[Mailman-Users] New to the List Serve - responding to posts issue

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Sun Apr 5 11:05:33 CEST 2009

Brad Knowles writes:

 > There are ways to force all replies to go back to the mailing list, yes. 

To expand a bit on what Brad said, there is a general, standard way to
set the address(es) that will be used for a basic reply.  I forget
where in the Mailman interface it is (I wouldn't touch it with a
ten-foot barge pole) but "Reply-To" is the keyword you're looking for.

Before you go searching for it, though, consider that 

(1) The intent of the Reply-To standard is to provide *authors*, not
    mailing lists, with a way to specify *where the author* should be
    contacted (on a paper document with multiple authors, this is
    often identified as the "correspondence address").  As such,
    almost all mail clients treat it as Word from On High.

    In particular, with many mail clients users are forced to type in
    any other address (or get it from their contact list), making
    private replies extremely inconvenient.  But typically private
    replies are more urgent and more sensitive.  A message that was
    intended to be public that goes only to the author is a safer
    failure mode than a private message inadvertently published.

    In your case, at first glance it sounds like it's pretty safe.
    The community members are moderated, so intemperate replies from
    the peanut gallery can be held and you can ask the person if they
    really wanted to send that.  But think about the failure mode: the
    board members are *unmoderated*.  A sharp reply, or an inside
    joke, by one of them *will be automatically passed through*, and
    could easily damage the board's reputation severely (unless
    they're all angels...).

    I've also seen it used as an excuse for posting things that
    shouldn't have been written in the first place.  "I'm really sorry
    if somebody's feelings were hurt, but it's not my fault!  I didn't
    realize that it was going to go to the whole list...."

(2) There is a standard, which Mailman participates in, called
    "List-Post".  A reasonably good mail client will generally offer a
    Reply-to-List command that prefers that address to the author for
    ordinary replies, but falls back to the author otherwise.  If your
    community members use such a client, they'll generally get the
    best of both worlds: a flexible client with convenient ways to
    reply to author, to list, or to all, with a single command that
    works almost all the time.

    Unfortunately I don't know of any for Windows or the Mac offhand
    (I use Unix-style clients on Linux or the Mac), but you might try
    getting people to look at the help for their mail clients.  It
    pays off in the long run with a more smoothly running list.

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