[Mailman-Users] Bounce handling is not user-friendly.

Larry Stone lstone19 at stonejongleux.com
Thu Sep 11 21:37:26 CEST 2008

On Wed, 10 Sep 2008, David Ingamells wrote:

> Please act on the following 2 points below as enhancements to MailMan.
> These arise from my membership of the bazaar mailing list.
> I am getting "Your membership in the mailing list bazaar has been
> disabled due to excessive bounces" messages regularly (every week) now.
> Curiously, up to the time of the excessive bounce message I don't miss
> any emails that failed to arrive from the mailing list. I have spoken to
> our sysadmin and he knows nothing about any bounces from our mail
> server. It is very annoying as I don't know what I can do about it with
> the information available to me. Furthermore I miss messages to the
> mailing list between the time that the membership is disabled until the
> time I can act upon the message. It also happened while I was on holiday
> and my membership almost got deleted.
> 1) Can you adapt mailman to support first sending a warning and allow
> the member a little time (e.g. a day) to react before the heavy-handed
> action of disabling the membership?

Mailman is customizable in that area (per list). By default, mailman will
need to see bounces on a certain number of days within a certain longer
period before it disables the account. For instance, if mailman is
configured to disable on five bounces (counting a maximum of one per day)
within 14 days, it will continue to send until the fifth day with a
bounce. After 14 days go by without a bounce, the data is considered stale
and you start over with zero bounces.

It's possible the list admin set it to disable you after just one bounce.
There are situations where this might be the desired behavior but those
are generally pretty few and far between.

Once the membership is disabled, the disabled reminders are sent out
weekly for a user-configurable number of weeks after which the recipient
is unsubscribed.

Sending a warning makes no sense since if mail is bouncing, usually all
mail to that user is bouncing and it the warning will bounce too.

> 2) Can you you adapt mailman to send an example of (at least the header
> of) a bounced email with the message? Without this information I don't
> know how I can stop them as I don't know what, who or where the bounce
> is happening.

That information is sent to the list owner. For my lists, almost always
it's because the user abandoned the address and it went away.

Your situation sounds like there is some issue between the list server and
you that is causing an occassional message to be rejected with a permanent
error. You said you're not missing any messages right up until the "you
are disabled" message but how do you know for sure. The best thing would
be to write to the list owner and ask him to forward the disabled message
he receives (by default) the next time it happens.

What could be causing the bounces is really not a Mailman issue but off
the top of my head, possibilities are:
1) a misconfigured mail server that is rejecting mail with a permanent
error for what is a transient error
2) mail being bounced by a spam filter
3) Auto-replies from your mail program back to the sender
I'm sure there are others. How well they'll be recognized by the mailman
bounce processor partially depends on certain list configuration options.

-- Larry Stone
   lstone19 at stonejongleux.com

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