UTORlist service overview

General Description

The Information Commons and Computing and the I+TS Group are jointly offering the UTORlist service in support of the academic, administrative and instructional goals at the University of Toronto. UTORlist provides a simple mechanism for distributing a single message simultaneously to a group of people. For example, UTORlist can be used: to distribute class notes, reading lists, assignments, newsletters, project updates, deadlines, event notices, etc. The UTORlist Service is currently implemented using the LISTSERV™ software (trademark of L-Soft international, Inc.).

Disclaimer: Parts of this document have been adapted from the manuals provided by Lsoft.

The UTORlist Service performs many functions such as:

  • Handle list subscriptions and signoffs (leaving the list).
  • Allow subscribers to alter their subscription settings, or owners to alter them on the subscriber’s behalf.
  • Distribute e-mail to all list subscribers.
  • Save list messages in a searchable archive (sometimes referred to as “notebooks“).
  • Automatically handle communication between members and owners of lists.
  • Allow list owners to control the character and behavior of their list(s).

There are two main types of lists UofT students, faculty or staff may wish to join, each with its own advantages for specialized use.

One-Way Announcement Lists
The owner(s) and/or editor(s) of the list are the only people who are allowed to send messages to the subscribers. The communication flows one way — from the list administrators to the list subscribers.

This type of list is primarily used for newsletters, product announcements, and dissemination of information that does not require feedback from the subscriber.

Two-Way Discussion Lists
The list administrators and the list subscribers are both permitted to post messages to the list. The communication flows two ways - between the administrators and the subscribers, and back and forth between different subscribers. This type of list is primarily used for discussion groups engaged in the exchange of ideas and information centered on a specific topic.

Support Levels

There are several support levels involved in the delivery of UTORlist service with different responsibilities for each level.

Information and Technology Services Group (I+TS)
I+TS is responsible for the computers on which the UTORlist service runs. They make sure the systems are running and perform other operational procedures. I+TS staff installs and upgrade new versions of the software as required and are UofT's contact with the software vendor on issues of bug reports and technical support.

Information Commons (IC)
The List Master is a technical person in charge of the list owners. The List Master helps list owners decide on the configuration of their list and helps list owners with other aspects of running their lists. The List Master relies on I+TS for more difficult technical issues or conveys information to I+TS which must be resolved with the vendor. You can contact the List Master by e-mail at: listmaster@utoronto.ca .

List Owners
List owners can be faculty, staff or students of the University. Students must be part of a recognized student group at ULife. (ULife has temporairily suspended this service. Please contact groups.officer@utoronto.ca for assistance). There can be more than one list owner for each list. The Primary List Owner has the following responsibilities:

  • To act as a point of contact for any problems or questions list members may have.
  • To deal with bounced mail. Usually this happens when a subscriber's e-mail address is no longer valid (i.e., they leave the University and forget to unsubscribe) or their e-mail post office is down for an extended period. The list owner then has to investigate to see what is causing the bounced mail. Usually the error message will indicate whether the remote post office is down or the mailbox address cannot be found.
  • To keep the list civil. If the list becomes too "volatile" on a certain issue, the list owner may want to step in and ask the particular list members to continue their discussion outside of the list. Please refer to the Appropriate Use of Information and Communication Technology .
  • To maintain the ownership and any changes in list ownership.
  • List owners deal with the IC List Master when they require assistance, listmaster@utoronto.ca.

The following PDF manuals are available from the Lsoft website:

LISTSERV Software List Options

The list owner has several options regarding the configuration of their list. These options fall into two broad categories: (1) how subscriptions are handled, and (2) who can post (send messages) to the list.

1. How Subscriptions are Handled

Lists can be configured as one of the following types:

  • Open, Confirm -- Anyone who sends a request to subscribe will be added to the list after auto-validation of their e-mail address. The list owner is informed of the subscription but generally is not involved in the subscription process--the LISTSERV software handles it. This type of list has the advantage of reducing administrative load on the list owner, but the list owner has little control over who joins the list.
  • By Owner -- All subscription requests are forwarded to the owner who decides on each request individually and then allows or denies membership.
  • Closed -- No subscription requests are accepted or forwarded to the owner. All subscribers are added manually by the owner.

The subscription configuration of a list can be changed by the List Owner or List Master from one type to another at any time.

2. Who Can Post to the List

Lists can be configured as one of the following types:

  • Owner only — Also called broadcast lists or announcement lists. They are one-way communication from the list owner to subscribers.
  • Owner and subscribed members — Also called discussion lists used to, exchange of ideas. Any list member can send a message to the list.
  • Owner and editor — Also called moderated lists. All e-mail is first sent to the owner or moderator (often the same person) who has the discretion of editing the message before it is sent to the list.

The posting configuration of a list can be changed by the List Owner  from one type to another at any time.

UTORlist Performance Issues

Since some lists can be very large and UofT's electronic post office handles other e-mail between individuals, list owners should work within the following UTORlist performance guidelines:

The LISTSERV software will attempt to distribute e-mail to list members within four hours. However, there are some limitations:

If a subscriber sets digest mode, then distribution occurs only once a day. In digest mode, individual messages that would normally be sent out as they are received are combined into a single message and sent out only once.

The Information Commons and the LISTSERV software have no control over delivery to list members who are outside the institutional e-mail service (i.e., e-mail accounts not ending in "@utoronto.ca"). LISTSERV should be able to deliver all mail to @utoronto.ca addresses within 24 hours (except in the case of catastrophic hardware or software failure).

Owners should keep these guidelines in mind when posting time-sensitive material.

Other List Features

All UofT lists are confidential in the sense that their presence is not advertised through common announcement means.

  • Size limit per message is approximately 30M.
  • Only the owner of the list may see who is subscribed to the list. This is done to prevent spam.
  • Anyone planning to send email to more than 15,000 people should send a message to email.ops@utoronto.ca. Other mass mailing solutions are available that might be more appropriate.
  • Lists cannot be renamed.  Create a new list, populate it and send a message to listmaster@utoronto.ca with the name of the old list to be deleted.
  • To delete a list send a message to listmaster@utoronto.ca with the name of the list.

How to Become a List Owner

Any UofT faculty, staff or students can be a list owner. Recognized campus groups and organizations must apply for a group listserv through Ulife (see below). There can be more than one list owner/moderator for each list.

Faculty, and staff can apply online (you will need your UTORid and password to Log in). See the instructions for creating a list online

Recognized Campus Groups (recognized by Student Life via Ulife), Course Unions and Student Societies can apply for a UTORlist (a group mailing list or listserv) for their group through Ulife online. The contact person for your group may apply for this service by logging into Ulife, clicking on the My Groups button, selecting the appropriate group, and then clicking on the Request Group Services menu item. (ULife has temporairily suspended this service. Please contact groups.officer@utoronto.ca for assistance).

Last update:
2019-05-17 14:51
Lisette Henrich
Average rating: 3.09 (11 Votes)

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