[Mailman-Users] Spam to list-owner

Brad Knowles brad at shub-internet.org
Fri Dec 19 17:18:33 CET 2008

Attila Kinali wrote:

> Moin,

Is this meant in the French version of the word, or the Northern Germanic 
interpretation?  Or is there another interpretation I should be aware of?

> IMHO mailman should allow to filter all mailman related adresses
> seperately, w/o requiring any changes in the MTA settings. This is
> because, if you have normal users on a certain domain, who do not
> want the MTA messing with their mail, no matter whether it's spam
> or not, you cannot filter the mails at that level anymore.

If you've got a half-way decent MTA, it should allow you to make these kinds 
of decisions on a per-recipient basis.  There shouldn't be any system-wide 
settings, except for those users who do not have any personalized settings.

If your MTA does not allow this kind of functionality, then you should throw 
it out and replace it with something that does.

>> Speaking as one of the members of the python.org postmaster team, and as 
>> the primary active listowner for all the official mailman-* mailing 
>> lists hosted on python.org, I can tell you that another really useful 
>> thing is to bring in more people to help you do your work.
> This is not always possible and IMHO also not desirable.

I will agree that it's not always possible.  I strongly disagree that it is 
not desirable.  There may be limited circumstances in which it is not 
desirable, but only in very limited circumstances.

>                                                           Things that
> can be automated should be automated as much as possible. And spam
> handling should be pretty easy to automate up to a certain degree.

To a certain degree, yes.  Beyond that, you need to get humans involved.

And when it comes to spam, you need to keep as much of that processing 
outside of Mailman as possible.

> Speaking as the postmaster of mplayerhq.hu and being the ex-listowner
> of all mailinglists on that domain, i can tell you, that having enough
> people helping with administrative tasks can become a problem if the
> domain you're dealing with has a few high subscriber count, high traffic
> mailinglists.

We don't have those kinds of problems on python.org.  We've got over 150 
lists, of which seven have more than a thousand subscribers, and two lists 
have over three thousand subscribers.  I've also talked to the site admins 
for lists.apple.com and lists.freebsd.org, and neither of them have ever 
said anything like this.

Sure, if you're one guy and you're running everything on a big site, that's 
going to become unmanageable.  That's where you need to bring in other 
people to help take over some of that work.

> Actually, i must say that mailman doesn't scale very well with the size
> of the mailinglist in terms of administrative burden. The time needed
> for administrative tasks increases overproportionally with the number
> of subscribers.

As the primary active listowner for all the official mailman-* lists, I can 
tell you that we have two of the top five in terms of number of subscribers 
(mailman-announce and mailman-users), both of which have over two thousand 
addresses on the list.  There are a total of more than six thousand 
addresses on all the fourteen combined mailman-* lists.

In terms of managing the lists themselves, I don't really put in that much 
work.  The only two lists where I have to put in any list moderator work are 
mailman-developers and mailman-users, and that's no more than a few minutes 
per day.  All the lists are configured to reject postings from addresses 
that are not subscribed, and only mailman-users and mailman-developers get 
any moderation traffic from new subscribers.  I don't recall ever getting 
any spam to any of the -owners addresses, although that could just be a 
result of the multiple layers of anti-spam filtering that I have for all my 

The traffic we do get to the -owners addresses tends to be mostly clueless 
idiots who think we're responsible for administering all mailing lists on 
the entire Internet, and that it's our responsibility to fix their broken 
mailing list.  We disabuse them of that notion pretty rapidly.

>                  While it took me maybe half an hour to an hour per month
> to handle all mailinglist on mplayerhq.hu in 2002 (which i did alone), 
> it took me several hours per week to handle everything in 2005, although
> the burden was splitt to three people. In the end, it took so much time,
> that i had to give up on being listowner completely, to be able to do
> anything else beside it.

In other words, you brought in other people to take over that work, which is 
basically what I suggested.

Brad Knowles
<brad at shub-internet.org>        If you like Jazz/R&B guitar, check out
LinkedIn Profile:                 my friend bigsbytracks on YouTube at
<http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>    http://preview.tinyurl.com/bigsbytracks

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