Previous Page TOC Index Next Page

Creating and Managing Internet Discussion Lists at Kenyon

Kenyon College has the software to support discussion lists managed by Kenyon faculty and staff on behalf of all Internet users. This document explains the basic commands used to manage Internet discussion lists, and assumes familiarity with the introductory document, "Internet Discussion Lists". You may also refer to the Moderator's HomePage for guidance and examples from other institutions.

Creating a New Discussion List

Follow the steps below to create a discussion list with a minimum of effort.

Develop A Name and Title

Develop a name and short title for your discussion list. For example, for the fictitious discussion list named "POLIART", the descriptive title might be "Political expressions in the fine arts."

Write A Welcoming Statement

Using the example provided below, develop a welcoming statement which will be sent to each new subscriber automatically by the mailing list server.

Set Up The Kenyon Mailing List Server

Contact ICS at PBX 5700 and request that the staff set up the Kenyon mailing list server to run your discussion list. You will be asked to provide a name, title, and the text of the welcoming message (preferably in electronic form as a plain text document).

Configuration Options

You will be asked to select from several options for configuring the discussion list, including:

Subscribers can be added to the list automatically, or you can intercept the subscriptions and decide if they are qualified.

The list can be set up so that only those who have subscribed can send messages to the list subscribers.

Archiving can be turned on or off. If turned on, news subcribers to this list will be able to retrieve prior messages on the list.

Managing a Discussion List


The manager of a discussion can have several responsibilities, largely depending on how much control s/he wishes to have over the discussion. The discussion manager can require that all postings go through him or her before they are sent out to the subscribers. Clearly this level of control can require a great deal of effort on the manager's part. Normally, the manager simply announces the existence of the list to colleagues then freely allows subscriptions and postings. If the discussion moves beyond the boundaries of the manager's intentions, the manager can post messages to facilitate redirection of the discussion.

In addition to the usual set of commands for participation in a discussion list, the manager has two other commands for adding and removing subscribers from the list. Only list managers have access to these two commands.

To Add Members to the List

To add members to the list, the manager sends a one-line message to the administrative address (the "listname-request" address) with the following syntax:

ADD/option address [,another address, another address,...]

There are several options for adding members to the list, the most important of which is the /NOCASE option. The /NOCASE option signifies that that mailing list is to ignore the case of the subscriber's address. Many systems on the Internet are case sensitive. If the manager adds an address in ignorance of the specific case requirements of the subscriber's home system, the subscriber may not receive mail nor will the subscriber be able to signoff from the list. Ordinarily, any subscriptions that the manager adds to the list should be added with the /NOCASE option.

For example,


To Remove Members

To remove members from the list, the manager should send a one-line message to the administrative address (the "listname-request" address) with the following syntax:

REMOVE address [,another address,another address,...]


Discussion lists can be configured by the VAX system manager so that all messages posted to the list are archived, normally by month, so they can be retrieved at a later date by any subscriber. Subscribers send messages via e-mail to the archive to retrieve archived materials. For example, for a discussion whose materials are archived by month, the archive files are named:


For example, POLIART.1993-05 for all discussion materials sent out in May, 1993.

To Retrieve Archives

To retrieve archives for a particular month, send a message to LISTNAME-ARCHIVES@ADDRESS with the command


To retrieve all months, send a message to LISTNAME-ARCHIVES@ADDRESS with the command



An example of a detailed welcoming message, taken from a discussion list named SHELLFISH. Electronic copies of this message are available for editing; contact ICS for more information.

Your subscription to the Internet discussion list "SHELLFISH" has been accepted.

This is a forum for the discussion of:

shellfish research in all scientific disciplines,

shellfish industry worldwide,

funding opportunities related to shellfish,

employment in shellfish research and industry,

meetings and conferences at all levels,

as well as any other topics that you, the participants in this discussion, deem suitable. The discussion will be as good as you make it! There are only two restrictions: the basic theme of the discussion is shellfish, and only active members of the National Shellfisheries Association can read or contribute to the discussion (all subscription requests are checked against the roster of active members).

You can participate in the discussion by sending electronic mail to the list itself. The Internet address for the discussion is

When you send mail to this address, your mail is automatically sent out to all participants (subscribers) of the SHELLFISH list. If you see something in the discussion of interest, and you simply REPLY to the sender (rather than SEND mail to the list itself), your reply will go only to the sender of the original message. Some exceptions noted, but generally the discussions are far more interesting and selfsustaining if

the participants send their contributions to the discussion list rather than to individuals. In this manner, all subscribers can follow the many threads of the discussion.

You can manage your own subscription to this discussion list by sending oneline electronic mail messages to the "listserver." The Internet address for the listserver is


The body of the text in each request message should consist of one or more of the following commands, one per line. Send your requests to the SHELLFISHREQUEST address, not to the discussion itself (SHELLFISH). I strongly recommend that you retain a copy of this information so you are able to signoff (unsubscribe) from the list should you want to do so.

The following commands can be handled automatically by SHELLFISHREQUEST:

SIGNOFF to remove yourself from the list

REVIEW to get a list of subscribers

QUERY to get the status of your entry on the list

SET NOMAIL to remain on the list but not receive mail

SET MAIL to reverse the NOMAIL setting

SET CONCEAL to conceal yourself from REVIEW listings

SET NOCONCEAL to reverse the CONCEAL setting

SET NOREPRO to prevent the list from sending you your own postings

SET REPRO to reverse the NOREPRO setting

LIST to get a list of mailing lists available on this host

HELP to receive a help file

Please send complaints, questions and comments about the list to the list moderator .......(name and address here)

Previous Page TOC Index Next Page