LIS 525 - Mailing List Servers

When e-mail is addressed to a mailing list server, it is automatically forwarded by e-mail to everyone on the list. (By contrast a newsgroup or forum must be accessed explicitly for each user to see new messages, and may often be open to unregistered users.)


LISTSERV, originally developed for BITNET in 1986, is currently sold commercially by L-Soft International; there is a Lite version, free for small uses where no fees are charged and priced up to US$2,000 for other purposes. Versions of LISTSERV are available for Unix, Windows, and other platforms. LISTSERV includes a Web interface.

Majordomo, also popular, is freeware and runs under Unix (using Perl). A separate product, MajorCool allows modification of some Majordomo settings via a Web interface.

Other popular list servers are ListProc (Unix; free) and Lyris ListManager (Unix and Windows; free version for small applications, and various other versions up to more than US$100,000).

Some Things the LISTSERV List Owner Can Control

Some Web hosting plans include a mailing list server (for example, some plans from OLM include Majordomo).

Some Variations

As an alternative to setting up your own list server or paying for one as part of a Web hosting plan, you may choose to make use of a free mailing list service, such as Coollist or Yahoo! Groups. Advertising is usually added to messages posted by such services. An option may be available to provide access to an archive.

A more common option provided by Web hosting services is a sort of one-way mailing list. People can sign up for a list automatically by sending an e-mail to the server, and the content provider sends periodic news messages to everyone on the list. The number of members permitted is typically limited.

Another variation is represented by the UWO public mailing lists. Here, only the list owner can add members to the list, but anyone from a larger group (such as the university community) can use the list to send a message to all the list members.

For More Information


Last updated April 16, 2007.
This page maintained by Prof. Tim Craven
E-mail (text/plain only):
Faculty of Information and Media Studies
University of Western Ontario,
London, Ontario
Canada, N6A 5B7