The terminology used to describe the technical aspects of email services can often be confusing and lead to frustration. We have compiled most of the common terminology encountered when discussing email services. Simply click the first letter of the desired term to scroll to that letter's terms.
acronym - An abbreviation formed from the initial letters of a series of words. See EmoticonUniverse.com acronyms for examples.
ad swap - See sponsorship swap.
administrator - see list administrator.
advertiser - one who purchases or barters for advertising space on an email list. see sponsor.
alias -an email address that forwards incoming email to one or more POP (post office protocol) accounts.
announcement list - 1. A one-way list broadcast to subscribers (who don't post to the list). Used typically to provide web site updates, sales information, company news, and new products/services. See also newsletter, ezine. 2. A place to announce email lists, such as New-List.com.
archives - the past issues of an ezine or discussion list, available either on the web or via auto responder, FTP, etc.
Arrow - mailing list software.
ASCII - An acronym for "American Standard Code for Information Interchange" used to assign English characters to numbers.
authentication - see confirmation.
auto responder - an automated, predefined email reply.
Autoshare - email list software.
BBEdit - A high-performance HTML and text editor for the Macintosh. Designed for editing, searching, transformation, and manipulation of text.
BCC - Blind Carbon Copy field in email programs, used to send a message to a large number of recipients without enabling them to see each other's addresses.
BeroList - email list software.
BMW - email list software.
bounces - distributed email message returned because of an error of some kind (such as the address no longer exists).
broadcasting - The process of simultaneously emailing the same message to multiple recipients.
campaign - an advertising media buy during a given period of time.
CaptainDomo - email list software.
catch all - an email server function that forwards all email sent to a given domain (firstname.lastname@example.org) to a single account. Useful for catching misdirected mail or for creating email aliases on the fly.
CC - "Carbon Copy" field in email programs used to send an identical email message to an additional recipient besides the original recipient in the "To:" field.
CGI - Common Gateway Interface is a specification for transferring information between the Web and a Web server, such as in the case of processing email subscription forms.
cipher text - also referred to as encrypted data. Cipher text is protected during the email process. When it safely reaches the intended recipient, it can be easily decrypted using a special, private "key" and viewed as plain text.
closed subscription - the list owner must approve all new subscribers before they are added to the list.
confirmation - a potential subscriber must authenticate their subscription request by replying to an authentication message. Used to prevent others from signing up people maliciously.
CoolList - Free email list service. http://coollist.com/.
co-registration - the practice of referring leads, subscriptions, or memberships concurrent with another registration process.
CPA - Cost Per Acquisition. An advertising arrangement whereby publishers are paid only when subscribers make an actual purchase or acquisition.
CPC - Cost Per Click. An advertising arrangement where advertisers are charged a set amount for each click-through.
CPM - cost per 1000 impressions. (see impression).
creative - The actual copy in an email text or banner advertisement.
cross-post - to send identical or nearly identical email messages to several discussion groups or forums at the same time.
CTR - Click through rate - used to determine the effectiveness of an advertising campaign in an Internet medium, such as email newsletter or discussion list advertising.
dedicated server - dedicated server platforms are list servers intended for an individual company's sole usage. There are many advantages, including faster server times, security and overall reliability.
digest - a compiled version of all of a list's posts for a given day/week/month.
digest-only discussion list - a moderated discussion list available in digest form only.
digital signature - Not to be confused with a "signature" or a "SIG," digital code that is attached to electronically transmitted data. Since the code is unique, unforgetable and secured through encryption, digital signatures serve to guarantee the authenticity of the sender.
direct email - Email broadcasts sent to people who have expressed interest in a given topic area; most analogous to direct mail offline.
DoList Mailing Server -email list software.
double opt-in - a two-part process many lists require individuals to complete in order to get their email address added to a list.
eGroups - a free email list hosting provider. http://egroups.com./
email client - A software application that manages online communication by enabling users to send, receive, save and organize email. MS Outlook, MS Outlook Express and Netscape Communicator are email clients.
email list, e-mail list - any email mailing list, including announcement lists, discussion lists, ezines, email newsletters, etc.
emoticon - A short sequence of keyboard letters and symbols used to convey emotion, gestures, or expressions which could not otherwise be derived from mere text; a "smiley" (see EmoticonUniverse.com).
EMWAC ILS - email list software.
eSquire - email list software.
ezine, e-zine - an announcement list mailed with regular frequency, containing articles, news, and other useful information on a given topic. Sometimes also used to mean a web-based e-publication. (see webzine)
ezine family - A group of five or more unique ezines published by a single publisher.
EZmlm - email list software.
farewell message - see goodbye message.
filter - an email function used to sort email messages automatically.
finger - A UNIX program known for its ability to track information about the owner of a specified email address. Built into many email systems, this utility can easily retrieve basic user details, such as name, address and phone number.
flame - an email message, either public (to a list) or private, meant to offend, usually in response to something the flamer doesn't agree with.
footer - information at the bottom of list messages containing copyright, subscription/removal information, etc. Sometimes added automatically by the list software.
formatting - In email publishing, formatting refers to the alignment of a newsletter, more specifically, the margins, line spacing and line width (which is typically 65 ASCII characters). HTML newsletters allow publishers to further specify font size, color, etc.
goodbye message - an automatic email message sent to a list member who unsubscribes.
guest moderator - Someone who moderates your email discussion list or ezine for you, while you oversee theirs or take a break from managing that part of your list.
Handy Mail List Server - email list software.
hard bounce - when an email message you have sent is returned to you without reaching the recipient. Often it will be returned with the message "user unknown" or "host unknown." A hard bounce occurs most often because of an error in a subscriber's email address (misspelled, wrong host). You should unsubscribe hard bounces from your list.
header - 1. Information at the beginning of list messages containing things such as nameplate, masthead, copyright info, table of contents, and so on, sometimes inserted automatically by the list server. 2. E-mail headers. What an email message uses to communicate with mail servers, usually invisible to most email programs.
host - see list server.
HTML newsletter - a newsletter sent in Hyper Text Markup Language. This differs from a text newsletter because it allows list owners to send media-rich publications that can include graphics along with text. Text newsletters consist of ASCII characters only. Since some subscribers' email clients cannot view HTML or subscribers prefer not to receive it, an HTML newsletter is generally offered as an option in addition to a standard text newsletter.
IMail - email and list software.
IMAP - Internet Message Access Protocol. This is a specific protocol for retrieving email messages.
impression - one view of one page by one user, used in calculating advertising rates. (see CPM).
IP Address - A unique number assigned to each device connected to the Internet. Every address has 4 octets, each octet ranging from 1 to 255. IP addresses allow data to get to where it needs to go, data packets are sent with a To and From address, those being the IP addresses of the two machines talking.
LetterRip - email list software.
linkrot - the general breakdown of links either among Web pages or from email newsletters to Web sites because the sites have shut down, changed addresses or removed or reorganized pages.
list address - the address used to distribute a message to a list (email@example.com).
list administrator - the person who manages and/or owns an email list.
list hosting provider - a company specializing in email list delivery that manages the distribution of an email list. List hosting service providers are either fee-based or free. The free services add their own advertisements to generate revenue.
list of lists - announcement lists or list directories that are used to promote lists, and allow users to find lists on a topic that interests them.
list owner - the person who "owns" a given email list. Lists are considered valuable private property because of the time it takes to compile an opt-in list, etc. (see opt-in.)
list server - the Internet server that controls the distribution of an email list.
Listar - email list software http://listar.org/.
ListCaster - email list software.
ListGate - email list software.
ListProcessor, ListProcessor 6.0 - email list software.
ListServ - email list software.
ListSTAR - email list software.
lurker - someone subscribed to a discussion list who reads but does not post to the list.
Lyris - email list software.
Macjordomo - email list software.
Mailbase - http://mailbase.ac.uk/.
mail bomb - hundreds or thousands of email messages sent to the same address, sometimes to the central posting address of a discussion group causing an avalanche effect which can bring down a server with the heavy load it causes.
mail loop - occurs when email software is mis configured, causing an error message (from a hard bounce) to mistakenly be sent to an entire subscriber list instead of just one error message being sent to the list owner. Mail loops are considered poor netiquette because they annoy subscribers and may cause readers to unsubscribe.
Mailman - http://list.org/.
mailto: - used in HTML link tags to create a clickable email link. Also used by email publishers to make email addresses clickable in some email programs.
Majordomo - email list software.
MDaemon - email list software, http://mdaemon.com/.
mini-course - a closed-end series of three or more email related messages which, when taken together, deliver a lesson, tutorial or other explanatory material to subscribers who have requested the information. Delivery is usually set up using a sequenced (or sequential) auto responder, which can be formatted to deliver the specified message at a certain time to a specific address.
MinimaList - email list software.
Minordomo - email list software.
moderated - A discussion list in which a human being (the moderator) must approve messages before they are distributed to the list. This is usually to prevent spam or off-topic posts.
moderator - the person who moderates a moderated discussion list.
MReply - email list software.
MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) -- The core piece of any email program, it performs two distinct duties: it forwards outgoing mail and stores incoming mail.
MX - email list software.
netiquette - Internet behavior which is considered friendly and non-offensive.
newsletter - see ezine.
newsletter directories - directories of email newsletters sorted by topic and sometimes searchable.
nimda - A computer virus that first appeared on Sept. 18, 2001 and spread throughout the Internet via infected email and Web servers.
NTMail - email list software.
ONElist - a free email list hosting provider. http://onelist.com/.
open relay - An open relay is an SMTP email server that allows third parties to relay email messages that are neither for nor from local users.
open subscription - anyone can subscribe, see closed subscription.
opt-in - an email list comprised of members who have voluntarily signed up, rather than being added without their permission. (see spam); also, the act of subscribing to a list.
opt-out - to unsubscribe or remove oneself from a mailing list.
PairList - email list software. http://pairlist.com/.
permission-based - This term refers to when people give their permission to receive information or advertising, such as subscribing to an email newsletter or discussion list.
Petidomo - email list software.
PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) - software used to encrypt and protect email during transfer from computer to computer. PGP can be used for a variety of security tasks, including the ability to attach a digital signature to an email, which allows the recipient to verify the sender.
plain text - Referring to data in ASCII format, plain text does not include text formatting code. Generally displayed with a fixed-width font, plain text is used to create HTML documents. Plain text is also the most common type of data to be encrypted.
POP - Post Office Protocol. A protocol that an email client uses to communicate with an email server.
post - A message sent to an email list.
Post.Office - email list software.
PPP - A protocol that allows a computer to access the Internet via a telephone line and modem.
preferences - options that you can set with your list host, such as moderated/unmoderated announcement/discussion, etc.
Qlist - email list software.
queue - the first step in the process of posting a list. Most list server software allows users to place their work inside of a holding area where it remains indefinitely until it has been moderated or approved. An email message is considered "queued" until it has been sent.
restricted subscription - see closed subscription.
rich media - text content that also includes a combination of formatting commands for page layout, graphics, audio, video and animation. Rich media requires more bandwidth and storage space than ordinary text.
ROI - "ROI" - Return On Investment. This is used to measure the success of an advertising campaign.
screen-oriented editor - Any text editing software that allows publishers to manipulate text on a display screen by simply moving a cursor to the desired location. Preferred over "line editors" (which require users to specify each line of text prior to editing) screen-oriented editors are also referred to as "full screen" editors.
semi-moderated - a discussion list where all messages sent through the list are read by a list moderator after they reach the list.
signature - a promotional device used at the bottom of email posts submitted by members to a discussion list, usually containing a website URL, etc.
SLMail - email list software.
SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) - a Unix-based protocol that allows computers to connect to the Internet via a serial link. This protocol has by in large been replaced by PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol).
SMTP - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. SMTP is a protocol for sending email messages between email servers.
Smartlist - email list software.
SockMail - email list software.
soft bounce - when an email you've sent reaches the intended recipient because it has been manually forwarded by a network administrator in charge of redirecting all misguided email on the recipient's domain.
solo mailing - A one-time broadcast to an email list, separate from the normal content of the list, and usually containing a sponsor's message.
spam - unsolicited bulk email or unsolicited commercial email, considered bad etiquette.
SparkLIST - an email list hosting provider. http://SparkLIST.com/.
sponsor - one who advertises on an email list. A sponsorship sometimes differs from an ad, in that a sponsorship can be an exclusive arrangement with a top-of-list position.
sponsorship swap - an agreement between email list owners or ezine publishers to run each others ads for free.
Steward - email list software.
subscribe - to join an email list, either via a Web form or email commands sent to a list server.
Sympa - email list software.
Topica - a free email list hosting provider. http://topica.com/.
thread - a series of messages in an online discussion/forum that follow an initial post.
Tulp - email list software.
unmoderated - a discussion list where users have unrestricted ability to post to the entire list.
unsubscribe - to remove oneself from an email list, usually using some kind of email command.
USP (Unique Selling Proposition) -- The unique service a company offers that sets it apart from competitors distilled into a brief slogan. The USP is the tagline publishers include in their publications, post on company sites and use in sig-lines.
VOPMail Mailing List Server - email list software.
webzine - A regularly-updated, web-based magazine. This word is used to differentiate email "ezines" and web-based ones.
welcome message - A message sent to new subscribers to an email list, usually sent automatically by the list server.
workflow - In electronic publishing, the process, route or steps used to ensure the quality of a publication prior to broadcasting. A typical route may be from writer to editor to proofreader to list manager and/or moderator/publisher. Workflow schedules allow publishers to efficiently make and meet deadlines while eliminating common content-related errors.