The mailing list service provided by Computing Services enables the creation and management of central email discussion and distribution lists. Central mailing lists have the advantage over personal lists that any member of a list (or indeed anyone with an email account, depending on the configuration of the list) can post messages for distribution to the list's subscribers. If you are a member of the college it is likely that you are already subscribed to some college-wide lists.
The mailing lists are managed by software called Sympa which runs as part of the college central email service and which has its own web interface providing a convenient and user-friendly way of working with lists.
To use the mailing list service you must login to Sympa using either the college IDcheck web sign-on utility or by setting up a private Sympa password in the Login panel on the Sympa Home Page.
To use IDcheck, click on the Go button in the Login panel. If you have previously logged into IDcheck and IDcheck knows your email address, you will be transparently logged into the mailing lists service. If not, you will be prompted for your college username and password.
If you cannot, or do not wish to use IDcheck (perhaps because you do not have a central account or you are not a member of the college), you can register your email address with Sympa by using the First login? or Lost password? links in the Login panel. You can then follow the instructions to register a password for your email address. Once registered these can be re-entered at a later time in the login panel.
On-line help is available on all aspects of using Sympa via the Help link in the top right corner of the page.
The easiest way to join an existing mailing list is to log in to Sympa and choose it from the list of lists. Please note that there are many private lists which may not allow you to subscribe to them, for these lists you will need to contact the list owner.
To set up your own mailing list, click on the Apply for list link in the top right hand corner of the page, then fill in the online form carefully. Your application will be reviewed by the college postmaster.
Mailing lists can generally be used in two ways; to stimulate and encourage discussion or to disseminate information. It is as well to be aware of the pros and cons each way of operation before applying.
Mailing lists are extremely useful in disseminating information to interested parties and those likely to be affected by change as well as providing feedback to those effecting the change. In this case, replies will need to go to the originator of the list and not to the whole list. A pitfall to be aware of is, for example, acknowledgements of receipt of information being circulated to the whole list rather than just the originator. This could cause a subscriber to receive replies from all of the subscribers to the list and several complaints!
There are also great benefits in using a distribution list for generating discussion amongst several subscribers with mutual interests. In this case the discussion should be seen by the entire mailing list because of the potential benefits to the whole list and also of course to enable other subscribers to join in the discussion.
So, if you want to disseminate information you should arrange for replies go just to the originator of the message. If the need is to stimulate discussion then replies should go to the whole list.
Typically, adding subscribers can either be done by the owner (find your list, click on the list name and use the Review subscribers link in the list admin panel). Additionally, if your list permits it, by subscribers discovering your list and adding themselves by using the Subscribe link.
Mail can be sent to a mailing list using a standard email client, by addressing
the message to
firstname.lastname@example.org. For example, to send to the
Course Organisers mailing list, email should be sent to
There is a limited email interface. To receive additional help about that
interface please send a message to
email@example.com with a subject
In addition to the email interface, it can: