[Mailman-Users] Help

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Tue Nov 1 09:36:31 CET 2005

>>>>> "Mark" == Mark A Lombardo <Mark.A.Lombardo> writes:

    Mark> I must be coming across as really thick and stupid.

Not at all, although it's maddening all around to run into this kind
of communication block.  Mark S is usually very successful at
explaining but let me try from a somewhat different angle.

    Mark> If I have set the tag to reply to poster, and I hit reply,
    Mark> then there is no way of mailman knowing which email address
    Mark> that came from

That's right.  It is not possible to prevent people who otherwise have
permission to post from posting replies, except by having someone
approve or deny every message.  So mailman doesn't try.

    Mark> How do I set that the reply only comes to the person that
    Mark> posted the mail, and not the list, I thought setting the
    Mark> reply to poster it would only send the mal to the person who
    Mark> posted, and not the rest of the list. Is this not correct?

No, but that's not your fault; that's precisely what the English says.
The problem is that there is no standard provision in email for
requesting personal replies.  There is a non-standard header called
"Mail-Followup-To", but only a minority of MUAs (MUA = message user
agent, or mail program) respect it.  As far as I know none of the ones
commonly used on Windows or the Mac do.

The best we can guarantee is that Mailman won't encourage mail to go
to the list.  This is done by _not_ setting Reply-To.  That is all
that Mailman's reply-to-poster option accomplishes.  In theory,
Mailman could set Reply-To to be equal to From, but if Reply-To is
missing, personal replies are normally sent to From.  So that's no

Your users must be using reply-to-all (or perhaps reply-to-list) out
of habit, and those commands are explicitly designed to send to the
mailing list too.  The presence of Reply-To is not going to override
the user's choice.

It _is_ fairly easy to strongly discourage personal replies by setting
Reply-To to the mailing list.  So the situation is asymmetric in that

    Mark> So what happens if someone wants to reply to the whole list,
    Mark> and not just me, and I have the explicit email address set.

As Mark S explained, there is nothing that you (as original author) or
Mailman can do about this.  Whatever you set, some repliers will want
their particular reply to go to the other place.  It is always
possible to force this, simply by directly entering the desired
address(es).  A full-featured MUA will make it convenient by providing
several commands which send replies to different places, but not
everybody uses those mail programs.  And of course the MUA doesn't
know when the user means to invoke reply-to-all, and when it's a
mistake born of habit.  :-(

While there's nothing wrong with what you want, in fact all of us in
Mailman strong support protecting privacy, it turns out that only a
very small minority of mailing lists have the need for privacy that
yours does.  In fact, the demand for a way to force replies to be
public is much more common, and much stronger.

So not only doesn't Mailman have the feature you want, but I don't
know of any mailing list manager that does.  And I think it is
impossible to implement reliably; there would always be many leaks.

All you can really do is strongly encourage your users to use the
personal reply function of their MUA, or (as suggested before) use a
blind CC to address the list and set full personalization on.

School of Systems and Information Engineering 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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