[Mailman-Developers] Documentation for announce only lists

Ben Burnett benwa@ocentrix.com
Thu, 12 Apr 2001 18:58:31 -0700

Hey all,

My company is in the process of implementing Mailman to
provide announcement lists for our hosting clients. I have
been playing with 2.0.1 to 2.0.3 for the past two months and
have come up with what I think is a pretty good (and very
verbose) description of how to set up an announce only list.
Judging by the amount of traffic on this topic here and on
the mailman-users list I though it would be a good idea to
submit it. Please excuse the verbosity of my description as
I was trying to make the description easy to understand by
those who are new to Mailman.  I was also trying to take
into account the different ways that I thought someone would
want to run an announcement list.  I have tested each of the
methods outlined in the description and it all seems to work
well, but I would like to get some more opinions before I
post it to the mailman-users list.  If anyone finds the
descritption usefull please feel free to use it however you

instructions follow:
	Managing announce only lists.

Keep in mind that some of the techniques below require
making changes
that will affect how your Mailman installation will manage
all of its
lists. Wherever this is an issue it has been pointed out. 
If you
choose to use any of these techniques It might be a good
idea to run
separate installations of Mailman for discussion lists and
announcement lists.  If you would like to do this there are
additional tips listed at the end of the instructions.

In order to run an announcement list with Mailman you'll
need to
configure a regular list to allow only certain addresses to
post to the
list.  You should create the list as you would any other
list. and make
a few changes to the it through the web based administrative
An announce only list may require some additional
maintenance if you
frequently have unauthorized posters attempting to post to
the list.

In the administrative interface under Privacy options set
the following
fields as shown.

Must posts be approved by an administrator?  No
Restrict posting privilege to list members?  No

Then place the e-mail addresses of all of those who are
authorized to
post announcements in the field "Addresses of members
accepted for
posting to this list without implicit approval requirement."

This will limit all posts to the list to those who are
Unfortunately(?) all posts to the list by unauthorized
posters will
still show up in the "Tend to pending administrative
requests" area
of the administrative interface.  List administrators will
also receive
an email for each of these posts telling them that they have
administrative request pending. This email can be disabled
General options by setting the field "Should administrator
immediate notice of new requests, as well as daily notices
collected ones?" to "No". This might be a bad idea because
this also
turns off emails that refer to other types of administrative
that may need approval such as subscribes and unsubscribes.
administrators will still receive a notice of any pending
administrative requests at 5PM every day.

Mailman does not come with any easy way to automate tending
to the
administrative requests that are holding unauthorized
posters' emails
for approval. I have found that there are different ways to
get rid
of them manually.  Each method has its pros and it's cons. 
deciding how to get rid of these unauthorized posts one
consider whether they want the unauthorized poster to know
about the fact that their post has been held.

Under General options the field "Send mail to poster when
posting is held for approval?" will determine... exactly
that.  If
you set this to "Yes" the poster will receive an email based
on the
contents of the template:
template can be modified to explain that they have posted to
a list
that is for announcements only.  And that they have posted
an address that is not authorized for posting.  This is a
template, so any changes you make to it will affect all

The method used to actually tend to the unauthorized post
also affect how much the poster knows about the posting
If you choose "reject" in handling the post the poster will
an email based on the contents of the template:
combined with the text explanation offered in the text box
"If you reject this post, please explain (optional)".
However, if you
choose "discard" the poster will not receive an email at

Make sure that you tend to these requests frequently because
if they
are not dealt with they can build up to a very long list on
administrative request management page. These requests will
be mixed
together with any other types of requests that may be

These are the basic steps in managing an announcement list
Mailman.  There are many other tweaks and changes that you
can make
to optimize your Mailman install for announcement only
lists, such
as modifying the templates for each list or for the site.
And setting
some default values for list creation in mm_cfg.py.  And of
since Mailman is an open source project written in Python
you could
always sit down and learn some Python.  Python is a great
that is being used in more and more places for all kinds of
With basic to intermediate Python skills you can make some
other changes
to the Mailman scripts that will make managing announcement
only lists
a lot easier.  As your skills progress you can even help to
Mailman into exactly the mailing list manager that you are
looking for.
Wouldn't it be great if you could help to contribute to this
list manager that was given to you freely?

If you are running a separate installation of Mailman for
announcement lists only you might make a couple of the
changes below.

1. In the file mm_cfg.py, set the variable
set to make list digests unavailable since announce only
lists will not
have much traffic.

2. If your announcement lists have very low traffic you
might consider
redefining the variable "DEFAULT_ARCHIVE_VOLUME_FREQUENCY"
in mm_cfg.py.
Setting it to "2" will create quarterly archives and setting
it to "0"
will create yearly archives.

3. If your list admins really don't like the 5PM reminders
of requests
pending authorization These emails can be disabled by
removing or
commenting out the second line below in the mailman user's

# At 5PM every day, mail reminders to admins as to pending
2 0 17 * * * /usr/bin/python -S

I *strongly* recommend against doing this however because
this will turn
off ALL 5PM pending request reminders for ALL lists managed
by this
Mailman installation. As mentioned above  This might be a
bad idea
because this also turns off emails that refer to other types
administrative requests that need approval such as
subscribes and


Thank you for your help.

- Ben Burnett