If you have a computer account at your university, you can become a member of an academic network, or discussion group, free of charge simply by subscribing. To subscribe, do the following:
For example, if your name is Fenwick Furd and you want to join the medieval language and literature discussion group MEDTEXTL, you would address your message to email@example.com The message you send would read:
Or, if your name is Floradora Sturdley and you want to join the medieval feminist discussion list MEDFEM-L, then you would send to firstname.lastname@example.org this message:
Put nothing on the subject line. (The subject line should be left blank because some listservs will not accept a one-line command if there is anything on the subject line.)
If you have done everything correctly, within a day or so, sometimes within only a few minutes, you will receive a reply from the listserver informing you that your request has been accepted and that you are now a member of the network. This initial reply will usually also include instructions on how to access files and other information that the network makes available to its members. It will also explain how to unsubscribe and how to postpone or resume receiving mail sent to the network by other subscribers. With most networks, you will also receive in the first day or so introductory information about the network, including its scope, its aims, and its protocol. You will also immediately begin to receive messages sent to the network by other members.
Many of the networks are quite active. The daily volume of mail on all of them drops off during the summer and on holidays, but during the fall and spring semesters, some may handle as many as twenty to thirty messages a day, which, if you read them all word for word, may take over a half-hour to finish. This is fine if you have the time for it, but we all go through periods when we cannot afford to waste a minute, and in these times the best thing to do is to send a one-line command to the appropriate listserver to stop the messages from coming until further notice.
The wording of the command varies from one network to another, but all can be stated on a single line, and the exact wording is usually provided in the introductory information you get when you join the network. (If it does not, the list of commands given as Listserv Commands at the end of this document may be successfully used.) Then, when the deadline has passed, or when you have returned from your trip out of town, you can just as easily resume receiving the network mail with a resume mail command.
Once you have subscribed to a network, remember that when you want to post a message directly to the other members, you do not send the message to the listserv address for the network but to the network itself. Thus, if you want to post a message to the members of Ansax-l, you would address it to email@example.com, not to firstname.lastname@example.org; to the members of Chaucernet, you would send your message to email@example.com, and so on.
Property of Edwin Duncan. All rights reserved. This document may be distributed as long as it is done entirely with all attributions to organizations and the author. Commercial distribution is prohibited. Portions of this document copyrighted by the Medieval English Newsletter.