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"What, Why, and What If...?": Joining and Using the Black Studies Listserv
Being on a listserv is like having a subscription to a hyperactive newspaper or magazine that is distributed by email rather than paper; once subscribed, you automatically receive any messages that someone has sent to the listserv, and any message you send to the listserv will be distributed automatically to everyone who is subscribed to it.
For more information on listservs, including useful commands, check out the AIT Help Desk's Listserv Page and the Welcome to Listserv! maintained by L-Soft International.
To send a message to your section's list, just compose a normal email message, but rather than sending it to an individual, send it instead to "firstname.lastname@example.org." (That's ENGL24001, btw!)
However, before you can send or receive messages, you first must be subscribed to the listserv. To subscribe to your section's listserv, choose the email account you want to receive messages in and send messages from (for many of you, it will be your Fredonia account; for some, it will be an off-campus account from netsync or hotmail or aol or whatever), get into it, and send an email message to "email@example.com" with the subject line blank and the command "subscribe engl24001 Your Name" in the body. (That's ENGL24001, btw!)
Less than a minute after you send this message to the listserv-subscription-handling-machine, you will receive a preliminary confirmation message in your in-box that has important instructions on it. READ THIS. You are not officially subscribed to your section's listserv until you follow the instructions on it. After following those instructions, you will then receive a real confirmation message which describes the listserv and how to use it. SAVE THIS. You should now be able to post messages to the list (see above).
When you've successfully posted a message to the listserv for your section, you should receive a note back from the listserv-email-distribution-machine that says how many people the message was sent to--I would save this message, too, so you have a record of submitting a reading response for that week. Even better is to look in your "sentmail" folder (or the non-bluedevil equivalent) for an actual copy of the message--and save that in a folder of its own. It's not impossible for me to misplace or lose a reading response, given that I'm going to be dealing with 50/week this semester--protect yourself by keeping records and copies of the messages you send to the class listserv!
Finally, you should be reading and thinking about your classmates' discussion questions and reflective essays--see the Reading Responses page for advice on your listserv assignments.
See the "What If...?" section below if you don't know how to use email or if you run into problems during any one of the steps described above.
Although it involves some considerable thought, time, and effort on your part, the listserv is a crucial component of this course: 1) it will allow me to determine who is doing the reading--and how carefully you are thinking about it--as well as alert me to what questions you all have about the texts and the course; 2) it will require you to have read the texts and thought about them well before we meet to discuss them in class, thereby enabling us to use class time more efficiently; 3) it will set up a working rhythm for the semester and encourage steady engagement with the texts and with each other; 4) it will provide an avenue for participation for students who may be uncomfortable speaking in class; 5) it will provide the opportunity to practice communicating your ideas in writing in a relatively low-pressure, fairly informal medium; 6) it will provide a forum for responding to each other's ideas and interpretations directly and conveniently, with minimal intervention or mediation from me; 7) the process of making observations, asking questions, and reading others' observations and questions will prepare you for and provide raw material for your more formal critical essay, mid-term examination and final project; 8) it will save paper.
Now, communications technology is notoriously unstable under perfect conditions--and with the explosion of interest and use of the internet among Fredonia students and faculty, we are literally scrambling here to keep our technology infrastructure up to date. So be prepared for snafus, glitches, bugs, and other sorts of computer gremlins to crop up over the course of the semester. Perhaps the most important part of technological literacy is learning to deal with the unexpected with a minimum of panic, so I recommend taking every problem as an opportunity to learn something about computers. Here are some common problems and their solutions. If your problem is not listed here, please email me and I'll try to help you come to a solution. Also available for help is the Media Center (on the second floor of Thompson Hall) and their Help Desk (673-3150). But look here first!
- ...I don't have a computer? No problem. There are plenty of computer clusters on campus open at virtually all hours of the day which you can use to check email and surf the web. Go to the Media Center for a list of such clusters, or ask your friends or classmates.
- ...I don't know how to check email or surf the web? Let's skip the latter problem--if you can't surf the web, any answer here won't help you, and if you can, you don't need a reminder. If you need a primer on checking email, click here or read on. By registering as a student at Fredonia, you automatically are given an email account. To get started, just click on the "webmail" icon on the SUNY Fredonia web site. You will be asked to type in a "login" ID. For undergraduates at Fredonia, this ID consists of the first four letters of your last name and the last four digits of your social security number. So NBA star Allen Iverson's ID would look like "iver1234" (I'm making up his social security number, of course). After typing in your login ID, you'll be asked to type in a password; this is automatically set as your birthday (in month-date-year format, six characters in all). So Allen Iverson would then type in "010874." Then click on the "login" button (hitting enter doesn't work). Think of webmail as a stopgap until you've set up an email program on your own computer, and for use in computer clusters. You should generally access your email through Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer (I recommend the former because hackers tend not to go after it); click here for instructions.
Two precautions about using email: 1) always quit or exit or logout when you're done if you're using a computer that others might use, so that they can't read your mail or send messages in your name or worse; 2) you should change your password for your Fredonia account ASAP, since if someone knows your birthday and your social security number, they can get into your account (go to the Help Desk's Email Setup page for instructions).
- ...I use a computer at home? First, check to see if you have a modem and the proper internet software. The Media Center can help you here; they have a booklet called "Getting Connected" or something like that which takes you through the process. But let's say you're all set up, and that you'd rather use e-mail from home than use a cluster computer, and that you already have internet service through a provider like aol or netsync or hotmail or yahoo! or something. If you regularly use that email account and don't mind receiving dozens of messages per week on it, go ahead and subscribe to the listserv using that email account. You can subscribe to the list using any email program.
- ...I try to log in to my email account but I keep getting a "login incorrect. Try again." response? Contact the Media Center or the Help Desk (673-3150)--there could be a problem with your account.
- ...I try to join the listserv but it's not happening? Until you've gotten a "Welcome to engl24001" message or received reading responses from classmates, you can't be sure you're subscribed. If neither of these things has happened by now, check to see that you're sending your "subscribe engl24001" message to the correct machine--to the one that handles subscriptions (firstname.lastname@example.org) rather than the machine that distributes messages (email@example.com). Also, be sure you've followed the directions on the email the machine sent back to you--you aren't subscribed until you respond to that initial confirmation message. Some students this semester have reported problems at the confirmation stage--this is probably caused by something going on with the company running Fredonia's listservs (heavy traffic, software update, bugs, viruses, etc.) and is out of our hands. Make sure you try the email reply option if the "click here" confirmation option isn't working. You may just have to try again in a few hours and start the whole process over.
- ...I try to send a message to the listserv but it gets bounced back to me with a weird error message? Odds are you either 1) are sending the message to the wrong address (see above); 2) have let a typo slip into the "to:" line of your original message; or 3) haven't yet subscribed to the listserv. Read that error message carefully; it should indicate what the specific problem is (even if it's in technicalese, you can figure it out!). Now, if it's a typo, that's easily fixable. Once you've fixed it for that message, you can then create a nickname using the address book, so that whenever you type in the nickname in the "to:" line (say, "engl240"), the full listserv address appears after you hit enter. (This is a neat shortcut for all kinds of e-correspondence, BTW, particularly with addresses to which you send a lot of messages.) Similarly, failing to subscribe to the listserv is an easily fixable problem. You should know that for security reasons and to prevent "spamming" (the sending of ads or other electronic junk mail to a large number of people at once), the machine that handles messages will only accept messages from email accounts that are listed as subscribed to the listserv. So be sure to first send the message to the machine that handles subscriptions (firstname.lastname@example.org) before trying to send a message to the machine that distributes messages (email@example.com). By the same token, if you've subscribed under your Fredonia account but not your netsync one (for instance), and are trying to use the latter to send a message to the listserv, it won't work. You may decide you want to subscribe on all your accounts, or you may want to reserve your Fredonia account for course-related emailing. In any case, you must subscribe before you can send or receive listserv-related messages.
- ...I sent a message with no problem, but I haven't received a confirmation from the machine or a copy of it in my inbox? Odds are the server is down or its response time is slower than usual because of heavy volume. Wait. As long as you don't get an error message from the listserv telling you your message didn't get sent, it will be. Eventually. Obviously you'll get credit for writing the message on-time, even if it gets delivered late. But to avoid this problem, get in the habit of sending messages as early as possible.
- ...I know I'm subscribed to the listserv, but I'm not finding any messages from my classmates in my inbox? There are several possibilities here. One could be that your inbox is full (or, more technically, that you've "exceeded your disk quota")--the solution for this is to delete junk messages from your inbox and empty the trash to free up some space, and to save important messages on your own computer or on a disk. Another possibility is that your email program is set up to reject or automatically delete "spam"--junk email--the solution here is to get your filtering program to recognize the listserv as something other than "spam." I can help you with this, as can the Help Desk (673-3150). The other possibilities probably exist, but I can't imagine them, so I don't have any solutions to offer. Contact the Help Desk if the problem isn't covered here, and let me know how they solve it. Thanks!
Well, these are the most common problems my students have encountered. Hopefully, you won't have to deal with any of them. And again, please contact me if anything here is hard to understand or you're having a problem not covered here. Good luck!
M A I N * N E W S * L I N K S * R E S E R V E S
ENGL 200: Introduction to African American Literature and Culture, Fall 2003
Created: 8/26/03 8:32 am
Last modified: 9/3/03 11:14 am