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FAQs About the ESP List

This collection of Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) about the ESP mailing list is a work in process. If you are an ESP list member with a question you think should be addressed here, click on the link below to send a message to the ESP list administrator. If your question seems like one other members will also want to know the answer to, we'll add it to the FAQ's.

E-mail the ESP List Administrator

Here Are the Questions:

  The Basics...

   If You Want To Go Deeper...

Q: How do I subscribe?
A: The best way to subscribe is to use the on-line form on the ESP List Web page. Please fill out all the fields in the form.

Q: How do I unsubscribe?
A: To unsubscribe, send an E-mail to: LYRIS@LIST.NEA.ORG, leave the subject line blank, and in the body of the message put UNSUBSCRIBE ESP.

Q: How do I send a message to the ESP list?
A: To send a message to the list, address your E-mail to to ESP@LIST.NEA.ORG. NOTE: This is not the same address you use for unsubscribing.

Q: What's the difference between replying to the list and replying to an individual?
A: When you read a message from the ESP list that you want to reply to, and you click the "Reply" button on your E-mail program, your reply message will, by default, be addressed to the ESP list. (You can check this by looking at the address on the "TO:" line of the message - it should say "") This means that your reply will be distributed to all the members of the list. If you want to send a message that will only go to the author of the original message, you must read their address from the original message, and make sure that your reply is addressed to this address. You will probably need to cut-and-paste the address, or type it into your message by hand.

Q: What's the difference between sending a message to the list and sending a command to Lyris?
A: For any automated list, there are two important addresses to keep in mind - the address of the machine that runs the list, and the address of the list itself. You send mail to the list machine with commands (like SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE) telling it specific things you want to do. You send mail to the list with messages that you want distributed to all list members. Confusing these two addresses is probably the most common mistake people using listserv lists make.

For instance, if I have something about paraeducator training I want to share with the ESP list, I should send it to ESP@LIST.NEA.ORG. If by mistake I send it to LYRIS@LIST.NEA.ORG, I will get a reply from Lyris (Lyris is the name of NEA's Listserver), probably within a few seconds, that says, "Huh?" (Actually, it will say something like "Command not recognized.") Likewise, if make a mistake and send the command UNSUBSCRIBE, which I intended for the listserver, to ESP@LIST.NEA.ORG, everyone on the list will know I want to quit, but I will still be subscribed. (To quit the ESP list, send the command UNSUBSCRIBE ESP to LYRIS@LIST.NEA.ORG).

Q: How do I change from receiving messages as they are posted to receiving messages in a single daily digest, and vice versa?
A: You have the option of receiving individual messages as they are posted to the ESP list (the default setting), or of receiving all the previous day's messages in a single posting, or digest, which is usually sent out after midnight. You can change from one setting to the other either by using E-mail commands or by asking a list administrator to change your setting for you.

   Using E-mail: To receive ESP as a digest, send a message to LYRIS@LIST.NEA.ORG, leave the subject line blank, and put SET ESP DIGEST in the body of the message. If you are receiving ESP as a digest, and want to go back to getting individual messages, then send a message to LYRIS@LIST.NEA.ORG, leave the subject line blank, and put SET ESP MAIL in the body of the message.

   Asking a list administrator: You can contact a list administrator by sending a message to

Q: What does "netiquette" mean?
A: "Netiquette" is geek-speak for the set of manners and customs that make it easier for us all to get along on mailing lists and in newsgroups. Most of netiquette is just common courtesy, common sense, and a few tricks to make messages more readable. On the ESP list, the principal elements of netiquette consist of respect for other list members, making sure messages are addressed to the person(s) you wish to read them, and keeping messages relatively short.

Q: Are there rules about what I can and cannot say on ESP?
A: The ESP list has a simple statement of philosophy that list members are asked to observe: "The ESP list is a community - we ask that all community members observe the rules of courtesy and consideration that apply in any community discussion." In addition, ESP list members are bound by the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) which governs all of NEA's mailing lists. The AUP forbids such behavior as sending unsolicited bulk E-mail, posting threats, or sexually explicit material. To obtain a copy of the AUP, send an E-mail to (leave the subject line and the body of the message blank). The AUP will be E-mailed to you.

Q: Why are some of the messages so long, and full of little ">>" marks?
A: Many E-mail programs are configured so that when you reply to a message, the original message appears at the bottom of your reply. Each line of the original message starts with an arrow (">") to distinguish it from the reply. Of course, this makes the message twice as long. Then, if someone replies to the reply, the original lines get two arrows (">>"), the first reply now has one arrow on each line, and the message is now 3 times as long. Pretty soon it gets hard to find the real message - it's like a kite with a tail that's so long and heavy it can't get off the ground. If you're writing a reply to a message on the ESP list, we ask that you don't include the orignal message in most cases. Please delete most of the original message from your replies - it's OK to keep a few lines to help identify what you're responding to. This will make it easier for list members to get right to the point of your message, and will reduce clutter in their mailboxes.

Q: Why do some of the messages have a bunch of junk characters that I can't understand in them?
A: There are at least three sources of extraneous characters in ESP list messages. Right arrows at the beginning of lines (>, >>, >>>, etc.) indicate an original message being included in a reply. Solid blocks of many lines of seemingly random numbers, symbols and characters indicate an attachment being sent as an encoded inclusion in a message. Words and symbols in brackets scattered through the text, such as this example - <FONT SIZE="-1" FACE="arial, helvetica, sans-serif" COLOR="#8000FF"><B>Q: Why do some of the messages have a bunch of junk characters that I can't understand in them?</B></FONT> - are what you see when a HTML-formatted message is displayed by an E-mail program that can't interpret HTML.

Q: Can I send message attachments to ESP?
A: No. For security reasons, the ESP list does not permit you to send attached files to the list.