[Mailman-Users] how to arrange a list with 'affiliate' members

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Tue May 11 09:47:25 CEST 2004

>>>>> "Barnaby" == Barnaby Scott <barnabydscott at yahoo.com> writes:

    Barnaby> I am trying to configure a list or group of lists to
    Barnaby> exhibit the following behaviour, but have been having
    Barnaby> trouble:

    Barnaby> I run a list called 'discuss', which is a discussion list
    Barnaby> for members of our organisation. We would also like to
    Barnaby> invite a handful of people to be 'affiliate' members, but
    Barnaby> who would not have quite the same experience of the list.

    Barnaby> We want these 'affiliate members' to be able to post to
    Barnaby> 'discuss', and any replies to their posts to be
    Barnaby> distributed to them. In addition we would like regular
    Barnaby> members to be able to insert a keyword to indicate that
    Barnaby> the conversation they are starting is to include these
    Barnaby> 'affiliate members'. But for all other list traffic, they
    Barnaby> would excluded.

Why not just have two separate lists, and automatically subscribe the
"discuss" members to the the "affiliate" list?  No keyword needed,
just address your post correctly.  Reply-To will not go to an "unsafe"
place (unless a discuss member decides to move a thread from the
"affiliates" list to the "discuss" list, and forgets to change the
address---but I don't see why this is more likely than forgetting to
remove the [affiliate] tag).

Since the discuss list is apparently closed (ie, membership requires
moderator approval), this imposes a slight burden on the moderator (I
don't think vanilla Mailman provides a facility where subscribing to
one list subscribes you to a second list automatically), but otherwise
is just what the doctor ordered AFAICS.

    Barnaby> The only other solution I could think of was to have
    Barnaby> another list - say 'open', of which 'discuss' was a
    Barnaby> member. This would allow control of who was an affiliate
    Barnaby> member, and would take care of inbound posts to
    Barnaby> 'discuss'. However, to allow replies back to the
    Barnaby> affiliate members would involve either:

    Barnaby>  *Having the 'discuss's reply-to UN-munged

Yup, in this case Reply-To Munging Is Unquestionably Harmful.

    Barnaby> (which I am against because we have 100% non-technical
    Barnaby> people, and no replies would ever reach any list at all
    Barnaby> if they had to remember to hit 'reply to all'!)

It's a shame that you and list admins who think like you didn't start
lobbying their members and the vendors to fix their broken MUAs ten
years ago, but that's no reason not to start now---it's not the last
time this kind of case will arise.

N.B. Stop using "non-technical" users as an excuse.  If they're typing
replies, they have sufficiently well-developed muscle memory to handle
this, too.  The problem is that the users, quite rightly IMO, resist
using reply-to-all because it pollutes their screen with unwanted junk
addresses, and annoys fellow list members with duplicate posts.  They
"know there's a better way," and they are right---but their MUAs don't
offer it.

So fix the damn MUAs, and everybody's happy.  It's technically trivial:
add a reply-to-list function which looks at List-Post first, and if it
exists uses its value (only), otherwise acts like reply-to-sender.  As
default for _both_ list folders and personal mail, this works over 95%
of the time for me, and I participate in a lot of lists where I want
to make private replies, or include non-list-members as CCs.  For 95%
of users, I bet making reply-to-list default would work 99% of the
time, and they'd quickly learn to use reply-to-sender and even
reply-to-all correctly for the exceptions.  Somewhat surprisingly to
me, I do not make the mistake of posting private replies to a list
(except when Reply-To is being munged, and I've fixed my reply-to-
sender function to ignore Reply-To if it points to a list).  YMMV, but
this really looks plausible to me, and ought to be tried.

The only problem is getting lots of people who use broken MUAs to
write to their vendors.  My list members use sane MUAs, I can't help
with this.  ;-)

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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