[Mailman-Users] Changing "From" Field

Richard Barrett r.barrett at openinfo.co.uk
Sat Oct 25 21:30:24 CEST 2003


On Friday, October 24, 2003, at 11:13  pm, Staven Bruce wrote:

> Hi Richard,
> There really is no technical aspect to this. The manager for this list
> thinks the address "Workshop_Information-admin at domain.com"  looks to
> confusing, and would prefer that
> address reads Workshop_Information at domain.com.
> I know each list needs at least three separate addresses and I'm 
> pretty sure
> I can't combine two of them together, however, I was thinking maybe 
> there
> was a way I could 'mask' the address of the sender with a phony 
> address, but
> I'm not sure how to go about doing that. Plus, this is something I 
> would
> have to do for 10 or more lists. Any ideas?

There are two aspects regarding where a message is perceived as coming 
from: the From: header in the message and the FROM:<reverse-path> 
specified in the SMTP MAIL command used in sending a message. The 
<reverse-path> is also know as the envelope return path and is the 
address to which replies reporting delivery problems should be sent.

With most MUAs the users gets to see the From: header. The 
<reverse-path> is often available in a Return-path: header inserted 
into the message by the final MTA handing it before it becomes 
available to the MUA, but most users are unaware of it.

For MM 2.0.x the mail alias in the envelope return path is 
<listname>-admin; in MM 2.1.x it is <listname>-bounces, which I guess 
will really freak out your list admin.

As implied in my original response, you really do not want the envelope 
return path to use the <listname> alias because it risks any error 
responses to outgoing messages from the list coming back as posts to 
the list alias and being redistributed to the list subscribers and, in 
any event, prevents MM's automatic bounce handling functioning as 

Normally, the From: header of outgoing messages from MM is the same as 
the From: header of the message it received for distribution. This is 
unless a list has its anonymous_list attribute set (to hide the sender 
of the message), in which case MM 2.0.x and MM 2.1.x are slightly 
different. For anonymous lists, MM 2.0.x substitutes its 
<listname>-admin address in the From: header of the outgoing message. 
In contrast, MM 2.1.x substitutes its <listname> address in the From: 
header of the outgoing message.

What is not clear is how your list admin (or rather his list 
subscribers) are seeing messages as being "from" the <listanme>-admin 

1. If this is because you are running MM 2.0.x and the list has its 
anonymous_list attribute set then you could consider hacking the code 
so that, like MM 2.1.x, the From: header is rewritten to the list's 
<listname> address in outgoing mail. By my reckoning, from looking at 
the source code of $prefix/Mailman/Handlers/Cleanse.py in MM 2.0.13, 
you would need to change line 31 in the process() function from:

         msg['From'] = mlist.GetAdminEmail()

to read:

         msg['From'] = mlist.GetListEmail()

I think this should be safe enough to do but caveat emptor and take a 
backup before making any change. I no longer have a live MM 2.0.13 to 
work with so I cannot absolutely confirm this change will not have any 
unpleasant side effects.

2. What I suspect is the more likely reason for this issue being raised 
by the list admin relates to what certain MUAs, some versions of MS 
Outlook in particular, display in the "From" field of the GUI they 
present to their users. If that is the case, there is not much you can 
do. There is some discussion about this issue in the MM FAQ, see:


Maybe not a solution and apologies if I am telling you what you already 
know, but it's the best I can do.



> - Staven
>  "I don't care if Ned Flanders is the nicest guy in the world. He's a 
> jerk -
> end of story."
>  -----Original Message-----
> From: 	Richard Barrett [mailto:r.barrett at openinfo.co.uk]
> Sent:	Friday, October 24, 2003 10:09 AM
> To:	Staven Bruce
> Cc:	mailman-users at python.org
> Subject:	Re: [Mailman-Users] Changing "From" Field
> On Friday, October 24, 2003, at 05:38  pm, Staven Bruce wrote:
>> We have a mailing list called 'Workshop_Information'. Messages to our
>> list
>> members always come from 'Workshop_Information-admin at domain.com'. Does
>> anyone know of a way I can change that alias so that all of the
>> messages can
>> come from 'Workshop_Information at domain.com' ?
> Is this so that bounce messages for failed deliveries can be
> distributed to the rest of the list subscribers?
>> Can I just alter the
>> /etc/aliases files? Is that all there is to it?
> /etc/aliases is about delivery not constructing outbound messages;
> changing it will not achieve what you think you want.
>> Staven Bruce
>>  "I don't care if Ned Flanders is the nicest guy in the world. He's a
>> jerk -
>> end of story."
> Hey! He's my hero.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Richard Barrett                               http://www.openinfo.co.uk

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