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Introduction to Lists

In order to allow a free flow of communication, the Sierra Club uses email lists divided by topics. Some email lists are “newsletters” emailed monthly, some are “broadcast-style” communications to provide information on a topic of interest or request action. Some are discussion forums where all members can dialogue and brainstorm about a topic.

Email lists are also called “listservs," the formal name for a network communication tool that manages email lists and allows list owners manage access control, address changes, and delivery issues, while facilitating rapid and effective communication among members of the group. This page is a guide for those new to the use of Sierra Club email lists/listservs, as well as a reference for experienced users.

This page covers:

Additional info:

What Is A Listserv?

A Listserv is a subscriber email list that automatically handles the list of addresses, processes bounces, filters spam and viruses, provides a web interface, a digest option, a confidential archive, and generally makes communication easier by email or web.

Fish hiding in coralWith the new interface it is possible to read and reply to all the mail online and not even get messages in your mailbox (just choose the second to the last entry on the signup page - 'nomail'). You can check the web archives from any internet-connected computer.

Another option for managing emails is to set up mailboxes/folders in your email program and use 'rules' to automatically sort incoming mail. Listserv messages are easy to tag and sort out by their listname.

How To Sign Up

Different lists have different procedures. Click on the links in the List Directory to go to the appropriate form. In some cases you’ll need to send a request to the owner, which should include information on how you qualify for that list.

Once you’ve joined you will usually receive three emails, welcoming you to the list and giving you the Sierra Club Terms of Use.

How To Use It

To send mail to a list, just address your email to (replace 'LIST-NAME' with the name of the list). It will be immediately redistributed to members of the list (double check your spelling first!).

Replies are handled in different ways depending on the list configuration. Usually a reply will go to the whole list, sometimes it will only go to the original sender.

Alternatively you can also read and reply to messages on the web through the list’s archive (see below).

To make changes to your account, go to the "Subscriber’s Corner". Use this page to change your name (Sierra Club requires you use your correct full name, no aliases or 'handles' please), email address, or to change details about your subscription.

You can set up digests to receive all the day’s messages in one single message.  ‘Mime’ digests the a good choice.

You can also turn off mail delivery entirely. This is good if you’re going on vacation, or if you prefer to read the postings only on the web archive.

Archives may be viewed at the Sierra Club list of lists. You will need to create a password and log in to reply to messages or to see the archive of closed lists.


The Sierra Club has strict rules on the collection and use of email addresses and you will not be added to any other lists when you signup for one list. (There are some ‘superlists’ that are used to send messages to all lists from National on matters of great importance but they are employed very rarely). In most cases other subscribers cannot see your email address unless you post a message (check the list’s configuration. Some poorly configured lists have a public list of subscribers.)

You are required to use your whole real name when signing up for lists.

Angeles Chapter Listserv FAQ

Who else is on this list?
The header should specify if the list is public, for Sierra Club members only, or any further restrictions. Most lists have their subscriber lists hidden.

How do I send a message to the list?
To send a message to all of the list subscribers just address it to

To make a reply to the whole list, just hit the reply button on your email program. To make a private reply, cut and paste the sender's address into the 'To...' box.

 Where is the list archive on the web?
Sierra Club list of lists. Using the archive’s web interface you can read and reply to messages online and sign up for most lists.

 Can I cut down on email volume from the list?
If you wish, you may request that you receive messages in "digest" form: this means that you will not receive each message as it is sent; instead, you'll receive one message with the postings of the day in one email. This is useful for high volume lists, and for those of us who are already beset by a plethora of email.

From: your email
Subject: <this line is ignored and may be left blank>
Message: SET list-name DIGEST

To reset your subscription, send the same email, but change DIGEST to NODIGEST.

Another possibility is to set your subscription to "nomail", and then simply read the messages on the web archives.

From: your email
Subject: <this line is ignored and may be left blank>
Message: SET listname NOMAIL     (replace 'listname' with the name of the list.)

To reset your subscription, send the same email, but change NOMAIL to MAIL.

You can also set DIGEST or NOMAIL on the website. Go to “Subscriber’s Corner”

 This is the Sierra Club. There must be rules. Where are they?
This is the Sierra Club and as you might expect, there are some rules: Sierra Club Listserv Home

 Who do I contact with a listserv problem or question?
If you encounter any problem, compose a brief email describing the problem and send it to the following address:    (replace 'listname' with the name of the list.)


[Header photo: Point Reyes Western Fence Lizard © Ralf Burgert, all rights reserved]

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