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L-Soft international, Inc.
List Owner's Manual
LISTSERV™, version 1.8b
May 23, 1996
Revision 3
The reference number of this document is 9605-UD-02.

To comment on this manual, please write to manuals@lsoft.com
L-Soft international, Inc.

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.

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

L-SOFT, LISTSERV and LMail are trademarks 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 and VMS are trademarks of Digital Equipment Corporation.
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Reference Number 9605-UD-02

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:

URL: http://www.lsoft.com/manuals/index.html

L-Soft invites comment on its manuals. Please feel free to send your comments via e-mail to MANUALS@LSOFT.COM.

Table of Contents

Preface: LISTSERV Command Syntax Conventions

1. About Mailing Lists and LISTSERV

2. Starting a Mailing List - The Basics

3. Advertising Your Public Mailing Lists 4. Managing Subscriptions 5. Setting Subscription Options For Subscribers 6. Moderating and Editing Lists 7. Overview of List Archives 8. Overview of File Archives 9. Customizing LISTSERV's Default Mail Templates 10. Gatewaying to USENET 11. Solving Problems Appendix A: System Reference Library for LISTSERV version 1.8b
Appendix B: List Keyword Alphabetical Reference for LISTSERV version 1.8b
Appendix C: Sample Boilerplate Files
Appendix D: Related Documentation and Support
Appendix E: Acknowledgments

L-Soft international, Inc.

List Owner's Manual
LISTSERV™, version 1.8b
May 23, 1996
Revision 3

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        BITNET nodeid or Internet hostname of a BITNET 
            machine which has taken care of supplying an 
            ':internet' tag in its BITEARN NODES entry; 
            or the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) of
            an Internet host.
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, VMS™, unix®and Windows NT™, and has already been ported to Windows 95™ (formerly Windows 4.0).

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 Documents and Support, for information on how to get one.

2. Starting a Mailing List - The Basics

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 "List of Lists" maintained by LISTSERV itself. Send the command

LIST 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, LIST GLOBAL IBM would result in the following being returned to you:

Excerpt from the LISTSERV lists known to LISTSERV@PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM 
on 6 Feb 1995 09:57
Search string: IBM

* 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

                 IBM AIX Discussion List
                 IBM AIX News to Mail Distribution
Figure 2.1. Sample output of LIST GLOBAL IBM

(63 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 site.[2] 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.

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 who) 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), whether or not the list is protected by a password, 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. Retrieving and editing the list - some considerations

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 GET listname command to LISTSERV. This will cause the server to mail you a copy of the entire list (header and subscriber list).

If you want to change header keyword settings only, it is probably advisable to issue the GET command with the (header switch:

GET listname (header

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:

GET listname (header nolock

(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: 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).

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:


2.6. 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 have Editor= 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 2.2. 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.

2.7. Adding and changing a list password

When creating the list, the LISTSERV maintainer should assign a password for the list. If this password was not assigned, it is highly recommended that you GET the list header as described in section 2.10 (use the (HEADER NOLOCK options) and add a line to the header as follows:


Replace "MYPASSWD" with the word you choose. Note that there should not be a space between "PW=" and your password. This is the only way to change the list password; for security's sake, there is no LISTSERV command that will change it "on the fly". For additional security, the list password never appears in the list header on subsequent GETs; to all intents and purposes it is invisible once it is assigned.

You can change the list password whenever you store the list by assigning a new value to the "PW=" keyword, but when you store the list with the changed password, you must use the old password in the PUT command line (because until you actually store the new password, LISTSERV will still be looking for the old one). See section 2.9 (below) for an example of a list header ready to be stored with a new password defined.

2.8. 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 password you have previously defined with the PW= list header keyword. 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.

2.9. 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.

2.10. A sample list header file

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. 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,A,Monthly,Public
* Errors-To= Owner
* Subscription= Open,Confirm
* Ack= Yes                 Confidential= No              Notify= No
* Files= No                Mail-Via= Distribute          Validate= No
* Reply-to= List,Respect   Review= Public                Send= Public
* Stats= Normal,Private    X-Tags= Yes
* Default-Options= NoFiles,NoRepro
* This list installed on 95/02/02, running under L-Soft's LISTSERV-TCP/IP
* version 1.8b for Windows NT.
* Comment lines...
Figure 2.3. A sample list header file for a list called MYLIST.

Below, we've now edited 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 the password assigned by the LISTSERV maintainer, and note also the PW= keyword in the body of the list header which will define a new password.

* The Descriptive Title of My List
* Owner= NATHAN@LSOFT.COM (Nathan Brindle)
* Owner= Quiet:
* Owner= nathan@linus.dc.lsoft.com
* Owner= ncbnet@linus.dc.lsoft.com
* Notebook= Yes,A,Monthly,Public
* AutoDelete= Yes,Full-Auto
* Errors-To= ncbnet@linus.dc.lsoft.com
* Subscription= Open,Confirm
* Ack= Yes                 Confidential= No              Notify= No
* Files= No                Mail-Via= Distribute          Validate= No
* Reply-to= List,Respect   Review= Public                Send= Public
* Stats= Normal,Private    X-Tags= Yes
* Default-Options= NoFiles,NoRepro
* This list installed on 95/02/02, running under L-Soft's LISTSERV-TCP/IP
* version 1.8b for Windows NT.
* Comment lines...
Figure 2.4. The edited list header file ready to be sent back to the server.

2.11. 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.

2.11.1. 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 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.

The next level is VALIDATE= YES. At this level, LISTSERV requires a password for all of its "protected" commands. This password can be either the list password or the sender's personal 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 VMS or Unix systems never require validation, as they cannot be forged. See Appendix B for more information on the VALIDATE= keyword.

2.11.2. 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.

2.11.3. 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
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
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:
defines the service area as "HOST.COM and all subdomains ending in .HOST.COM".

2.11.4 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 allow anyone, including non-subscribers, to review the list, set REVIEW= PUBLIC (which is also the default).

To restrict reviews of the list to subscribers only, set REVIEW= PRIVATE.

To restrict reviews of the list to list owners only, set REVIEW= OWNERS.

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).

2.11.5 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: It is not advised to change the location (second) parameter of the Notebook= keyword without prior approval from the LISTSERV maintainer. Setting this parameter to an illegal value will generate errors that will cause LISTSERV to place your list on hold until the error is corrected.

If enabled, notebook archives are private by default.

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

Below is a sample of the editor-header for a list set to Send= Editor,Hold:
 "L-Soft list server at PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM (1.8b)"
Subject:      ACCESS-L: approval required (701AC4)
To:           Nathan Brindle <NATHAN@LSOFT.COM>

This  message  was  originally  submitted  by  joe@unix1.foo.bar.com  to  the  
ACCESS-L  list at  PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM. You  can approve  it using  the "OK"  
mechanism,  ignore it,  or repost  an edited  copy. The  message will  expire  
automatically and you do not need to  do anything if you just want to discard  
it. Please refer to  the list owner's guide if you are  not familiar with the  
"OK" mechanism; these instructions are being kept purposefully short for your  
convenience in processing large numbers of messages.                           
------------------------ Original message (26 lines) --------------------------

Figure 2.5	The editor-header for a list set to Send= Editor,Hold
A final 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[,Hold]
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.

2.11.7. 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.

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

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.

Also note that the confirmations must come from the user id that originated the command. You cannot send a command from one account and then approve it from another.

2.11.8 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).

2.11.9 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 (no wildcards) 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.

    3. Advertising Your Public Mailing Lists

    3.1. List of Lists

    LISTSERV automatically produces a List of Lists that may be reviewed by users anywhere on the Internet via the LIST GLOBAL command. This List of Lists is made up of one-line entries containing the short listname and the descriptive title of the list (up to about 60 characters in length). A sample of the List of Lists format was shown in Chapter 2.

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

    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.

    3.3. The NEW-LIST project at North Dakota State

    The NEW-LIST project was started in 1989 to promote mailing lists via a mailing list. NEW-LIST@VM1.NODAK.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 can:

    (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.)

    3.4. 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 Gopher or WWW client at the INTERNIC gopher, rs.internic.net.

    3.5. 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.


    3.6. 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@whitehose.gov>

    4.1.1 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 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 delete one of these addresses by simply cutting and pasting it into a DELETE command.

    For instance, you might have an address like:


    In order to 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).
    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.

    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 mailing lists to LISTSERV from other systems

    If you are moving a list from a non-LISTSERV site, you can quickly and easily convert the existing list file 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: QUIET ADD listname DD=X IMPORT
      //X DD *

      where "listname" is the name of the new list, and "user1", "user2" and other users are the entries from the original list that you want to add to the new list. (You should remove any lines from the original list that do not actually identify subscriber addresses.)

    3. Send the job to LISTSERV.
    The IMPORT option speeds up the operation of adding many subscribers "in bulk" at one time by causing LISTSERV to omit success messages and to relax syntax checking.

    4.4. 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

    4.5. Dealing with bounced mail

    4.5.1. 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.

    4.5.2. What to do about several types of bounces

    Here are a few of the typical mail errors you will have to deal with as a list owner:

    1. no such user at host

      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.

    2. no such host

      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

      Similar to "no such host". Comes from a different lookup system, and generally means the same thing.

    4. Transient failure: cannot deliver for n days

      A host is experiencing periodic failures, and the gateway or intermediate host will store the message for n days and 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

      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.

    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
    Bill Smith <LLONG%StarShip%Dora@BOONDOCK.TERTIUS.COM>
    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.

    4.5.3. 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.

    4.6. Automatic and semi-automatic deletion

    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 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.

    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)".

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

    4.6.1. 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"). No one 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.

    4.7. 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 to 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.

    4.8. 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.

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

    * Renewal= interval
    * Renewal= interval,Delay(number)

    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 Appendix B for more information on renewal and delay periods.)

    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() 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

    4.9. The SERVE command

    If a user sends more than 21 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.

    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.

    4.10. "Peering" large 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 2 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.

    You should ALWAYS contact the LISTSERV maintainer before deciding to link your list to another LISTSERV. Although there is no problem about linking to another L-Soft LISTSERV list, linking to a non-L-Soft mailing list manager is not supported 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.)

    4.10.1 Moving users from one (peer) server to another:

    You should be aware of the fact that a 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:

    4.10.2 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.

    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,

    Q listname with DIGEST CONCEAL FOR *@*

    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.

    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, 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:

    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 your server is not yet running version 1.8b.

    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.

    5.3.3. INDex/NOINDex [VM only]

    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.

    5.3.4. 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.

    5.3.5. 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

    Note: In version 1.8b, the obsolete FULLHDR and SHORTHDR options were renamed to FULL822 and SHORT822, while the normal BSMTP-style header options were renamed to FULLHDR and SHORTHDR. The FULL822/SHORT822 options are only required by a small number of ancient BITNET mail systems.

    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) 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.

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


    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.

    5.3.7. 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.

    5.3.8. TOPICS

    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 6, for more information on this syntax.

    5.3.9. POST/NOPOST

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


    This option may be set only by list owners or the LISTSERV maintainer, and is effective only on moderated lists. 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.


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

    5.3.12. RENEW/NORENEW

    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= DIGEST,NOREPRO,NOACK

    * 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.

    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).

    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.

    Finally, if your mailing list has an international audience, you will need to 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. In most cases, the official language will 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

    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.

    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.

    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. This defaults to the primary list owner if no other editor is defined. 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 6A943C

    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 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 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,...topic11

    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.

    Finally, it is important to note that topics are active only when the subscriber's subscription is set to MAIL. Digests are indexes always contain all the postings that were made, because the same digest is prepared and sent to all the subscribers.

    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.

    See Appendix B 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. 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.

    3. 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@lsoft.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
      • a notice regarding the volume of mail subscribers can expect from the list
      • any newsgroups that echo the list
      • ftp sites for the list
      • where to send LISTSERV commands
      • where to find more in-depth information about the list (if you do a quarterly administrative posting or have a FAQ, where can it be found?)
    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 is used on ACCESS-L@PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM, and is intended as a tool to get feedback from users. ACCESS-L's list owner typically receives 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:

      • The person responsible for the spam is probably not subscribed to the list, and any response back to the list will not reach that person.

      • An appropriate response to a spam is to forward a single copy of the spam to the person in charge of the site from which the spam originated ("POSTMASTER", "ROOT", etc.) pointing out that the spammer is probably violating his site's appropriate use policies.

      • It is inappropriate to attempt to flood the spammer's mailbox with network mail in response. This is probably in violation of your network's appropriate use policies, and it just wastes bandwidth.

      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 servers.[3] 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.

      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.

      7.2.1 Indexing available archive notebooks

      To find out what archive notebooks are available for your list, simply send the INDex listname command to LISTSERV.

      7.2.2. 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. Note that extra carriage return and/or line feed characters following the PUT command are considered text to be stored on the server, and you will end up with a very short file consisting of cr/lf combinations corresponding to the number of times you hit RETURN after the PUT command. The best way to avoid this is to type the PUT command without a following RETURN and send the mail.

      7.3. Database Functions Overview [VM only]

      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.

      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

      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   *
      Select 'Digest=' in LSTOWN-L
      Figure 7.3.  Sample CJLI job.
      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:

      > Select '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   *
      Select '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. Narrowing the search

      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:

      Select 'Digest=' in LSTOWN-L since 94/01/01
      Select 'Digest=' in LSTOWN-L where sender contains 'Thomas'
      Select * in LSTOWN-L where sender is ERIC@SEARN
      Select * 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 or from any other LISTSERV host. You can send either a "GET LISTDB MEMO" command or an "INFO DATABASE" command to retrieve the file.

      8. Overview of File Archives

      There are three file server systems currently in use or under development for LISTSERV:

      • The VM (mainframe) version of LISTSERV supports the "traditional" file server system. While it is very powerful, this file server system dates back to 1986 and suffers from a few annoying limitations. In addition, it is written in a non portable language. This will be replaced with the "new" file server system, currently under development.
      • The workstation and PC versions of LISTSERV support a "temporary" file server system, to provide an interim solution while the new system is being developed. This temporary system only supports a subset of the functions of the traditional system.
      • The "new", portable file server system will be a superset of the traditional system, in terms of functionality. Most end user commands will continue to work as before. However, there is no guarantee that the internal data files manipulated by the file server functions will remain as before.
      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 two systems are going to be replaced by the third system (projected for the end of 1995), rather than providing an exhaustive chapter detailing all filelist aspects from the list owner side, we have provided only a basic overview of the two systems currently in the field, 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 owner.[4]

      On Workstation and PC Systems

      With the temporary system, the LISTSERV maintainer stores these definitions in a file called SITE.CATALOG, which should be placed in the same directory with the SYSTEM.CATALOG file.. While files called "xxxx FILELIST" can be created and users can retrieve them, they do not in turn define further files. The new file server system will eliminate this confusion, but in the meantime you should be aware of the differences between VM and workstation file server functions as many list owners use a VM server with different conventions, and may give you incorrect advice. On workstation and PC systems, the LISTSERV maintainer must register files individually in the site catalog. Since the current system for workstations and PCs will be replaced, L-Soft does not recommend that separate FILELISTs be created on these systems unless there is a pressing reason to do so.

      8.3. Filelist maintenance (VM systems only)

      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 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.
      (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:
        PUT filename FILELIST PW=XXXXXXXX 
        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. Giving other users access to files on workstation systems

      To register a new file to the server on workstation systems, the LISTSERV maintainer adds a line to the SITE.CATALOG file. Here is what a typical SITE.CATALOG entry looks like under Windows NT:


      And the same entry under Unix would look like this:

      MY.FILE my.file./files/xyz XXX YYY

      (Note that under Unix, LISTSERV does not observe case-sensitivity. Therefore you cannot define two different files with the same non-case-sensitive filename. In other words, LISTSERV will not differentiate between MY.FILE and my.file, or even My.File.)

      Finally, here is a VMS example:


      The first item, MY.FILE, is the name by which the file is known to LISTSERV. That is, the users will use GET MY.FILE to order a copy of that file. The name should only contain one period. Only the first 8 characters of the name and the first 8 characters of the extension are shown by the INDEX command. This restriction will be removed with the new file server system.

      The second item, MY.FILE.C:\FILES\XYZ, is the name LISTSERV will use for the actual disk file: filename, period, extension, period, directory. The strange format is because LISTSERV uses an operating system abstraction layer for file accesses, where all system-dependent attributes are relegated to the last item. Note that the directory must be created before you register the file. For security reasons, LISTSERV will not create the directory (or set the protections) for you. Note that LISTSERV will normally need full access to these files.

      The third and fourth items are "File Access Codes" (FACs). The first is for read accesses, and the second for writing. 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.

      IMPORTANT: These "file access codes" apply to LISTSERV commands (GET, PUT, INDEX) only, and not to the workstation or PC's file security system. It is your responsibility to protect the actual disk file by setting the file protections for the directory in which they are created.

      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 the site catalog. Then mail the file to LISTSERV with a single line at the top of the document:

      1. Edit your file and save it. Add a single line at the top of the file as follows:

      PUT filename.extension PW=XXXXXXXX

      (This line will not appear to people who GET the file from LISTSERV.) Replace XXXXXXXX with your personal password.

      2. Be sure that the file has been registered with an entry in a filelist or the site catalog.

      3. 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.

      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. Create a new mail message addressed to LISTSERV. Add a single line at the top of the message as follows:
        PUT filename.extension PW=XXXXXXXX (DELETE
        Replace XXXXXXXX with your personal password.
      2. 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.
      3. Send the mail message to LISTSERV.
      4. LISTSERV will respond one of two ways:
        • On VM: LISTSERV will tell you that the file has been successfully deleted.
        • On Other Versions: LISTSERV will tell you that the file has been successfully stored. This is because under the temporary file system you are actually storing a zero-byte file in place of the file on the server rather than actually erasing the file.
      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: Notify the LISTSERV postmaster that you have deleted the file so that it can be deleted from SITE.CATALOG.

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

      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 has 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.

      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 filelist for a file called filename $PACKAGE , where filename is the name you have chosen for the group of files. Be sure that the filetype is $PACKAGE, with a $ sign, and store your filelist.

      Now create a file called filename $PACKAGE that looks like this:

      * Packing list for MYLIST PACKAGE
      * You can make other comments here, such as 
      * the contact email address.
      * filename filetype filelist
      Figure 8.3.   Sample file package.
      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.

      8.9. Where to find more information on File Archives

      A number of guides that refer to File Archive setup and maintenance are referenced in Appendix D, Related Documentation and Support.

      9. Customizing LISTSERV's Default Mail Templates

      9.1. What LISTSERV uses mail templates for

      Mail 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.

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

      LISTSERV stores the default mail template information in a file called DEFAULT.MAILTPL, which can be requested by list owners from LISTSERV with the GET command, just like any other file.

      9.3. Mail template format and embedded formatting commands

      Each template starts with a form name and subject line, such as:

      >>> EXAMPLE1 This is the subject line

      The template 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 templates must be typed in UPPER CASE.

      The template 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. 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 (29 Jul 1993)
      &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
      &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 
      &RELEASE            LISTSERV's release number (e.g., "1.8b").
      &OSTYPE             The operating system under which LISTSERV is running, e.g.,
      &OSNAME             The full operating system name including the version number,
                          e.g., "VM/ESA 1.2.3", "Windows NT 3.51", "Linux 1.1.88", 
                          "SunOS 5.4", etc.
      &HARDWARE           The type of machine LISTSERV is running on, e.g., "Pentium
      The following substitutions are also available for templates related to mailing lists:
      &LISTNAME           The name of the list per the "List-Address=" keyword or
                          its default value.
      &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.
      In addition, many templates have their own specific substitutions, meaningful only in their specific context. For instance, a message informing a user that he was removed from a mailing list may have an &INVOKER substitution for the address of the person who issued the DELETE command. This is not meaningful for a template informing 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."

      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 to send new subscribers a questionnaire, application form or similar material, you will need to add a '.TO &WHOM' instruction to your modified template, as by default the user will not receive a copy.

      .QQ Cancels the message. LISTSERV stops reading the template 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.

      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 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".
      .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.
      .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.
      .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.

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

      Make a copy of DEFAULT.MAILTPL on your local machine and name it listname.MAILTPL.[5] 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 section 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 section but leave the rest of the template untouched, you can delete the rest of the template and store the INFO section 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.

      9.4.1. The INFO section

      The first section of DEFAULT.MAILTPL is called the INFO section, 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
      the list owners at the generic address:
      .ce &LISTNAME-Request@&MYHOST
      .dd &LISTHDR
      Figure 9.1.	The default contents of the INFO section 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 mail template 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 mail template (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 section 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 section for a list called MONKEYS:[6]

      >>> 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:
      .ce &LISTNAME-Request@&MYHOST
      Figure 9.2.	Sample edited INFO section for a mail template.

      9.4.2. Other useful templates

      Version 1.8b introduced many new configurable message templates, and, in particular, two new types of message templates for "linear" and optional messages. 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. The template processor now supports "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. Here is a list of these template messages:

      • SUB_CLOSED (linear): this is the message that is sent to a subscriber attempting to join a list with "Subscription= Closed". The default is "Sorry, the &LISTNAME list is closed. Contact the list owner (&OWNER) for more information."
      • SUB_OWNER (linear): this message is sent to a subscriber attempting to join a list with "Subscription= By owner". The default is "Your request to join the &LISTNAME list has been forwarded to the list owner for approval. If you have any question about the list, you can reach the list owner at &OWNER." Because this is a linear template (see below), it is not the best place to put long questionnaires, application forms, terms and conditions, or other material that the subscriber should be required to review prior to joining the list. See the "Tips" section below.
      • POST_EDITOR (linear): this is the message LISTSERV sends to people attempting to post to the list, if it is moderated. The default is "Your &MESSAGE has been submitted to the moderator of the &LISTNAME list: &MBX(&MODERATOR)."
      • TOP_BANNER, BOTTOM_BANNER (optional): when these templates are present, their contents are automatically inserted at the top (respectively bottom) of each and every message posted to the list. Typically, the top banner would be used for a copyright or short legal warning which absolutely has to be seen by each and every reader. The bottom banner could contain instructions for signing off the list, a disclaimer, an acknowledgement of a sponsor's contribution, a "tip of the week", etc. For digests, note that the BOTTOM_BANNER is printed only once, at the top of the digest, directly following the table of contents. This avoids having the banner repeat after every message in the digest.
      • REQACK1: this message is sent automatically in reply to any message sent to the xxx-request address. The message acknowledges receipt, explains the difference between the LISTSERV and xxx-request addresses, and contains instructions for joining and leaving the list. To suppress this message for your list, simply redefine it in the 'listname.MAILTPL' and use the .QQ instruction:

        >>> REQACK1 This message is not wanted for our list

      • AUTODEL1: this is the message that is sent to users who are deleted by the delivery error monitor. You can customize it to fit your needs, or suppress it using the same procedure as for REQACK1.
      • POSTACK1 (optional): when present, this message is sent in reply to any message posted to the list. This is very useful for creating "infobots", or just for returning a standard acknowledgement to contributors. The &SUBJECT variable contains the subject of the original message, and naturally the usual substitutions (&LISTNAME, &DATE, &TIME) are available.
      • ADDREQ1 (changed): this message, which was already present in version 1.8a, is sent to the list owner when a user requests to join a list with "Subscription= By owner". In version 1.8a, a copy of the message was sent to the subscriber, to confirm that the request had indeed been forwarded to the list owner. Unfortunately this was confusing to the many novice users who do not understand the difference between primary and secondary message recipients ('To:' vs 'cc:'). In version 1.8b, only the list owner is sent a copy of the ADDREQ1 template. If you were using this template to send new subscribers a questionnaire, application form or similar material, you will need to add a '.TO &WHOM` instruction to your modified template, as by default the user will no longer receive a copy.
      In a linear message, most special instructions are ignored. This is because the contents of the template 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.

      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.

      (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.)

      10. Gatewaying to Newsgroups

      10.1. Why would I want to?

      There are a number of reasons why it might be reasonable to gateway a list. Some users may not be able to reach your LISTSERV host (or vice-versa) via e-mail, but have a good USENET connection. Others may have limited mailbox space and prefer to use a news reader. Still others may have no experience with mailing lists at all before they encounter USENET. In any case, if you are looking for a wider audience for a list, gatewaying it to a newsgroup may be a logical step.

      10.2. How to go about it

      If you are contemplating gatewaying a list, get the document NETGATE POLICY from LISTSERV@AMERICAN.EDU. This document was written by Jim McIntosh of American University (jim@american.edu), and outlines the procedures you will need to follow in order to gateway a LISTSERV list to USENET.

      NETGATE POLICY is also available via anonymous ftp to american.edu (cd netnews). You can also get a package of related files by sending a GET NETGATE PACKAGE command to LISTSERV@AMERICAN.EDU.

      10.3 Special considerations and problems with gatewaying

      Well-behaved newsgroup gateways will identify themselves as the source of postings. This makes it possible for NetNews postings to come to the list if you have coded your list Send= Private (or "Send= Editor" and "Editor= userid@host,(listname)" - in any case, any configuration that prevents non-subscribers from posting to the list), since the USENET gateway is subscribed to your list. Misconfigured gateways may not include this information, causing gatewayed mail to bounce.

      If your list is coded for automatic subscription renewal with the "Renewal=" keyword, the subscription for a news gateway should always be exempted from the subscription renewal process (SET xxxxx@yyyyy NORENEW). This will keep LISTSERV from sending the renewal message through the gateway and confusing users who are not subscribed to your list.

      Spamming (see Chapter 6.9) was originally created on USENET, and is much more prevalent there than on mailing lists because it is easier to do. If you gateway to NetNews, be forewarned that you will be opening your list up to spamming via that source.

      If the topic of your list is particularly controversial, you may want to think twice before gatewaying. Flame wars are much more common on USENET than on mailing lists (although this position could be argued from both sides on certain mailing lists). If you are considering gatewaying to an existing newsgroup, take some time to read the postings there before making a final decision.

      Above all, poll your subscribers about the change before making a final decision. Some may have no objections - others may have violent objections. Gatewaying a list can be a touchy subject, particularly if some of your subscribers are ex-USENET users.

      11. Solving Problems

      11.1. 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.)

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

      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 11.1.	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 11.2.	A slightly different sample error message with included
      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 11.3.	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.

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

      See Chapter 4, section 4.1 where this is discussed in detail.

      11.4. 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.

      11.5. 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.

      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.

        11.6. 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.


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        Appendix A: System Reference Library for LISTSERV version 1.8b
        Appendix B: List Keyword Alphabetical Reference for LISTSERV version 1.8b
        Appendix C: Sample Boilerplate Files
        Appendix D: Related Documentation and Support
        Appendix E: Acknowledgments