Listserv FAQ and Definitions

A Listserv is a sophisticated e-mail distribution list with a significant number of owner and user options. A Listserv is established for the two-way communication of the list members who share a common interest.


The list owner is the person responsible for the list. Typically, the person who requests the creation of a Listserv is the owner. Zero or more individuals (which may include the owner) may be moderators who receive messages sent to the Listserv and determine if those messages should be re-distributed to the entire list membership. In the absences of any moderators, all messages sent to the list are automatically redistributed to all members. List members or subscribers are those individuals who have joined the list of members and who subsequently receive messages that were sent to the Listserv.

A Listserv at UNO will be private. A private list will require a request for membership and afterwards allow only list member to send messages to the List and be re-distributed afterwards.

A Listserv can also be open or closed. An open list is one for which an individual can subscribe (i.e., join) and unsubscribe (i.e., discontinue membership) as desired. A closed list is one requires that an individual must request membership as well as request termination. Only the owner can allow a particular individual to join the list. Additionally, the owner can indicate that particular individuals will be members of the list without those individuals applying for membership. Open lists seem to be more popular with list owners.

A one-way announcement list is one that only sends messages (e.g., announcements) to the members. The individual members cannot respond or send messages to the list to be redistributed to the entire membership.

A two-way discussion list is one that allows any member to send a message to the list that will be redistributed to the entire membership. This is the typical type of Listserv.

A moderated list is a variation of a two-way discussion list has one or more individuals who act as editors or moderators - they review each potential message, and perhaps modify it, before the message is sent to the membership. Moderated lists are less than popular with list owners because of the extra effort involved in acting as a moderator. If the common interest of the list may become controversial in nature, a moderated list is strongly recommended.

Archives are collections of all messages that were posted to the list during a certain time period (e.g., a particular month). These collections can be reviewed at virtually any time by the subscribers.

Digests are periodic collections of messages that are sent to users who request them. One digest is sent rather than the individual messages as they are posted to the list.

Listsersv's were originally created to accommodate only e-mail messages and responses. Now there is also a web-interface. The e-mail described is outlined first.

Request a Listserve Distribution List

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I determine which Listserv Distribution lists are available?

To determine which Listserv's are available at UNO, point a browser to:

Enter in the "Look for" slot, click "Host name", un-check the other options, and finally click the Search button. The resulting page lists the Lists that have as part of the host name; i.e., those that are available at UNO.

How do I subscribe to a Listserv Distribution list?

To subscribe (i.e., join) a UNO Listserv, send a message to with a blank Subject line but with the single line message of:

subscribe mylist-L

were "mylist-L" is the name of the desired Listserv. Note that this one-line messagemust be concluded with the Enter key.

How do I unsubscribe from a Listserv Distribution list?

To conclude membership with that list, send a message to with a blank Subject line but with the single-line message of:

unsubscribe mylist-L

were "mylist-L" is the name of the desired Listserv. Note that this one-line messagemust be concluded with the Enter key.

How do I send/receive messages to/from a Listserv Distribution List?

Once a user has joined a Listserv, he/she can post (i.e., send) a message to the list and thence to all of the membership by sending the message to:

were "mylist-L" is the name of the desired Listserv. The message should contain an appropriate Subject line and a message body. All members of the specified Listserv will automatically receive a copy of the message you send. In general, the messages should be relatively short (rather than a 2000-line document) and should not have any attachments. There should be other means of distributing large documents other than Listserv messages; e.g., a web page.

To receive a message from a Listserv, follow the same procedure as you would when receiving e-mail from any other source.

To reply to a received message from a Listserv, follow the same procedure as you would when replying to e-mail from any other source. Note that your response will automatically be distributed to all members of the membership. Hence, there is no need to use "reply all" (or similar option) in the e-mail client you use

How do I post a message to a Listserv list via its web interface?

NOTE: To perform any web-related activities, your browser must have "cookies enabled".

  1. Point a browser to
  2. Click the link entitled Log In.
  3. When prompted, enter your complete UNO e-mail address (i.e., and your Listserv password (which could be different from the password of your e-mail account) and click the Login button.
  4. Click the link entitled Subscriber's Corner.
  5. Find and click the link for your listserv distribution list.
  6. Click the link entitled Post a Message.
  7. Enter the Subject line.
  8. Enter the text of your message. Alternatively, you may paste a previously prepared message (e.g., from a word processor) into the message section.
  9. Scroll to the bottom of the window and click the Send button.
How do I query a Listserv Distribution list for my personal characteristics?

To review your personal characteristics for a given Listserv (e.g., MyList-L at UNO), send a message to with the body of the message consisting of the one-line command

query mylist-l

(which must be concluded with the ENTER key). By return e-mail, you will receive a message similar to: 

>Query mylist-l
Subscription options for Sample User , list myList-L:

MAIL:            You are sent individual postings as they are received   
MIME:           You prefer to receive messages in MIME format
FULLHDR:    Full (normal) mail headers
NOREPRO:  You do not receive a copy of your own postings
ACK:             Short e-mail acknowledgement of successfully processed postings

How do I check my Listserv Distribution list's archives?

The INDEX command (not to be confused with the INDEX option) will indicate by return e-mail the current archives for the List. For example, the command index mylist-l returns:

* Archive files for the MYLIST-L list at LISTSERV2.UNO.EDU
* (monthly logs)

Filename Filetype GET/PUT Size (B) Date Time
MYLIST-L LOG0309 LOG OWN 9,306 2003-09-26 10:03:37
MYLIST-L LOG0310 LOG OWN 11,266 2003-10-31 11:00:43

The MyList-L list has archives, LOG0309 and LOG0310 (for September and October of 2003). To retrieve the September 2003 archive, use the command

get mylist-l log0309

How do I change the format in which I receive Listserv messages?

This MAIL option means the user will receive individual messages as the are sent, as opposed to receiving a single digest collection of all messages that were sent within a span of time, like a month. The MAIL option can be replaced with the DIGEST or INDEX to change the format of the delivered messages. DIGEST means that all messages of a time span (e.g., a month) are collected and sent as a single message instead of individual messages. INDEX means that only the Subject lines of all messages of a time span are collected and sent as a single message. Directions on how to retrieve individual messages of that index are sent with the index listing. The option NODIGEST turns off the digest format of delivery. Similarly, NOINDEX turns off the index format. The MAIL option (as well as the NODIGEST and NOINDEX options) means messages are received as they are sent and are not collected into digests or indices.

The NOMAIL option is used to temporarily suspend reception of messages (regardless of the format: normal/digest/index). This option would useful if the recipient will be away on business or vacation, especially if your mail account has an automatic "out of office" reply. Without using the NOMAIL option while you re away will cause sever problems with the Listserv because there is a limit to the number of consecutive invalid commands you can issue to the Listserv before it suspends your membership. Establishing the MAIL option re-instates the usual delivery of messages. MAIL/NOMAIL does not change the DIGEST/INDEX setting.

Either of the aforementioned options can be established with a command of the form

set mylist-L opt

where "mylist-L" is the name of the specific list and "opt" is the desired option like indexNOMAIL, or digest. When the command is processed, the Listserv will return a message indicating the current set of characteristics, similar to the report obtained from using the query command. (Note that the options described in the following paragraphs are established in the same manner).

The MIME and FULLHRD (i.e., full header) options are the default options governing the format of how messages are sent electronically and how much header information is put in the received message.

The NOREPRO (i.e., no reproduction) option means that you will not receive a copy of any messages that you post to the List. This means, that you are not considered a list member for the messages that you yourself post to the List. The option REPRO reverses the setting so that you will receive a copy of the messages you yourself post to the List.

The ACK (i.e., acknowledge) option means that you will receive a short message from Listserv acknowledging the fact that your posting to the List has been received and will be redistributed to the membership. This option is reversed with the NOACK option - do not confirm or acknowledge receipt of a posting.