname.mailtpl file for the list in question. If no such file exists, or if ADD1 is not present in listname.mailtpl, LISTSERV will look in idiom.MAILTPL (if Language= or DEFAULT_LANGUAGE= is set to idiom). Again, if the ADD1 form is not present in idiom.mailtpl, or if idiom.mailtpl does not exist, LISTSERV will then look in default.mailtpl (www_archive.mailtpl is skipped because ADD1 is not a web template form) and pull out the default ADD1 template form.

For template forms found in DEFAULT WWWTPL the precedence is:

listname WWWTPL
idiom WWWTPL

The same sequence of events applies as for the MAILTPL files, except that SITE WWWTPL is never skipped (all template forms in the WWWTPL files are web forms).

9.8. Using the DAYSEQ(n) function

A very powerful function introduced in 1.8c is the DAYSEQ(n) function. This function allows the list owner to code template forms (such as the PROBE1 or BOTTOM_BANNER templates) that change or "rotate" automatically.

The DAYSEQ(n) function is invoked in a .BB - .EB conditional block, and n corresponds to the number of days in the rotation period, i.e., to the number of variations that you want to make to the text of the message. &DAYSEQ(n) returns a number from 1 to n which increases by 1 every day, with no special regard for weekends. That is, if the rotation period is to last for a week, you code DAYSEQ(7). If the rotation period is 15 days, you code DAYSEQ(15). Two examples follow:

9.8.1. Rotating bottom banner

To create a rotating bottom banner, follow this example. A list has three commercial sponsors, each of whom are provided with an advertisement every three days. (Note that this doesn't take weekends into account; in this example, if company A is featured in the banner on Monday, it will be featured again on Thursday and then again on Sunday. However, in the following week it will be featured on Wednesday, Saturday, and Tuesday, so it will actually get rather good coverage.) Our BOTTOM_BANNER template form would look like this:

.BB &DAYSEQ(3) = 1
Today's copy of the &LISTNAME newsletter has been brought to you
by Company A.
.BB &DAYSEQ(3) = 2
Today's copy of the &LISTNAME newsletter has been brought to you 
by Company B.
.BB &DAYSEQ(3) = 3
Today's copy of the &LISTNAME newsletter has been brought to you 
by Company C.

(Naturally you can feel free to be more florid with your prose :)

If a company needs to get a higher percentage of "air" time than another, you can simply assign it more than one of the possible n values of &DAYSEQ(n). For instance, if you have two companies but one should get twice as many days of "air" time, you might code something like this:

.BB (&DAYSEQ(3) = 1) OR (&DAYSEQ(3) = 3)
Today's copy of the &LISTNAME newsletter has been brought to you
by Company A.
.BB &DAYSEQ(3) = 2
Today's copy of the &LISTNAME newsletter has been brought to you by 
Company B.

This would cause Company A's message to appear on days 1 and 3 of the rotation period and Company B's message to appear on day 2 only.

9.8.2. Rotating FAQ via the PROBE1 template and "Renewal= xx-Daily"

In 1.8c, you can now code subscription renewal with daily granularity (however, please note that it is and remains inadvisable to use renewal intervals of less than a week). If you further code subscription probing into the "Renewal=" keyword with the ",Probe" parameter, you open up the possibility of turning the standard PROBE1 template form into a periodic FAQ. Here's how:

We'll assume to start that you will code "Renewal= 15-Daily,Probe" in your list header. (You can experiment with other numbers, but since we have two messages and will be using &DAYSEQ(2), we need an odd renewal period.) We'll also assume that you want to send two versions of your FAQ each month; the first, a complete FAQ document, and the second, an abbreviated "reminder" version that just contains information about how to sign off, how to post to the list, and so forth. The basic algorithm is therefore:

When &DAYSEQ(2) = 1, send the full FAQ.
When &DAYSEQ(2) = 2, as it will 15 days later, send the abbreviated FAQ.

Your PROBE1 template form would thus look like this:

>>> PROBE1 Periodic FAQ posting for &LISTNAME
.BB &DAYSEQ(2) = 1 
This is the complete FAQ for &LISTNAME.  Please read it and keep a copy 
for future reference. A FAQ document for &LISTNAME is distributed every
15 days, the full FAQ alternating with a shorter "reminder" FAQ.

<body of the full FAQ document>
.BB &DAYSEQ(2) = 2
This is the abbreviated FAQ for &LISTNAME. Please read it and keep a copy
for future reference. A FAQ document for &LISTNAME is distributed every 
15 days, the full FAQ alternating with a shorter "reminder" FAQ.

<body of the abbreviated FAQ document>

9.8.3. Calculating the value for DAYSEQ()

When you first start using a rotating banner with the &DAYSEQ variable, the &DAYSEQ(n)= 1 period begins based on the number of days elapsed since a baseline. On VM (and in REXX generally) you can calculate today's value easily with:

/* */ 
say Date('B') + 1

If you do not have access to a REXX interpreter, Date('B') is described as "the number of complete days (that is, not including the current day) since and including the base date, 1 Jan 0001, in the format 'dddddd' (no leading zeros or blanks)."

For example, for Friday 21 May 1999, the value of Date('B') is 729895. This value increases by one every day at midnight.

10. Solving Problems

10.1. Helping subscribers figure out the answers

As the saying goes: "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for life." The analogy can and should be extended to all Internet users, not the least of whom are your own subscribers.

Depending on your own preferences, some requests from subscribers for operations that they can perform for themselves can be fulfilled by you as the list owner, or by the subscribers with some coaching from you. While it is a negative approach, the list owner can never assume that the subscriber reads or saves the materials sent to him at the time of subscription. Thus you will have to deal on a regular basis with users who ask how to unsubscribe, or how to get archive files, or how to set their subscription to DIGEST or NOMAIL.

Often these requests for help are posted directly to the list. The proactive approach to this problem is to do one or both of two things:

If a user asks a question about a topic that has been discussed previously, you might suggest in a tactful way that the answer can be found in the archives. If your host server supports the LISTSERV database functions, you might even include a sample DATABASE JOB that the user can "clip and send" to LISTSERV.

Often it is tempting to simply "get things over with" and take care of the user's request in many cases -- the user wants to be set to NOMAIL because he's going on vacation, the user wants off the list, etc. -- but while this solves the short-term problem, it doesn't teach the user anything. Naturally it takes more time to be a coach than it does to be the all-powerful list administrator, but the goodwill you can create by being proactive rather than reactive outweighs the convenience of simply sending the command yourself. You will find that many subscribers appreciate the fact that someone takes the time to explain the complexities of LISTSERV to them.

In order to cut down on the time it takes to respond in "coaching" situations, many list owners prepare "boilerplate" files with the answers to common questions that they can simply "cut and paste" into return mail. (Several such "boilerplate" files are included in Appendix C.)

10.2. Loop-checking can cause occasional problems with quoted replies

(See also 4.7.5.)

By default, LISTSERV's internal loop-checking routines look for anything in the body of a mail message that looks like a header line -- specifically anything that looks like a "To:", "Sender:", or "Reply-To:" header line. If it finds anything like this, LISTSERV intercepts the message and sends it to the list owner (or the person(s) designated by the "Errors-To=" keyword) as an error.

Often a user who replies to list mail includes all or part of the message he is replying to as part of his reply ("quoting"). While this is a questionable practice to begin with, unfortunately a number of popular mail programs make it worse by including the quoted message in its entirety (including header lines) in the body of the reply. For instance, the following message ended up in the author's error mailbox:

The enclosed message, found in the ACCESS-L mailbox and shown under the spool
ID 6305 in the  system log, has been identified as  a possible delivery error
notice  for the  following reason:  "Sender:", "From:"  or "Reply-To:"  field
pointing to the list has been found in mail body.

------------------------ Message in error (42 lines) --------------------------
Received: by access.mbnet.mb.ca id AA05697
  (5.67b/IDA-1.4.4 for Microsoft Access Database Discussion List
<ACCESS-L@peach.ease.lsoft.com>); Wed, 1 Mar 1995 10:26:29 -0600
Date: Wed, 1 Mar 1995 10:26:29 -0600
From: xxxxxx xxxxxxxxx <xxx@MBNET.MB.CA>
Message-Id: <199503011626.AA05697@access.mbnet.mb.ca>
To: Microsoft Access Database Discussion List
Message-Id: <199503011626.AA05697@access.mbnet.mb.ca>
To: Microsoft Access Database Discussion List
Subject: Re:      Re: Foxpro listserv address
X-Mailer: AIR Mail 3.X (SPRY, Inc.)

<---- Begin Included Message ---->
Date:         Thu, 23 Feb 1995 01:17:36 -0500
From: xxxxxxx@xxx.com
Sender: Microsoft Access Database Discussion List
Subject:      Re: Foxpro listserv address
To: Microsoft Access Database Discussion List

>BTW, I don't know why she is still on Foxpro, I thought they went out
>into the desert??
><---- End Included Message ---->

(subscriber's reply deleted)
Figure 10.1. Sample error message with included headers.

The problem with this reply was two-fold, from a list owner's standpoint. First (a netiquette issue), the sender didn't bother to remove unnecessary header lines from his reply. If properly formatted, however, this would not normally cause an error.

Second, the mail software he was using didn't include ">" characters at the beginning of every line of the included message. Had it done so, the message would have passed through LISTSERV unhindered.

One variation on this error is mail software that quotes messages by adding the ">" character followed by a space for esthetic reasons. For instance, using the above error as an example:

> Date:         Thu, 23 Feb 1995 01:17:36 -0500
> From: xxxxxxx@xxx.com
> Sender: Microsoft Access Database Discussion List
> Subject:      Re: Foxpro listserv address
> To: Microsoft Access Database Discussion List

> BTW, I don't know why she is still on Foxpro, I thought they went out
> into the desert??
Figure 10.2. A slightly different sample error message with included headers.

This won't work either. Generally this is a client configuration problem and it can be fixed by setting the quoting character in the client's configuration file.

On the other hand, the following quote would have worked:

> Date:         Thu, 23 Feb 1995 01:17:36 -0500
>From: xxxxxxx@xxx.com
>Sender: Microsoft Access Database Discussion List
>Subject:      Re: Foxpro listserv address
>To: Microsoft Access Database Discussion List

>BTW, I don't know why she is still on Foxpro, I thought they went out
>into the desert??
Figure 10.3. A correctly-formatted message with included headers.

The ultimate solution to the problem is to warn subscribers to limit their quoting to a minimum, and in any case to be sure to delete anything that looks like a header line in the body of their reply.

10.3. User can't unsubscribe and/or change personal options

See Chapter 4, section 4.2 where this is discussed in detail.

10.4. Firewalls

Firewalls on the Internet are set up for essentially the same reason firewalls are designed into buildings and automobiles -- to keep dangerous things (in this case, hackers, viruses, and similar undesirable intruders) from getting in and wreaking havoc with sensitive data. Unfortunately, they don't always keep people from behind them from sending mail out, and this can cause problems when users from such sites attempt to subscribe to lists.

If your list is set to confirm all subscriptions with the "magic cookie" method ("Subscription= Open,Confirm"), you will receive an error message any time a user from a firewalled site attempts to subscribe, since the "cookie" confirmation message will bounce off the firewall. If your list is not set to confirm subscriptions, the same user will be able to subscribe to your list but all mail sent to him will bounce.

Some firewalls reportedly can recognize "friendly" LISTSERV mail and let it through, but because of security considerations, it is unlikely that this problem will ever completely go away. Thankfully it does not seem to be a major cause of mailing list errors.

10.5. What to do if LISTSERV won't store your list

LISTSERV expects list files to be delivered to it without any formatting characters (excluding, of course, the carriage return-line feed at the end of each line). This can cause a problem if you try to store the entire list (header and subscribers) using a mail client that inserts line-wrap characters into text longer than 80 columns. Specifically, one client that does this is Pine; others that can cause problem are cc:Mail and just about any Windows POP client.

There are a couple of ways to get around this problem.

  1. Don't get the entire list if all you're going to do is edit the header. Use the GET listname (HEADER syntax to get the header only, and use ADD and DELETE commands to manipulate the subscriber list. This is the preferred method.

  2. If you have to get the entire list, e.g., in order to delete a subscriber manually, use a client that does not wrap text (or turn off line wrap if possible). If you are on a unix system that has mailx installed, you can store a list from the command line with the command syntax

    mailx listserv@host < listfile

    Note that L-Soft does not recommend hand-editing the subscriber list; it is preferable to use wildcards to delete problem addresses, and using an editor to do this should always be the last resort.

  3. If all else fails, you can use a public-domain utility called LB64 to convert the list file into a base-64 command JOB that LISTSERV will understand. This utility is generally available from the VM LISTSERV sites; send a GET LB64 C command to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.NET if you can't find it anywhere else. Note that this is an unsupported utility. You will need to compile it with a C compiler (not supplied). The utility is primarily for users on unix systems, although with two minor modifications it can also be used on 32-bit Windows systems.

10.6. If I can't find the answer, where do I turn?

Two LISTSERV lists exist for list owner and LISTSERV maintainer questions.

LSTSRV-L is the LISTSERV give-and-take forum. Its primary mission is to provide assistance to LISTSERV maintainers, but it can also be of interest to list owners who desire a more in-depth knowledge of the workings of the system. To subscribe to LSTSRV-L, send your subscription request to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.NET.

LSTOWN-L is the LISTSERV list owners' discussion list, where list owners can get assistance on list maintenance and other aspects of list ownership. To subscribe to LSTOWN-L, send your subscription request to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.NET.

11. Using the Web Adminstration Interface

LISTSERV 1.8d introduces a powerful web-based interface for the management of existing mailing lists (currently it is not possible to create a mailing list with the interface). Virtually all list management operations can be accomplished via this interface, which is tied into LISTSERV's own password manager for security.

Please note carefully that this interface cannot be used to manage lists that are coded Validate= Yes,Confirm,NoPW or Validate= All,Confirm,NoPW , because passwords are not accepted for validation in those cases.

11.1. Default LISTSERV Home Page

Starting with LISTSERV 1.8d the interface includes a default home page for LISTSERV. Typically this is reached by using the URL:

On unix: http://yourhost.domain/cgi-bin/wa
On VMS: http://yourhost.domain/htbin/wa
On Windows: http://yourhost.domain/scripts/wa.exe
         or http://yourhost.domain/cgi-bin/wa.exe

Of course this is not standardized; the location of the 'wa' script is determined by the value of WWW_ARCHIVE_CGI in LISTSERV's site configuration file. In any case, invoking 'wa' without any parameters returns the default home page, which looks like this:

(NOTE: The links shown on these pages will not work from the manual. For a working demonstration site, see http://demo.lsoft.com or see the appropriate pages on your own site.)