Mailing List Support

Introduction

The School's mailing lists are now maintained by a Mailman list server. The system allows users to subscribe/unsubscribe themselves from lists, and provides mechanisms for digests and archives.

Using Mailman

Please note

mailman is now located behind the School's firewall - so in order to use it you will need to be on the School's wired network or connected via ssh/vpn if offsite. This is a temporary workaround until the School's email system is refreshed.

The easiest way to access the features of Mailman is via the web based GUI, located at at http://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/. If you prefer, commands can be also sent directly to a specific list using the familiar list-request format. All commands are contained in the body of email messages, any commands in the Subject field are ignored.

Full details of the features available to list members can be found in the List Member Manual.

A quick summary of commands recognised by Mailman are listed below, although not all lists will allow all commands. Some lists have an open policy, where subscription is open to all and others are closed, where the list owner controls who can join the list. Mailman will provide information on the success or failure of subscription attempts etc, and if your request has been forwarded to the list owner for approval.

- Subscribing to a list
- Unsubscribing from a list
- Interacting with Mailman:
- subscribe
- unsubscribe
- index
- get
- who
- info
- lists
- help
- end
- Membership Policy
- Information File
- List Password
- Adding Users
- Removing Users
- Approving Messages
- List privacy
- List archives

- Subscribing to a list

The simplest way to subscribe to a list is to send an email to:
LISTNAME-join@cs.bham.ac.uk
where LISTNAME is replaced with the name of this list you wish to join.

This will send a join request for your email address to LISTNAME. To stop others from subscribing your address, you will receive an email back asking you to confirm your subscription request. You should either reply to the confirmation request or follow the link in the message. You will not be subscribed until you have confirmed your request.

Note that if the list requires administrator approval for subscription, you will not be added to join the list until this been completed.


- Unsubscribing from a list

The simplest way to unsubscribe from a list is to send an email to:
LISTNAME-leave@cs.bham.ac.uk
where LISTNAME is replaced with the name of this list you wish to leave.

This will send a leave request for your email address to LISTNAME. To stop others from unsubscribing your address, you will receive an email back asking you to confirm your unsubscription request. You should either reply to the confirmation request or follow the link in the message. You will not be unsubscribed until you have confirmed your request.

Note that if the list requires administrator approval for unsubscription, you will not be added to join the list until this been completed.


- Interacting with Mailman:

It is possible to send email commands to mailman to perform certain actions, these should be sent to LISTNAME-request@cs.bham.ac.uk. For general commands which are not specific to any list, set the LISTNAME to mailman.

- subscribe <list> [<address>]

where list is the name of the mailing list, and address is an email address. The email address is optional but if supplied and it differs from the one used to submit the request, then the request will be referred to the list owner for approval.

For example, to join the mailing list foo use either of the commands:

subscribe foo
or
subscribe foo A.N.Other@cs.bham.ac.uk


- unsubscribe <list> [<address>]

where list is the name of the mailing list, and address is an email address. The email address is optional but if supplied and it differs from the one used to submit the request, then the request will be referred to the list owner for approval.

For example, to leave the mailing list foo use either of the commands:

unsubscribe foo
or
unsubscribe foo A.N.Other@cs.bham.ac.uk


- index [<list>]

This command will return an index of files in the archive for list.


- get [<list>] <filename>

This command will retrieve the file filename from the archive for list.


- who <list>

This command displays the members currently subscribed to a list.


- info <list>

This will retrieve an information file associated with a list, this file is also sent automatically to anybody who subscribes to a list.


- lists

This returns a list of all advertised lists served by the Mailman server, not all lists will be advertised.


- help

This command returns a brief description of the supported commands.


- end

This command indicates the last command in the message. Use of this command will prevent Mailman from generating error messages when attempting to interpret signatures as commands in email messages.


- Membership Policy

Mailman provides three lists membership subscription policies, these are:

- Confirm
Users subscribing to a list are sent an email requesting them to confirm their subscription request and email address. Lists configured like this are often called open lists as anyone can join the list.
- Require approval
All requests to join are referred to the owner for approval. Often called closed lists.
- Confirm and approve
List subscriptions require the user to confirm their email address and required the list administrator to approve subscription to the list.

Membership policy is set via the web-gui - https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admin/LISTNAME/privacy/subscribing

In addition to list subscription policy, lists can also be configured so that unsubscription requests require the approval of the list administrator.


- Information File

The contents of this file are automatically sent to everyone who joins a list and is also available by use of the info command.

- List information:
https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admin/LISTNAME/general

- List Password

Every list has two passwords. The first of these is for list administration, the second is for moderation. The list administration password provides access to both the moderation and list administration pages. The moderation password can be given to trusted users who are set as moderators. The password is used to access the moderation from end.

The web-gui should be used to change the list passwords:

- Moderator addresses
https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admin/LISTNAME/general
- Moderator password
https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admin/LISTNAME/passwords

In addition to these passwords, each list member will have their own password for changing their list settings. This is also used to access the subscriber list and to view private archives.


- Adding Users

For mailing lists with a confirm subscription policy, users are usually added automatically by Mailman once they have replied to the confirmation request email. If the list has a subscription approval policy, the list administrator will receive an email informing them a user has tried to subscribe to the list.

The list administrator should follow the link to the approval page for the list to process the request. The person will not become a member until this has been completed.

The list administrator can subscribe users directly from the web-gui (including the ability to upload a file of addresses). When a list administrator subscribes users, they have a choice of subscribing the addresses directly or inviting addresses to join - the latter sends an email to the address asking if they wish to join the list.

- Administrative subscription:
https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admin/LISTNAME/members/list

- Removing Users

For mailing lists which do not have the unsubscription requires approvalpolicy, users are usually removed automatically by Mailman once they have replied to the confirmation request email. If the list required unsubscription requests to be approved, the list administrator will receive an email informing them a user has tried to unsubscribe from the list.

The list administrator should follow the link to the approval page for the list to process the request. The person will not be removed until this has been completed.

The list administrator can unsubscribe users directly from the web-gui (including the ability to upload a file of addresses).

- Administrative unsubscription:
https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admin/LISTNAME/members/list

- Approving Messages

Message approval is handled via a web-gui. From the gui, messages can be accepted for deliver, rejected or discarded (silently dropped). The option to view message details also allows you to set a reason for message rejection which will be sent back to the message sender.

- Held message list
https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admindb/LISTNAME

Whenever a message is held for moderation, the list administrators and list moderators will receive an email telling them a message has been held with a URL link to the approval system.

Messages will be held for moderation for 7 days before being discarded and the list administrator will receive daily email reminders that messages are awaiting approval.

Note that in addition to the list administrator password, it is also possible to create a moderation password which can be given to trusted users who can then use it to approve messages but cannot change list settings.

- Moderator addresses
https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admin/LISTNAME/general
- Moderator password
https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admin/LISTNAME/passwords

- List Privacy

Mailman allows list administrators to decide who can view the list of members, there are three choices:

- Anyone
Anyone visiting the list info page can see the addresses of people subscribed to the list
- List members
Only people who are subscribed to the list can see the list of subscribed addresses. List members must provide their own list password to view the subscriber list.
- List admin only
Only the list administrator can view the subscriber list

To reduce the possibility of spam email address harvesting. we strongly recommend that list administrators do not set the membership visibility to anyone.

In addition to hiding the subscriber list, the list administrator can decide if the list should be advertised - i.e. whether Mailman should tell people that the list exists.

- Privacy Options
https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admin/LISTNAME/privacy

- List Archives

Mailman includes the ability for list archives to be automatically generated. The list administrator should decide if archive should be enabled and whether the archives should be public or private.

Private archives are only available to list members. Users can access the archive by using their own list membership password. (Note this is not the administration or moderation password).

- Archive Options
https://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/mailman/admin/LISTNAME/archive
- List Archives
http://mailman.cs.bham.ac.uk/archives/LISTNAME