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introduction Mailman Thomas Krichel 2003 -10 -09
structure • history • fundamentals • list configuration overview – normally the defaults are sensible – but I will mention the most important features one needs to be aware off.
Listserv • Listserv is a program by Eric Thomas. • First version ran on IBM VM/XA architecture (yuk!) in 1986 • Now commercially produced and maintained by LSoft International, see http: //www. lsoft. com • They have an exclusive trademark on the term, its use to mean "mailing list" is inappropriate.
At LIU… • We used to run "listproc" a piece of software that started life as "Unix Listserv" by Anastasios Kotsikonas, later commercialized by CREN. • Last year, following gripes by me, Mailman was adopted. – covered by GNU public license – sophisticated – user-friendly
Fundamentals • A mailing list is a computer managed tool – it collects data about members (at least their email address) – it allows users to send mail to a list address, which is aimed to be distributed at all member of the list. • Usually only members of a list are allowed to send mail to the list. This is called "posting" to the list.
list administrator • A list administrator is a person who has full rights to manage the list. – add and remove member – set all list service parameters • A list is open if anyone may become a member of the list, without approval of the list administrator. Otherwise it is closed.
list moderator • A moderator is a person who can approve posts to the list • a list is moderated if, by default, posts are held for approval, it is unmoderated otherwise.
digested delivery • A digest is a compilation of posts sent to a list – during a day – when a traffic limit is reached or • Members may be allowed to opt for digested delivery. • If you don't think that this is a good idea, then remove the digestability right when opening the list. If you do it later, all digested members will be unsubscribed.
open a list • technically, you need to have – name of the list – email of list administrator – initial password • or one will be mailed to you • administratively, all this has to be approved by LIU administration.
web interface • If your list is called list – its user web interface (aka listinfo page) will be at https: //lists. liu. edu/mailman/listinfo/list – and its adminstrative web interface will be at https: //lists. liu. edu/mailman/admin/list. It will be protected by the password you gave or you got. • Site wide user web interface is at – https: //lists. liu. edu/mailman/listinfo (what a mess!)
basic configuration: informative • description: a terse text string that describes the list and that will appear on the site-wide web user interface • introduction: a html formatted string that appears on the listinfo page • prefix: a string that appears in the subject line with each mail sent to the list
basic configuration: replies • Default reply – to poster (recommended) – to the list – to specific address • If poster sets custom reply-to header – respect it – remove it (recommended)
base configuration: notification • When users subscribe, they are being sent a password that can be used to change subscription options. • Users can ask to be reminded about their password from the listinfo page. • By default, Mailman will send a monthly reminder. You can switch it off if you think that it is over the top.
base configuration: administrivia • Administrivia are the contents of short posts that request "signoff" "help" etc. • They are mainly a legacy from mail command based mailing list interfaces. • By default – posts will be checked for administrivia – will be held if they contain administrivia.
membership basics I • mod set the moderation bit. If set, posts by this member are held for moderator approval • hide member. If set, will prevent the member from appearing in member listings • nomail set a member to receive no mail • ack set whether a member receives an explicit acknowledgment that she has posted
membership basics II • not metoo prevents a member from getting her own postings to the list • digest if set the member will receive the post in digested form. By default, digests will be put together using the MIME protocol. • plain if set, digest messages using a plain text digestion method (not recommended)
mass subscription and removal • You can mass add or remove. • Cut and paste a list of addresses, one address per line • or upload a file, one address per line
privacy options I • These have become extremely important because of all the spammers out there! • You can choose not to advertise the list on the LIU Mailman site. • You can close the list by requiring administrator approval for subscription. • You can set a ban list of addresses that are not allowed to subscribe.
privacy options II • You can restrict the membership list to be viewed – by members only – by list administrators only (recommended) • You can choose to obfuscate mail addresses e. g. "krichel at openlib dot org" in membership lists.
privacy options III • You can set some email addresses of nonmembers that are approved to post. • All other non-member postings can either be – held – rejected – discarded (administrator will decide later) (explanation is sent to poster) (poster receives no reply) • You should be careful with the default action. • You can request that administrators receive a forward of all discarded mails.
privacy options IV • Most spammers do not put the address of the destination in the TO: header. Requiring the list address to be mentioned in the to: or cc: header is a good defense against them. • You can also set a ceiling for the maximum number of recipients of the post. But sometimes that leads to legitimate messages being held if there are extensive cross-postings.
privacy options V • Finally, you can ban known spammers from sending mail to the list by explicitly blacklisting their addresses.
bounce processing • If delivery to a member address failed, it is said to bounce. • You can configure the bounce sensitivity of Mailman, but I wouldn't do it. – if an address bounce too much it is disabled • member is still subscribed • Mailman sends occasional messages to the member to check if the address works again and to invite the member to subscribe again. – if a disabled address still bounces, the member is unsubscribed.
archiving • Mailman can be configured to keep an archive of posts. • This archive can be private or public. – public means that they are on public access on the web – private means that they can only be accessed by list members using their passwords.
contents filtering • You can set up contents filtering. • You can disallow messages that have a certain MIME type. This can be very effective in preventing viruses. But I don't currently have a list most frequently used by viruses.
moderator requests • You will be informed every 24 hours – if a message has been held for approval – if an non-member has tried to post – if there is an uncaught bounce • etc, if you have opted to be informed. • If you are not informed, you will not see any problem. • Amount of notification requires careful planning.
bounce notification • you can choose to be notified – if un uncaught bounce (one that mailman did not know what to do with) is received – if a member is disabled – if a member is unsubscribed • on class lists, this is recommended.
Thank you for your attention http: //openlib. org/home/krichel