Kavi Mailing List Manager Help

Chapter 5. Composing Email to Post to a List


This document will give you a quick overview of basic email construction and some general suggestions to help guide you to successfully post your message to a list and avoid common pitfalls that cause email messages to be rejected by spam filters.

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Basic Email Construction

The following list covers the basics of email construction.


Email sent to a mailing list must be properly addressed, that is, it must contain a certain specific address in the To: line so it can be automatically routed to the correct mailbox. If sending a message to be posted, address the message to listname@mywebsite.org, where listname is the name of the list and mywebsite.org is the URL of the website. If you would like to respond to a posting with a question or comment that would probably not be of interest to more than one or two other list subscribers, it's considered appropriate to send this kind of response to the poster of that message privately (i.e. addressed to the poster's private email adddress).

Remember to send your subscribe and unsubscribe commands to the administrative address instead of the mailing list. Not only is it more effective, it's a good way to avoid getting nasty messages from other list subscribers.


The Cc: field should not be used to copy other list subscribers, since every email posted to the list is distributed to all subscribers. Use this field only if you want to send the message to someone who isn't on the mailing list.


Make sure to add a subject line—if this field is left empty the message will be rejected and possibly deleted by spam filters. It is worthwhile to give a little extra attention to composing your subject line since the contents must be short but meaningful. If you want to open a new line of discussion on a subject that has been discussed previously, enter a subject line that differentiates your new line of discussion from the previous discussion. If you're replying to a message previously posted to the list, this field will be prefilled and you should leave it as is.


If you've read the mailing list's Policy and Usage statement, you probably know whether the mailing list only accepts messages sent from addresses on its subscribers lists. The mailing list determines your posting permissions by checking the sender address rather than the From: address, so if you send a message from a non-subscribed account it is treated as a message from a public list user, even if you edit the From: address.


Add your message to the body of the email. There are several factors to consider when composing your message, as described here.


The most important consideration is whether your message is on-topic for the list or not. Before posting for the first time, read the mailing list archives (if available) and spend some time monitoring the list without posting so you get a feel for the kind of discussion being conducted through the list.

This is called "lurking" and—although this word usually has bad connotations in English—in this context it is a noble, unselfish act for which your fellow subscribers should thank you. Unfortunately, they are likely to notice only if you post off-topic messages, which will usually be taken as evidence that you haven't spent any time lurking. In these cases some other subscriber may post a flame in response. If you've read this document and followed this advice, you may respond by privately emailing the flamer to confirm that you are indeed aware of netiquette and have been lurking on this list. So there!

A good rule of thumb on whether you should post a message is to consider whether your post will be of interest to more than one or two other mailing list users. If not, then don't post it to this list.

Advertisements and solicitations of any kind are considered spam, and are always off-topic in discussion groups. If you are seeking employment, use the job board.


Most overly long posts are the result of including the entire contents of the message to which you are responding. When you need to quote certain parts of the original post, include only what is necessary to put your comments in context. Brevity is not just the soul of wit (Shakespeare), in an era when the sheer volume of email tends to overwhelm the Enterprise like tribbles (Roddenberry), long email is generally considered bad form.

Long messages seldom serve their intended purpose anyway. If the subject is complex or emotionally charged, it's better to take the conversation offline and handle it via phone or in person. Email is notorious for it's inability to convey emotional tone and the longer and more complex the email is, the more possibility someone may take exception to some part of the contents.


If you want to distribute a large file or a file of an unusual type, such as an video clip, its better to upload the file to a document repository or server and include a link to the file in your email, rather than sending the file to everyone. Large files can slow the delivery process and if sent to a large number of recipients, can affect overall system performance. Large attachments can be problematic for recipients as well, potentially running afoul of mailbox storage limitations. Files of unusual types are may be screened out by firewalls and virus protection software.

More on netiquette

Netiquette varies from list to list, but even if something isn't explicitly against list policy, use your best judgment. Remember, you are representing your company or organization and your posts will help shape your professional reputation.

Always assume your email is public. Your email will travel through random servers where anyone with server access can read it, including prying sysadmins and system intruders. An email you intend to keep private may be received by someone who forwards it to an entire mailing list. Think twice before saying anything you might regret later. Once sent, an email takes on a life of its own, it may be forwarded to any number of people, posted to mailing lists and added to archives that may still be publicly accessible twenty years from now.

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More information on posting to a list

KaviŽ Mailing List Manager uses ezmlm software for its mailing lists and raw archives. The first chapter of the ezmlm manual is aimed at end users! See Ezmlm/idx User's Manual for more information on using Kavi-hosted (or other ezmlm-based) mailing lists.

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