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The Newbie's Guide to Email List Terminology

Everyone is new to this email list thing, and our sole mission at List-Lingo is to give you easy to use definitions & examples of EVERY known email list term that you might run into as an email List Manager or Ezine Publisher.

This site is compromised of two main sections. There is a complete web archive of every known List-Lingo term and if you'd like to get our extended definition & an example as to how the word is used in real life, join our weekly List-Lingo list that comes out every Tuesday morning.

List-Lingo Glossary

  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A Top
  • Acronym
    An abbreviation formed from the initial letters of a series of words. See 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 a POP (post office protocol) account.

  • 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

  • Archives
    The past issues of an ezine or discussion list, available either on the web or via autoresponder, FTP, etc.

  • Arrow
    Mailing List Aoftware

    An acronym for "American Standard Code for Information Interchange", used to assign English characters to numbers.

  • Attachment
    An attachment is a file sent by email. The contents usually aren't part of the original email but can be accessed by clicking an icon. This opens the file. An email with an attachment usually has a symbol, such as a paper clip (Outlook Express) or a sheet of paper with a clip attached (Eudora), which alerts the recipient that the email contains an attachment.

    Sending a large or complex file as an attachment allows the sender to keep the original email message small and uncomplicated. However, many email viruses are delivered as attachments to email messages and launch themselves when the recipient clicks on or opens the attachment.

  • Authentication
    See Confirmation

  • Autoresponder
    An automated, predefined email reply

B Top
  • 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 them being able to see each other's addresses.

  • Blocklist
    A database of computer IP addresses suspected of sending unsolicited bulk email, also called spam.

  • 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.

C Top
  • Campaign
    An Advertising Media Buy during a given period of time

  • Catch All
    An Email server function that forwards all email sent to a given domain ( 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.

  • Churn
    A measure of the number of subscribers who leave an email newsletter or discussion list over a given period of time. Best practiced when measured on a monthly basis.

  • 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.

  • Constant Contact
    Constant Contact - marketing software provider. (

  • Conversion
    "Conversion" is a classic marketing term. In email marketing, a conversion occurs when the recipient of an email message performs the action the marketer intended when sending the message, such as buying the advertised product or adding the sender's address to a personal address book or contact list. Conversion is one of the measurements a marketer uses to determine a campaign's success.

  • Co-Registration
    The practice of referring leads, subscriptions, or memberships concurrent with another registration process. See Co-Registration Services, Part I

  • 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.

D Top
  • 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.

  • Denial-of-service attack
    An email denial-of-service attack is an organized effort to disrupt the flow of communication by swamping an email or Web server with more messages or traffic than it can handle and effectively shutting down the server until the message flow stops. In email, this usually occurs when virus-infected email messages generate millions of outgoing messages.

    Although denial-of-service attacks are not new, they have become a new tactic in the war between spammers and anti-spammers. Spammers first launched denial-of-service attacks against blacklisting Web sites run by anti-spammers. Now, anti-spammers are considering using the same weapon against the spammers.

  • 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, unforgeable 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.

  • Discussion List
    An email list dedicated to the discussion of one or more topics where list members can send messages to the entire list. See also moderated, unmoderated.

  • Double OPT-IN
    A two-part process many lists require individuals to complete in order to get their email address added to a list.

E Top
  • Email Client
    A software application that manages online communication by enabling users to send, receive, save and organize email. MS Outlook and Netscape Communicator are email clients.

  • Email Harvesting
    Email harvesting is an automated process in which an address collector uses a robot program to search the Internet for exposed email addresses. The program collects the address into a database, which the collector sells to anyone who wants to send mass emails. Harvesting helped spawn today's great tide of junk email. The practice has been outlawed by many state anti-spam laws in the United States and discredited by reputable list brokers and email marketers.

  • 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

  • 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.

F Top
  • Farewell Message
    See goodbye message

  • Filter
    An email function used to sort email messages automatically.

  • Finger
    A UNIX program known for its abilty 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.

G Top
  • Glurge
    Glurge is a general derogatory term to describe human-interest stories, usually circulated by email, that often are untrue or have been exaggerated so as to make them untrue. "Glurge" stories often seek to inspire or outrage recipients with stories that are overly sentimental, sweet, tear-jerking or heart-tugging. They usually are based on inaccurate information or exaggerated facts or were made up and passed off as true. The term originated with the researchers at, a Web site that investigates and debunks myths and rumors.

  • 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.

H Top
  • 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 begining 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.

I Top
  • 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.

J Top
  • Joe Job
    A "Joe Job" is a spam-industry term for forging email addresses to make one email message look as if it came from a different address in order to hide the sender's true identity.

K Top

Sorry, No Terms for this letter

L Top
  • 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 (

  • 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

  • Lurker
    Someone subscribed to a discussion list who reads but does not post to the list.

M Top
  • 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 misconfigured, 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.

  • 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.

  • Mimail
    "Mimail" is the name given to a worm that spreads via email. The worm launches when the email recipient opens an infected attachment. It will either steal information from the user's computer and send it to another email address or command the computer to launch a denial-of-service attack, typically against anti-spam Web sites.

    The worm affects computers running Microsoft operating systems, including Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, NT and ME. It does not affect computers running Macintosh operating systems, OS/2, Unix or Linux.

  • MIME (Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions)
    Allows an email publisher to send both HTML and TEXT formats to their email list -- and the server sends the type of format that the email list member's email client can receive.

  • 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) autoresponder, which can be formatted to deliver the specified message at a certain time to a specific address.

  • 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

  • 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
    Mail Exchange Record

  • MyDoom
    "MyDoom," officially "w32/MyDoom-A," is the name given to an email worm which spreads infected attachments. When a recipient opens the attachment, the worm harvests email addresses from address books and files with extensions such as .txt, .htm and .php . It sends out phony emails with randomly matched addresses in the "to" and "from" fields, with subject lines that include "error," "hello," "mail delivery system" and "test."

    The worm is considered one of the most damaging unleashed through email, in part because the worm's damaging payload is disguised as an official delivery-failure error, which recipients might be more likely to open than those that promise adult content or games.

    The worm and its variants target SCO Group, Microsoft Corp. and several Internet ad servers, as well as several anti-virus firms, making it difficult for some users to download patches or virus updates.

N Top
  • 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.

O Top
  • Open Rate
    The "open rate" for a bulk email delivery indicates how many people open the email message. The number usually is expressed as a percentage of recipients. Open rates vary from one kind of email to another, with opt-in email newsletters generally producing higher open rates than unsolicited email messages.

    Open rates can be measured most reliably only in HTML-format email, which uses graphics housed at a Web site. When a recipient opens the message, it calls up an image from the remote server. The sender's list-management software counts the number of times this image is called and measures it against the total number of delivered email. For most accurate results, the software should be configured to count "unique opens" only, or count only one open per message, regardless of how often the recipient opens the message after the first time.

  • 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

    To unsubscribe or remove oneself from a mailing list

P Top
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Phishing
    "Phishing," so called because scammers use email "bait" to "hook" victims, is the newest form of identity theft. Scammers send out millions of fake emails designed to trick unwary recipients into disclosing sensitive and valuable information, such as Social Security, credit-card and bank-account numbers, which they can then use to open online accounts, make online purchases or wreak other financial havoc.

    In one version of the scheme, scammers send bogus emails that look like messages from legitimate online companies, warning recipients that they must disclose financial information in order to maintain their accounts. The messages usually refer recipients to phony Web sites set up to look like their legitimate counterparts and which collect the information.

  • 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

  • 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.

Q Top
  • 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.

R Top
  • 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
    Return On Investment. This is used to measure the success of an advertising campaign.

S Top
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Spamblock
    A spamblock is a text block inserted between the "@" and the domain name in an email address in order to prevent email harvesters from collecting the actual address and distributing it on spam mailing lists. Any email sent to an address that includes the spamblock will automatically bounce back to the sender as undeliverable.

  • Spam
    Unsolicited bulk email or unsolicited commercial email, considered bad netiquette

  • 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.

  • spoofing
    The practice of changing the sender's name in an email message so that it looks as if it came from another address.

  • Subscribe
    To join an email list, either via a Web form or email commands sent to a list server.

  • Subscriber
    A subscriber is a person who has sent you a specific request to join your mailing list, whether for email newsletter or for email-marketing messages. "Subscribers" and "readers" are terms that often are used interchangeably, but they are not necessarily the same.

T Top
  • Teergrube
    A teergrube is a mail server designed to trap spammers by tying up their computer resources. The term comes from the German word meaning "tar pit."

    The teergrube's owner sets the trap by placing phony email addresses where address harvesters will find them on Web pages. The owner also includes a warning not to send email to those addresses. Humans will see it but automated harvesters can't. When a spammer sends email to the trap addresses, the teergrube accepts them but only very slowly, which ties up the spammer's computer. The owner can configure the teergrube to keep its connection open for extended periods, which allows the owner to trace the message back to its source.

  • Thread
    A series of messages in an online discussion/forum that follow an initial post.

U Top
  • UCE
    This is the acronym for unsolicited commercial email, more popularly known as "spam," the email version of junk mail.

  • 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.

V Top

Sorry, No Terms for this letter

W Top
  • 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.

  • Whitelist
    "Whitelist" is either a noun or a verb, depending on how you use it.

    A whitelist is a list of accepted email address, part of an email client's address book or contact list.

    To "whitelist" means to approve or accept an email address in advance, usually done so that a junk-email filter will send email from that address directly to the recipient's in-box instead of to a temporary location, such as a bulk-mail folder.

    "Whitelist" was coined as an alternative to "blacklist" (also "blocklist"), meaning a list of email addresses or IP numbers of computers suspected of sending unsolicited email.

  • 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.

  • Worm
    A piece of malicious code, often delivered via an attachment in email or over a computer network.

X Top

Sorry, No Terms for this letter

Y Top

Sorry, No Terms for this letter

Z Top