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Information for mailing list managers - configuration categories

The Common Options page provides a quick overview of the most important options found on other pages. Many lists will be able to use the default options on the other pages and will only need to change the options on this page. From this page, list managers can:

  • set the public name of the list (as it will appear in the results of a search from the main Mailman page).
  • enter the email addresses of managers, moderators and any non-member whose postings should be automatically accepted.
  • set a message footer- a short piece of text which is attached to the end of messages (but not to the digest version). If you choose to set a footer, you may wish to add a short separator line (e.g. -- ) before your text to make it clear that the message footer is not part of the message proper. A footer would typically be used to explain the function of the list to the list members (especially if message posting gets a little out of control). Example:
       Please contact soc-spam-request@lists.cam.ac.uk if 
    you have any questions or wish to be removed from
    this mailing list.
  • change the posting status, including setting emergency moderation of all list traffic (covered in the Information for Managers page).
  • set the maximum size for a message.
  • set the length of time before a message held for moderation is automatically discarded.

Membership Management

Membership Management has four separate pages Membership List, Mass Subscription, Mass Removal, Import/Export.

The main Information for Managers page covers viewing the membership list, subscribing and unsubscribing members.

The Import/Export screen allows you to download a copy of the current list membership, make alterations and then import the data again. Import should be used very cautiously as it will override any subscriptions or unsubscriptions made in the intervening time.

See the details of configuration categories.

Non-digest options

These affect immediately delivered list traffic. Note that the default for mailman is that members can select which delivery mode they prefer (messages individually delivered (non-digest) or batched and distributed periodically (digest)).

  • The first option sets whether subscribers should actually be able to receive individual messages as they are sent to the list, or whether the list should use digests only.
  • Two boxes in which any list-specific text can be entered that should be added at the start (header) or end (footer) of the message.
  • Whether attachments should be removed and stored in archive area. If this is set links are made in the message so that the attachments can be accessed using a web browser. If you want attachments to disappear completely, you can use the content filtering options.

Digest options

These affect the batched delivery mode, and cover:

  • Whether list members can choose to have messages delivered batched into digests.
  • The default delivery mode for new members.
  • Whether the digest is MIME formatted (the default is Plain).
  • The default digest size (the aggregated messages must reach this size before being sent out.
  • Whether, if the digest does not reach the default size by the end of the day, a digest should be sent out anyway. This is good for lists with low traffic to ensure that subscribers don't go days or even weeks before receiving their digest.
  • Any digest-specific header or footer (these are added respectively below and above any text specified in the non-digest header and footer options (see above).
  • Setting the frequency of the digest volume - when a new digest volume is started, the volume number is incremented and the issue number is reset to 1.
  • Two options that have an immediate effect:-
    • telling Mailman to start a new volume with the next digest
    • send the next digest immediately, rather than waiting for the size threshold or the end of day.

Privacy options...

This has four sections covering subscription rules, and sender, recipient and spam filters.

Subscription rules

There are settings as follows:

  • Whether the list should be advertised (appear in search results).
  • The subscription policy - whether an email confirmation from the user is sufficient, or whether the list manager or moderator should approve the request, or whether both confirmation and approval are required.
  • The unsubscription policy - whether list manager/moderator approval is required.
  • Maintaining a list of any addresses banned outright from subscribing to the list.
  • Who can view the list of members.
  • Whether the email addresses should be transformed when they are presented on list web pages so they are not trivially recognizable as email addresses. The intention is to prevent the addresses from being scavenged by automated scanners for use by spammers.

Sender filters

When a message is posted to the list, a series of moderation steps are take to decide whether the a moderator must first approve the message or not. This section contains settings for moderation of both member and non-member postings.

  • Member filters
    • Whether postings by new members are moderated by default.
    • Whether postings from moderated members should be held for approval, automatically rejected with a note being sent back to the member or simply discarded with no notice sent to the member.
  • Non-member filters
    • Non-member postings can be automatically accepted (see Common Options above), held for moderation, rejected (bounced), or discarded (with with or without a copy being sent to the list managers/moderators.
    • Any posting from a non-member who has not explicitly been named in one of the categories listed in the point above will have their posting filtered by the general non-member rule.
    • A list manager can also specify the text to be sent where a non-member posting is rejected, rather than using the default bounce message.

Recipient filters

The settings here are to help with catching possible spam messages, and may be particularly useful if the list has a fairly open posting policy. Many spam messages do not explicitly name their destinations in the To: or Cc: fields; others use a long list of recipients. Settings here are intended to catch these cases.

Spam filters

The central email scanner prevents much junk email getting through, but list managers can also explicitly specify filters to match against specific headers in a message, for example, setting a Spam Filter Regexp of X-Cam-SpamScore: sssss with a Reject action.

Bounce processing

See the overview in the main managers page.

Archiving Options

Archiving on lists is off by default. If you turn archiving on, and your list is high volume older archives may be pruned to save disk space.

The other settting on this page control:

  • whether, if archiving is on, the list is publicly readable or only readable by list members (private - the default)
  • how often a new archive is started, the default is monthly.

Auto-responder

Mailman can send out an automatic reply to anyone who posts to the list and/or to anyone who sends a message to the listname-owners or listname-request addresses. For most lists this will not be required. If any of these options are set then relevant text for the auto-response message should also be set, as well as how often an auto-response message should be sent to the same person.

Content filtering

The options here are to do with how Mailman will treat messages with attachments, or with multipart/alternative and/or text/html parts.

If content filtering is enabled then a message received by the list will pass through several filters including stripping out attachments that do not fit those defined as allowed. After initial filtering, any multipart attachments that are empty are removed. If message is left empty after this filtering, then the whole message is discarded, otherwise (depending on the settings chosen) each multipart/alternative section is replaced by the first non-empty alternative part. Finally text/html parts may be converted to plain text.

General Options

This is something of a grab-bag of settings, covering:

  • General list personality. As well as the settings that appear in Common Options (public name of the list, list manager and moderator addresses) there are settings for
    • an introduction to the list, which will be included on the list's information page
    • setting a prefix to the subject line (the most common choice here is the name of the list, as this can help list members filter messages
    • whether the original sender's email address, or the list's address, should be shown as the sender.
  • Reply-To: header munging. These settings determine where replies to messages are sent, and whether any existing Reply-To: header in an incoming message should be removed.
  • Umbrella list settings. If the list is an "umbrella" list (i.e. it has other lists, rather than individual user addresses, as its members) then the confirmations setting should be set to "Yes".
  • Notifications. The settings here cover list-specific information for new subscribers and for people who want to unsubscribe. There are also settings that handle whether list managers/moderators should get immediate notification of requests that need their attention as well as daily summary notices.
  • Additional Settings. Some appear in the Common Options section (emergency moderation; maximum length of a message; how long a message should be held before it is automatically discarded; the list description phrase). Other settings that list managers may wish to change cover the default options for new members and whether to use the filter that intercepts messages that seem to be administrative requests.