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Information Technology Services

Frequently Asked Questions

bcpost: boston college's mailing list service

What is a listserv?

A listserv is an email-based discussion group that allows members to post email messages to a large number of people at the same time. When you use a listserv you do not need to know who all the members of the group are or their individual email addresses. A mailing list or listserv is often referred to with the shorthand of "list."

When you send mail to a mailing list, you address the mail to the mailing list's name. When the mailing list server receives the message, it expands the name of the mailing list into each of the individual addresses currently on the list and it redirects your message to each of those people, called subscribers. Then, should the membership of the list change, there is only one file containing the addresses of the subscribers which must be updated.


What is BCPost? 

Boston College Information Technology Services (ITS) uses technology from a company called Sympa to manage mailing lists at BC.  BCPost has a web interface which allows you to access and read archived messages, manage the lists you are subscribed to and/or manage lists you own or moderate.


What are list owners, privileged owners and moderators? 

In the BCPost service there are two different types of owners: privileged owners and regular owners. When you request a new list, you are by default the privileged owner. List owners migrated from the Majordomo system are privileged owners in BCPost. A list owner, privileged or regular, does not necessarily need to be subscribed to the list. Learn how to add owners or transfer ownership of a list. 

A list owner is a person who handles subscription and unsubscription requests and manages the list's settings and permissions. Privileged Owners have additional privileges beyond regular owners, including:

  • the ability to add and delete other, non-privileged owners
  • the ability to add and delete list moderators
  • the rights to change who can view the list's subscribers
  • the rights to change who can send email to the list

A list moderator is someone who approves or declines messages sent to a moderated list. A list can have more than one moderator. For lists that are very active, it it a good idea to have multiple moderators. Being a list moderator does not necessarily mean you're a subscriber. 

Important Note: If you are the sole owner of a moderated list, you are by default a privileged owner and a moderator. If you add additional moderators, you must then also add yourself as a moderator if you are interested in continuing to serve in that capacity. Learn how to add moderators.


How do I create a new mailing list?

New mailing lists can only be requested by members of the Boston College community by selecting the Create a List tab. You must be logged in with your email account to create a new mailing list.


How do I decide what type of mailing list I need?

There are 3 list types you can use to create a list:

List Type
Best for...
How are messages handled?
Who can see this list in the "Index of Lists?"
discussion list that lets all subscribers take part in exchanges Messages are transmitted to all subscribers after approval by one of the list moderators. Moderation is a token of quality for the list. It ensures that subscribers will not receive off-topic messages, unsolicited commercial messages (spam), messages containing large attachments, etc.
Only current subscribers and users with Boston College addresses
encouraging communication among list subscribers Messages from subscribers are transmitted to the list as soon as the mailing list software receives them. Messages from non-subscribers are moderated by the list owner.
Only visible to list subscribers
distribution of announcements to list subscribers Allows subscribers to receive messages without being allowed to post or reply to the messages. With this type of mailing list, the information flows from a unique sender to a large number of recipients. Only current subscribers and users with Boston College addresses


What is the best way to prevent Spam from being sent to my list? 

  1. Reduce the chances that spammers will find the address of your list by preventing your list from displaying in the Index of Lists to non- subscribers and non-BC users.
  2. Configure your list so that only subscribers may post.
  3. Make your list a moderated list. Although, this requires work by list moderators, spam may be stopped before being distributed to subscribers.
  4. You may also limit who can view the email addresses of subscribers. Viewing the list of all subscribers is only possible after login.