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Mailing List Use - Subscribe

The general format to subscribe to a mail list is to find the address reflector and append the string -REQUEST to the mailbox name (not the host name). For example, if you wanted to take part in the mailing list for NSFNET reflected by NSFNET-INFO@MERIT.EDU, one sends a request to NSFNET-INFO-REQUEST@MERIT.EDU.

- E. Krol; The Hitchhikers Guide to the Internet; RFC 1118; Sept. 1989.

You typically join a mailing list by sending a subscription email to the list server, although more and more lists have web interfaces as well. The list server will then send you back a welcome email with information about and how to use the list. Sometimes you will receive a confirmation message to which you must reply as a security measure to confirm that it is really you requesting subscription.

On moderated lists you will often receive an email that says that your subscription request has been sent to a list moderator who will check and then hopefully approve your subscription in person.

The subscription commands and options differ slightly depending on whether they are run by Listserv, Majordomo, or Listproc. However, the basic subscription command is the same for most lists -- put the following command in the body of an email, and send it to the list administration address:

subscribe listname

You will get one or more messages in response to your subscribe command, describing other list server commands, instructions for posting and replying to posts, and the subject of discussion on the list. It is important to save these emails as described in managing mailing lists.

A few mailing lists require subscription commands to be placed on the subject line, but most completely ignore the subject line. Some people copy their subscribe commands into the subject line anyway just to be on the safe side, and so that the email will have a meaningful subject line.