Listserve Etiquette

Introduction: WHAT IS A LISTSERVE?

A listserve is a software program which allows associations to create ‘virtual communities of interest’ among all or segments of its members.

It is a list of email addresses of people with a common interest. Each list has its own distribution address. All you have to do to get involved with a list is subscribe to it by sending an email to the list subscription email address with the proper command. Your email will be added to the list and you will start receiving discussion contributions from all the other list members.

Unlike a ‘bulletin board’ any email sent to the listserve address will automatically be broadcast out to the full group. You do not have to go check the bulletin board. Email comes to each member’s email package. 

Unlike a ‘chat room’ none of the members of the listserve have to be present in real time to participate in the discussion.

Any email sent to the listserve will be sent to all members of the listserve. You may reply to the messages or send new thought-provoking topics at any time. Any message you send will be sent to the entire group. You don’t have to actively participate by sending messages; you can just listen to the discussion or ‘lurk’, as it is known on the electronic networks.

The power and productivity of a listserve increases with the number of ‘peers’ willing to participate on it.


Here are some netiquette rules and tips on the polite usage of the listservers. In addition, legal guidelines are included at the bottom for your use.

1. When you are the person posting a question, be sure that you entitle it with a good, concise, explanatory title in the subject line.
2. If you must post a long message, warn the other subscribers with a statement in the body of the message at the top – Example: WARNING: LONG MESSAGE.

1. If your message is an informative response to someone’s question, from which everyone can learn, you should respond and send your reply message to everyone.
However, try to avoid re-sending the entire message you are replying to. Cut and paste the relevant parts when replying, and please do not re-send a digest back to the listserver.
Remember: when you click on “reply” to a posting, your response is posted to the entire listserver.
2. If your reply is simply a request to receive a copy of what someone has offered to share, or simply to agree with someone (such as: “Me, too”), please do not reply to the entire group.
Instead, send your response directly to the email address of the person who posted the message by clicking on your “Forward to” button, and typing in or cutting and pasting in the email address of the individual to whom you are responding.


The following are the rules, conditions and other announcements that are made at the start of every MDTL list:

  • MDTL accepts no responsibility for the opinions and information posted on this site by others. MDTL disclaims all warranties with regard to information posted on this site, whether posted by MDTL or any third party; this disclaimer includes all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness. In no event shall MDTL be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of any information posted on this site.
  • Do not post any defamatory, abusive, profane, threatening, offensive or illegal materials.
  • Do not post any information or other material protected by copyright without the permission of the copyright owner. By posting material, the posting party warrants and represents that it owns the copyright with respect to such material or has received permission from the copyright owner. In addition, the posting party grants MDTL and users of this list the non-exclusive right and license to display, copy, publish, distribute, transmit, print and use such information or other material.
  • Do not post any material regarding specific prices or fees charged or paid.
  • Do not post any information concerning prices, discounts, or terms or conditions of sale either obtained by or offered to another entity.
  • Do not post materials concerning market shares, salaries, sales territories, profit margins, or encouraging the selection or rejection of customers or suppliers.
  • MDTL does not actively monitor the site for inappropriate postings, and does not on its own undertake editorial control of postings. However, in the event that any inappropriate posting is brought to the MDTL’s attention, MDTL will take all appropriate action.

MDTL reserves the right to terminate access to any user who does not abide by these guidelines.