AITS System Administration Group

Mailman crash course

As a Mailman listowner at ENCS, you will occasionally need to do things to manage your list. In most cases your list will already be configured according to your needs, so you'll need to know how to use only a very small number of Mailman options. If you want to get a bit fancier, please read the Service Desk's "How To" on Mailing List Administration. If your list is intended for one-off mailings, please read about how to use a one-off mailing list, The page you are reading now describes the very minimum you can get away with knowing.

Most things you do to your list will be as a result of receiving e-mail from Mailman; in those cases, Mailman will provide a URL (web link) that you will go to in order to take care of things. For other tasks, go to the administrative interface of your list: use the link at bottom of any of your list's web pages, or see the Service Desk "How To" if you can't figure out how to get there.

There are only three main things you need to know how to do with Mailman.

Tend to moderator requests

When you receive e-mail from Mailman to the effect that the moderator (you) needs to do something, follow the URL link in the message. There are two types of requests you will get:

  • subscription requests, if your list requires your approval to add members, which it should
  • postings that need approval, if your list doesn't allow just anyone to post, and someone not allowed to post has tried to send a message

In each case, you must make one of four choices:

  • defer: don't decide yet, but instead, leave this request in the queue for now
  • accept: approve the subscription request (member will be added) or the posting (message will be sent to subscribers)
  • reject: refuse the new member or the message (the requester will get a note telling them that their request was refused; this is the polite thing to do for most requests you need to refuse)
  • discard: "quietly" refuse the new member or the message (the requester will not be notified of your decision - use this only for spam)

Once you have made a choice for each request by selecting the appropriate item, submit the page.

Membership management

If you run the type of list where you need to explicitly add and delete members, for example for a committee or project group, go to the administrative interface of the list, and select "Membership Management". From there it should be fairly obvious what to do, but if not, read the Service Desk "How To".

Add allowed posters

If your list allows only members to post, but some members post from an address different from their subscription address, you may need to add their "posting address" to "accept_these_nonmembers" to avoid having to explicitly approve each of their postings. Mailman will give you an opportunity to do that from the "Tend to pending moderator requests" page whose URL it sends you to when it notifies you of requests. You can also just do it directly yourself:

From the administrative interface, select "Privacy options", then "Sender filters", then scroll down to "accept_these_nonmembers". Add the address on a new line, and submit the page.

Similarly, if your list is moderated, you may want some people to be able to post directly without your approval. If the address you want to allow is a list member, go to "Membership management" and turn off the moderation flag (by unchecking the "mod" checkbox) for that user, and of course submit the page to make the change. However, if the address you want to allow is not a list member, then instead you need to add them to "accept_these_nonmembers" by following the procedure in the paragraph above.

Author: Anne Bennett
Credits: (none)
Last update: Anne Bennett -- 2008-01-24 (links)
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