Skip to main content
Skip to main navigation
Illinois State University

Overview of Listservs

 Listservs are used at Illinois State University by faculty, staff, and students to receive announcements and to communicate about classes, business, technology, and many other issues.

A listserv is an automated email service and is most commonly used for announcements and discussions. A listserv can be thought of as a mailing list or distribution list.

For assistance with a Mass Email communication (sending a one-time email to more than 100 recipients), please refer to How To Send Mass Email

Types of Listservs

Listservs are primarily used for two things:

  • Announcements: A one-way listserv is used to send announcements. Instructors, managers, and campus administrators use this type of listserv to notify students, faculty, and staff about important topics.
  • Discussions: A discussion listserv is used for back and forth discussion between listserv members. Instructors, managers, and campus administrators use this type of listserv to engage students, faculty, and staff on various topics for purposes of discussion.

Listserv Owners and Members

All listservs have at least one owner who is responsible for maintaining the listserv and adding and removing members. For announcement listservs, the owner is typically the only person who can post, or send messages, to the listserv, which are in turn delivered to the listserv’s subscribers.

Listservs members, sometimes called subscribers, receive emails sent to the listserv. Discussion listservs allow members to post, just like owners. This allows all listserv members to participate in the discussion. An email sent to a listserv by one member is delivered to all the listserv’s members.

Public and Private Listservs

Some listservs are public, which means anyone can sign up and join the listserv to receive announcements or participate in discussions. You can also leave a public listserv at any time.

  • Example: is a public listserv that anyone can join. This discussion listserv focuses on technology issues at Illinois State University.

Some listservs are private, which means there is no open sign up. The only way to join a private listserv is to be added by the listserv owner. You can usually leave a private listserv at any time.

  • Example: A manager might create a private listserv for a small working group to discuss budgetary issues. By making it a private listserv, the owner controls its membership and prevents people who should not be involved from joining the discussion.

Requesting a New Listserv

When you request a new listserv, you are designated as the listserv owner. As the listserv owner, you can make changes to the listserv and add new subscribers.

Subscribing and Unsubscribing

Before you can participate in a listserv, you must subscribe to it. When you no longer want to receive listserv emails, you must unsubscribe.

Listserv owners can also add members to their listservs through the Listserv Management website (see below).

Listserv Management

As a listserv owner, you can manage your listserv through the Listserv Management website at

Similar Articles