There are many handy applications for running listservs, like majordomo, or sites that will run it for you, like queernet. However, you have to have your own server to install and use majordomo, and many people are dissatisfied with the shrinking numbers of free listserv sites. If you have a shell account (for example, a free college email account that you can telnet into), you may be able to run a mailing list on your own using qmail. Here's how.

First of all, at the shell prompt, type "whereis qmail" - if it tells you something, you have qmail. If it says it doesn't know where qmail is, then it's not installed on that server. You may be able to contact the sysadmin for help. While you're at it, if you don't know what text editor you use, type "whereis pico" - if you don't have that, try looking for emacs or reading something about the many text editors available on Unix. This is assuming that you're a newbie at this Unix stuff, of course - many of you will already know how to open up text files and even use programs like vi.

Now you decide what you want your list to be called. If, for example, your server is mills.edu, the email address for the list emails will be something like yourname-sexy@mills.edu, or yourname-mailinglist@mills.edu. It's hyphenated. Then you type
pico .qmail-mailinglist
or .qmail-sexy
or whatever the list name will be.
Then you put addresses in there, one on each line, and all those addresses will get any mail sent to yourname-sexy@mills.edu. So it'll look like:

UW PICO(tm) 2.9 File: .qmail-sexy
mtoth@mills.edu
danica@mills.edu
celesteh@mills.edu
cola@mills.edu

and so on.
Now, if an email bounces for some reason, everyone on the list will get an annoying bounce message, unless you do this:
pico .qmail-sexy-owner
and put your email address in there. Then bounces will get sent to you, the owner, so that you can figure out who needs to be unsubscribed because their account is dead, and who simply sent the wrong thing the wrong way.
Even cooler, you can let people subscribe and unsubscribe themselves automatically, by doing this:
pico .qmail-sexy-request
and then, in that file, type
| qlist2 sexy mills.edu

Then they email yourname-sexy-request@mills.edu and are automatically subscribed. And if they email yourname-sexy-request@mills.edu with the single word "unsubscribe" somewhere in the email, they'll be automatically unsubscribed. In either case, the qmail program sends you a nifty email saying, in effect, "hey, this person sent me this message and this is what i did with it."

You can handle hundreds of subscribers this way, once you get the hang of it. The major downside of administering everything by hand is that, if people want a digest version of the list, you have to put it together by hand as well - cutting and pasting X number of emails into one long message. Better to point them at the archives if regular mail goes too fast for them. There are some places that will archive your list's posts on the web for free; http://www.gweep.ca/~edmonds/usenet/ml-providers.html mentions a few.

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