Outi Tuomaala got in touch. Tuomaala works for L-Soft, which she says is the company that developed Listserv software. L-Soft is a little concerned.

You see, we use the word Listserv all the time. We even capitalize it, in accordance with the International Trademark Association’s Trademark Checklist. (L-Soft capitalizes all the letters, e.g., LISTSERV. That is not gonna happen here.)

But! As Tuomaala pointed out in an e-mail, “There are email lists operating on other software.  Only lists that run on L-Soft’s software are LISTSERV lists.”

I wrote back for clarification, asking Tuomaala if she wanted us to find out what software each mailing list we report on is using. If I was the first person ever to reply to such an e-mail, Tuomaala masked her enthusiasm very well. “One way is to find out what is the solution is,” she wrote. “For example, if it is visible in the email list address or web site. Another way, especially when the product itself is not interesting, is to use a generic term instead.”

Some of the generic terms Tuomaala suggests:

email list
mailing list
email group
email discussion list
email community
announcement list
email forum

I think this is a perfectly reasonable request, and it points us toward greater accuracy, journalism-wise. From now on, CP writers, please do not use the word Listserv. “E-mail discussion list” may not have zing, but it is the correct term.