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SCS Mailman Reference

A Brief Introduction To Mailman's Functionality

This page describes the most basic steps involved in setting up and maintaining a Mailman mailing list. Steps are presented in the order one would usually take them. The list overlooks many features, however, and we strongly advise you to explore and consider other options you will encounter on the configuration screens.

Contents


Preface


For List Administrators

List Setup

Administrative Tasks for List Administrators


For list moderators


For List Subscribers

Subscription Setup

List Usage


All Subscribers and Administrators



Preface

User Roles in Mailman

From Mailman's perspective, there are four types of list users:
  • Site administrators
    These are the superusers, the ones who control the entire system from list creation to system maintenance. These are the people you contact when you want to:
    • create a mailing list
    • delete a mailing list
    • change the administrator of a mailing list
    • migrate a mailing list
    • report something doesn't seem to be working right with the system
    • suggest how things could be made better
    More information on how to perform many of these actions can be found at the mailman mailing list information pages. To contact the site administrators, send mail to help+@cs.cmu.edu.
  • List administrators
    These are the individuals that control each mailing list. They control membership management, list posting rules, list visibility, and other list-specific behaviors. These are the people to contact when you want to:
    • get more information about the list
    • be subscribed to a mailing list (if you are not freely able to)
    • unsubscribe from a mailing list (if you are not freely able to)
    • report problems with receipt or submission of list postings
    The mail address of the list administrator can be found at the bottom of all pages associated to the mailing list. For example, the owner of SCS-Mailman-Announce can be found at the bottom of its list information page.
  • List moderators
    List moderators are appointed by the list administrator, whose responsibilities are to act as content filters for list postings when the list administrators are unavailable to perform those duties. If list moderators have been appointed, they will receive an email each time the list receives a post that is deemed necessary for moderation. The criteria used by mailman to do this can be configured by the list administrator.
  • List subscribers
    List subscribers are the general users of the system, who submit and receive list postings.

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For List Administrators

List Setup

Creating a New Mailing List

The SCS Mailman information page contains instructions on how to create a new mailing list.

After you have created your mailing list, it is strongly recommended that you consider subscribing yourself to the SCS-Mailman-Announce mailing list. Please see the appropriate section in this document for more information.

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Accessing the List's Administrator Page

Point your web browser at: https://mailman.srv.cs.cmu.edu/mailman/admin/<listname> Authenticate to WebISO with the principal and realm of a list administrator. If you have forgotten the principals of the list administrators, please contact helpdesk at help+@cs.cmu.edu.

A common error that new list administrators may make is authenticating to the wrong kerberos principal (e.g. one's Andrew principal instead of their SCS principal). If this is done, mailman will bring up a screen that asks for the list's administrator password. You must either enter the administrator password, or go back to the WebISO login page at http://webiso.andrew.cmu.edu to re-authenticate to the correct principal.

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Setting the administrator password

Although Mailman has been set up to use WebISO for authentication, there may be times when you would like to allow another person access the list's administrator page without adding them to the list of administrators. To do this, you must set the list's administrator password.

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. At the top of the page, under "Configuration Categories", select the link "Passwords".
  3. Next to the label "Enter new administrator password:", enter a password and confirm it by typing it a second time below.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click the button labeled "submit your changes".

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Making a List Visible to the Public

By default, a newly created mailing lists are hidden from view, and users are required to know the exact name of the mailing list before they are able to subscribe to it.

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. At the top of the page, under "Configuration Categories", select the link "Privacy Options".
  3. Under the heading "Subscribing", on the row with the description, "Advertise this list when people ask what lists are on this machine?", select the radio button next to "yes".
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click the button labeled "submit your changes".

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On Including Sublists

This step is optional, as it only applies to people who want to create a super-list (a.k.a. "umbrella list") to which other mailing lists are subscribed to. Please note that if you do this, it is imperative to subscribe only other mailing lists to the list. If you would like to add regular users, you must create a sublist that is subscribed to your list that contains those users.

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. Next to the setting 'Send password reminders to eg "-owner" address...', select the "yes" radio button.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the "submit your changes" button.

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Configuring Member Posting Policy

The list administrator can make it so that all list members' posts are held for moderation. This is useful in the case that the administrator and moderators would like to have complete control over the list content when even the members are not trusted.

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. Under the heading "Configuration Categories", select the link "Membership Management"
  3. Toward the bottom of the page, there should be a heading, "Additional Member Tasks". If you would like to make it so that all list members' posts are held for moderation, under the text "Set everyone's moderation bit, including those members not currently visible", select the radio button next to "On".
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the button labeled "Submit Your Changes"

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Adding Members

In addition to users being able to subscribe themselves to a mailing list, the list owners also have the ability to add members to their lists.

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. At the top of the page, under "Configuration Categories", select the link "Membership Management..."
  3. A new page will load, and under the Membership Management link you just clicked, there should be a link "Mass Subscription". Click it.
  4. In the first text field on the page, enter the email addresses of each subscriber, one per line.
  5. When you are done adding members, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the button labeled "Submit Your Changes".

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Setting The Moderator Password

A moderator password must be set for the list so that the moderators can have access to the pages that are used to approve or deny list postings that are held for moderation.

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. At the top of the page, under "Configuration Categories", select the link "Passwords".
  3. Scroll down, and enter and confirm the list moderator password.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the button labeled "Submit Your Changes".
  5. If desired, you may now assign list moderators as described in the section, Assigning Moderators in this document.

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Assigning Moderators

List moderators act as content filters, who have the authority to approve or deny post submissions when the appropriate settings are made. It is required that you have already completed the steps listed in the section, Setting Up The Moderator Password before performing the steps below.

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. Next to the section labeled "The list moderator email addresses...", add the email addresses of all the people that you would like to delegate as list moderators.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the button labeled "Submit Your Changes"

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Configuring Whitelists And Blacklists

Whitelists and blacklists allow the list administrator to specify sender email addresses and regular expressions that are applied to sender email addresses which determine certain behaviors when messages from those addresses get posted to the mailing list. Setting up whitelists and blacklists may require you to use "Perl-Compatible" regular expressions. For an overview on regular expressions, see the section Overview Of Perl Compatible Regular Expressions in this document.

If you decide to use regular expression matching in any of the fields, you must prefix the line with the regular expression string with an upcaret ('^', shift-6)

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. Under the heading "Configuration Categories", select the link "Privacy Options"
  3. At the same location, there should now be a heading "Privacy Options". Select the link "Sender Filters".
  4. Halfway down the page, there should be a heading, "Non-member filters". Next to the row with the description, "List of non member addresses who postings should be automatically accepted", enter email addresses, or regular expressions to use, for which all matching posts' senders will be automatically accepted.
  5. The next row down, with the description, "List of... immediately held for moderation.", enter enter email addresses, or regular expressions to use, for which all matching posts' senders will be automatically held for moderation.
  6. The next row down, with the description, "List of... automatically rejected.", enter enter email addresses, or regular expressions to use, for which all matching posts' senders will be automatically sent back to the poster with a rejection notice.
  7. The next row down, with the description, "List of... automatically discarded.", enter enter email addresses, or regular expressions to use, for which all matching posts' senders will be automatically deleted and no other action taken.
  8. if you would like to make the list an open-posting list, in the row with the description "Action to take for postings from non-members for which no explicit action is defined", select the radio button next to the word, "Accept".
  9. When you are finished, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the button labeled "Submit Your Changes".

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Blocking messages that have been tagged as spam

All mail that goes through the mail transport system at SCS is tagged for spam. It is possible to use the mail headers that are added in this tagging process to your advantage when you would like to eliminate posts that have been identified as spam.

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. Under the heading "Configuration Categories", select the link "Privacy Options"
  3. At the same location, there should now be a heading "Privacy Options". Select the link "Spam Filters".
  4. After the page reloads, look for a heading "Filter rules to match against the headers of a message.". Next to it is a text field. Because all messages that are tagged as spam contain the header X-Spam-Warning, add the text X-Spam-Warning: to the text field.
  5. Next, choose the action that you would like mailman to take when it recieves a message that matches the rule you just added. The recommended action is hold, which tells mailman to hold the message for moderation.
  6. When you are finished, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the button labeled "Submit Your Changes".

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Overview of Perl Compatible Regular Expressions

Matching all email addresses that end in cmu.edu:
(e.g. anyone@anything.cmu.edu) ^.*cmu\.edu$

Matching all email addresses in RI that have a submailbox:
(e.g. anyone+anymbox@anything.ri.cmu.edu) ^\w+[+|=]\w+@.*\.ri\.cmu\.edu$

For a more detailed tutorial, please visit:
http://virtual.park.uga.edu/humcomp/perl/regex2a.html

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Administrative Tasks for List Administrators

Attending to Moderation Requests as a List Admin

Although specially designated list moderators are often the ones who handle moderation requests, list administrators are still the primary contact for moderation. Messages are held for moderation most often when a non-member attempts to post to a mailing list, but more or less restrictive behavior can be specified as well.

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. At the top of the page, under the heading "Other Administrative Activities", access the link "Tend to pending moderator requests"
  3. Select and perform the appropriate actions to take on the held messages

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Adding additional list administrators

It is possible to add kerberos principals and AFS PTS groups to the list of administrators to give somebody, or groups of people, access to the administrative interface for your mailing list

Note that if you take your own principal off the list of administrators, you cannot access the administrator page unless you use the administrator password.

  1. Access the list's administrator page.
  2. Next to the heading "Kerberos principals for the list administrators, or pts groups containing them.", add the kerberos principal of the person you would like to give access. Note that it must be formatted principal@REALM. Alternatively, you can add an AFS PTS group, formatted userid:group.name.
  3. If you would like this person to recieve informational messages that get sent out to list administrators, add the person's email address in the field labeled "The list administrator email addresses. Multiple administrator addresses, each on separate line is okay."
  4. When you are finished, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the button labeled "Submit Your Changes".

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For List Moderators

Attending to Moderation Requests as a Moderator

As a list moderator, you are responsible for approving content that is posted to the mailing list. When a message is received for which it is decided to be held for moderation, the list moderators and the list administrator are notified and told to visit the list moderation page.

  1. Visit the list's moderation page at: https://mailman.srv.cs.cmu.edu/mailman/admindb/<listname>/
  2. Enter the list's moderator password
    If you don't know this, you must contact the list administrator to send this to you.
  3. Select and perform the appropriate actions to take on the held messages

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For List Subscribers

Subscription Setup

Subscribing To A List

In addition to the methods described below, you may also contact the list owner directly and have yourself added without needing to subscribe via the methods described below.
  • If the list is a publicly advertised list:
    1. Access the web page https://mailman.srv.cs.cmu.edu/mailman/listinfo
    2. Locate the mailing list in the list displayed, and click the link associated with it.
    3. Under the heading, "Subscribing to <list_name>", enter the email address that you would like to receive list postings at, and the rest of the requested information.
    4. Click the button labeled "Subscribe" below.
    5. After clicking the button, you should receive shortly an email with your subscription confirmation. Follow the directions outlined in the email.
  • If the list is not publicly advertised:
    1. Contact the owner to obtain the exact name of the mailing list.
    2. Access the web page https://mailman.srv.cs.cmu.edu/mailman/listinfo/<list_name>
    3. Under the heading, "Subscribing to <list_name>," enter the email address that you would like to receive list postings at, and the rest of the requested information.
    4. Click the button labeled "Subscribe" below.
    5. After clicking the button, you should receive shortly an email with your subscription confirmation. Follow the directions outlined in the email.

After you have subscribed to your first mailing list, it is strongly recommended that you consider subscribing yourself as well to the SCS-Mailman-Announce mailing list. Please see the appropriate section in this document for more information.

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Setting Up Your Preferences as a List Subscriber, Unsubscribing, and Retrieving a Lost Password

  1. Access the mailing list subscriber's page at: https://mailman.srv.cs.cmu.edu/mailman/listinfo/<list_name>
  2. Under the heading "<list_name> subscribers", enter the email address that you receive mailing list posts at, next to the button labeled, "Unsubscribe or Edit Options".

    If you have forgotten the email address at which you receive list posts, contact the mailing list owner.
  3. click the button labeled "Unsubscribe or Edit Options".
  4. in the next screen you will be prompted for a password. In this screen, you will also be able to unsubscribe, or retrieve your password in this screen.
  5. If you have chosen to log in to your preferences page, you will be brought to a page where you can set your preferences.

The SCS Help Desk can unsubscribe you from SCS mailing lists at your request. To be unsubscribed please send an email to help@cs.cmu.edu with the name of the mailing list(s) you would like to be unsusbscribed from. Where possible, please send this message from the email address you would like to have unsubscribed.

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List Usage

Posting to an Existing Mailing List

Posting to a list is rather straightforward, the only thing that must be done is to send mail to <listname>@cs.cmu.edu. If you are a subscriber of the list, more often than not, the post will be accepted. The other subscribers will then receive the post. If the list is configured to do so, you will also receive a copy of your post.

If you are not a subscriber of the list, one of a few things could happen:

  • The mail will be held for moderation, and a moderator will determine whether your post is relevant to the discussion in the list. If the post is accepted, you will receive an email saying so, but you will not receive a copy of the post.
  • The mail will be rejected, and you will be notified.
  • The mail will be dropped, and you will not be notified

For All Subscribers and Administrators

Subscribing to SCS-Mailman-Announce

As a mailing list administrator or subscriber, it is recommended that you subscribe to the SCS-Mailman-Announce mailing list so that you are notified whenever we have expected service outages due to upgrades or maintenance. This is also the first place to look for the reasons behind unexpected service outages.

To subscribe to the SCS-Mailman-Announce mailing list, connect to the list's subscription page and subscribe yourself. For more directions on subscribing to a list, see the appropriate section, Subscribing To A List.

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