Listserv 101

If you're having trouble even getting started, please read this

The Cleveland Park Listserv is a complicated place in cyberspace. We're the largest neighborhood email list in the country, with thousands and thousands of members. It's simply impossible to run an email list of this size in a way that everyone can instantly use. So, if you're having trouble posting messages, or if you can't quite figure out the list's rules, or if our FAQ (frequently asked questions) still leaves you stumped, then here's what you should do:

Ask a neighbor or a computer consultant for help.

An hour spent with somebody who has months or years of experience using this and other email lists can help you figure out how the list works and how to use it.

If you're wondering what email etiquette is all about; if you're uncertain about whether or not your message is right for the Cleveland Park Listserv, then here's what you should do:

Read messages for a few days before posting your first message.

Every email list operates differently. The Cleveland Park Listerv, for example, differs from other email lists you may be on having these requirements (as well as other) for all messages:

  • Messages must be signed with your real name (and not initials or a screen name.)
  • Messages posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv may not be crossposted to other email lists
  • Messages must be typed and formatted properly, and use regular punctuation
  • Messages must be original: We don't accept press releases, canned messages, forwards, or recycled material.

What do the list moderators do exactly? We screen out urban legends. We screen out traffic announcements that talk about lane closures in far corners of the city. We screen out messages about events in other parts of town. And we screen out spam, fraud, shills, unintelligible messages (you know the kind -- with badly garbled formatting), messages that contain links to porn sites, messages that just repeat what everyone's read in the morning Post, messages that simply say "I agree," "Me, too," "I also want to know about that," messages that repeat what somebody said just a few hours ago. Sure, it's easy for list members to hit the delete key -- that's what a lot of people say about the junk that appears on many email lists. But our philosophy is that it's no fun to press delete, delete, delete. List members shouldn't have to do that. A quality listserv should strive to become better all the time. The volunteer moderators work hard at that goal.

As the largest neighborhood email list in the country (please check the membership figures on the home page to see the current total -- and then check a few weeks later, as we're growing by an average of 25 to 50 members a week!), the Cleveland Park Listserv is more difficult and time consuming to moderate than other email lists. It's somewhat akin to a small town -- indeed, we're larger than many towns in America. Just like a town, we have rules and regulations that aren't perfect, and which don't always make sense to everyone. Some of these rules are designed to help the list moderators moderate: They make our jobs easier. Without many of the list's rules, moderating the Cleveland Park Listserv could quickly become a full-time job for the list moderators. And we all have real full time jobs and families, and we also need to have a little time away from our computers.

The Cleveland Park Listserv is not an anonymous free-for-all, like other email lists. Not all messages go through to the Cleveland Park Listserv, as they do on most other email lists. We are a privately-owned email list. If we were to sum up our policy about posting messages, it would be something like this:

Think of your message to our listserv as a letter to the editor of a newspaper.

Write your message with clarity and in a neighborly tone and there's a good chance you'll see your message in our corner of cyberspace.

The tiny URL for this page is

Finally, if you're feeling good karma you can donate to help support the Cleveland Park Listserv: