It happens to everyone freshman year. You show up at the Norris Activities Fair, super excited to get involved in as many organizations as possible and looking forward to color coding all your commitments using Google Calendar or iCal. Table after table you volunteer up your email address to the technological beast that is commonly known as the listserv. They're great for getting information to a long mailing list of interested individuals. But soon, you find that managing the emails funneling into your inbox is tough and maybe you want out of this hard life of constant updates. Thankfully NBN has whipped up a list of pointers to use while listserv living.
1. Set up filters and labels.
The very first thing you can do to help manage your inbox is set up filters for all the listservs you're signed up for, which is extremely easy with the email accounts Northwestern offers. Go into your settings and click the "Filters" link. You can then select "Create a new filter" that will then prompt a form to pop up on your screen. The best way to filter listservs is to put the listserv address that's being emailed in the "To" box. For example, if we had a taco appreciation club on campus (which we totally should) "TacoLovers@listserv.it.northwestern.edu" would probably the address for the listserv, which you would put in the "To" field. You can make the filter even more specific by filling out the other fields.
Click "Create filter with this search" which will bring you to the next part of setting up the filter. By checking the "Apply the label" box, you can also create a new label – a sortable, digital sticker that shows up in the subject line of emails – for that listserv. Once that is done, you're ready to click the "Create filter" box. You can also tick the "Also apply filter to matching conversations" box to have the filter label emails already existing in your inbox. The label made for the filter will show up in your left sidebar, where you can play with colors and other settings.
2. Utilize the "archive" option.
Sometimes you don't want emails to show up in your regular inbox, but don't want to delete them. Archiving emails is a great way to keep your emails from cluttering your inbox. You'll still be able to search for them and they'll still show up if you click "All mail" in the left sidebar.
Also, if you tick "Skip the Inbox (Archive it)" while setting up your filter, the emails from that listserv won't appear in your general inbox. But you can click the label on the left sidebar and be able to see all the emails sent to that listserv that have been filtered.
3. Pay attention to the possibly embarrassing "reply all" response.
Everyone has made the mistake of accidentally replying all instead of just to the sender of a listserv email. Before clicking the send button, make sure the email is going to the right place.
This could mean the difference between casually letting a student leader know you can't make a meeting and looking like a diva announcing it to an entire listserv.
4. Don't abuse the power of "reply all."
With great power, comes great responsibility. The "reply all" option is great to get information to a large number of people. But that's also its greatest flaw – a large number of people get those emails.
Don't be the annoying kid that sends a YouTube video or link to a listserv with dozens of people. It might be funny with a smaller group of friends, or might just annoy someone and burn your name into their mind as "the freshman that sent that dumb Vine of a cat to the entire Japanese students listserv."
5. You can unsubscribe anytime you want to.
One of the rudest things you can do is reply all with just the phrase "UNSUBSCRIBE." It's not unheard of – plenty of people do it, and plenty of people get agitated with it. Check out Northwestern University Information Technology's handy directions on getting off a Northwestern generated listserv. To manage your membership with other Google listservs, you can do so on the Google Groups homepage.
If someone took the time and energy to add you to a listserv after you foolishly signed up for too many during your freshman Fall Quarter, you have the time and energy to look up how to get off the listserv.