Southern Ontario Library Service - Electronic Discussion Group Policy
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What is an electronic discussion list?

Electronic discussion lists provide forums for Internet users to participate in discussions or receive information on thousands of topics. Digests, electronic journals, announcements, and discussion lists are some of the types of content that are delivered through the thousands of these lists available on the Internet.

The software responsible for the management and distribution of these mailing lists to thousands of subscribers are commonly called "listservers" or "listserv". A listserver automatically distributes an e-mail message from one member of a list to all other members on that list.

How does a discussion group work?

When you subscribe to a list, your name and e-mail address are automatically added to the list. You will receive an email message of welcome telling you about the list. From that time on, you will receive all mail (postings) sent to the list by its members. You may follow the discussions or join in on them. If you respond, you can send your response to the list (in which case, all members of the list will receive it), or to an individual on the list. You can signoff (unsubscribe) from a list at any time. You can also get a listing of all the members of a list and their e-mail addresses. A help file, that lists the various listserver commands, is also available to users.

Discussion List Helpful Hints & Tips

  • A discussion list is not a person, nor is a discussion list a listserv
    A listserv is a program that resides on a computer. It only responds to specific commands which manage the list of members of possibly many different discussion lists. Questions or answers must be posted to the discussion group itself (ie. and not to the listserv program (ie. If you are not sure which is which, contact the list's owner for instructions.
  • Save the listserver Welcome message
    When you first subscribe, the listserver sends you an automated message with its most important commands. This information will be useful to you later, so be sure to save that message. Many commands are listserv specific.
  • Lurk before you post
    (Net jargon meaning "Eavesdrop before you contribute.")
  • Don't get Flamed! Know your netiquette
    Read Arlene Rinaldi's The Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette
  • Know who are you replying to
    Look at the To: and Cc: line of your reply. Are you responding to the author or are you responding to the group? Know who your audience is before you click on "Send".

Contact Us

For more information, please contact Anne Marie Madziak, Service Development Director