USM's Division of Information & Technology (DoIT) provides hardware and software enabling members of the USM community to provide mailing lists. These lists are "owned" by the USM staff member who requested the list (additional people may participate in the operation/ownership of the list, but the "owner" must remain involved in the list's day to day operation). In short: we provide the infrastructure, you run the list. So, what does owning a list entail? The list owner should …
I. Make initial configuration choices for the list.
Typically this is done when you request the list. We ask you to decide about four options:
- should the list be "confidential" (see below);
- who can subscribe: anyone, or does an owner have to add people;
- who can post: just owners, or anyone who is subscribed;
- when people reply to posts, should replies be addressed to the original owner, or the whole list?
II. Advertise the list and detail why it exists.
DoIT will provide a brief "list of lists." We list every USM list not marked "confidential" (confidential lists are hidden from public view).
As the list owner, you will want to tell people about your list. You can do this by email, or on a web page. If you expect your list to have broad public appeal, you might advertise it on another (existing) list. Also tell people how to subscribe! You can point people to our site above, or we can provide you with custom links for your own list. We're also happy to proofread any instructions you draft for potential subscribers.
III. Serve as the primary point-of-contact for subscribers.
If your subscribers are having trouble subscribing, unsubscribing, posting, receiving, etc., they should contact you first. The traditional way of contacting the real, live person/people "behind" a list is to email the "-request" address. For example, for the USM-L list, you can reach the list owners at firstname.lastname@example.org. When we set up your list, we forwarded the appropriate -request address to your mailbox. Make sure that you read any mail from subscribers and reply to them. If you need help diagnosing problems, please contact DoIT yourself, on the subscriber's behalf, and we will give you whatever help is necessary to resolve the problem.
If a subscriber contacts DoIT directly, we will in most cases pass the request directly on to the -request address.
IV. Define and enforce acceptable use of the list.
Now that you have some subscribers, they need to know how to use the list. If your list is a one-way list where you post announcements and no one else can post, the task is straightforward. If you allow subscribers to post, there will be an occasional need to keep the discussion on track. As the owner, you have a lot of leeway here. You may be as "hands-on" or "hands-off" as you like. But, we expect that you will be the person to answer such questions as "is xyz OK to post on the list?" Also, you will be the best person to guide a discussion back on track gently when appropriate.
V. Watch for, and correct, delivery errors.
- Daily Error Monitoring Report (DEMR)
If Listserv cannot deliver mail to a subscriber, that subscriber winds up on the DEMR. Subscribers remain on the DEMR for a number of days or for a total number of bounced messages, whichever occurs sooner (these parameters vary from list to list). After that, if Listserv still cannot deliver mail to the subscriber, he or she is removed from the list.
As list owner, you should eyeball the DEMR for obvious errors (such as a typo in an address, like htomail.com, yhoo.com, main.eedu, etc.) and correct them if you can.
- Additional Error Reports
The Additional Error Report lists posting errors that were not revealed to the original poster. If a non-member tries to post, or someone posts a duplicate posting, or an oversized attachment, their post will not be distributed to the list. But, they may not be notified (this is a way of controlling "backscatter" spam).
As list owner, you should scan the nightly AER for legitmate errors. Most will be the result of spam attempts and will require no action on your part. However, some will indicate a "real" subscriber having difficulty; you may wish to contact these people directly.
- Individual Bounces
If Listserv cannot "understand" the format of a particular error, it will pass it on to you for action. The action you take depends on the nature of the error, the volume of your list, and your individual level of patience. Address generating permanent errors should be corrected, set to NOMAIL, or removed from the list.
Please feel free to contact DoIT for assistance in deciphering the DEMR or individual bounce messages – they can be confusing.