eDemocracy for Dummies: Iraqis Get Wired

Wonkette, as a rule, avoids covering foreign affairs. (We'd just spend all of our time making fun of the French, anyways.) But it's hard to resist dipping a calloused toe into the Tigris beat when offered as poignant a testimony to the fragility of the Iraqi government as the following email, intended for staffers at the Coalition Provisional Authority. You thought democracy was hard? Try explaining a listserv to people who only recently got running water back:


    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.

Just as long as everyone knows that the whole "electrodes-to-the-genitals" punishment is off the table. . .

From: "L-Soft list server at DTIC.MIL (1.8e)"

Reply-To: cpapublicaffairsoffice-l-request@CPA-IRAQ.ORG

Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 17:22:19 -0500

To: XXXXXXXXXXXX

Subject: You are now subscribed to the cpapublicaffairsoffice-l list

Thu, 18 Mar 2004 17:22:19

Your subscription to the cpapublicaffairsoffice-l list (CPA Public Affairs Office List) has been accepted.

Please save this message for future reference, especially if this is the first time you are subscribing to an electronic mailing list. If you ever need to leave the list, you will find the necessary instructions below. Perhaps more importantly, saving a copy of this message (and of all future subscription notices from other mailing lists) in a special mail folder will give you instant access to the list of mailing lists that you are subscribed to. This may prove very useful the next time you go on vacation and need to leave the lists temporarily so as not to fill up your mailbox while you are away! You should also save the "welcome messages" from the list owners that you will occasionally receive after subscribing to a new list.

To send a message to all the people currently subscribed to the list, just send mail to cpapublicaffairsoffice-l@CPA-IRAQ.ORG. 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 (cpapublicaffairsoffice-l@CPA-IRAQ.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@DTIC.MIL. 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.

You may leave the list at any time by sending a "SIGNOFF cpapublicaffairsoffice-l" command to LISTSERV@DTIC.MIL. You can also tell LISTSERV how you want it to confirm the receipt of messages you send to the list. If you do not trust the system, send a "SET cpapublicaffairsoffice-l REPRO" command and LISTSERV will send you a copy of your own messages, so that you can see that the message was distributed and did not get damaged on the way. After a while you may find that this is getting annoying, especially if your mail program does not tell you that the message is from you when it informs you that new mail has arrived from cpapublicaffairsoffice-l. If you send a "SET cpapublicaffairsoffice-l ACK NOREPRO" command, LISTSERV will mail you a short acknowledgement instead, which will look different in your mailbox directory. With most mail programs you will know immediately that this is an acknowledgement you can read later. Finally, you can turn off acknowledgements completely with "SET cpapublicaffairsoffice-l NOACK NOREPRO".

Following instructions from the list owner, your subscription options have been set to "CONCEAL" rather than the usual LISTSERV defaults. For more information about subscription options, send a "QUERY cpapublicaffairsoffice-l" command to LISTSERV@DTIC.MIL.

Contributions sent to this list are automatically archived. You can get a list of the available archive files by sending an "INDEX cpapublicaffairsoffice-l" command to LISTSERV@DTIC.MIL. You can then order these files with a "GET cpapublicaffairsoffice-l LOGxxxx" command, or using LISTSERV's database search facilities. Send an "INFO DATABASE" command for more information on the latter.

This list is available in digest form. If you wish to receive the digested version of the postings, just issue a SET cpapublicaffairsoffice-l DIGEST command.

More information on LISTSERV commands can be found in the LISTSERV reference card, which you can retrieve by sending an "INFO REFCARD" command to LISTSERV@DTIC.MIL.

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