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Microsoft Mailing List User's Guide

Updated: June 30, 1998

This information applies to Microsoft-sponsored mailing lists on the LISTSERV.MSN.COM and DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM servers. Be sure to use the appropriate listname and server name in all commands and addresses. The commands described may or may not work on mailing lists on other servers.

We recommend that you keep a copy of this information or add this URL to your Favorites list. As a wise man we found on the Web said, "Make sure you keep the mail they send you that tells you how to unsubscribe. Keep it close to your heart forever, because if you lose it, you'll be extremely sad."

General information

Microsoft Mailing List Guidelines
Descriptions of All Microsoft Mailing Lists
How to Get Product Support
Other Sources of Information
Contacting the Mailing List Administrators

How to use the Microsoft mailing lists

How to Subscribe to a Mailing List
How to Unsubscribe from a Mailing List
How to Post a Message to a Mailing List
How to Switch from Individual Messages to a Digest
How to Switch from a Digest to Individual Messages
How to Make Digests Easier to Use
How to Review and Set Your List Options
How to Get More Information About Using the List
How to Search the Message Archives
If Your E-Mail Address Changes
Identifying List Messages in Your Inbox
Note to Users of Microsoft Exchange, Outlook, or Windows Messaging
Note to Microsoft Internet Mail Users
Note to cc:Mail Users
Quoting Previous Messages
Subject Lines
If You Are Unable to Post Messages or Send Commands
If You Receive Mail Delivery Failure Notices
Replying to the Author or the Entire Mailing List
Attaching Files
You May Be Removed from a List
Vacations and Out-of-Office Auto-Replies
Signature Blocks
Messages in Languages Other than English
Read and Delivery Receipts
Netiquette

Microsoft Mailing List Guidelines

To ensure that information flows smoothly in the mailing lists, please note the following guidelines:

Microsoft's role: Microsoft does not offer any formal technical support through the mailing lists. Microsoft sponsors this service as a platform for participating in the global community of Microsoft developers and product experts. In addition, Microsoft monitors the mailing lists to ensure accuracy of information.

Appropriate language: The purpose of the mailing lists is to exchange technical information and expertise. Please avoid personal attacks, slurs, and excessive profanity in your messages.

Message topics: Please keep the topics of your messages relevant to the subject of the mailing list.

Courtesy: To make these mailing lists useful for the greatest number of people, please treat your fellow list members with courtesy. Please refrain from actions that would detract from the value of the list for other members.

Descriptions of All Microsoft Mailing Lists

Descriptions of all mailing lists sponsored by Microsoft and selected mailing lists sponsored by other companies about related topics are available at Mailing Lists and Newsgroups.

How to Get Product Support

The Microsoft mailing lists do not provide general product support of FrontPage, Internet Explorer, or other Microsoft products. People with the training and experience to provide such support are available in newsgroups on the msnews.microsoft.com news server. You can locate the most suitable newsgroup and a wealth of valuable information about known issues through the Microsoft Support Page.

Other Sources of Information

Visit MSDN Online to get documentation, samples, white papers, downloadable files, and other valuable authoring, design, programming, server, and gallery material to help you create exciting and effective Web sites using Microsoft Internet technologies.

The links below can help you locate other mailing lists and public newsgroups.

Contacting the Mailing List Administrators

If you need assistance with any of the mailing lists, send e-mail to listname-request at the appropriate server and specify the appropriate mailing list (for example, IE-HTML-request@LISTSERV.MSN.COM for the IE-HTML mailing list). The list administrators are there to help members get the most benefit possible from these lists.

How to Subscribe to a Mailing List

Send e-mail to the appropriate server, LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM with this message text (no subject):

   SUBSCRIBE listname your name

For example:

   SUBSCRIBE DCOM John Doe

You will receive a confirmation request message that you must reply to within 48 hours, following the instructions in that message. When the list server has received your confirmation reply, you will be sent a list subscription confirmation and a welcome message containing further helpful information. If you need assistance, contact the mailing list administrators.

Please review the purpose of each list before subscribing. Descriptions of these mailing lists are available on Mailing Lists and Newsgroups.

How to Unsubscribe from a Mailing List

Send e-mail to the appropriate server address, LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or LISTSERV@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM with this message text (no subject):

   SIGNOFF listname

For example:

   SIGNOFF ATL

You can unsubscribe from all of the mailing lists at once by using the * (asterisk) wildcard:

   SIGNOFF *

If you need assistance, contact the mailing list administrators.

How to Post a Message to a Mailing List

You must subscribe to a mailing list before you can post messages. See the subscription information above.

To send a message to all current list members, send e-mail to listname at the appropriate server. Insert the name of the list, such as IE-HTML or NetShow, in the address.

For example, to send a message to all current members of the IE-HTML list, send e-mail to IE-HTML@LISTSERV.MSN.COM. To send a message to all members of the NetShow mailing list, write to Netshow@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM. If you need assistance, contact the mailing list administrators.

Note: Please do not send any commands to the list address. Command messages sent to the list address would be distributed to all the people who have subscribed to the list rather than being processed by the list server as you would intend. All commands must be sent to the list server (LISTSERV) address, LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or LISTSERV@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM.

How to Switch from Individual Messages to a Digest

Send e-mail to the appropriate server address LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or LISTSERV@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM with this message text (no subject):

   SET listname DIGEST

Insert the name of the desired list, such as IE-HTML or DCOM. For example:

   SET IE-HTML DIGEST

To switch all of the mailing lists to which you subscribe, use the * (asterisk) wildcard:

   SET * DIGEST

How to Switch from a Digest to Individual Messages

Send e-mail to the appropriate server address, LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or LISTSERV@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM with this message text (no subject):

   SET listname NODIGEST

Insert the name of the desired list, such as IE-HTML or NetShow.

For example:

   SET Netshow NODIGEST

To switch all of the mailing lists to which you subscribe, use the * (asterisk) wildcard:

   SET * NODIGEST

How to Make Digests Easier to Use

Digests are available in two formats: standard and MIME. A standard digest is a long series of messages in basic text format with separator lines. It's designed to enable members to scroll through the entire digest and read the messages in order. A MIME digest provides each message as an attached file, with an index message as the first attachment. It's ideal for people who read just selected messages based on the subject line. Most, but not all, e-mail programs support MIME attachments.

Standard format was originally the default for digests. MIME format became the default during 1997. If you want the default format, just request a digest subscription as described above.

To switch from standard to MIME-attachment format digests, send e-mail to the appropriate server address, LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or LISTSERV@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM with this message text (no subject):

   SET listname MIME

For example:

   SET IE-HTML MIME

To switch from MIME-attachment to standard format digests, send e-mail to the appropriate server address, LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or LISTSERV@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM with this message text (no subject):

   SET listname NOMIME

Insert the name of the desired list, such as IE-HTML or DCOM.

For example:

   SET DCOM NOMIME

To switch all of the mailing lists to which you subscribe, use the * (asterisk) wildcard:

   SET * MIME

Note: You can combine options in one command, such as:

   SET DCOM NOMIME DIGEST

to request digests in the desired format in one step.

How to Review and Set Your List Options

For descriptive information about your subscription options, send e-mail to the appropriate server address, LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or LISTSERV@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM with this message text (no subject):

   QUERY listname

Insert the name of the desired list, such as IE-HTML or DCOM.

For example:

   QUERY IE-HTML

You can tell LISTSERV how to confirm the receipt of messages you send to the list. If you want to receive a copy of your own messages, send this command:

   SET listname REPRO

If you prefer a short acknowledgment, which will look different in your mailbox directory, send this command:

   SET listname ACK NOREPRO

To turn off acknowledgments completely, send this command:

   SET listname NOACK NOREPRO

Several commands may be sent in one message. Each command must be on a separate line. For example, to query your subscription information for both the IE-HTML and DCOM lists using one message, send this message text (no subject):

   QUERY IE-HTML
   QUERY DCOM

To query your subscription information for all of the mailing lists to which you subscribe, use the * (asterisk) wildcard:

   QUERY *

How to Get More Information About Using the List

Send e-mail to the appropriate server address, LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or LISTSERV@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM with this message text (no subject):

   HELP

or use the command:

   INFO

The HELP command will give you a message about commonly used commands and INFO will provide a list of documents you can request.

More information on LISTSERV commands can be found in the LISTSERV reference card, which you can retrieve by sending this command:

   INFO REFCARD

If you need assistance, contact the mailing list administrators.

How to Search the Message Archives

All messages from the Microsoft mailing lists are available from the corresponding archives page, either http://microsoft.ease.lsoft.com/archives/index.html or http://discuss.microsoft.com/archives/index.html. The archives allow you to search for messages by author, date range, and by words in the subject line or message body. This is one of the best references available.

If Your E-Mail Address Changes

Your e-mail address may change for many reasons, including:

  • You change ISPs or employers.
  • Your ISP or company changes their e-mail software.
  • You change e-mail software on your computer.
  • You change your ID with an online service.

If your address changes for any reason, you should unsubscribe your old address and resubscribe your new address. If you are unable to unsubscribe your old address, contact the list administrators. They can remove your old address, but you should resubscribe manually. That's the best way to be certain you'll be able to post messages and sign off in the future without assistance.

Identifying List Messages in Your Inbox

If you want to identify the messages from this or any of our other mailing lists, you can do it in two ways:

If your e-mail software permits, just route messages to different inbox folders based on the To: field. It will contain the list posting address, listname@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or listname@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM.

Note   If you use Exchange or Outlook Inbox Assistant, be sure to click the Check Names button when setting this up. That way it'll check the address and not the friendly name used by the message author.

If you can't do that, or you don't want to, you can now have the name of the mailing list, surrounded by brackets, added to the beginning of the message subject line. It would look like this:

   [Listname] Identifying/sorting list messages

To start getting your messages this way, send e-mail to the appropriate server address, LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or LISTSERV@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM with this message text (no subject):

   SET listname SUBJ

using the name of the mailing list. You can include multiple commands in a single message. You can set this feature for all of your list subscriptions by using the command:

   SET * SUBJ

Remember, do not send these commands to the list address. They must be sent to the list server address to be processed.

Note to Users of Microsoft Exchange, Outlook, or Windows Messaging

Subscribers to Microsoft mailing lists who use Microsoft Exchange or other RTF-capable e-mail clients may be accustomed to formatting e-mail messages using colors, italics, different fonts, and other features to emphasize portions of their messages. Not every subscriber uses e-mail software that interprets messages formatted using RTF.

To make list postings readable by the entire list membership, please follow these procedures:

  • If you use a Personal or System Address Book entry to write to a list, be sure to clear the "Always send to this recipient in Microsoft Exchange Rich Text Format" check box in the Address properties.
  • If you type in the address, always use the form listname@servername and not [SMTP:listname@servername] for messages posted to the list.
  • If you reply to a message containing RTF formatting, your reply will also contain RTF unless you clear the check box in the Address properties as described above.
  • Do not use RTF formatting such as font, size, color, italics, bold, underline, or bullet lists. Please find ways to show the desired emphasis using plain text (such as *text* for bold) and similar methods.

If you use Exchange Server, creating server commands by pasting data can cause errors because the server inserts ">" in front of pasted lines. Choose Paste Special from the Edit menu, and Select Text rather than RTF to avoid this problem.

For more information, see Knowledge Base article Q138053, which is available in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Note to Microsoft Internet Mail Users

If your program configuration options use MIME for attached files, your entire message will appear to Exchange users as an attached text file. This makes it difficult to read and reply to your contributions to the list. To prevent this problem, change the file attachment option to UUencode or use the options described below.

If you send messages as HTML instead of plain text, many list members will receive the plain text of your message plus an attached file containing the HTML. This is distracting, and any emphasis you intended through character formatting such as bold or colors will be lost, which can change the apparent meaning of your message.

Setting the following options can resolve both problems:

   Plain/Text
   MIME
   Encode text using: none
   Allow 8-bit characters in headers (disabled)

Note to cc:Mail Users

You must turn off the "Retain Original Text" option when replying to list messages. This option automatically includes message headers in a way that makes your message resemble a transmission error report. As a result, messages with the original text included are not posted to the list.

Also see the following section, Quoting previous messages.

Quoting Previous Messages

A good message does not contain the entire text of the message to which it's responding; only the relevant parts (usually a single sentence or sentence fragment) should be included. Do not quote an entire message or an entire paragraph unless it's absolutely necessary. There's an enormous amount of traffic on the Microsoft mailing lists; please do your share to cut down the load by quoting effectively.

In addition, the mailing list software rejects any message that quotes the header lines (To:, From:, and so on) with a character followed by a space. If your e-mail software automatically quotes like this ("> To:" or "| To:"), you must remove the space and change it to ">To:" or "|To:". You can also remove the domain from explicit addresses in the quoted headers (for example, you can change "DCOM@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM" to "DCOM List").

By far the best reply simply refers to the message author and a one-sentence description of the subject; for example, "John Doe asked how to display a vertical scrolling marquee." You don't even need the date of the previous message if you're replying on the same day. Most list members keep a copy of messages that interest them, and can easily refer back if necessary.

If you think it's necessary to quote portions of the previous message, such as incorrect code, include only the portions that are really essential.

Subject Lines

A good message always uses a meaningful subject line. This helps you and other members of the list, since many members only read selected messages based on the subject. As a result, messages without a subject line or with vague subjects like "Help needed" may get less response.

If you have a digest subscription, you should always change the subject line in your replies from the original digest subject, which looks like this: "XXX Digest - 20 March 1997 to 21 March 1997".

If You Are Unable to Post Messages or Send Commands

If your e-mail provider or mail system administrator makes changes to their system or you change e-mail programs, the address your messages appear to come from may change. A common example is when user@SOMEPLACE.COM becomes user@MAIL.SOMEPLACE.COM. That will prevent the list server from recognizing you and accepting your messages. In this case, write to the list administrator for assistance. See the section Contacting the Mailing List Administrators for instructions. The administrator will unsubscribe your old address, and you will have to resubscribe with your new address.

If You Receive Mail Delivery Failure Notices

If you receive a message saying that a message you just posted to a list could not be delivered, that usually means a problem in some other list member's mail. If you receive a copy of your own message back from the list, you can be sure that your message was sent to the other list members.

When you receive such a delivery error message, please forward it to the List Administrator. That way the problem can be corrected so other members don't receive the same error when they post messages.

Replying to the Author or the Entire Mailing List

Sometimes a list member will post a question that's outside the list's scope because the other members are a source of assistance. Such messages should request that replies be directed to the author, not to the entire list. Always include your e-mail address for those using e-mail systems that might not show it. The best solution is to include mailto:user@domain.com with your address (for example: mailto:johndoe@xyzcorp.com). Many e-mail systems will allow anyone to click that link to start a message to you.

Also, members occasionally reply to messages with personal remarks or other comments. Messages like these should be sent to the appropriate individual, not to the entire mailing list.

Note that you will have to manually copy the author's address to the To: line of your message if the original message doesn't provide a mailto link. The Reply or Reply to Author functions in most e-mail programs default to replying to the entire mailing list. Always look at the To: line before sending e-mail to ensure your message is properly addressed.

Attaching Files

Please don't attach files to messages posted to the Microsoft mailing lists. Paste in the code if it's a reasonable size, provide a URL where it's available, or send the file by private mail.

You May Be Removed from a List

A variety of problems can cause messages to fail to reach you. Errors encountered can include full mailbox, user unknown, unable to locate your domain, unable to contact your mail server, and many others. Most of these are temporary errors that quickly go away. Others are permanent problems that cannot be corrected. Sending messages that cannot be received by the list member wastes resources.

If errors are reported that indicate you are unable to receive messages from the list, or if you cannot receive messages from the list for a week, you will be removed from the list.

The system automatically sends "probe" messages to all subscribers who haven't posted a message or changed subscription options within a month to verify that they can still receive mail. If any response is received, it is treated as an error. This includes reports of full mailboxes, out-of-office messages, and so on. In these cases the probes will continue for up to four days. If the errors continue during that time, the subscriber is removed from the list.

Vacations and Out-of-Office Auto-Replies

If you won't be checking your mail for more than a few days, you should consider switching to a digest subscription or stopping the list messages entirely during that time. Otherwise, if you've subscribed to one or more of our highly active lists, your mailbox could fill up during your absence. Besides being a nuisance when you return, this can cause you to miss important messages. The "mailbox full" errors also could easily cause you to be removed from the lists, as described in the previous section, You May Be Removed from a List.

If you use any form of auto-reply message, particularly the automated out-of-office messages supported by some e-mail systems, and you receive individual messages from the mailing lists, your auto-reply messages may be sent to everyone who posts a message to the mailing list during your absence. In addition, if the mailing list system probes your account to validate your e-mail address, your auto-reply messages will be treated as errors and you may be removed from the list. These probes are sent 30 days after your last message posting or status change, so the following suggestions prevent that problem as well.

You can easily prevent these problems by switching to a digest subscription before leaving, and switching back to a regular subscription upon returning. If you don't want digests while you're away, set your subscription options to NOMAIL.

Before leaving, set the desired option by sending e-mail to the appropriate server address, LISTSERV@LISTSERV.MSN.COM or LISTSERV@DISCUSS.MICROSOFT.COM with this message text (no subject):

   SET * DIGEST
   SET * NOMAIL

Upon returning, use the corresponding command to return to your usual option:

   SET * NODIGEST
   SET * MAIL

The * (asterisk) notation will cause the commands to be applied to all mailing lists on that server.

Signature Blocks

Distinctive signature blocks are a tradition on the Internet, but in these lists we ask members to keep the signature shorter than the message as a courtesy to other members. Ideally, signatures should not exceed a few lines. Large ASCII graphics are particularly distracting and unacceptable.

The most important part of the posting should be your message, not your signature.

Messages in Languages Other than English

These mailing lists are international, and it is important to assist people who don't read and write English as long as we can do so without disrupting the list. However, it's best if messages can be posted in English simply so the largest number of people can answer the question. It's strictly a pragmatic issue.

If the question is relatively simple, the best solution is for members to post a reply to the list in both English and the original language. They should invite the person to reply to them by private mail if they have follow-up questions. If the question is more complex, one person should post an English translation of the question and volunteer to translate the replies and send them to the original poster by private mail. That way we can help them even if the people who understand that language can't answer the question.

Read and Delivery Receipts

Some list members inadvertently send messages that request read or delivery receipts, or both. This has two effects.

First, the person who posted the message will receive one or two receipts from many members of the list. Some receipts go to the list server, but many usually go to the person who requested them. If a large number of receipts go to the server, it can affect the level of service we provide to all members of all mailing lists.

Second, list members who use e-mail programs that aren't set up to follow Internet standards compound this problem. Their receipt messages go to the mailing list where they are distributed back to all members, causing still more nuisance for the list members and overhead for the server.

Please... If you see a message on the list with the subject line of "Read: xxx" that came from you, talk with your e-mail system administrator. Ask them why your system is spamming the mailing list. Note that you probably can't control this yourself; the administrator must do something.

And... Please take extra care not to send list messages with receipts requested. That's the only way to prevent this nuisance for all members.

Netiquette

A member of one of our mailing lists provided the following tips on netiquette:

DON'T send lines longer than 70 characters. This is a kindness to folks who have terminal-based mail editors or newsreaders. Some mail and news gateways truncate extra characters, turning your deathless prose into gibberish.

Some mail and news editors seem to insert line breaks for you but actually don't, so every paragraph turns into one immense line. Learn what your mail and news editors do by mailing a message to yourself (or posting it to alt.test) and reading the message in a several mail and news readers. Most mail programs will let you read your message in a plain, vanilla form, the way others will see it.

DON'T SEND A MESSAGE IN ALL CAPS. CAPITALIZED MESSAGES ARE HARDER TO READ THAN LOWERCASE OR MIXED-CASE MESSAGES.

DO use normal capitalization. Separate your paragraphs with blank lines. Make your message inviting to your potential readers.

DON'T betray confidences. It's all too easy to mistakenly quote a personal message in a message to the entire group.

DO read the "To:" and "Cc:" lines in your message before you send it. Are you sure you want the message to go there?

DON'T make statements that can be interpreted as official positions of your organization or offers to do business. Saying "Boy, I'd sure like to have one of those new supercomputers," could result in a truck at your loading dock and a bill in the mail even larger than your student loan.

DO treat every post as though you were sending a copy to your boss, your minister, and your worst enemy. I customarily end every message I send from work with "Speaking for myself, not my company."

DON'T rely on the ability of your readers to tell the difference between serious statements and satire or sarcasm. It's hard to write humor. It's even harder to write satire.

DO remember that no one can hear your tone of voice. Use emoticons (or smileys) like :-) or ;^) and tilt your head counterclockwise to see the smile. You can also use capitalization for emphasis or Usenet conventions for italics and underlined text.

DON'T put a huge signature at the bottom of your messages.

DO exercise some restraint. Remember that a large number of mail and news editors out there are set up to use proportional fonts, and your lovely ASCII art won't look the way you designed it on those readers. Remember also that there's a Usenet newsgroup out there whose sole function is to make fun of people's signatures.

DON'T send a message that says nothing but "Me, too." Ditto for "I don't know."

DO recall that you aren't obligated to reply to everything you read. Remember the immortal words of Martin Farquhar Tupper (1810-1889): "Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech."

Finally, many groups have had the sense to write down some of their conventions in a frequently asked questions (FAQ) list along with (what else?) the answers to frequently asked questions. Many Usenet FAQs are posted monthly on the news.answers (alt.answers, comp.answers) newsgroups. List owners of LISTSERVs are often quite willing to mail you the FAQ for the list. In fact, they may tell you where it is in the letter that welcomes you to the list.


  
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