PMFList: Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a compilation of information on commonly asked questions about the PMFList:

What is the PMFList?

The PMFList began as part of The Microbiology BBS (a land-line based BBS system) in 1995. The service was moved to the internet with the rest of the service then renamed The Microbiology Network on Dec. 16, 1997. The list was moved from PMFList@microbiol.org to PMFList@peach.ease.lsoft.com on April 2, 2003 to accommodate larger traffic. Late in 2004 the list was upgraded again, this time due to a rapid increase in the number of subscribers. The current Email address for the PMFList is pmflist@lists.microbiol.org.

The Microbiology Network operates the private mail list “PMFList” in association with the Pharmaceutical Microbiology Forum. This mail list is devoted to topics of interest to microbiologists working in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and medical device industries. The list is owned, operated and moderated by Scott Sutton (scott.sutton@microbiol.org).

Please note that the nature of this service is to provide a medium for communication. The specific statements and endorsements of individuals participating in the discussions are not necessarily those of The Microbiology Network, Inc., the PMF, or the sponsors of the list.Go to Top of Page

How do I join the PMFList?

Follow this link – http://www.microbiol.org/email-discussion-lists/pmflist/

How do I send a message to everyone on the list?

To send a message to all the people currently subscribed to the list, just send mail to PMFList@peach.ease.lsoft.com. This is called “sending mail to the list”, because you send mail to a single address and LISTSERV makes copies for all the people who have subscribed. This address (pmflist@lists.microbiol.org) is also called the “list address”. You must never try to send any command to that address, as it would be distributed to all the people who have subscribed. All commands must be sent to the “LISTSERV address”, listserv@lists.microbiol.org. It is very important to understand the difference between the two, but fortunately it is not complicated. The LISTSERV address is like a FAX number that connects you to a machine, whereas the list address is like a normal voice line connecting you to a person. If you make a mistake and dial the FAX number when you wanted to talk to someone on the phone, you will quickly realize that you used the wrong number and call again. No harm will have been done. If on the other hand you accidentally make your FAX call someone’s voice line, the person receiving the call will be inconvenienced, especially if your FAX then re-dials every 5 minutes. The fact that most people will eventually connect the FAX machine to the voice line to allow the FAX to go through and make the calls stop does not mean that you should continue to send FAXes to the voice number. People would just get mad at you. It works pretty much the same way with mailing lists, with the difference that you are calling hundreds or thousands of people at the same time, and consequently you can expect a lot of people to get upset if you consistently send commands to the list address. Go to Top of Page

Why Do I Have to Confirm my Postings?

Spammers are a pain in the neck. For every legitimate message to the PMFList there are 10-15 spams. The moderator (me) is tired of having to individually reject those obnoxious postings. Therefore, to confirm that you are sending a legitimate message you need to follow the link provided on the confirmation request Email. Very Easy.

This system also provides you a way to stop a posting. If say, you meant to send that humorous comment to a co-worker but instead of “forwarding” the Email you “replied”, you can stop its distribution to the list by failing to confirm the posting. If it is critical to stop it, you can also write me and if I read your Email in time I will reject the posting. Go to Top of Page

Why Did the Address Change?

The original address for the list was PMFList@microbiol.org. This server was a Pentium IV being maintained by the owner of the list. As the service grew more popular in both number of subscribers and in the number of messages per day, this situation became unworkable. The list literally grew out of the available hardware and the desire of the microbiologist running the system to devote ALL his spare time to maintaining it. The solution to this problem was to move the the service to a mainframe computer, maintained by the company who developed the software. That required an Email address change to PMFList@peach.ease.lsoft.com (server maintained by Lsoft International). Not as convenient a name, but a rock steady support platform. Unfortunately this fix didn’t even last 18 months due to the rapid growth of the list. This time it was not a software or hardware issue, but a product-related restriction on the number of subscribers (restricted to 1000 per list). The contract with Lsoft was renegotiated to move the PMFList to the highest level of list service available, removing the restrictions on subscriber numbers and changing the Email address to PMFList@lists.microbiol.org. The PMFList is now hosted on an Lsoft mainframe computer, with “IT” support from professionals, and no restrictions on growth or number of messages. It has been the work of several years, but the PMFList is now one of the largest special-interest, international Email lists in existence, with no limits in sight. Go to Top of Page

How do I unsubscribe?

You may leave the list at any time by sending a “SIGNOFF PMFLIST” command to listserv@lists.microbiol.org

How do I get the “Digest” form of the list?

This list is available in digest form (weekly compilations of the Emails sent). If you wish to receive the digested version of the postings, just issue a SET PMFLIST DIGEST command in the test of a message to listserv@lists.microbiol.org. Go to Top of Page

What about viruses?

There are four levels of protection built into the PMFList. First of all, attachments to Email distributed on the list is prohibited and any Email attachment (including those vcards that Outlook will attach) is automatically stripped from the text message by the software. Secondly, all incoming Emails are scanned for viral infection by a dedicated anti-viral shield. Third, all Emails are manually approved by the moderator of the list who is quite willing to reject Email he thinks looks suspicious (or overly commercial, or offensive, or for whatever reason strikes his fancy). Finally, YOU are encouraged not to open any odd attachments to Email that comes from any source. Go to Top of Page

I have tried to sign-off but I am still getting messages.

There are a number of possible reasons why you might still be getting mail from the list:

  1. You could be subscribed under a different, but equivalent address. For instance, if your e-mail address as it appears in the ‘From:’ line of messages coming from you has the misfortune of depending on the distance between your workstation and the terminal room door, you were probably subscribed from a different address and, while your mail system knows that the two addresses are equivalent, LISTSERV has no way to know that. In this case the only thing you can do, beyond contacting the list owner, is to send a “REVIEW PMFList” command to find out under what address you are subscribed, and try to duplicate it with the help of your user support people. Go to Top of Page
  2. If you are a BITNET user, you might be subscribed under your Internet address and sending this command via BITNET, or vice versa. Most BITNET sites have registered their Internet addresses in the BITNET nodes database, BITEARN NODES (the “tag” containing this information is called ‘:internet’ – if you do not understand any of this, just bring a copy of this message to your user support people). Unfortunately, some sites have still not done that, and in such cases LISTSERV has no way to determine that, for instance, BITNET node XYZCOL1 is the same as Internet host VM3.XYZ.EDU. If you suspect this might be your problem, try resending your request via both interactive message (SEND under VMS, TELL under VM) and e-mail. Go to Top of Page
  3. You might be subscribed under an equivalent yet different address – for instance, one with explicit gatewaying, or an X.400 address with different ordering of the various components, etc. You could send a “REVIEW PMFList” command and inspect the list membership to find out whether this is the case, and ask the list owners to remove that address from the list. Go to Top of Page
  4. You could be subscribed to the list under another account, from which mail is being automatically forwarded to your account. In that case you should be able to leave the list by resending the signoff request from the account in question. Go to Top of Page
  5. You could be subscribed to the list indirectly, via a “redistribution” list. That is, one of the subscribers to the LISTSERV list is in fact a mailing list, to which you are yourself subscribed (note that this “sub-list” is not necessarily managed by LISTSERV and, in fact, such lists are often manually maintained, in which case the only way to leave the list is to contact the person who maintains it). Since you are not directly subscribed to PMFList, the only way for you to stop getting the postings is to contact the administrators of this sub-list and ask them to sign you off. Go to Top of Page

How do I get more information about commands?

Write to listserv@lists.microbiol.org and, in the text of your message (not the subject line), write: “HELP” or “INFO” (without the quotes). HELP will give you a short help message and INFO a list of the documents you can order. Go to Top of Page

Where are the archives?

A fully text-searchable archive for all messages since January of 1998 is located at http://lists.microbiol.org/archives/PMFLIST.html. Go to Top of Page