[Mailman-Users] Archives and bad timestamps

Brad Knowles brad at stop.mail-abuse.org
Sat Aug 12 09:13:29 CEST 2006

At 7:47 PM -0700 2006-08-11, G. Armour Van Horn wrote:

>  I've just noticed that one of the lists I'm moderating shows messages
>  from next Monday in the private archive. The last message is timestamped
>  for 8:08 (Pacific, +0700) on 14 Aug, but was actually distributed by
>  Mailman at 08:51 on 11 Aug.

Yup.  Some users have screwed-up machines where the clock is way off.

>  Unfortunately, the archive seems to be ordered by timestamp rather than
>  the time the message hit the server, which leads to some odd sequences
>  of messages. It also makes me really wonder about messages that have
>  timestamps that are not in the current month and where they will be
>  archived. Will they show up in the archive for the month they were
>  timestamped, when that month is archived?

In the web archive, they will be put into the appropriate month and 
year, according to the "Date:" header on the message.  If that user 
has their clock off in 2063 La-La Land, then their message will show 
up in the archives for 2063.

>  There doesn't seem to be an option for archive sequence in the admin
>  pages, is there an option at the shell level to use the transit time
>  instead of the original timestamp? Should there be?

IIRC, if you select the appropriate option in the mm_cfg.py file, 
what you get by default is a certain time window around what the 
Mailman server thinks is the current date/time, and if the incoming 
message has a "Date:" header outside of that window, then it gets 
"corrected" to be the date/time stamp as of when the server received 
the message.

I thought there was some discussion of this issue in the FAQ, but I'm 
not seeing anything obvious come up.  Searching the archives, I found 
a few articles at 
which are related to this issue.  See also my canned Google search at 

 From Defaults.py on a 2.1.5 installation that I manage, I have:

# This sets the default `clobber date' policy for the archiver.  When a
# message is to be archived either by Pipermail or an external archiver,
# Mailman can modify the Date: header to be the date the message was received
# instead of the Date: in the original message.  This is useful if you
# typically receive messages with outrageous dates.  Set this to 0 to retain
# the date of the original message, or to 1 to always clobber the date.  Set
# it to 2 to perform `smart overrides' on the date; when the date is outside
# ARCHIVER_ALLOWABLE_SANE_DATE_SKEW (either too early or too late), then the
# received date is substituted instead.

Of course, if you decide that you want a different choice, you should 
change this in your mm_cfg.py file, and not in Defaults.py -- the 
former will not get replaced if/when you upgrade your Mailman 
installation, while the latter is guaranteed to get replaced on 

Now, one thing I'd like to see is related to that last message I 
referenced above -- the archive date handling process should be able 
to look at the last (most recent) "Received:" header and pull out a 
useful date from there, if the date on the message is too far 

Hopefully, this is the kind of thing that we could get relatively 
quickly fixed and incorporated into an upcoming release of Mailman 
2.1.x, because I know that this entire system is being completely 
re-done for Mailman 2.2 and this should no longer be a problem, 
although the author for that code should also be made aware of this 

Brad Knowles, <brad at stop.mail-abuse.org>

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

     -- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania
     Assembly to the Governor, November 11, 1755

  Founding Individual Sponsor of LOPSA.  See <http://www.lopsa.org/>.

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