Gnu mailman - list administration manual

This document describes the list administrator’s interface for GNU Mailman 2.1. It contains information a list ownerwould need to configure their list, either through the web interface or through email. It also covers the moderator’sinterface for approving held messages and subscription notices, and the web interface for creating new mailing lists.
In general, it does not cover the command line interface to Mailman, installing Mailman, or interacting with Mailmanfrom the point of view of the user. That information is covered in other manuals.
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GNU Mailman is software that lets you manage electronic mailing lists. It supports a wide range of mailing list types,such as general discussion lists and announce-only lists. Mailman has extensive features for controlling the privacyof your lists, distributing your list as personalized postings or digests, gatewaying postings to and from Usenet, andproviding automatic bounce detection. Mailman provides a built-in archiver, multiple natural languages, as well asadvanced content and topic filtering.
Mailman provides several interfaces to its functionality. Most list administrators will primarily use the web interfaceto customize their lists. There is also a limited email command interface to the administrative functions, as well as acommand line interface if you have shell access on the Mailman server. This document does not cover the commandline interface; see the GNU Mailman site administrator’s manual for more details.
Every mailing list has a set of email addresses that messages can be sent to. There’s always one address for postingmessages to the list, one address that bounces will be sent to, and addresses for processing email commands. Forexample, for a mailing list called, you’d find these addresses: • – this is the email address people should use for new postings to the list.
• – by sending a message to this address, a new member can request subscrip- Both the Subject: header and body of such a message are ignored. is an alias for the -join address.
• – by sending a message to this address, a member can request unsubscription from the list. As with the -join address, the Subject: header and body of the message is ignored. Note that is an alias for the -leave address.
• – This address reaches the list owner and list moderators directly.
• – This address reaches a mail robot which processes email commands that can be used to set member subscription options, as well as process other commands.
• – This address receives bounces from members who’s addresses have become either temporarily or permanently inactive. The -bounces address is also a mail robot that processes bouncesand automatically disables or removes members as configured in the bounce processing settings. Any bouncemessages that are either unrecognized, or do not seem to contain member addresses, are forwarded to the listadministrators.
• – This address is another email robot, which processes confirmation messages for subscription and unsubscription requests.
There’s also an -admin address which also reaches the list administrators, but this address only exists for compatibilitywith older versions of Mailman.
There are two primary administrative roles for each mailing list, a list owner and a list moderator. A list owner isallowed to change various settings of the list, such as the privacy and archiving policies, the content filtering settings,etc. The list owner is also allowed to subscribe or invite members, unsubscribe members, and change any member’ssubscription options.
The list moderator on the other hand, is only allowed to approve or reject postings and subscription requests. The listmoderator can also do things like clear a member’s moderation flag, or add an address to a list of approved non-memberposters.
Normally, the list owner and list moderator are the same person. In fact, the list owner can always do all the tasks a listmoderator can do. Access to both the owner’s configuration pages, and the moderation pages are protected by the samepassword. However, if the list owner wants to delegate posting and subscription approval authority to other people, aseparate list moderator password can be set, giving moderators access to the approval pages, but not the configurationpages. In this setup, list owners can still moderate the list, of course.
In the sections that follow, we’ll often use the terms list owner and list administrator interchangably, meaning bothroles. When necessary, we’ll distinguish the list moderator explicitly.
Every mailing list is also accessible by a number of web pages. Note that the exact urls is configurable by thesite administrator, so they may be different than what’s described below. We’ll describe the most common defaultconfiguration, but check with your site administrator or hosting service for details.
Mailman provides a set of web pages that list members use to get information about the list, or manage their member-ship options. There are also list archive pages, for browsing an online web-based archive of the list traffic. These aredescribed in more detail in the GNU Mailman user’s manual.
Mailman also provides a set of pages for configuring an individual list, as well as a set of pages for disposing of postingand subscription requests.
For a mailing list called mylist hosted at the domain, you would typically access the administrativepages by going to The first time you visit thispage, you will be presented with a login page, asking for the list owner’s password. When you enter the password,Mailman will store a session cookie in your browser, so you don’t have to re-authenticate for every action you want totake. This cookie is stored only until you exit your browser.
To access the administrative requests page, you’d visit the admindb url as opposed to the admin url). Again, the first time you visit this page, you’ll be presented witha login page, on which you can enter either the list moderator password or the list owner password. Again, a sessioncookie is dropped in your browser. Note also that if you’ve previously logged in as the list owner, you do not need tore-login to access the administrative requests page.
This section will outline the basic architecture of GNU Mailman, such as how messages are processed by the sytem.
Without going into lots of detail, this information will help you understand how the configuration options controlMailman’s functionality.
When mail enters the system from your mail server, it is dropped into one of several Mailman queues depending onthe address the message was sent to. For example, if your system has a mailing list named mylist and your domain, people can post messages to your list by sending them to These messages willbe dropped into the incoming queue, which is also colloquially called the moderate-and-munge queue. The incomingqueue is where most of the approval process occurs, and it’s also where the message is prepared for sending out to the There are separate queues for the built-in archiver, the bounce processor, the email command processor, as well as theoutgoing email and news queues. There’s also a queue for messages generated by the Mailman system. Each of thesequeues typically has one queue runner (or “qrunner”) that processes messages in the queue. The qrunners are idlewhen there are no messages to process.
Every message in the queues are represented by two files, a message file and a metadata file. Both of these files sharethe same base name, which is a combination of a unique hash and the Unix time that the message was received. Themetadata file has a suffix of ‘.db’ and the message file has a suffix of either ‘.msg’ if stored in plain text, or ‘.pck’ ifstored in a more efficient internal representation1.
As a message moves through the incoming queue, it performs various checks on the message, such as whether itmatches one of the moderation criteria, or contains disallowed MIME types. Once a message is approved for sendingto the list membership, the message is prepared for sending by deleting, adding, or changing message headers, addingfooters, etc. Messages in the incoming queue may also be stored for appending to digests.
After logging into the list configuration pages, you’ll see the configuration options for the list, grouped in categories.
All the administrative pages have some common elements. In the upper section, you’ll see two columns labeled “Con-figuration Categories”. Some categories have sub-categories which are only visible when you click on the categorylink. The first page you see after logging in will be the “General Options” category. The specific option settings foreach category are described below.
On the right side of the top section, you’ll see a column labeled “Other Administrative Activities”. Here you’ll findsome other things you can do to your list, as well as convenient links to the list information page and the list archives.
Note the big “Logout” link; use this if you’re finished configuring your list and don’t want to leave the session cookieactive in your browser.
Below this common header, you’ll find a list of this category’s configuration variables, arranged in two columns. Inthe left column is a brief description of the option, which also contains a “details” link. For many of the variables,more details are available describing the semantics of the various available settings, or information on the interactionbetween this setting and other list options. Clicking on the details link brings up a page which contains only theinformation for that option, as well as a button for submitting your setting, and a link back to the category page.
On the right side of the two-column section, you’ll see the variable’s current value. Some variables may present alimited set of values, via radio button or check box arrays. Other variables may present text entry boxes of one ormultiple lines. Most variables control settings for the operation of the list, but others perform immediate actions (theseare clearly labeled).
At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a “Submit” button and a footer with some more useful links and a few logos.
Hitting the submit button commits your list settings, after they’ve been validated. Any invalid values will be ignoredand an error message will be displayed at the top of the resulting page. The results page will always be the categorypage that you submitted.
The General Options category is where you can set a variety of variables that affect basic behavior and public infor-mation. In the descriptions that follow, the variable name is given first, along with an overview and a description ofwhat that variable controls.
These variables, grouped under the general list personality section, control some public information about the mailinglist.
real name Every mailing list has both a posting name and a real name. The posting name shows up in urls and in email addresses, e.g. the mylist in The posting name is always presented in lowercase, with alphanumeric characters and no spaces. The list’s real name is used in some public information andemail responses, such as in the general list overview. The real name can differ from the posting name by caseonly. For example, if the posting name is mylist, the real name can be MyList.
owner This variable contains a list of email addresses, one address per line, of the list owners. These addresses are used whenever the list owners need to be contacted, either by the system or by end users. Often, these addressesare used in combination with the moderator addresses (see below).
moderator This variable contains a list of email addresses, one address per line, of the list moderators. These addresses are often used in combination with the owner addresses., both the owner and moderator addresses will receive a copy of the mes-sage.
description In the general list overview page, which shows you every available mailing list, each list is displayed with a short description. The contents of this variable is that description. Note that in emails from the mailinglist, this description is also used in the comment section of the To: address. This text should be relatively shortand no longer than one line.
info This variable contains a longer description of the mailing list. It is included at the top of the list’s information page, and it can contain HTML. However, blank lines will be automatically converted into paragraph breaks.
Preview your HTML though, because unclosed or invalid HTML can prevent display of parts of the list infor-mation page.
subject prefix This is a string that will be prepended to the Subject: header of any message posted to the list. For example, if a message is posted to the list with a Subject: like: and the subject_prefix is [My List] (note the trailing space!), then the message will be received likeso: If you leave subject_prefix empty, no prefix will be added to the Subject:. Mailman is careful not to adda prefix when the header already has one, as is the case in replies for example. The prefix can also containcharacters in the list’s preferred language. In this case, because of vagarities of the email standards, you may ormay not want to add a trailing space.
from is list Setting this variable to Yes causes the From: address to be replaced by the list address so that policies like anonymous list This variable allows you to turn on some simple anonymizing features of Mailman. When you set this option to Yes, Mailman will remove or replace the From:, Sender:, and Reply-To: fields of any messageposted to the list.
Note that this option is simply an aid for anonymization, it doesn’t guarantee it. For example, a poster’s identitycould be evident in their signature, or in other mail headers, or even in the style of the content of the message.
There’s little Mailman can do about this kind of identity leakage.
This section controls what happens to the Reply-To: headers of messages posted through your list.
Beware! Reply-To: munging is considered a religious issue and the policies you set here can ignite some of the mostheated off-topic flame wars on your mailing lists. We’ll try to stay as agnostic as possible, but our biases may stillpeak through.
Reply-To: is a header that is commonly used to redirect replies to messages. Exactly what happens when your usesreply to such a message depends on the mail readers your users use, and what functions they provide. Usually, thereis both a “reply to sender” button and a “reply to all” button. If people use these buttons correctly, you will probablynever need to munge Reply-To:, so the default values should be fine.
Since an informed decision is always best, here are links to two articles that discuss the opposing viewpoints in greatdetail: The three options in this section work together to provide enough flexibility to do whatever Reply-To: munging youmight (misguidingly :) feel you need to do.
first strip reply to This variable controls whether any Reply-To: header already present in the posted message should get removed before any other munging occurs. Stripping this header will be done regardless of whether or notMailman will add its own Reply-To: header to the message.
If this option is set to No, then any existing Reply-To: header will be retained in the posted message. If Mailmanadds its own header, it will contain addresses which are the union of the original header and the Mailman addedaddresses. The mail standards specify that a message may only have one Reply-To: header, but that that headermay contain multiple addresses.
reply goes to list This variable controls whether Mailman will add its own Reply-To: header, and if so, what the value of that header will be (not counting original header stripping – see above).
When you set this variable to Poster, no additional Reply-To: header will be added by Mailman. This setting isstrongly recommended.
When you set this variable to This list, a Reply-To: header pointing back to your list’s posting address will beadded.
When you set this variable to Explicit address, the value of the variable reply_to_address (see below) willbe added. Note that this is one situation where Reply-To: munging may have a legitimate purpose. Say you havetwo lists at your site, an announce list and a discussion list. The announce list might allow postings only froma small number of approved users; the general list membership probably can’t post to this list. But you want toallow comments on announcements to be posted to the general discussion list by any list member. In this case,you can set the Reply-To: header for the announce list to point to the discussion list’s posting address.
reply to address This is the address that will be added in the Reply-To: header if reply_goes_to_list is set to TBD. Note that umbrella lists are deprecated and will be replace with a better mechanism for Mailman 3.0.
Mailman sends notifications to the list administrators or list members under a number of different circumstances. Mostof these notifications can be configured in this section, but see the Bounce Processing and Auto-responder categoriesfor other notifications that Mailman can send.
send reminders By default Mailman sends all list members a monthly password reminder. This notice serves two purposes. First, it reminds people about all the lists they may be subscribed to on this domain, including the listswhere their subscription may be disabled. Second, it reminds people about their passwords for these lists, aswell as the url for their personal options pages, so that they can more easily configure their subscription options.
Some people get annoyed with these monthly reminders, and they can disable the reminders via their subscrip-tion options page. For some lists, the monthly reminders aren’t appropriate for any of the members, so you candisable them list-wide by setting the send_reminders variable to No.
welcome msg When new members are subscribed to the list, either by their own action, or the action of a list ad- ministrator, a welcome message can be sent to them. The welcome message contains some common boilerplateinformation, such as the name of the list, instructions for posting to the list, and the member’s subscription pass-word. You can add additional information to the welcome message by typing the text into the welcome_msgtext box. Note that because this text is sent as part of an email, it should not contain HTML.
send welcome msg This flag controls whether or not the welcome message is sent to new subscribers.
goodbye msg Like the welcome_msg, a “goodbye” message can be sent to members when they unsubscribe from the list. Unlike the welcome message, there’s no boilerplate for the goodbye message. Enter the entire goodbyemessage you’d like unsubscribing members to receive into the goodbye_msg text box.
send goodbye msg This flag controls whether or not the goodbye message is sent to unsubscribing members.
admin immed notify List moderators get notifications of pending administrative actions, such as subscription or unsubscription requests that require moderator approval, or posted messages that are being held for moderatorapproval. List moderators will always get a daily summary of such pending requests, but they can also getimmediate notifications when such a request is made. The admin_immed_notify variable controls whetherthese immediate notifications are sent or not. It’s generally a good idea to leave this set to Yes.
admin notify mchanges This variable controls whether the list administrators should get notifications when mem- respond to post requests This variable controls whether the original sender of a posting gets a notice when their message is held for moderator approval.
This section contains some miscellaneous settings for your mailing list.
emergency When this option is enabled, all list traffic is emergency moderated, i.e. held for moderation. Turn this option on when your list is experiencing a flamewar and you want a cooling off period.
new member options Each member has a set of subscription options which they can use to control how they receive messages and otherwise interact with the list. While the members can change these settings by logging into theirpersonal options page, you might want to set the default for a number of the member options. You can do thatwith this variable, but see also the other categories for other member defaults you can set.
This variable presents a set of checkboxes which control the defaults for some of the member options. Concealthe member’s address specifies whether or not the address is displayed in the list roster. Acknowledge themember’s posting controls whether or not Mailman sends an acknowledgement to a member when they post amessage to the list. Do not send a copy of a member’s own post specifies whether a member posting to the list will get a copy of their own posting. Filter out duplicate messages to list members (if possible) specifies whethermembers who are explicitly listed as a recipient of a message (e.g. via the Cc: header) will also get a copy fromMailman.
Of course, members can always override these defaults by making changes on their membership options page.
administrivia This option specifies whether Mailman will search posted messages for admimistrivia, in other words, email commands which usually should be posted to the -request address for the list. Setting this to Yes helpsprevent such things as unsubscribe messages getting erroneously posted to the list.
If a message seems to contain administrivia, it is held for moderator approval.
max message size This option specifies a maximum message size, in kilobytes, over which the message will be held host name This option specifies the host name part of email addresses used by this list. For example, this is the part of the posting address
It’s generally not a good idea to change this value, since its default value is specified when the mailing list iscreated. Changing this to an incorrect value could make it difficult to contact your mailing list. Also not that theurl used to visit the list’s pages is not configurable through the web interface. This is because if you messed itup, you’d have to have the site administrator fix it.
include rfc2369 headers RFC 2369 is an internet standard that describes a bunch of headers that mailing list man- agers should add to messages to make it easier for people to interact with the list. Mail reading programswhich support this standard may provide buttons for easy access to the list’s archives, or for subscribing andunsubscribing to the list. It’s generally a good idea to enable these headers as it provides for an improved userexperience. These headers are often called the List-* headers.
However, not all mail readers are standards compliant yet, and if you have a large number of members who areusing non-compliant mail readers, they may be annoyed at these headers. You should first try to educate yourmembers as to why these headers exist, and how to hide them in their mail clients. As a last resort you candisable these headers, but this is not recommended.
include list post header The List-Post: header is one of the headers recommended by RFC 2369. However for some announce-only mailing lists, only a very select group of people are allowed to post to the list; the general mem-bership is usually not allowed to post to such lists. For lists of this nature, the List-Post: header is misleading.
Select No to disable the inclusion of this header. (This does not affect the inclusion of the other List-*headers.) As mentioned above, there are two primary administrative roles for mailing lists. In this category you can specify thepassword for these roles.
The list owner has total control over the configuration of their mailing list (within some bounds as specified by thesite administrator). Note that on this page, for historical reasons, the list owner role is described here as the listadministrator. You can set the list owner’s password by entering it in the password field on the left. You must typeit twice for confirmation. Note that if you forget this password, the only way for you to get back into your list’sadministrative pages is to ask the site administrator to reset it for you (there’s no password reminders for list owners).
If you want to delegate list moderation to someone else, you can enter a different moderator password in the field onthe right (typed twice for confirmation). Note that if you aren’t going to delegate moderation, and the same peopleare going to both configure the list and moderate postings to the list, don’t enter anything into the moderator passwordfields. If you do enter a separate moderator password, be sure to fill in the moderator variable in the General optionscategory page.
Mailman is multilingual and internationalized, meaning you can set up your list so that members can interact with itin any of a number of natural languages. Of course, Mailman won’t translate list postings. :) However, if your site administrator has enabled its support, you can set your list up to support any of about two dozenlanguages, such as German, Italian, Japanese, or Spanish. Your list members can then choose any of your supportedlanguages as their preferred language for interacting with the list. Such things as their member options page willbe displayed in this language. Each mailing list also has its own preferred language which is the language the listsupports if no other language context is known.
These variables control the language settings for your mailing list: preferred language This is the list’s preferred language, which is the language that the list administrative pages will be displayed in. Also any messages sent to the list owners by Mailman will be sent in this language. This optionis presented as a drop-down list containing the language enabled in the available_languages variable.
available languages This set of checkboxes contains all the natural languages that your site administrator has made available to your mailing lists. Select any language that you’d either like your members to be able to view thelist in, or that you’d like to be able to use in your list’s preferred_language variable.
encode ascii prefixes If your mailing list’s preferred language uses a non-ASCII character set and the subject_- prefix contains non-ASCII characters, the prefix will always be encoded according to the relevant standards.
However, if your subject prefix contains only ASCII characters, you may want to set this option to Never todisable prefix encoding. This can make the subject headers slightly more readable for users with mail readersthat don’t properly handle non-ASCII encodings.
Note however, that if your mailing list receives both encoded and unencoded subject headers, you might wantto choose As needed. Using this setting, Mailman will not encode ASCII prefixes when the rest of the headercontains only ASCII characters, but if the original header contains non-ASCII characters, it will encode theprefix. This avoids an ambiguity in the standards which could cause some mail readers to display extra, ormissing spaces between the prefix and the original header.
The Membership Management category is unlike the other administrative categories. It doesn’t contain configurationvariables or list settings. Instead, it presents a number of pages that allow you to manage the membership of you list.
This includes pages for subscribing and unsubscribing members, and for searching for members, and for changingvarious member-specific settings.
More details on membership management are described in the Membership Management section.
Mailman delivers messages to users via two modes. List members can elect to receive postings in bundles call digestsone or a few times a day, or they can receive messages immediately whenever the message is posted to the list. Thislatter delivery mode is also called non-digest delivery. There are two administrative categories available for separatelycontrolling digest and non-digest delivery. You can even disable one or the other forms of delivery (but not both).
Both kinds of delivery can have list-specific headers and footers added to them which can contain other useful infor-mation you want your list members to see. For example, you can include instructions for unsubscribing, or a url to thelists digest, or any other information.
Non-digest deliveries can also be personalized which means certain parts of the message can contain informationtailored to the member receiving the message. For example, the To: header will contain the address of the member when deliveries are personalized. Footers and headers can contain personalized information as well, such as a link tothe individual user’s options page.
In addition, personalized messages will contain extra information that Mailman can use to unambiguously trackbounces from members. Ordinarily, Mailman does some pattern recognition on bounce messages to determine listmembers whose addresses are no longer valid, but because of the vagaries of mail systems, and the countless forwardspeople can put in place, it’s often the case that bounce messages don’t contain any useful information in them. Per-sonalized messages avoid this problem by encoding information in certain headers that unambiguously identify therecipient of a message. If that message bounces, Mailman will know exactly which member it was intended for.
Note that because personalization requires extra system resources, it must be enabled by the site administrator beforeyou can choose it.
Here are the variables which control non-digest delivery: nondigestable This option controls whether members can receive immediate delivery or not. If not, they will be forced to receive messages in digests. You can’t disable non-digest delivery if digests are already disabled.
personalize This option turns on message personalization.
msg header This text box lets you enter information that will be included in the header of every non-digest message See below for more information on what can go in the headers and footers. If you leave this text box empty, noheader will be added.
msg footer Just like with the header, you can add a footer to every message. The same rules apply to footers as apply Headers and footers can contain any text you want. For non-English lists, the headers and footers can contain anycharacter in the character set of the list’s preferred language. The headers and footers can also contain substitutionvariables which Mailman will fill in with information taken from the mailing list. These substitutions are in Pythonstring interpolation format, where something like %(list_name)s is substituted with he name of the mailing list.
Note that the trailing ‘s’ is required2.
For example, a footer containing the following text: Description: An example of Mailman mailing lists Here is the list of substitution variables available for your headers and footers: real name This is the value of the real_name configuration variable in the General options category.
list name This is the canonical name of the mailing list. In other words it’s the posting address of the list3.
host name This is the domain name part of the email address for this list.
2The site administrator can configure lists to use a simpler interpolation format, where $list_name or ${list_name} would be substituted with the mailing list’s name. Ask your site administrator if the’ve configured your list this way.
3For backward compatibility, the variable _internal_name is equivalent.
web page url This is the base url for contacting the list via the web. It can be appended with listinfo/%(list_- name)s to yield the general list information page for the mailing list.
description The brief description of the mailing list.
info This is the full description of the mailing list.
cgiext This is the extension added to CGI scripts. It might be the empty string, .cgi, or something else depending Note that real_name, host_name, description, and info substitution variables take their values from thelist configuration variables of the same name.
When personalization is enabled, the following substitution variables are also available: user address The address of the recipient of the message, coerced to lower case.
user delivered to The case-preserved address that the user subscribed to the mailing list with4.
user password The user’s password, in clear text.
user optionsurl The url to the user’s personal options page.
Digest delivery is a way to bundle many articles together into one package, which can be delivered once per day (ifthere were any posted articles), or whenever the package is bigger than a specified limit. Some users may prefer thisstyle of delivery for higher traffic lists since they will receive fewer messages.
Mailman supports two standard digest formats, and if digests are enabled, users can select which of the two formatsthey receive. One is MIME digests, where each message is an attachment inside a multipart/digest. This format alsocontains a summary table of contents, and of course the an optional header and footer, and it retains most of the headersof the original messages.
The second type is called “plaintext” digests because they are readable in mail readers that don’t support MIME.
Actually, they adhere to the RFC 1153 digest standard. The retain some, but not all of the original messages, but canalso include a summary and headers and footers.
Like non-digest delivery, you can enable or disable digest delivery, but you cannot disable both types of delivery. Youcan specify different headers and footers for digest and non-digest deliveries. You cannot personalize digest deliveries.
As list administrator, you may want to send an urgent message to all list members, bypassing the normal digestbundling. To do this, send the message with a Urgent: header, where the value of the header is the list administrator’spassword. Non-digest members will receive the message like normal, but digest members will receive the messageimmediately5.
Here are the variables which control digest delivery: digestable The option controls whether members can receive digest deliveries or not. If not, they will be forced to receive immediate deliveries. You can’t disable digests if non-digests are already disabled.
digest is default Controls which style of delivery is the default for new members. You can choose Regular (non- 4Usually it makes no difference which of user_address and user_delivered_to is used, but it’s important to remember that they can be different. When they’re different, Mailman always uses the lower case address as the key to the member’s subscription information, but it alwaysdelivers messages to the case-preserved version.
5They’ll also receive the message in the digest.
mime is default digest If a member is allowed to choose digests, this variable controls which is the default digest style they will receive. Plain digests are RFC 1153 format as described above.
digest size threshold Normally, digest members get at least one message per day, if there have been any messages posted to the list. However, for high volume lists, you may want to send out digests when the size has reached acertain threshold, otherwise, the one digest they receive could be huge. This variable controls the size thresholdby specifying the maximum digest size in kilobytes. Note that this threshold isn’t exact. Set this variable to zeroto specify that there is no size threshold, in which case no more than one digest will be sent out per day, butensure that digest send periodic is Yes in this case or no digests will be sent.
digest send periodic This variable actually controls whether or not a digest is sent daily when the size threshold has not yet been met. If set to No, then digests will only be sent when they are bigger than digest_size_-threshold.
digest header This text box lets you enter information that will be included in the header of every digest message sent through the list. The same information can go in this header as can go in the msg_header, except for thepersonalization variables.
digest footer Just like with the header, you can add a footer to every message. The same rules apply to digest footers digest volume frequency Each digest is numbered with a volume and an issue. This variable controls how often a new digest volume is sent. When the digest volume number is incremented, the issue number is reset to 1.
new volume This is an action variable, which forces an increment of the volume number as soon as you submit the send digest now This is another action variable. Select Yes, submit the form, and the current digest is packaged up and sent to digest members, regardless of size (well, there has to be at least one message in the digest).
The Privacy category lets you control how much of the list’s information is public, as well as who can send messagesto your list. It also contains some spam detection filters. Note that this section is not used to control whether your list’sarchives are public or private; for that, use the ?? category.
• Subscription rules – i.e. the rules for joining and leaving your mailing list • Sender filters – the rules for who may post messages to your list • Recipient filters – moderation rules based on the recipient of the message • Spam filters – some regular expression based rules for header matching The sender, recipient, and spam filtering rules are part of the general list moderation features of Mailman. When amessage is posted to the list, it is matched against a number of criteria, the outcome of which determines whether themessage is reflected to the membership or not. In general, the outcome is one of four states: • Approved or Accepted – the message may be sent on to the members of the mailing list.
• Hold – the message will be held for moderator approval. The list owners and moderators will then have to explicitly approve the message before the list members will see it.
• Reject – the message is bounced back to the original sender, often with a notice containing the reason the message was rejected. The list members never see rejected messages.
• Discard – the message is simply thrown away without further processing.
Many of the fields in this section are text boxes accepting addresses, one per line. Unless otherwise noted, these alsoaccept regular expressions which will be matched against an address, if the line begins with a ˆ(caret) character.
This subcategory controls the rules for exposing the existance of this list, and for what new members must do in orderto subscribe to the list.
advertised This option controls whether this list will show up in the list overview for the site. Normally, an overview contains the name and short description of every mailing list in the virtual domain. By setting this variable toNo, it will not show up in this overview, nor will it show up in the administrative overview. The only way thento find the list is to guess (or know!) its name.
subscribe policy This option controls the steps that a new member must take to join the list. The available options may differ based on some defaults that the site administrator chooses. They are: • None – No verification is done on the subscribing member. This is also called open subscriptions and is generally disabled by default. The site administrator must allow list admins to choose this option; if not,this option will not be presented to you.
• Confirm – An email confirmation step is required before the address is added to the list. When a member requests subscription, either via the web page or by sending a message to,Mailman will send a confirmation message to the requesting address. This mail-back confirmation containsa unique identifier, which the requester can present to Mailman in order to confirm their subscription. Thiscan be done either by replying to the mail-back, or by visiting the url in the mail-back message. The urlpoints to a page that lets the user either discard or confirm their request.
• Require approval – All subscription requests are held for approval of the list moderator. No mail-back confirmation is sent, but the list admins will recieve a message indicating that approval is pending.
• Confirm and approve – Here, a mail-back notice must first be confirmed by the requester. Once confirmed, the list moderator must then approve the request. This is the most secure method for users to subscribesince it both verifies the requesting address, and forces the list moderators to approve the request.
unsubscribe policy Specifies whether the list moderator’s approval is required for unsubscription requests. No is highly recommended, since it is exceedingly impolite to not allow people to leave a mailing list whenever theywant (i.e. opt-out). Yes is useful in some specialized contexts; e.g. you may not want to allow employees tounsubscribe from the company newsletter.
ban list This contains a list of addresses (or regular expressiosn), one per line, that are banned from ever subscribing to your mailing list. If a match occurs during the subscription process, the request will be automatically rejected,and the requester will get a rejection notice. You can use this to permanently ban troublesome posters to amembers-only list.
private roster This specifies who is allowed to view the roster of member addresses. If you choose Anyone, then the list membership is completely public. You can limit exposure of the roster to just list members, or just to thelist administrators. In the former case, a user must enter a valid member’s address and password before they canview the roster. In the latter case, a list administrator’s password must be enter; if a matching admin passwordis entered, address field is ignored.
obscure addresses Controls whether some simple obfuscation of addresses is used when member addresses are in- cluded on web pages. This should reduce the opportunity for email address harvesting by spammers, althoughit probably doesn’t eliminate it.
When a message is posted to the list, a series of moderation criteria are applied to determine the disposition of themessage. This section contains the modeation controls for postings from both members and non-members.
default member moderation Member postings are held for moderation if their moderation flag is turned on. Note that only the list administrators can change the value of a member’s moderation flag.
You can control whether new members get their moderation flag turned on or off by default when they subscribeto the list. By turning this flag off by default, postings by members will be allowed without further intervention(barring other restrictions such as size or implicit recipient lists – see below). By turning the flag on, youcan quarantine new member postings to make sure that they meet your criteria for netiquette, topicality, etc.
Once you determine that the new member understands the community’s posting rules, you can turn off theirmoderation flag and let their postings go through unstopped.
E-newsletter style lists can also be set up by using the moderation flag.
moderation_action to Reject, and by turning off the moderation flag for just the few approved senders,your list will operate in essentially a one-way direction. Note that you’d also need to reject or discard postingsfrom non-members.
member moderation action This is the action to take for postings from a member who’s moderation flag is set. For typical discussion lists, you’ll likely set this to Hold so that the list moderator will get a chance to manuallyapprove, reject, or discard the message. For e-newsletter and announcement lists, you might want to set this toReject or Discard.
Note that when a moderated member posts to your list, and the member_moderation_action is set toHold, the message will appear on the administrative requests page. When you dispose of the message, you willbe given an opportunity to clear the moderation flag at the same time. If you’re quarantining new posts, thismakes it very convenient to both approve a new member’s post and de-moderate them at the same time.
member moderation notice When a member’s moderation flag is turned on and member_moderation_action is Reject, this variable contains the text sent in the rejection notice.
The next batch of variables controls what happens when non-members post messages to the list. Each of these acceptsone email address per line; regular expressions are allowed if the line starts with the ˆ(caret) character. These addresslists are always consulted in the order in which they’re presented on this page (i.e. accepts first, followed by holds,rejections, and discards).
accept these nonmembers Postings from non-members whose addresses match this list are accepted, barring other list restrictions due to size, implicit recipients, etc. You might want to add alternative addresses of approvedposters to this list.
hold these nonmembers Postings from non-members whose addresses match this list are held for moderator ap- reject these nonmembers Postings from non-members whose addresses match this list are rejected, i.e. bounced back to the original sender. There currently is no way to add additional text to the rejection message.
discard these nonmembers Postings from non-members whose addresses match this list are discarded, with no bounce back message. You might want to add the addresses of known spammers to this list.
generic nonmember action This variable controls what happens to non-member posts when the address of the sender doesn’t match any of the above four lists. If you set this to Hold, the posting will appear on the ad-ministrative requests page, and you will be given an opportunity to add the non-member to one of the above fourlists at the same time you dispose of the held message.
forward auto discards When messages from non-members are discarded, either because the sender address matched discard_these_nonmembers, or because generic_nonmember_action is Discard, you can choosewhether such messages are forwarded to the lsit administrators or not.
The variables in this section control various filters based on the recipient of the message.
require explicit destination This controls whether the mailing list posting address must be explicitly named in the To: or Cc: recipient lists. The main reason why it wouldn’t is if the message was blind-carbon-copied (i.e.
Bcc:’d) to the list. Spammers like to do this, but sometimes legitimate messages are forwarded to the list thisway.
If the list is not explicitly addressed and this setting is turned on, the message will be held for moderator approval.
acceptable aliases This is the list of alternative addresses that are acceptable as a list posting address when require_explicit_destination is enabled. This is useful for when there aliases for the main postingaddress (e.g. may be an alias for
max num recipients This is the maximum number of explicit recipients that are allowed on the posted message.
Spammers sometimes send messages with lots of explicit recipients, so setting this number to a reasonablevalue may cut down on spam.
This section provides some adjuncts to spam fighting tools; it doesn’t replace dedicated anti-spam tools such as Spa-mAssassin or Spambayes.
bounce matching headers This variable contains header regular expressions, one per line, and if any of a message’s headers matches one of these patterns, it will be held for moderation. The format is a colon separated headerand value, where the header is case insensitive and the value is any valid Python regular expression. Lines thatstart with # are ignored.
This variable can be used to catch known spammers by writing regexps that match against To: or Cc: lines, orknown-bad Message-ID:s. Perhaps more useful though are patterns that match headers added by spam detectiontools higher up in the tool chain. For example, you might configure SpamAssassin to add an X-Spam-Score:header with between zero and 5 stars depending on the spam score. Then you can add a line to this variable like: This line will match from 3 to 5 stars in the value of this field.
These policies control the automatic bounce processing system in Mailman. Here’s an overview of how it works: When a bounce is received, Mailman tries to extract two pieces of information from the message: the address of themember the message was intended for, and the severity of the problem causing the bounce. The severity can be eitherhard for fatal errors, or soft for transient errors. When in doubt, a hard severity is used.
If no member address can be extracted from the bounce, then the bounce message is usually discarded. Every memberhas a bounce score, initialized at zero, and every time we encounter a bounce from a member we increment thatmember’s score. Hard bounces increment by 1 while soft bounces increment by 0.5. We only increment the bouncescore once per day, so even if we receive ten hard bounces from a member per day, their score will increase by only 1for that day.
When a member’s bounce score is greater than the bounce score threshold (see below), the member’s subscription isdisabled. Once disabled, the member will not receive any postings from the list until their membership is explicitly re-enabled, either by the list administrator or the user. However, they will receive occasional reminders that theirmembership has been disabled, and these reminders will include information about how to re-enable their membership.
You can control both the number of reminders the member will receive and the frequency with which these remindersare sent.
There is one other important configuration variable; after a certain period of time – during which no bounces from themember are received – the bounce information is considered stale and discarded. Thus by adjusting this value, and thescore threshold, you can control how quickly bouncing members are disabled. You should tune both of these to thefrequency and traffic volume of your list.
bounce processing Specifies whether or not this list should do automatic bounce processing.
bounce score threshold This is the bounce score above which a member’s subscription will be automatically dis- abled. When the subscription is re-enabled, their bounce score will be reset to zero. This value can be a floatingpoint number.
bounce info stale after Thenumber of days after which a member’s bounce information is considered stale. If no new bounces have been received in the interrim, the bounce score is reset to zero. This value must be an integer.
bounce you are disabled warnings The number of notices a disabled member will receive before their address is removed from the mailing list’s roster. Set this to 0 to immediately remove an address from the list once theirbounce score exceeds the threshold. This value must be an integer.
bounce you are disabled warnings interval The number of days between each disabled notification.
bounce unrecognized goes to list owner This variable controls whether unrecognized bounces are discarded, or forwarded on the list administrator. The bounce detector isn’t perfect, although personalization can make itmuch more accurate. The list owner may want to receive unrecognized bounces so that they can manuallydisable or remove such members.
bounce notify owner on disable This option controls whether or not the list owner is notified when a member’s subscription is automatically disabled due to their bounce threshold being reached.
bounce notify owner on removal This option controls whether or not the list owner is notified when a member is removed from the list after their disabled notifications have been exhausted.
Mailman comes with a built-in web-based archiver called Pipermail, although it can be configured to use external,third party archivers.
archive This option tells Mailman whether to archive messages it receives or not, regardless of whether Pipermail or a third party archiver is used. Turn this off if you don’t want to archive messages.
Note that senders can control whether their own posts are archived, on an individual per-message basis. If theposted message has a X-No-Archive: header (regardless of value), or a X-Archive: header with a value of No(case insensitive), then the message will not be archived, although it will be treated as normal in all other ways.
archive private Controls whether Pipermail archives are private or public. Private archives require a valid member address and password, or a list administrator password in order to access them. This option has no effect whena third party archiver is used.
archive volume frequency Controls how Pipermail splits messages in the archive. The most common option is Monthly meaning a new archive volume is started every month. Very high volume lists may want a shorterfrequency (e.g. Weekly or Daily) where as lower volume lists may want a longer frequency (e.g. Yearly). Thisoption has no effect when a third party archiver is used.
Mailman has a sophisticated mail-to-news gateway feature. It can independently gate messages from news to mail andvice versa, and can even be used to manage moderated newsgroups.
To create an appendix in a Python HOWTO document, use markup like this: To create an appendix in a Python HOWTO document, .
Just add another \section{}, but don’t say \appendix again.


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