Problems with Code in SERIALST Digests -reminder Birdie MacLennan 12 Feb 2010 20:00 UTC

Hi Everyone,

The SERIALST moderators' group just received another report of
SERIALST messages appearing a readers mailboxes with lots of code, or
as one person just put it "a garbled mess".  The heavy coding and
"garbage" is usually associated with Digest formatting -- which is an
individual subscription option.  The default Digest option
unfortunately doesn't handle HTML or other special format coding, and
makes text mostly unreadable by overwhelming it with code.

If you are affected by this problem, try changing the digest setting
in your serialst subscription options to the mime or html setting.
Here's how:
send a one line message to:
Leave the subject line blank.
Your one line message should say:  set serialst html digest

If you don't like the html digest setting, try the command:
                                     set serialst mime digest

If you want to abandon the digest, try the command:
                                     set serialst mail
(the problem does not exist when you receive individual messages as
they are posted)

If you want to signoff or unsubscribe from SERIALST, send the command:
                                      signoff serialst

You can also manage your subscription from the subscriber's corner
link on the web site:
(to manage your subn on the web site, you need to set up a login
account with a userid and pw)

Finally, if you have problems updating your subscription options
because the server doesn't recognize you because of an address change
since you signed on, feel free to send a message to the address:, and one of the moderators will try to help.

      Why Does the Default Digest Contain so Much Code?

The problem began in June 2009, when the SERIALST moderators lifted a
long-standing ban on posting messages to SERIALST that contain HTML
formatting.   This was at the request of a subscriber who was having
problems posting messages due to special character formatting codes in
the messages which could not be removed.   This inspired a testing
period during which the HTML filters were lifted.  We found that
allowing messages with HTML code works great for individual messages
and web archives.
However, it wreaks havoc with the default digest setting in LISTSERV,
which doesn't support anything besides plain text ... and,
unfortunately, doesn't know how to convert coded messages to plain
text.  This was why we didn't
accept messages with special formatting codes for so many years -- it
messes up the default Digests!

The SERIALST Moderator Group agreed that we should allow HTML
formatting for individual messages and web archives -- and also advise
subscribers with the Digest setting of the problem and potential
work-arounds.   We did this on August 6, 2009, when it was known that
of 3265 subscribers, 442 (~12%)were set to digest.  Today, the same
report informs us that of SERIALST's 3280 subscribers, just under 50
(1.5%) are set to plain text digest and are probably receiving digests
with the problematical code displays.

If this is you, please consider opting for one of the other
subscription option settings described above.

Also, remember that SERIALST's web archives are freely available:
If you set a bookmark there and click on the "Date" in the top column,
you can search the archives or browse the latest monthly messages by
ascending or descending sort order, etc.

I hope this helps clarify some of the issues and problems. I am
looking into ways to remove the default digest setting from SERIALST's
subscription options.

  If you have questions or comments, feel free to email me directly.
As always, thanks to the Moderators Group for all the advice and
support: Ann Ercelawn, Vanderbilt University; Stephen Clark, College
of William & Mary; and Bob Persing, University of Pennsylvania; and
Marcia Tuttle (occasional advisor & consultant).

Thanks, too, to you, many subscribers and contributors who keep
SERIALST alive and busy -- and who bring your concerns to our attention.

Kind regards, and Happy week-end!

     Birdie MacLennan
     Bailey/Howe Library            E-mail:
     University of Vermont           AIM/IM:   birdieatbailey
     538 Main Street                  Phone:   802-656-2016
     Burlington, VT  05405, USA         Fax:   802-656-4038
   Library Professor / Director, Resource Description and Analysis
                 SERIALST Listowner & Moderator