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Mailman: How to Maintain Your List

Learn how to maintain your UC San Diego mailing list using Mailman.

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Accessing your list administration screen

When your list is created and you are designated the “owner” (or “administrator”), you receive a welcome message that:

  • Informs you that your list is active
  • Gives you the URL to use to handle list administration

If you do not keep this email message or can’t remember the URL:

  • Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')

Navigating your list administration pages

After you log in to your list administration page, you will see the General Options Screen, containing a number of Configuration Categories links at the top of the page.

General options screenshot

You can follow each link to access all of your list settings. For more information on the available settings, see the List Configuration Options page.

Changing maximum message size

Mailman can place a limit on the size of a message that it accepts for list postings. The owner can change the limit to try to restrict or allow attachments to be sent to the list.

To change the maximum message size limit:

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. Go to General Options.
  3. Locate Maximum length in Kb of a message body (near the bottom).
  4. Change the limit to something suitable, or enter 0 for the maximum server limit of 10 MB.
  5. Submit your changes.

Note: If you have a message that is larger than 10 MB, you will not be able to send it to your list. You can:

  • break the attachment into multiple smaller attachments and send them separately
  • or post the attachment on a Web page and send the URL.

List moderation: Specify a list moderator who is not the list owner

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. In General Options,General List Personality, find The list moderator email addresses.
  3. Specify one or more moderator addresses. If adding more than one moderator, type each address on a separate line.
    moderator email screenshot
  4. Submit your change.
    Manage passwords screenshot.

List moderation: Require approval before someone can subscribe or unsubscribe

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. Go to Privacy options > Subscription rules.
  3. To require approval to subscribe set subscribe_policy to:
    • Require approval
    • or Confirm and approve (requires that subscribers using non-@ucsd.edu addresses confirm their subscription once you have approved it).
      Manage subscription policy screenshot
  4. To require approval to unsubscribe, set unsubscribe_policy to Yes.
    Note: It is not recommended to require approval for unsubscribing.
    Unsubscribe policy screenshot
  5. Submit Your Changes.

List moderation: Require approval for postings

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. Go to Privacy options > Sender filters.
  3. Set default_member_moderation to Yes and select the desired moderation action in the member_moderation_action setting. This will affect future subscribers. To update moderation settings for current subscribers, go to Step 5.
    member filters screenshot
  4. There are also settings for messages coming from non-member addresses. You can choose to automatically accept, hold, reject or discard messages from all non-member addresses by setting the generic_nonmember_action setting. You can also add specific non-member addresses or domains to:
    • accept_these_nonmembers
    • hold_these_nonmembers
    • reject_these_nonmembers
    • discard_these_nonmembers
  5. To update moderation settings for current members, go to Membership Management.
  6. Under Additional Member Tasks, find the option to Set everyone’s moderation bit, including those members not currently visible.
    Moderation bit screenshot
  7. Set this option to On and click Set. All of the addresses in your Membership list should then have a check mark in the mod (moderate) column.
  8. Submit Your Changes.

Once your list is set up as a moderated list, only those messages you approve are delivered to list members. Whenever a new message arrives for a moderated list, a notice is sent to the list owner and the list moderator (if there is one).

Control when you receive the moderation notification (immediately or once daily):

  1. Go to General Options
  2. Set admin_immed_notify to Yes to receive immediate notification, or to No to only receive a daily summary.Admin notices screenshot
  3. Submit Your Changes.

List moderation: View current requests requiring approval

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. Go to Tend to pending moderator requests to view the summary list of subscription requests, unsubscribe requests, and postings being held for approval.
  3. See the More detailed instructions link towards the top of the page for an explanation of each option (Defer, Accept, Preserve, etc.)
  4. Navigate to specific pending requests by using any of the following methods:
    • the view the details link shows the message body of all of the held messages
    • the view all messages from… link shows the message body of all messages sent from a single address
    • the numbered links next to each Subject line to view individual messages.
  5. After you have acted on all of the pending requests, click Submit All Data.

Email messages from owners and moderators are treated the same as all other messages for the list. For more information about giving owners and/or moderators permission to post to the list, see Why are messages from the list owner moderated?

If messages are being held for moderation and you don’t understand why, see Why am I getting moderation requests for my unmoderated list?

Handling bounce error messages

When email to a subscriber is bouncing, Mailman tries to interpret the bounced message and act accordingly. When a bounced message is received, Mailman attempts to extract two pieces of information from the message:

  • The email address of the subscriber whose email is bouncing.
  • The severity of the problem causing the bounce.

If no email address for the subscriber can be extracted from the bounce, then the bounce is usually discarded.

The severity of the problem can be labeled as either hard (meaning a fatal error) or soft (meaning a temporary error occurred). When in doubt, a hard severity is assigned.

Each subscriber is assigned a bounce score and every time Mailman encounters a bounce from this member, the score goes up. Hard bounces increase the score by 1, while soft bounces increase the score by 0.5. However, bounce scores are only increased once per day so even if ten hard bounces are received for the same subscriber in one day, that subscriber’s score will increase by only 1 for that day.

To adjust settings regarding bounced messages:

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. Go to Bounce Processing to adjust these bounce settings:
    • bounce score threshold: When a member’s bounce score exceeds the list’s bounce score threshold, the subscriber’s subscription is automatically disabled. Once disabled, the subscriber will not receive any postings from the list until their membership is explicitly re-enabled (either by them or the list owner). However, they will receive occasional reminders that their membership has been disabled, with information about how to re-enable it.
    • bounce_info_stale_after: After a certain period of time during which no bounces from the subscriber’s address are received, the bounce information is considered stale and discarded.
      Note: By adjusting the bounce_score_threshold and bounce_info_stale_after setting, you can control how quickly members with bouncing email are disabled. You should set both of these to the frequency and traffic volume of your list.
    • bounce_you_are_disabled_warnings: Control the number of reminders the subscribers will receive.
    • bounce_you_are_disabled_warnings_interval: Control how frequently reminders are sent.
  3. When finished, Submit Your Changes.

If Mailman cannot interpret a particular bounced message error, it will be forwarded on to the list owner. Some of the message content requires an expert to interpret it. You can ignore much of the message as long as you know what’s important to focus on. Look for a line that says something like:

Mail could not be delivered to:

followed by an email address. If you find such a line, you know whose email is bouncing and you may even know why (it will sometimes say the reason right after the email address).

What you’ll need to do is decide whether the reason is temporary or permanent. Sometimes the best way to make that decision is to wait a few days or a week and see if you are still receiving error messages from the same subscriber. If so, you’ll probably want to remove that subscriber from your list. (See Deleting Subscribers below for more information.)

If all else fails and you can’t figure out the errors you’re getting, don’t hesitate to seek assistance by forwarding a copy of the error message to postmaster@ucsd.edu.

Get a list of your subscribers

To see who is subscribed to your list:

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. Go to Membership Management > Membership List
  3. View a list of your current subscribers as well as their mail options.
  4. Click on Click here to include the legend for this table to view more information about the different mail options.

Adding subscribers

To add subscribers to your list:

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. Go to the Membership Management > Mass Subscriptions.
  3. Select the option of subscribing addresses or inviting them to subscribe. Subscribing them will add them to the list immediately. Inviting them to subscribe will send them an email message and they will have to confirm that they want to be added to the list.
  4. Choose whether or not to send a Welcome message to the addresses that you are adding.
  5. Choose whether or not to send notifications of new subscriptions to the list owner.
  6. After choosing your preferred options, enter the email addresses (one per line) in the box provided. If you want to include a name with each address, make sure each line is in the following format: name <email_address>
    • Note: Don’t forget to include the brackets around the email addresses.
    • Example: Joe User <user@ucsd.edu>
    • You can also choose to upload a plain text file that contains your subscribers. The names and email addresses should be in the same format specified above. Do not upload a Word or Excel file. Do not copy and paste addresses from Word or Excel into the subscription box as this often results in hidden space characters being included at the end of the address, causing the email addresses to be invalid.
      Mass subscribe screenshot
  7. If you want to include additional text to be added to the top of your invitation or the subscription notification (welcome message), include it in the box provided. The text will be added above any custom text specified in the welcome_msg setting under General Options.
    Mass subscribe additional message screenshot
  8. When finished, Submit Your Changes.

Deleting subscribers

To remove one or more addresses from your list:

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. Go to the Membership Management > Membership List
  3. Click in the box in the first column (the “unsub” column) next to the address of each subscriber you want to delete.
  4. When finished, Submit Your Changes.

OR

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. Go to the Membership Management > Mass Removal.
  3. Choose whether or not to send acknowledgement of the removal to the user being removed.
  4. Choose whether or not to send a notification of the removal to the list owner.
  5. Enter the email addresses you want to remove (one per line) in the box. Do not include names with the email addresses.
    Mass removel screenshot
  6. When finished, click Submit Your Changes.

Note: If you wish to remove all subscribers from your list, there is that option on the Membership Management > Mass Removal page. That option only works if you choose not to notify the users and owners.

Dealing with problem subscribers

It is possible that someday a person will use your list inappropriately by sending irrelevant messages, large numbers of messages, or demeaning messages. If this happens, you have several options:

  • Post a statement of appropriate use and conduct to the list.
  • Unsubscribe the offending user (see the Deleting subscribers section above). If your list is set up so that only people who are subscribed to the list can post messages to it, this method will effectively exclude them from the list. Note: If your list is set up to allow open subscriptions, the person could simply resubscribe.
  • If the offending user is a UC San Diego student, faculty, or staff, report the inappropriate use to postmaster@ucsd.edu describing the situation and including samples of the offending messages. Unethical use of university computing resources can be grounds for disciplinary action, including loss of computer accounts.
  • Add the person’s email address to the list of addresses which are banned from membership on your list.

To ban someone from your list:

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. From the list of configuration categories, select Privacy Options > Subscription Rules.
  3. Add the offending user’s email address to the ban_list setting.
    Ban list screenshot
  4. When finished, Submit Your Changes.

Adding or deleting list owners

To add or delete owners:

  1. Log in to the list's administration page: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/admin/ListName-l with your Active Directory username and password (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')
  2. Under General Options, you will see an owner setting where all of the current owners are listed.
    List ownsers screenshot
  3. Edit this list to add or remove owners.
  4. When finished, Submit Your Changes.

Create, change, or view an archive

An archive gives members and the list administrator a searchable history of list postings.

  1. Log in.
  2. To start an archive or change archive options:
    1. Click Archiving Options in the second column under Configuration Categories.
    2. Choose an archiving option:
      • Creation
      • Privacy (recommended)
      • Volume frequency
    3. Click Submit Your Changes.
  3. To view the archive after you've created it:
    • Click Go to list archives at the top right under the Other Administrative Activities column.

Note: Subscribers can view the archive by logging in at: https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/private/ListName-l/ (replace ListName with the actual name of your list. The final character is a lowercase letter 'L' for 'list.')

Deleting your list

If you decide that you no longer need your Mailman list, send an e-mail to postmaster@ucsd.edu.

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This page contains content modified from the University of Washington website.