The AUTISM Mailing List (AUTISM@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU) is an open e-mail-based forum to discuss autism hosted by St. Johns University, and administered by volunteers (firstname.lastname@example.org); there is a page about the mailing list that has much of the same material on this page, plus more useful information). The list includes parents, autistic people, researchers, professionals, students, and other people interested in autism. Discussion is lively: many weeks see 500 or more postings. It is a very good forum for posing a question for which you do not know who would have the answer.
The mailing list is administered by the software, LISTSERV, which gives you the ability to subscribe, sign off, get past messages, stop mail during vacations, get the mail in a digest, and other things, all without the necessity of asking someone to do it for you (LSoft, the developer of LISTSERV has a page about this list too). You can get instructions in how to do these things by sending the text "help" to the address LISTSERV@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU. Here are brief instructions for some of the more common requests it can handle:
Note: do not send requests to subscribe or sign off to the list itself. This practice results in thousands of people getting lots of extra messages. Be careful to send LISTSERV commands to LISTSERV, or contact the folks who run the list.
If you have a question about autism, you can join the list and pose your question to the list members. If you need to contact someone about an issue with the list itself, you can contact the list administrators (email@example.com).
There is a small repository of files compiled by people on the list which is available via e-mail from LISTSERV@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU. To get a list of files, send the single line
LISTSERV will e-mail you a list of files, each with a two-part name, e.g. "AUTISM IMMUNE" (called the filename and the filetype). To retrieve one of the files, send get filename filetype to LISTSERV, i.e. for the "AUTISM IMMUNE" file
get autism immune
LISTSERV will e-mail you the file.
The LISTSERV software keeps an archive of all the messages ever posted to the AUTISM Mailing List. They are available on the web at http://maelstrom.stjohns.edu/archives/autism.html which also gives you the means to search them. You will be asked for a LISTSERV password and offered the chance to get one if you don't have one.
The archives can also be retrieved by e-mail (see Getting related files above) and searched by e-mail (next section).
Using e-mail, you can make LISTSERV search and retrieve messages from the archive. To search the archives, send an e-mail message to LISTSERV@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU with a "search" command as the body of your message such as the single line:
search 'greenspan' in autism
LISTSERV will return a list of all postings that match your search command, giving a number for each posting which you can use to retrieve it. In this example it returns all postings to autism since it started which contain the string greenspan anywhere in their body. You can further narrow your search by time, sender, or subject of the postings. Here are 3 example search commands:
search 'greenspan' in autism since 96/7/24 search 'greenspan' in autism where sender contains 'smith' search * in autism where subject contains 'intro'
In the first example LISTSERV lists all postings that have the word greenspan anywhere in their body and were posted to the autism list since July 24, 1996.
In the second example LISTSERV lists all postings containing the word greenspan in their body that were ever posted to the autism list and had smith anywhere in the "From:" mail header line.
In the third example the asterisk (*) means to list all postings which contain the word intro anywhere in their subject header.
Once you receive the list of matching postings from LISTSERV you review this list and decide which if any you want to receive. Each posting listed will have a number in the left most column that is used to identify the posting to LISTSERV. To receive several of the postings listed you must send another message to LISTSERV using the "getpost" command to request the postings you want LISTSERV to return. For example if you requested a list of postings using the "search" command and decided that you want postings numbered 153, 756, 757, 758, and 1821 then you would send a message back to LISTSERV@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU with this single line as the body of your message:
getpost autism 153 756 757 758 1821
Since you want three sequential postings 756, 757, and 758 you can indicate them as a range in your "getpost" command like this:
getpost autism 153 756-758 1821
LISTSERV will return the postings you requested combined into a single return message. If you want to get all postings posted since February 12, 1997 you could send LISTSERV@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU this line as a message:
search * in autism since 97/2/12
When LISTSERV returns the list of postings look at the first and last entries in the list and see what their ID numbers are. For example they could be 3244 and 3585. If so then send back to LISTSERV another message using those ID numbers as the start and end of a range of postings for it to return. For example:
getpost autism 3244-3585
One final word: while I have nothing to do with running this mailing list, I do know from personal experience that running such open, world-wide e-mail lists is no picnic and it represents work. I thank the administrators for their effort and implore you to be kind to them. -John Wobus
This page can be found at www.autism-resources.com.