Sparks Fly
[Home] [PBS VideoDatabase] [Social Studies] [TSU] [UVA]


Mailing Lists

Magazines, newsletters, e-zines.  A mailing list is like a magazine subscription.  It lets you select a topic and get newsletters, magazines, as well as read and enter discussions on almost any topic you can imagine.  Mailing lists are special kinds of e-mail addresses that automatically forward topic-specific discussions to your e-mail Inbox.  These enable you and your students to communicate with more than one person at a time.  These are sometimes referred to as discussion groups because they focus on a specific topic.  You also hear these called LISTSERVs.  LISTSERVs are the most common kind of mailing list.  Each mailing list has its own characteristics from very structured to very informal.  Mailing lists can be classified in four categories:

  • Open--any subscriber can post a message
  • Moderated--any subscriber can post a message but before it gets sent to the entire list, a moderator reviews it
  • Announcement--one-way list, announcements from only one source and only the mailing list owner can post to the list
  • Digest--moderated list that takes a week or so of postings

Finding a mailing list

You can send an e-mail to listserv@bitnic.educom and leave a message that on the subject line says list global.  In your e-mail will come a lengthy list of mailing lists.

OR you can search in a search engine for mailing lists or LISTSERVs.


You must subscribe before you can receive messages.  Follow the steps below.

  1. Log on and launch your e-mail program
  2. Open a new mail message.  Address the message to the LISTSERV computer that administers the list you want to subscribe to and enter the appropriate request for a subscription.  
  3. Enter the full internet address of the LISTSERV in the To box
  4. Leave the subject line blank
  5. In the message (text) area type the command subscribe and the name of the list to which you want to subscribe.  Li9st your full name
  6. Click the Send button and wait for a return confirmation.  (Your e-mail address automatically appears in the message.  Be sure you are subscribing from the mailbox where you want to get the messages from the Listserv).
Many web sites have short forms for you to fill out to subscribe.  Be careful!  A few subscriptions can stuff your mailbox with thousands of e-mails.

Posting to a Mailing List

Remember that posting to a list is as easy as sending an e-mail.  Also remember that once you have sent the e-mail you can't get it back.  Since LISTSERVs are read by millions of people you want to think before you post.

The posting address is usually different from the address for subscription.  Your original confirmation e-mail will have the address for posting.  To unsubscribe you will usually need a different address.  That address is again listed on the confirmation e-mail.  You guessed correctly if you realize that the confirmation e-mail is an important document and you should save a copy of it.

A terrific LISTSERV for teachers is the Library Media Network of Syracuse University.  This mailing list is full of information on how to use media and telecommunications in schools.  The subscription address is In the message type subscribe LM-NET, your full name, and send your message.  Be sure to print out and save the confirmation message so you can unsubscribe if your mailbox is overwhelmed with mail.  

Other places where ideas abound are the message boards or bulletin boards.  Called "real time" because they are threaded conversations with messages and replies.  A few examples of messages boards are:

Visit the search listing for mailing lists at Liszt

This page was updated on:  04/10/02