SCN FAQ: E-mail Lists



List characteristics:




Can I subscribe to SCN's mailing lists?

You may freely subscribe to any open discussion lists. For an easy way to do this from a graphical Web browser, see Web-based Subscription to SCN Mailing Lists.

Many lists hosted on SCN's server are managed by Information Providers or other local groups, not by SCN itself. Whether you can participate in these various organizations' mailing lists is up to the organizations involved.

Some SCN Association lists, such as those that may mention operating system problems and security, are closed except to active volunteers who have demonstrated some ability and responsibility in the area involved, and as a result the list owner might not add your subscription to the mailing list as requested. But all SCN committee meetings are open to the public, and you are encouraged to volunteer and participate in any area in which you have an interest.

How can I find out more about the mailing lists?

You can mail a lists command to the Majordomo automated mailing list software ( Leave the subject line blank, and put the word lists in the message body. The Web-based subscription page shows the same information as the "lists" command.

The SCN Mailing Lists page describes some of the lists more fully than the "lists" results do.

What commands can I send to Majordomo?

See the Help with Majordomo page.

Can I start a new mailing list?

Any SCN Information Provider can request a mailing list. A community group can sign up to be an Information Provider to run a mailing list, even if it doesn't need a Web site. Please contact the SCN Information Provider coordinator for more information.

How can I contact the SCN list administrator?

The SCN list administrator makes sure that all of SCN's mailing lists work properly, and answers questions from list owners and the public about them. If you have questions about SCN's mailing lists, please send them to

You can also check the Web-based Subscription to SCN Mailing Lists page.

List characteristics:

What's an open list?

An open list is one to which members of the public can subscribe automatically, without being approved by the list owner. If you get an automated reply welcoming you to the list, it's an open list.

What's a closed list?

A closed list is one where each request to subscribe is reviewed by the list owner. If you get an automated reply advising you that so-and-so will review your request to join the list, it's a closed list.

What's an unmoderated list?

An unmoderated list is one where your messages are automatically sent to all the other list subscribers, without human intervention.

What's a moderated list?

A moderated list is one where your messages are not sent automatically to the other list subscribers. Instead they're sent to the list owner, who will review them, and might send them to the other list subscribers.

What if I have a question, but it's a closed list?

Generally speaking, you can send a question to any SCN Association list, even those whose subscriptions aren't open to the general public, regardless of whether you are a member of the list. (This often isn't true of lists run by other organizations hosted on SCN.)

How can I find out who a list's subscribers are?

If you're a member of a list, you can send a "who" command, if the list is set up to return "who" results to the list members as well as to the list owner. Some lists are set up that way and some aren't. If not, or if you're not a member of the list, then that information won't be available.

How do I know who the list owner is?

For other than SCN Association lists, you might not know beforehand, until you subscribe. Some lists want to remain fairly private about their subscribers' e-mail addresses and other details.

Are mailing lists archived on SCN?

SCN's system automatically maintains archives of all mailing lists. These archive files aren't available to the general public, but may be available to a list's current subscribers. A subscriber to a list (say, the mailing list) can request a listing of its archive files by sending an "index blah" command to majordomo. The subscriber can then request a specific archive file (say, the October, 1998 message archives) by sending a "get blah blah.9810" command to majordomo. Some lists might also maintain public archives that anyone can read. Keep in mind that individual subscribers to a list might keep personal archives of the discussions.


Can I repost people's mailing list messages elsewhere?

You shouldn't republish other people's mailing list messages without their permission. Technically, anything you send to a mailing list becomes copyrighted material, and you retain a copyright to it, just as though you had published it more widely, even though it's not as accessible to the public as if you had put it on a Web page. Some people even go so far as to put a copyright notice on each message that they send to mailing lists.

The discussions on many mailing lists aren't intended for further distribution beyond the subscribers. People exchange information with the other list subscribers, sometimes on sensitive topics, based on that understanding. But you probably shouldn't say anything on a mailing list that you wouldn't like some uncouth person to repost and spread around the world for you.

Can I discuss off-topic subjects on a list?

This is, of course, one of people's favorite activities. But in general, mailing lists let people with specialized interests exchange notes about specific topics, and maintain a good signal-to-noise ratio. There are lots of mailing lists around. Maybe you should try to find one that's closer to your interests.

Can I flame people on SCN Association lists?

Probably, but most mailing lists aren't as appropriate a place for untrammeled flaming as is Usenet. On open SCN Association lists, people may complain about flaming, but it's rare for a flamer's SCN account to be suspended for that reason. Temporary suspension from a mailing list is a possibility in severe cases.

Will you stop someone from verbally attacking me?

There have been rare times when SCN users have become abusive on mailing lists, and their accounts have been suspended for a time. In such cases, the mailing list administrator follows SCN governance policies.

Can a list owner kick me off without due process?

On a closed or moderated list, or a list maintained by an Information Provider instead of the SCN Association, yes. The content and policies of mailing lists hosted on SCN's server but maintained by other organizations are independent of SCNA. Some list owners do exercise considerable personal discretion in prohibiting off-topic discussions or disruptive and controversial remarks. Mailing list owners and participants often prefer not to put up with completely free-form discussions such as those on unmoderated Usenet newsgroups. Information Providers may involuntarily unsubscribe you from their mailing lists at any time, for any reason. But on open, unmoderated SCN Association lists, the nominal list owner's personal discretion isn't the only factor.

How does SCN solve disputes that arise on mailing lists?

The content and policies of mailing lists maintained by Information Providers or organizations other than the SCN Association are independent of SCN. Some list owners do exercise considerable personal discretion in prohibiting off-topic discussions or disruptive and controversial remarks. Mailing list owners and participants often prefer not to put up with completely free-form discussions such as those on Usenet or unmoderated SCN mailing lists. Information Providers may involuntarily unsubscribe you from their mailing lists at any time, for any reason.

On SCN Association lists, if there is documented evidence and broad agreement rather than one person's perception against another's, then the SCN Governance Committee would direct the action against the offending user, and the SCN mailing list administrator would implement it. Such a policy should also apply to people other than SCN users who subscribe to SCN mailing lists. If the offender is to be involuntarily unsubscribed from the mailing list, two things should happen:

  1. The SCN Governance Committee should prepare an e-mail letter indicating what is being done, why, and for how long. The Governance Committee member(s) authorized to make the judgment should sign the letter and send it to the offending list subscriber.

  2. The list owner can then unsubscribe the list member, using the unsubscribe command (with the user's address) in an e-mail message to majordomo. Keep in mind that the mailing list software might not have a subscriber blocking feature that would automatically keep the offender off the list for the suspended time. Again, this is a miniature civilization we have here, and it pretty much depends on people voluntarily not being barbarians all the time.

Content updated April 26, 1999