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TIP OF THE WEEK: Talking to the listserver

  • To: iris-l@rt66.com
  • Subject: TIP OF THE WEEK: Talking to the listserver
  • From: Telperion Productions <telp@rt66.com>
  • Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1996 13:28:28 -37933800
  • Conversation-Id: <BMSMTP-13656147917telp@rt66.com>

As most of you know, the Iris-L listserver, LISTSERV@RT66.COM, is
a computer program that runs this mailing list and processes requests
from the subscribers. Some of the commands you can send to the
listserver are given in the welcome message. This week's tip is not
about the particular commands, however, but about some of the
program's behaviors and attitudes. ;)

Subject lines:

If possible, leave the subject line blank when sending a message
to the listserver. If your mailer won't allow that, type a hyphen (-) in
the subject line. Do not put commands in the subject line, put them
in the body of the message.

Format of commands:

* Your commands can be in capital or lowercase letters; the listserver
doesn't care.

*You only need the first three letters of the command name; the
rest are optional. (But if you type the full command, it must all be
correct, not just the first three letters!)

Hence, "SUBSCRIBE", "SUB", "subscribe", and "sub" all mean the
same thing to the listserver, but "subscipe" will be rejected as an

* The listserver does care about spaces, hyphens, commas, and
other such things. Follow instructions carefully.

* The listserver tries to interpret everything in your request message
as a command. If it finds something it doesn't understand, it gives up
and sends you an error message. If you use a signature file in your
email, turn it OFF when talking to the listserver!

Error messages:

If the listserver can't figure out what command you're trying to give
it, it sends you an error message. The error messages are not models
of helpfulness, but they _do_ usually give you the information you
need to send the command correctly. Read the error message
carefully and try again!

The most common mistakes:

* Giving the wrong arguments for the command, such as "set iris-l digest"
(it must be "set iris-l mail digest") or "unsub iris-l Jake Public" (it must be
"unsub iris-l", without your named at the end). The listserver is very literal.

* Sending a command to the list or the list owner instead of the listserver.
Only LISTSERV@RT66.COM can process your commands. Neither the
list owner nor your fellow subscribers on the list are computer programs!

* Typing argument names instead of giving arguments, for example trying
to subscribe by sending "SUB IRIS-L <YOURNAME>", instead of typing
your actual name in place of "<YOURNAME>" in the instructions. For some
reason, this kind of error is especially common when people try to change
passwords or addresses.

I hope this catalog of listserver idiosyncrasies makes it easier to cope with.

Enjoy the list!

Tom Tadfor Little --- telp@Rt66.com
Telperion Productions --- http://www.rt66.com/~telp/

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