How to Start and Manage a BITNET LISTSERV Discussion Group: A Beginner's Guide



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The Public-Access Computer Systems Review


The following article only attempts to outline the major steps you must take in establishing a LISTSERV discussion group. It assumes that if you are in any doubt you will be able to obtain help on demand from an expert in your local computer center or from an experienced colleague. The expert may be called the "postmaster," the "LISTSERV owner," or something similar. If you are fortunate enough to find a helpful expert, cultivate him or her. The discussion lists LSTOWN-L@INDYCMS and ARACHNET@UOTTAWA are designed specifically to provide list owners with access to LISTSERV experts and experienced list owners (see Appendix A). The following also assumes that you will be in charge of the group (i.e., you will both manage or supervise the daily operations and be responsible for its success). LISTSERV groups, particularly those that are moderated, require someone who is attentive (if not devoted) to these operations and an adept editor. Note that the mechanical and the intellectual tasks required by an electronic discussion group cannot be cleanly separated; the editor/owner should be willing and able to undertake both. Keep organizational matters as simple as possible, and as loose as possible, at least until you have a sure grasp of what your group is all about. As editor/owner, you will certainly have influence, but much will be determined by the membership as a whole. In electronic communications, "vox populi vox Dei" is as good an initial motto as you can have. At the same time, total license communicates lack of attention and concern, even lack of wit. The experts, such as we have them, agree that a successful group requires an active, though not dictatorial, editorial persona.




Kovacs, Diane, Willard McCarty, and Michael Kovacs. "How to Start and Manage a BITNET LISTSERV Discussion Group: A Beginner's Guide." The Public-Access Computer Systems Review 2, no. 1 (1991): 128-143.