[Mailman-Developers] On allowing any list member to be an email moderator

R. Bernstein rocky at panix.com
Sun Jan 1 00:40:56 CET 2006

Note: the basic info of the below feature request has been posted

I received an weird but interesting weird email the other day that got
me thinking about moderation of GNU mailing lists. Here's a paraphrase
the email:

 To: Moderator Slacker
 Subject: Bug-slacker-project post from xxx at gnu.org requires approval

 As list administrator, your authorization is requested ...
 [you know rest]
 [mail message]
 Dear Slacker:
   We've rather belatedly realized that a you've been ignoring the
   moderation messages of your mailing list which now has hundreds or
   thousands of held messages and/or a whole lot of spam in the

   If you would like to volunteer to take out the trash for this or
   *any* of the 25 or so lists mentioned below, please email me.

Although somehow I don't think there are going to be too many takers
of this fabulous offer, the email does have I think one useful idea in
it. Basically for any slacker-moderated list, it's probably okay to
let just about anyone do the moderation. After all, just about any
human can easily detect spam from legitimate posts.

As someone who's been doing GPL projects for a long time, things have
been getting tougher. In the good old days, one gave an email address
for support and the email address was used for support on the
project. Nowadays the email address is used to send viruses, spam and
phishing requests, and to use as the return address for viruses, and
spam to others. Okay. So now this moderation thing on mailing lists
was then added. That then gave the person offering support the
additional burden to act as a trash man for the list (in addition to
his/her own personal increased spam/viruses).

The thing that always struck me as wrong about moderated lists is that
for the convenience of the poster --- and often this is someone who is
a novice asking for help (and sometimes in a not even in a very
respectful way) -- burden is usually put on the people who might be
able to help. I think of this as the N to one burden problem: a little
burden (by not having to register to post) is reduced on N people
(often novices), at the expense of adding N times extra burden on the
"moderator(s)" (someone who is often an expert and is 1 in number). It
strikes me as a poor use of the expert's time. Actually, I'm probably
not the only one who feels that way, hence the result cited above.

So it might be nice to have a box or flag for such a mailing list that
allows anyone who is registered in the mailing list have the pleasure
of doing email moderation.

I suppose this could be subject for abuse too (discard valid posts and
accept spam), but I have a feeling that to first order approximaton
this would be a big help.  And doesn't mailman already have ways of
watching users or moderators, and revoking moderation by the
administrator or whatnot?

Thanks for considering this.

More information about the Mailman-Developers mailing list