CSL: Majordomo User's FAQ

This document describes some of the features of the Majordomo e-mail listserve run by the CS department. For administrative features, please see the associated Majordomo Administrator's FAQ. Please send any comments, corrections, or suggestions to the Lab Staff.

If you're familiar with mail servers, an advanced user's summary of Majordomo's commands appears at the end of this message.

Majordomo is an automated system which allows users to subscribe and unsubscribe to mailing lists, and to retrieve files from list archives. You interact with the Majordomo software by sending it commands in the body of mail messages addressed to majordomo@cs.duke.edu. Do not put your commands on the subject line; Majordomo does not process commands in the subject line. You may put multiple Majordomo commands in the same mail message. Put each command on a line by itself.

If you use a signature block at the end of your mail, Majordomo may mistakenly interpret each line of your signature as a command, which will cause you to receive error messages. This is usually not harmful, but to keep this from happening, either put a line starting with a hyphen ("-") before your signature, or end your valid Majordomo commands with the command end on a line by itself. This will stop the Majordomo software from processing the remaining lines.

Here are some of the things you can do using Majordomo:

Find out which lists are on a system

To get a list of publicly-available mailing lists on this system, mail a message to majordomo@cs.duke.edu with the keyword lists on a line in the body of the message. Majordomo will reply to you with all the mailing lists it manages. Each line of the will contain the name of the mailing list and a brief description of the list.

To get more information about a particular list, use the info command. For example, to get information about the list demo-list, include the following line

	info demo-list

in the body of the mail message.

Subscribe to a list

If you wish to subscribe to one or more lists on this system, you can send commands to Majordomo to have it add you to the list, so you can begin receiving mailings. Note some lists may be moderated and require an administrator's approval for you to be added. Majordomo will handle these cases automatically. To receive list mail at the address from which you're sending your mail, include a line with the subscribe command followed by the list's name:

	subscribe demo-list

If for some reason you wish to have the mailings go to a different address (a friend's address, an account on another system, or an address which is more correct than the one that automatically appears in the From: header on the mail you send) you would add that address to the command. For example, if you're sending a request from your work account, but wish to receive demo-list mail at the account jqpublic@my-isp.com, you'd put the line

	subscribe demo-list jqpublic@my-isp.com

in the body of the mail message.

When you are added to the list, you will will be mailed a confirmation of your subscription. For some lists, you may also receive notification that an authorization key is required for subscription. In that case a message will be sent to the address listed in the subscribe request containing a key, and directing the user to reply to the Majordomo server with a given command (which will be described in the message body). (This may seem like a hassle, but it helps keep you from being swamped with email by someone who forged subscription requests from your address.) You may also get a message that your subscription is being forwarded to the list owner for approval. If your request is forwarded for approval, the list owner should contact you soon after your request.

Once your subscription is approved, you should receive an introductory message, containing list policies and features. Save this message for future reference; it will also contain directions for unsubscribing from the list. If you lose the intro mail and would like another copy of the policies, send the following command to the Majordomo server:

	intro demo-list

(substituting, of course, the real name of your list for demo-list).

Unsubscre from mailing lists

Your original intro message contains the exact command which should be used to remove your address from the list. However, in most cases, you may simply send the command "unsubscribe" followed by the list name:

	unsubscribe demo-list

(This command may fail if your provider has changed the way your address is shown in your mail.) To remove an address other than the one from which you're sending the request, give that address in the command:

	unsubscribe demo-list jqpublic@my-isp.com

In either of these cases, you can tell Majordomo to remove the address in question from all lists on this server by using * in place of the list name:

	unsubscribe *
	unsubscribe * jqpublic@my-isp.com

Find the lists to which an address is subscribed

To find the lists to which your address is subscribed, send this command in the body of a mail message to the Majordomo server:


You can look for other addresses, or parts of an address, by specifying the text for which Majordomo should search. For instance, to find which users at my-isp.com are subscribed to which lists, you might send the command

	which my-isp.com

Note that many list owners disable the which command, considering it a privacy violation.

Find out who's subscribed to a list

To get a list of the addresses on a particular list, you may use the who command, followed by the name of the list:

	who demo-list

Note that many list owners allow only the list's subscribers to use the who command, or disable it completely, believing it to be a privacy violation.

Retrieve files from a list's archives

Many list owners keep archives of files associated with a list. These may include:

  • back issues of the list
  • help files, user profiles, and other documents associated with the list
  • daily, monthly, or yearly archives for the list

To determine whether a list has any files associated with it, use the index command:

	index demo-list

To retrieve an archived file from a mailing list use the get command, specifying the list name and archived filename. For exampl, to retrieve the files called profile.form (presumably a form to fill out with your profile) and demo-list.9611 (presumably the messages posted to the list in November 1996), you would include the following lines

	get demo-list profile.form
	get demo-list demo-list.9611

in the body of your message.

Get more help

To contact a human site manager (for the CS Majordomo server), send e-mail to majordomo-owner@cs.duke.edu. To contact the owner of a specific list, send mail to that list's approval address, which is formed by adding -approval to the user-name portion of the list's address. For example, to contact the list owner for demo-list@cs.duke.edu, you would send mail to demo-list-approval@cs.duke.edu.

A help message from Majordomo is available by sending mail to majordomo@cs.duke.edu containing the following line


in the body of the message.

Command summary for advanced users

In the descriptions below, items contained inside square brackets ( [] ) are optional. When typing the item, do not include the []'s around it. Items that are emphasized, such as address, are meta-symbols that should be replaced by appropriate text. Majordomo understands the following commands:

subscribe list [address]
Subscribe yourself (or address, if specified) to the named list.
unsubscribe list [address]
Unsubscribe yourself (or address if specified) from the named list. unsubscribe * will remove you (or address) from all lists. This may not work if you have subscribed using multiple addresses.
get list filename
Get a file related to the list.
index list
Return an index of files available to the list.
which [address]
Find out which lists you (or address, if specified) are subscribed to.
who list
Find out who is subscribed to the named list.
info list
Retrieve the general introductory information for the named list.
intro list
Retrieve the introductory message sent to new users. Non-subscribers may not be able to retrieve this.
Show the lists served by this Majordomo server.
Retrieve a help message.
Stop processing commands (useful if your mailer adds a signature).

Commands should be sent in the body of an email message to majordomo@cs.duke.edu. Multiple commands can be processed provided each occurs on a separate line. NOTE: Commands in the Subject: line are NOT processed.

If you have any questions or problems, please contact the Lab Staff.