LISTSERV: Documentation for Requests

This page contains instructions for filling out the Listserv Request Form. More general Listserv documentation is also available.

To see examples of how other Listservs are set up (list titles, descriptions, etc.), email [email protected] with a message (not subject) containing just the word LISTS, and you’ll receive a list of all the Williams Public Listservs.

List Name

The name of the list must be 3-16 characters without spaces. Something easily recognized by the list members will help if you would like them to correspond using the list. You may use letters and numbers, but do not use punctuation characters other than hyphen (“-“) or underscore (“_”).


NOTE for Classes:

It is suggested that you use the department abreviation, course number and section number. Separate the course number and section number with a hypen.

Examples: ENVI202-L, PSCI203-02-L, REL221-L

List Title

This is also known as the “short description” of the list. This “short description” becomes part of how the list announces itself to the world, both in the global list of lists and in the “From:” and “Sender:” lines of mail coming from your list. Maximum length is 60 characters.

Example: Discussion List for Hopkins Forest Issues

List Description

This field is optional, but it’s helpful for Internet inquires about this listserv.

List Owners

You must use your full Williams E-Mail Address or else when issuing commands to Listserv, it will not to recognize you as an owner, because your e-mail account is not an exact match.

Use the e-mail address as configured in your e-mail program. In other words, what appears in the “From:” line when you send a message. For faculty and staff at Williams that address will be firstname.m.lastname (where “m” is the middle initial). For students that address will be the username in the form 06abc. You can send an email to yourself to doublecheck what your “From” address is if you’re not sure.

Remember that aliases and shortnames can be useful to simplify addresses for humans, Listserv is just a machine and works with exact, not close, information.

Only one owner is required, but you may have up to 4 owners. Owners can add/delete members as needed, regardless of subscription setup. They also will receive that list’s error messages, which most frequently are e-mail addresses on the list, that no longer exist. Owner Quickstart instructions will help guide you on how to add, delete and review the membership list. All ownership functions can also be performed through the web interface, if you have not already registered, you must do so at the Registration Page.

There is very little an owner can not do for their own listserv’s configuration once the listserv is established. Complete manuals and documentation, in a variety of formats, from L-Soft International, Inc. will provide you with complete details.

NOTE: Just because you are owner, you are not are a member by default. You must add or subscribe yourself, if you want to receive the mailings.


Who can know about the list?

  • Members Only: the list is NOT disclosed electronically to public.
  • Williams Only: the list is advertised only on the local Listserver.
  • Anyone: the list’s existence will be shared via Lsoft Catalist & web search engines.

Posting Options

Who can post to the list?

  • Editors Only: creates a moderated list: only the editor, or moderator, can send mail to list. When anyone else sends mail to the list, it is forwarded directly to the editor. The editor then may choose to forward the note to the list as is, or send only a portion, combine with other messages, ignore or whatever.
  • Members Only: only people subscribed to the list can send mail to the list.
  • Williams Only: anyone with a “” email address can send to the list.
  • Anyone: anyone can send mail to the list and it will be distributed to the subscribership. This is most useful for “Announcement” lists.

In the case of this of this form, when “editors only” is selected, all owners will also be assigned as an “editor” to the list. Therefore, all owners will have the editor capability of sending messages to the list, however ONLY owner #1 will receive messages directed to the list by non-editors, as Listserv can only direct them to one e-mail address. Any owner will be able to see the messages and moderate them using the web interface.

Subscription Requests

Although BY OWNER is the default choice, generally it is best to select the OPEN option intially and let users subscribe themselves so that the e-mail address is guaranteed to be entered correctly. The owners are notified of all additions as they occur. The list can be changed to BY OWNER or CLOSED once the initial group of subscribers are signed up.

If the BY OWNER option is selected, all requests will be forwarded to the owners. An owner will need to approve/add each member.

If the CLOSED option is selected then all requests to join are denied and the requester is notified of that fact. The owners are NOT notified at all of such requests. An owner must add each member manually.

Regardless of the subscription option selected any member may unsubscribe at any time. The owner will be notified when this action is taken.

Acknowledgement of Messages Sent

Does the sender get a confirmation that their message was sent and/or a copy of their message, as it appears to the list?

This is the default for the list, individuals may alter the setting, once subscribed, for their own messages. Generally it is best to send just a brief acknowledgement rather than copy the message to the sender as they will have a copy of message in their e-mail “out” box if needed.

Example of acknowledgement that a sender would receive:

  Return-Path: <[email protected]>
  Date:    Wed, 13 Nov 2002 08:06:13 -0600
  From:    "L-Soft list server at WILLIAMS COLLEGE (1.8e)"
           <[email protected]>
  Subject: Message ("Your message dated Wed, 13 Nov 2002 08:08:17...")
  To:      Alfred Newman <[email protected]>

  Your message dated Wed, 13 Nov 2002 08:08:17 -0500 with subject
  "What, me worry?" has been successfully distributed to the MAD-EPHS-L
  list (78 recipients).


If list archiving is turned on, archives of all messages sent through the list are available either on the archive web pages or via e-mail commands (documentation). By default, archives are grouped by month; contact [email protected] if you require weekly or daily grouping.