University at Buffalo / The State University of New York

Frequently Asked Questions for Listserv Subscribers

Subscribing / Unsubscribing / Registering Passwords / Changing Information

Sending and Receiving Postings / Suspending Delivery

Confirming / Setting Modes


What happened to the Web login after the upgrade?

In the previous version of Listserv passwords were converted to upper case. If you typed AbcXyz it was converted to ABCXYZ before being encrpted for storeage. The current version (16) no longer does this so if you type AbcXyz it won't match ABCXYZ. You can type your password in all upper case or you can register a new listserv password

How do I send a message to a list?

To post to a list, send your email to:

where listname is replaced by the name of the list you are posting to.

How do I subscribe to a list?

In order to join a listserv mailing list, visit:

OR send an E-Mail message to:

with no Subject, and in the body of the message include one command line:

  subscribe listname Firstname Lastname

where listname is the name of the list you want to join, and Firstname and Lastname is of course, your real name. You do not need to include your E-Mail address - listserv will automatically use the address you send the E-Mail from.

Note to all persons not affiliated with the University at Buffalo:
By joining a list, you do so under your own ability and you and only you will be responsible for removing yourself from any list in the future. You will not be able to receive any help or support from the University at Buffalo if problems arise.

How do I unsubscribe or signoff from a list?

To remove yourself from a list...

by web, visit:

or by Email, send an E-Mail to:

with the command:

  signoff listname

where listname is the name of the list you wish to be removed from. Your E-Mail message must come from the account you were subscribed as.

How do I get a listserv password?

You can register a listserv password by visiting:

How do I change my subscribed address?

To change your address, send email to:

with the command:

  change listname new_address

where listname is replaced by the actual list name (what comes before the in the list address) and new_address is replaced by the email address you want to change to. Your email must come from the address you are currently subscribed as. If you would like to change your address on all subscribed lists, use the wildcard symbol, *.

  change * new_address

How do I change to digest mode?

To be placed on digest mode, send a message to:

with the command:

  set listname digest

where listname is replaced by the name of the list (the name of the list is what comes before in the Email you receive from it). Your message must come from the Email account you are subscribed to the list as.

Note: Not all lists have a digest. If you are unsure if yours does, contact your list owner.

I am going on vacation. How can I stop and restart list mail delivery without going through the hassle of unsubscribing and resubscribing?

To suspend list mail delivery, send an email to:

with the command:

  set listname nomail

where listname is replaced by the name of the list (the name of the list is what comes before in the Email you receive from it). Your message must come from the Email account you are subscribed to the list as.

To turn list mail delivery back on, follow the same procedure but use the command:

  set listname mail

How do I contact my list owner?

Send your email to:

where listname is replaced by the name of the list (the name of the list is what comes before in the Email you receive from it).

What are list archives?

List archives are a collection of past messages distributed to a list. They can easily be accessed by the web. Not all lists have archives, in fact, most do not. However, you can check to see if your list has archives by going to:

where listname is replaced by the name of the list (the name of the list is what comes before in the Email you receive from it).

Please note that in order to access most list archives, you must:

1) Be a current subscriber of the list

2) Log in using the same exact email address you are subscribed as. Aliases will not work, they must match identically.

I am having trouble confirming, what do I do?

For your own protection, Listserv usually sends confirmation instructions when you execute a command. This is to ensure that some person out there isn't attempting to maliciously subscribe you to lists or change your options. There is a 24 hour time limit to confirm.

If you confirm by the web through a web browser, many people receive a message saying the confirmation code does not correspond to any pending command. This is usually accomplised by an accidental double click of the address. The first click will do the confirmation and flush the code from the system. The second click will try to use the code again, but since the number has already been flushed from the system, returns the error message. Since this happens so fast, the person doesn't see the first result - a success - but only the second result - a failure. In that case, the person really did confirm their command and nothing else needs to be done.

If however you are unsure if you double-clicked, or you've gone past the 24 hour time limit, or are having some other sort of problem, then the only way to resolve this is to re-issue your original command. You cannot hurt anything by doing this. We cannot confirm for you, we do not have access to past commands or pending codes so we do not have the ability to see what you are doing and help you out. The only way for you to get by this step is to do it on your own by starting all over again.

Note to AOL users:
Many people with America Online have trouble receiving confirmation messages. This is because the Spam filter on AOL deletes the message thinking it is junk email. You must modify your default email filter to allow all email, then reissue your command to listserv.

How do I place a list identifier tag into the subject?

Send an email message to:

with the command:

  set listname subjecthdr

where listname is replaced by the name of the list (the name of the list is what comes before in the Email you receive from it). Your message must come from the Email account you are subscribed to the list as.

I have a password but cannot browse the archives, why?

For most archives you must also be a subscriber of the list. See How do I subscribe to a list?

I followed all the steps, and nothing is working. What do I do?

The only thing you can do is repeat the process, whether it be subscribing, unsubscribing, registering a password, etc. You will not cause any harm by starting over and repeating the process.

I tried to unsubscribe and it says that I am not subscribed under this address, or my address now is different than the one I subscribed with.

You will need to try and remove yourself using all known aliases for your email address. If you still cannot find the right address, try reading an email from the listserv in full header mode on your email client. In full header mode, there will most likely be a "Delivered-to:" line in the header that shows the address as it is subscribed on the list.

Some posts in the archives look like a garbled mess. What is this?

These posts were probably created in the "utf-8" character set in the original sender's email program. Verify in the archives that "utf-8" is listed as the character set.

The utf-8 character set uses base 64 encoding, and can be used for different reasons, most commonly here in the U.S. when an email is sent with multipart attachments that may include a word doc, binary file, or simply when it's composed using HTML or Rich Text instead of plain text.

It also is used by email programs when the language it is composed in uses characters not found in the normal English / ASCII char set. This often is the case when the poster is in a foreign country.

Normally the email program that the person is using to read the email on the receiving end will decode the message and display it as text. However, the listserv software doesn't do decoding for the archives, which is why it appears scrambled. The best way to ensure that messages don't end up like this in the archive is to make sure people are sending out their postings using the standard ISO-8859-1 character set. However, when dealing with people from other countries, this might not be possible for them to do.

Unfortunately there's nothing we can do to fix how it's being displayed in the archives. That's how it's going to be displayed for everyone in a web browser.

HOWEVER! Any subscriber to the list can send in a listserv command to receive the posting as an email, and then let their email program decode it.

What to do is this:
Go to the main archive page for the list, and click on "Search the Archives". Enter in the appropriate serch terms that relate to the date, sender's email, etc., and click "Search". The results are displayed, so find the message in the results. For the record, the dates used are in the format YY/MM/DD. The "Item #" in the left column indicates the post number assigned by listserv for that post. nyA subscriber can then send an email to this address (not the list address):

with the command:

getpost listname item#

where listname is the name of the list and item# is the number of the post from the results list.

The listserv will then resend that post to the person who requested it, and when it arrives, their email reader should be able to decode it.

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