[Mailman-Users] This is unixstuff warning

JT luser at ahab.com
Thu Jun 14 16:41:48 CEST 2001

On Wed, Jun 13, 2001 at 12:21:30PM -0700, Chuq Von Rospach wrote:
> why is the internet supposed to be immune from real life? you've never 
> seen people who are too busy/important to stand in line at a store? who 
> are annoying/obnoxious/abusive to a clerk? Name your favorite poison -- 
> jerks exist in real life, and the internet gets its share.

You said it there.  Any job that brings you into contact with the
general public is going to bring you to the inescapable conclusions
that a good percentage of the population might as well walk around
dressed in animal skins, dragging a human femur.  Try working a cash
register for a couple months and you'll see how true this is.

For some reason (I'd guess the real power that technical competency
brings), technical folks seem to have a little less patience to bring
to dealing with the troublemakers.

> What can be done to clean up mailman's rough edges and make it easier ot 
> use, especially by the end-user who's not a techie? where is the 
> documentation weak? or missing? Where are the web pages unclear? What is 
> non-intuitive? It's a damn good MLM -- what does it need to make it 
> better?

Right again.  Here's a couple of things to make it cleaner (one of which you
identified and which I strongly second):

	1) Include the subscription address in the body of administrative
	mails sent to the individual user.  Truly half the people who
	can't unsubscribe don't even know what address is subscribed.
	Majordomo suffers this flaw too - and To headers don't cut it,
	forget about Received.  This should be in default installations.

	2) Simplify the 'unsubscribe' option for people who've forgotten
	the passwords (which is most of the people who want to
	unsubscribe).  First of all, the option should be more prominent -
	yes I know you can change the templates but few do (including me).
	Second of all, there is no reason for such a user to actually
	*use* the password.  That's "too hard".  If a user is trying to
	unsubscribe and has forgotten their password, the reminder email
	should have the option "reply to unsubscribe".

	3) Include the word "unsubscribe" in the standard footer appended
	to postings.  If people don't see that word, they are less likely
	to actually try going to the web page to unsubscribe, and often
	write the list.

	4) End users need OBVIOUS 'you can't miss it'  documentation
	explaining that there are separate administrative addresses for
	each list;  foo-request is obvious to me, but occasionally I
	forget and then remember that most of the poor saps who write
	"subscribe" messages to the list are probably frustrated as much
	as lazy.  Make it easier for them to understand the things that
	*can't* be made simpler about MLMs.

There's always the issue of how simple/hard to make unsubscribing.
This is, in part, a matter of judgement and list policy.  Personally,
I think that it should be easy to get on lists and even easier to get
off them.  Mailman does a good job of this in general, and passes my
other test - simplicity for new users, advanced features for other
users (like web *and* mail-command use).  Perhaps an install-time or
list-creation-time option to choose standard templates or 'newbie'
templates would be a good idea.  If I get time to write an alternate
template, or if I write one for a list I'm managing, I'll send it in
with a patch to newlist for this...

my $0.02.

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