Once your mailing list is set up, you should review the list settings. Mailman has a wealth of configuration options; many are esoteric. Fortunately, relatively few need
to be considered by list owners since most have reasonable defaults and may be safely ignored. Only the first three listed below in the General Options section are essential. All other parameters mentioned herein (a small subset of all available) are optional, but do control how your list operates, so are worthy of your consideration. Exploring options not mentioned below is primarily an exercise for the adventurous.
On the admin pages, each option has a brief description, and a link to what is usually a more detailed description of that option. Please note that when you modify options listed on the admin pages, no changes are made until you hit the “Submit Your Changes” button. The general rule of thumb is: If you don’t understand what an option does, leave it alone.
The list owner welcome eMail includes a link to the main list administration page, and the password you need to access it. There are around two dozen configuration pages, but you need concern yourself with only a few:
You should be sure to supply values for three settings: “A terse phrase identifying this list
” (which appears next to the list name on the “list of mailing lists” page, as well as in the header of the list’s subscription page and elsewhere), “An introductory description
” (which appears on the list’s subscription page), and “List-specific text prepended to new-subscriber welcome message
” (which in most cases should be the same as – or very similar to – the introductory description; this text is included in the welcome message eMail and is particularly valuable to people you might conscript to your list). Adding some text to “Text sent to people leaving the list
” is a nice touch; it will be included in the confirmation eMail to users who are unsubscribing from your list.
You may change the capitalization of your listname with the “public name of the list
” setting. Sometimes the default value of “subject-line prefix
” is longer than you might want, or not very pretty. Whatever is in this field is prepended to the subject of each outgoing eMail from your list; this makes eMail from your list standout and easily identifiable to your readers.
By default, each new list is publicly advertised when people request a list of all SWNI mailing lists. If for some reason you do not want your list publicly advertised, you need to make a trip to the Privacy options
Moderation is implemented on a per-user basis. By default, as a SPAM prevention measure, moderation is turned on for all new subscribers. Effectively, nobody may post to the list without moderator approval. Trusted subscribers may be granted posting privileges by clearing their mod
eration bit. This may be done when approving a post, or under the Membership Management
area (where multiple users’ settings may be changed en masse
). General list moderation policy is controlled in Sender filters
(a sub-section of Privacy options).
If you have a low-volume list with less than an average of three eMails a month, you should tweak these settings. In particular, the “number of days after which a member's bounce information is discarded
” setting will probably need to be extended, otherwise the list will never drop users whose eMail addresses are no longer valid. This value should set to around 330% of the number of days, on average, you anticipate between eMails. It is better to err on the large size, if you are uncertain what your average might be. Unless you like to tinker, leave the other settings at their defaults.
- List owner’s are not automatically subscribed to their lists. If you wish to see the list’s traffic (or post), you need to subscribe.
- If you have never used Mailman before, you might want to subscribe to your list, tinker with any settings of interest, and send a few test eMails to see how the system works before taking your list public. Before you do that, however, you should probably make a trip to Archiving Options and set “Archive messages?” to “no,” else anyone viewing the archives will see your test messages. Don’t forget to change this back to “yes” after you are finished testing.
If you have a low volume list, it may make sense to change the “How often should a new archive volume be started” to “Quarterly” or even “Yearly.”
Note: Archives are set to “private” by default, which means only list subscribers may view them. Making your archives publicly available usually exposes the eMail address of posters to SPAM harvesters; it is therefore not recommended.
- The Edit the public HTML pages and text files section allows you to (optionally) customize the general list information page, the subscribe results page, the user specific options page, and the welcome eMail text file. All but the last one involve editing HTML. In the latter, anything enclosed by %(…)s is a macro call (which will expand with list-specific info). As a rule of thumb, macros should be left alone.
Normally, any list subscriber may post to the list. This is great for facilitating dialog, but sometimes excessive chatter causes people to unsubscribe. One way to reduce list attrition is to create an announce-only list. Such lists may be tightly controlled, limiting the list volume, thus mitigating attrition. Sometimes it is useful to have a pair of lists, one for community dialog, and another for announcements only. Presumably the subscriber base for the former would be a subset of the latter.
If you wish to create an announce-only list, in the Sender filters
(a sub-section of Privacy options), change the “Action to take when a moderated member posts to the list
” setting to “Reject” (the default is to hold for moderator approval); adding some text to include with the rejection notice is usually helpful (there are two boxes for this; one for list members, and another non-list members). With these changes in place, only those subscribers whose mod
eration bit is unchecked may post to the list. Typically, this would be only one or just a few users (otherwise it ceases to be an announce-only list).
You may also want to make these changes in the General section: Set “Hide the sender of a message, replacing it with the list address
” and “Should any existing Reply-To: header found in the original message be stripped?
” to “Yes.” Doing so will strip personal eMail return addresses and make all mail appear to come from the list itself. If you do this, it is safe to make your list archives publicly available (under Archiving Options) as SPAM harvesters will not be able to pick up any eMail addresses except for the list address (which will automatically reject the mail sent to it).† But if anyone replies to the list, those eMails will bounce. To avoid this, you need to set “Where are replies to list messages directed?
” to “Explicit address,” and “Explicit Reply-To: header
” to “listname
-email@example.com” (where listname
is the name of your list).
† Note: These setting are usually not appropriate for community based interactive lists as you generally don’t want posters to be anonymous.
Once you are familiar with its operation and have your settings tweaked, you will probably want to advertise your list’s subscription page on your web site. (The URI for the subscription page was in your list-owner welcome eMail.)
You very likely have a list of eMail addresses you can use to seed your new mail list. The Membership List
section has a Mass Subscription
sub-section. You can use it to either invite people to join (which requires them to take an action to subscribe), or simply conscript them. It is best to start by adding your own eMail address, alternately using the “Invite” and “Subscribe” options, to understand how they each operate. This will help you to understand what is most appropriate for your users. (You may have to unsubscribe yourself between passes, if you have only one eMail address to play with.) You might choose to subscribe certain users, but merely extend invites to others (e.g. eMail addresses you suspect might bounce, or people who may only have minimal interest in your list). If you are migrating from Yahoo Groups or another provider, you probably want to simply subscribe those users en masse
Unless you are running a moderated or announce-only list, shortly after a mass subscription is a good time to turn off everyone’s mod
eration bit (this presumes that the people you mass subscribe are unlikely to SPAM your list). Potentially, this will save you lots of moderation work. You can do this easily and quickly in the “Additional Member Tasks” section on the “Membership List” page. By default, new subscribers will be moderated, so anyone subscribing to SPAM your list will be unsuccessful, and those who demonstrate good intentions can be cleared of moderation on their first post.
Finally, don’t forget to turn on message archiving, if you turned it off for testing purposes.
Additional information about various configuration options, although somewhat out-of-date, may be found on this website
. And documentation for your list subscribers may be found here
We also offer have a FAQ page for list subscribers
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