What is a mailing list - Public and private lists
A mailing list is essentially a list of mail addresses to which mails are sent automatically by a software installed on the server.
Depending on the configuration it's possible to define lists as closed if only subscribed users can send messages to it, or open if anyone can send mail to it. Note that in any case mail sent to the list will be received only by subscribed users.
A list can be defined as public if its messages are archived on a public repository (such as our public list web archive) or as private if only its subscribers can read archived messages.
Please keep in mind that if a list is public messages sent to the list will appear sooner or later on Google and other search engines. Be aware of this downside of pulic list when you write a mail to it.
To participate to a list and receive messages sent to it you need to subscribe, but public lists allow you to read their archives online and open lists allow you to write to a list without being subscribed to it.
To subscribe to a list you can visit our hosted lists page and find the
public list you want to become part of: click on it and fill
the form with your e-mail address. You'll receive a confirmation link through an
e-mail message and once you'll have confirmed your identity, you'll be
If the list is private the list administrator will have either to directly subscribe you or to send you a link to the subscription form you'll have to fill.
Mailing list are very useful tools to communicate, to coordinate projects involving people very far away from each other and to debate important issues if used correctly. It's difficult to define general rules to achieve proper use of mailing lists: every list has its own customs and guidelines and the best idea is to ask those already part of the list some advice.
Now subscribe, read, write, enjoy!
Howto manage a mailing list
When you ask for a mailing list on our servers the first thing you'll have to do
is log into the mailing list administration panel and configure its various
options: we have set the default options according to how we
think people will want to use a mailing list, but our ideas could be
very wrong about your needs and wishes.
So log into your https://www.autistici.org/mailman/admin/LISTNAME page and start working on it.
In the General Options page you will be able to set your list welcome
page, its description, the welcome message for people subscribing to it and many
more basic stuff.
Most of the default options will be fine, but you should know that you shall never change the host_name option since it would break your list.
In the Password page you will be able to change and reset your admin password. You can also setup a moderator password to give away to other users: a moderator is someone who will be able to approve or reject non-subscribers messages to the list, but not to change other list settings.
The Membership management page will easily be one of the most visited
page in your list administrator experience.
In the Membership List subpage you'll find a list of all the mail subscribed to the list along with a series of option for each one of them:
- mod refers to moderated users, ie users whose message will need administrator approval before being forwarded to the list
- nomail refers to users who can still send mail to the list but who are not receiving the list messages for several reasons (their mailbox could be full or disabled, or they simply could be users interested only in sending messages but not in receiving them)
- digest and plain refer to the way these users receive the list messages: plain means they will get each mail individually, while digest allows them to receive a daily/weekly/monthly summary of the list messages in a single mail
If you want to unsubscribe a single user, just click on the unsub box next to his/her mail and then on "Submit your changes".
To subscribe multiple users simultaneously, go to the Mass subscription subpage and fill in the form with one mail per line. You will also be able to write a short welcome message to the ones you are subscribing.
The Privacy Options page is one of the most important part of your administration panel. Let's start with the Subscription rules.
- Advertised is the option to point out wether you want your list to be known to the public or not. If you say yes to this option your list will be included in our hosted lists page. The default value is no.
- Subscribe Policy specifies what a user should do to subscribe to a list: reply to an automatic mail sent by the mailing list software, wait for administrator approval or both. The default value from april 2012 on is to require both steps to subscribe to the list, but before that date the default value was to allow subscription with a single mail reply, so better check what is your list situation if you are a A/I old timer.
- The Ban list is a list of email who are forbidden subscription to the list
- The last interesting option allows you to choose who can see the list of people subscribed to the list. The default option allows only list subscribers to see who are the other people subscribed, but it's possible to extend this possibility to anyone or to shrink it to the administrator only.
The Sender filters subpage will let you decide what to do with messages
coming from non-subscribers by default: you can decide a list of mail address
whose messages are automatically accepted, rejected or
It's this subpage where a list administrator can set the options needed to have an open list where everybody can send emails without the need for the administrator approval.
The Archiving Options page is very important since it includes the options to decide wether a list messages will be public or private. Please be careful with this page options since setting up a public list implies that your subscribers messages will be available on search engines freely!
- The Archive option allows the administrator to decide wether to keep a copy of the list messages on the servers or not. The default option is no so if you do not change this the only copy of the list mails will be in your subscribers computers.
- The Archive private option allows the administrator to decide wether the list archive will be publicly available on our servers or only available to subscribers on a dedicated page (whose link you will fine in your administration panel)
Tend to pending moderator requests
The pending requests page allows administrators and moderators to choose what to do with non-subscribers messages. For each message you will be able to decide wether to forward it to the list or not, and what to do with further messages from the same mail address.
- Defer means your are postponing your decision: the message will be hold furtherly on the page
- Accept means you want to forward the message to the list
- Reject means you don't want to forward the message to the list and that you want to send a message to the author notifying the rejection
- Discard means you don't want to forward the message to the list and that you don't want to notify the rejection to the author