You’ve spent at least an hour, carefully composing your message to a mailing list, checking and double-checking your grammar and punctuation, spell-checking it at least twice – and that was after checking all the cites, Shepardizing the relevant cases, and giving your message double the effort you’d normally devote to a Supreme Court brief. You clicked “send,” and you sat back patiently waiting for your words of wisdom to find their way into every list subscriber’s inbox. And after hours and hours, nothing happened. All that work for nothing, you think. “Why wasn’t your message distributed to the list?” you wonder.
A number of reasons answer your frustration. If the list is a moderated one, that means the list’s moderators must approve each message before distribution to the list. List moderators’ human frailties often prevent them from sitting at the keyboard on the ready 24/7/365 to approve each and every message. Some of them have actually been offline for as long as a whopping 48 hours. You may be on a moderated status, which means that some subscribers’ messages are automatically distributed, while yours must wait for approval. If you’re using Gmail for mailing lists, your message will not show up in your inbox, even though it has been distributed to the entire list, because no one’s responded to it yet, thereby creating a threaded conversation. Or the listserver may be down.
Or it could be your own actions which prevent the message from reaching its destination, along with a copy of it in your own inbox. Did you sent it to the wrong address? Did you send the message from an address that was not subscribed to the list? Have you opted not to receive copies of your own messages? Did your very own spam filter intercept your copy? Well, did you even remember to actually send the message?
And then again, your message may be lost in space. Try, try again. And if that fails, contact the list owner.