[Mailman-Users] List configuration options, available now or not?

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Sat Mar 31 21:47:22 CEST 2001

On Sat, 31 Mar 2001 07:07:11 -0800 
JC Dill <mailman at vo.cnchost.com> wrote:

> On 03:32 PM 3/30/01, J C Lawrence wrote:

> So, in other words, it would be trivially easy for someone using
> mailman to configure their list to reject a post that said:
>          Mailman-Users digest, Vol
> in the subject (a header), but not so easy to reject a post that
> said:
>          Send Mailman-Users mailing list submissions to
> in the body.

Yes on both counts.  A trivial procmail script or hand written
filter can of course make this easy/trivial on both sides..

> <rant>I'm just not sure.  I mean, if it's that easy, why hasn't

I've been on the Mailman lists for a couple years now.  These last
couple attached digests were the first time I've seen a fully quoted
digest on the Mailman lists.  I've also never seen it on my lists,
tho I have on other lists.

As such my perceived (and even quantifiable) risk assessment is
quite low.

> How do I know you aren't misleading me?  

Install Mailman on a spare system and have a look for yourself.  

> If it's that easy, certainly this list would have been properly
> configured.  

No.  You are making an assumption for which there is little to no
supporting logic, especially within your specialised definition of
"properly".  From a SysAdm level one (typically) does what one
considers is necessary and wise.  However those are perceived values
based on personal judgement, so their actual per case definitions
tend to vary quite broadly.

> I mean, letting a totally useless subject line stand in a post to
> be redistributed to the list is really letting your list
> membership down.

I do it all the time, deliberately, having determined many years ago
that getting list members (or Usenet or RIME/ILink/FIDO/etc members
back when) to maintain subject lines was a lost cause.  I've taken
it off the list of things I'm going to attempt to mandate.

To make it more intersting I have several digest members who
regularly post replies to an entire digest, individually quoting,
trimming and attributing each message withing the digest they are
replying to, but leaving the Subject: header of their reply
untouched and pointing back to the digest.

> IMHO, ever responsible list administrator MUST put in filters to
> ensure that posts that are submitted to their subscribers follow
> list rules, when filtering for such rules is an easy thing to do.

While I generically agree, I look at it as a problem of risks
assessment and effort.  

I'm interested in maximal risk assuagement versus minimal effort.
There are a very large, certainly in the mid to high tens of
thousands of things I could do with my lists and systems with
individually trivial levels of effort that would remove various
risks.  I have absolute confidence that those tens of thousands of
items will remain over the next years, just as they have remained
for the past years.  The return on the effort required is just not
large enough.  The risk and the gain is too small, even given the
minimal size of the effort required.

So from my vantage, yes this is a nice idea, but the perceived risk
is very low and the motivation to spend the time and effort to make
that configuration across all my lists, and thus assume the burden
of documenting and maintaining it over time and upgrades is just not

Others of course vary, as you do.

> A subject like "Subject: Mailman-Users digest, Vol 1 #1115 - 16
> msgs" is clearly a violation of RFC 1855, if not also a violation
> of the list's specific rules.

Humans rarely have a strong interest in abiding by such rules, and
in my specific case of the multiple replies within a single message,
my appeals to split them out into individual messages fall on ears
(few current MUAs support digest bursting) and it is considerable
extra work for them.  As it happens this really bugs me as the list
archives are a major value and research resource for the field and
such collapsed messages fail to participate fully in that that

> It really should be an automatic feature of the mailing list
> software, whenever you add a digest.  List owners shouldn't have
> to do anything to trigger this, and the default behavior should be
> to bounce the non-compliant post back to the author with an
> explanation about why it's being automatically rejected (just as
> bounced mail gets sent back with a reason when the MTA can't
> deliver it).

Mailman is currently missing the ability to define filters which
result in the automatic dropping or rejection of matching mail.
Instead they are all held in the moderation interface.  This is
unfortunate, and there is considerable interest in changing it.
However, nobody has as yet been sufficiently motivated to submit a
patch for the feature.

Now, outside of that, yes, I agree that it is reasonable for the
default set of regexes to be extended with patterns that also match
digests.  Given that the current defaults are:

  # Lines that *start* with a '#' are comments.
  to: friend at public.com
  message-id: relay.comanche.denmark.eu
  from: list at listme.com
  from: .*@uplinkpro.com

indicating that the structure to support such defaults is already
present, this seems a pretty minimal effort problem.

> Bingo, no more problems with digest users forgetting their manners
> and sending entire digests back to the list, all using the useless
> (to the other list members) digest subject line.

When may we expect your patch?

J C Lawrence                                       claw at kanga.nu
---------(*)                          http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/
--=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--

More information about the Mailman-Users mailing list