Last updated on: Tue July 26 1994


             Nathan Sivin (nsivin @


 INTRODUCTION ============

 The XyWrite Discussion Group operates from the list server at the Center for the Computer Analysis of Texts at the University of Pennsylvania. It was founded and is administered by Nathan Sivin of the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University (with technical help from CCAT).  The Group exists to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, XPL programs, solutions to problems, etc.  You can post a question for colleagues to answer, propose a topic for discussion, reply to an earlier query, trade information, and so on.

 The Group is open to you if you are able to send e-mail messages to and receive them from Internet addresses, regardless of whether you have a connection to an Internet account.  When you subscribe, your e-mail address is added to the distribution list for all messages.  You then receive by e-mail every message that others address to the list (XYWRITE@CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU).  Every message you send, including every direct reply to a message, is forwarded to every other subscriber.  You can suspend or end your subscription at any time.  There is no charge for any Group activity.

 In addition to forwarding messages, the Group maintains programs and files contributed by you and other members that subscribers can choose and download individually, as well as archives of the messages sent to the list, prepared every month and kept for a year or two.  Such files will be maintained by our list server.  Available files are described, and detailed instructions for downloading binary files via Anonymous FTP, are given in the text file CATALOG.DOC.  For submitting files to be kept and distributed, see below.

 GETTING INVOLVED IN THE GROUP =============================

 There are two different ways to follow and contribute to the Group's ongoing discussions.

 It is not essential to subscribe in order to take part in the Group. You can always send individual messages, which, if they are addressed to the Group, will be automatically forwarded to all subscribers.  Those who receive the message can then reply to you privately.  If this is what you prefer, specify in your message that you are not a subscriber and should be contacted privately.

 Most people who want to follow the discussions find it convenient to sign up with our "list server", a computer which will automatically deliver copies of all the Group's correspondence to your Internet, Bitnet, online service, or other e-mail address, and redistribute messages from you.

 PLEASE NOTE that everything concerned with subscribing is transacted not with the Group itself (XYWRITE@CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU) but with the list server (LSTSRV@CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU).  Its sole function is to automatically maintain mailing lists for various groups, redistribute messages, and provide basic information about the lists when requested. Because the process is automatic, your requests must be in a set form. Any subscription requests sent to the Group address cannot be acted upon, just as messages for the Group will be lost if they go to the list server.

 SUBSCRIBING ===========

 Start your subscription by mailing to LSTSRV@CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU the following message in a single line:

 subscribe xywrite

 The list server ignores subject lines, so it is simplest to avoid providing your message with a subject.  If your e-mail program automatically appends anything (e.g., a "signature" or return address) after the message, you can erase it.  Alternatively, you can make sure it is ignored, as it must be, by appending "end" as an additional line. Your message would thus be these two lines, and what follows would not matter:

 subscribe xywrite end

 The list server will arrange (without human intervention) for your subscription to go to the address from which you sent the message.  If you want it to go to a different address, say, your message would specify the address and the subscriber, as well as your own name in parentheses:

 subscribe xywrite (Tom Jones)

 As soon as your subscription is processed you will receive an up-to-date copy of this welcoming message with complete instructions.  Whenever you want to end your subscription, send the following one-line message, with the additions above if necessary:

 unsubscribe xywrite

 OTHER BUSINESS WITH THE LIST SERVER ===================================

 The list server can respond automatically and quickly (by separate e- mail replies) to a few other useful commands, all of which should be sent as single-line messages to LSTSRV:

 To have an index of the files stored in the EAAN directory of CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU sent to your e-mail address:

 index xywrite

 To have a file stored in XYWRITE@CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU sent to your e-mail address, send the full file specification as determined from the index:

 get xywrite FILESPEC

 for instance get xywrite CATALOG.DOC which will get you a list describing all downloadable files.

 To find out who is on the XYWRITE list:

 who xywrite

 To have general introductory information for XYWRITE (that is, the current version of this file) sent to you:

 info xywrite

 For information about all the lists served by the list server:


 TAKING PART IN THE GROUP ========================

 When you want to send a message to all subscribers, just send it as ordinary e-mail to the Internet address XYWRITE@CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU.  A copy will automatically be forwarded to all of the Group's subscribers. By the same logic, if you use the e-mail "Reply" function to respond to incoming mail from a member of the Group, it will automatically be addressed back

to the entire group

 (i.e. to XYWRITE@CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU, and thence to all subscribers!).  If what you have to say is not of general interest, then please take the trouble to send it only to the sender, whose private address you can find in the header of his or her message.

 We also ask that, when you are replying and your e-mail program asks you whether you want to quote the message to which you are replying, that you limit your quotation.  Use it only if the point will not be clear, or if you are replying to an old message that other subscribers will have forgotten about.  If you do quote it, edit the quotation so that you just keep the essential part, or better yet summarize.  Taking this trouble will keep your message from being needlessly large, a convenience for everyone.

 You are welcome to contact the Group about any topic connected with XyWrite and its uses.  All messages are automatically accepted and forwarded.  The Group provides a place to post messages, try out ideas, ask questions, etc.  Please keep in mind, however, that

 1.  E-mail is never a private or secure facility.  If you are concerned about who reads your messages, you may want to think twice about sending them via e-mail.  In addition, anyone may subscribe to this list.  Any message sent to the list goes to all subscribers.

 2.  Most people do not read their e-mail every day, and not many post a message when they are away from their universities, even for an extended period.  It is a good idea not to trust e-mail for urgent matters.

 3.  Please be kind to other subscribers by not sending irrelevant materials, or materials meant only for one subscriber (unless you are confident that they will interest a number of subscribers).  Remember that you can get the private e-mail addresses of subscribers from the list server (and from many other directories, using the WHOIS and FINGER commands in UNIX) and send individual messages.

 Now that junk fax is common, junk Internet is on the horizon.  It may be essential sooner or later to change this to a monitored list, on which all subscriptions must be approved, and every message screened before redistribution.  But we would prefer to keep it open, and will do so as long as it is not abused.

 PREPARING MESSAGES AND OTHER FILES ==================================

 All messages must be in ASCII text form.  It is usually easier to create them in your word processor, edit and proofread them, and upload them than to use the crippled editor in your e-mail package.  Some programs (PC-WRITE, XYWRITE, NOTA BENE) normally produce ASCII files; all others provide a way of saving files in ASCII form.  Since messages are transmitted via many different computers, some of which do not use the full IBM ASCII set and others of which use an entirely different standard, it is a good idea to avoid ASCII characters below no. 32 and above no. 128, such as letters with diacritics.   If your computer uses tab characters to indent paragraphs (as WordPerfect 5.1 does), please avoid them, or delete them before saving the ASCII file.

 If you compose your message with XyWrite, please remove all deltas and insert hard returns at the end of each line before sending.  Avoid lines more than 65 characters long.  There are various XPL programs for the purpose, one of was posted for anonymous ftp download in XYLNS.ZIP.  If you want to keep it simple, you can load STRIP.PRN (command: ldprn strip.prn), then print to a file (command: printf ,filename), and finally, if necessary, call the output file and clean it up.

 The best layout to use is plain block form, in which paragraphs are not indented and a blank line separates paragraphs.  This document is an example.  This form can be read on virtually every computer.  If your computer uses tab characters to indent paragraphs (as WordPerfect 5.1 does), please avoid them, or delete them before saving the ASCII file.

 Please check the file before sending it.  The simplest way to check a file is to use the DOS "TYPE" command, followed by a vertical bar and the "MORE" filter command (i.e., at the DOS prompt:

 type filespec | more

 but the vertical bar before "more" above may not be intact by the time this message reaches you).  That command will show you a screenful of text at a time.  Any non-standard characters will be readily visible.

 UPLOADING FILES ===============

 When you send e-mail messages to the list, they are simply redistributed.  If you have a program or other file that you would like to have stored so that people can download and use it, special arrangements must be made to upload and store it.  Programs must be sent in binary form, zipped if they are long.  If you are unable to send binary files, the alternative is to use XX-encoding, preferably with the utility shareware program UUXFER.  Contact me for information.

 Before deciding whether and what to upload, I suggest you try ordering one or more of the few files already posted on the list.  Note their form before deciding how to format your own files.

 IDENTIFYING AND ORDERING FILES ==============================

 You can use an "index" message, as explained above, to get a list of available files, and a "get" message to order them.

 For instance, "index" will let you know that among the files available (beginning in mid-April 1994) are

 CATALOG.DOC (a description of each available file)

 The first file to order is CATALOG.DOC, to help you choose others.  To order any file, note that you must use a period between filename and filetype.  Thus to order that one you use the command:

 get xywrite catalog.doc

 If you know how to use "anonymous ftp", you can interactively examine the directory and individual files and download them yourself.

 The monthly archives of discussions, which will let you catch up with earlier activities, are compiled automatically into text files. They may be ordered or downloaded in the same way as other text files.

 Good luck, and have fun.  If you wish to contact me directly, do so either at


 or my private Internet address,


 My postal address is appended at the end of every message from me. Please note that it is not possible for me to answer or even read messages every day.