[Mailman-Developers] TOPICS (was bounce processing question and idea for future enhancements...)

Jeff Hahn jeffh@streek.com
Wed, 3 Mar 1999 23:56:13 -0600

Thanks to Harald and Chris for their input...

Listserv topics work like this:

Messages sent to the list include one or more keywords (topics) in the
subject.  There is a defined set of topics for the list.  Subscribers can
choose to receive messages for individual topics.

When the MLM receives a message, it extracts the topics from the subject.
To deliver a message, the MLM intersects the set of topics in the message
with the set of topics that a given subscriber has chosen (to use set
terminology). If the intersection is non-empty, that subscriber gets the
message, otherwise not.

there is usually an "ADMIN" topic that is sent to ALL listmember and has
restricted posting.  Subscribers can choose whether or not to "subscribe to
New topics automatically", so that when topics are added, the member list
can be updated.

Messages without a valid topic are optionally rejected.

Here is my actually situation:

I run a set of mailing lists for mostly inexperienced users.  There is a
great deal of overlap amongst the lists.  The lists are very active.  Up to
250,000 deliveries per week to about 500 total subscribers.  100 or more
messages per day to members of all the lists are not uncommon.  These lists
all concern the Bloodhound dog breed.  There are people interested in
showing bloodhounds.  There are people interested in using bloodhounds to
trail people.  There are people interested in breeding bloodhounds.  There
are people interested in rescuing bloodhounds from animal shelters.  there
is a certain amount of "chat" going on as well.

Many people are interested in most of the topics, but usually have one or
two that they're not interested in.  The show people may not be interested
in trailing.  The breeders aren't interested in rescue.  The rescue people
aren't interested in showing.  There is a group of people not interested in
the chat.  You get the idea.

There are currently 4 lists and given the experience level of most of the
users, admin is a nightmare.  People send message to the wrong list.  They
unsubscribe from the wrong list.  They can't figure out why they're still
getting individual messages when they've set one of the lists to digest.
When they've got something they think is really important, they send it to
all 4 lists, "just to make sure" and 85% of the people get 4 copies of the
message.  There is enough "political turmoil" that certain people really
don't want to receive certain topics.

I'd be happy if the digests and archives were all inclusive (all topics).

Topics would allow just one list to admin, one set of bounces to deal with,
one "I want to get the digest", etc.  This would give my subscribers a
"finer granularity" in controlling the content they wish to receive, without
making me administer a dozen lists.

I've move a number of my "less difficult" lists away from procmail/smartlist
to Mailman and am very happy.  But the headaches of dealing with this group
of lists is what sent me on the search for a new MLM.

I've tried to approach this problem from a number of different angles and
this idea is the only one that seems promising.  I'm open to suggestions!
If anyone has a less complex way to deal with this I'd love it.