[Mailman-Users] Mailman - a few questions

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Thu Aug 13 18:41:16 CEST 2009

Bill Catambay writes:
 > At 1:55 PM +0900 on 8/12/09, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
 > >This can be done by setting up aliases as follows (pseudo-syntax, your
 > >mileage will vary):
 > >
 > >foo-list:           moderator at example.com
 > >foo-list-moderated: | mailman post foo-list
 > >
 > >That requires modifying the mailman aliases in the MTA manually,
 > >though.
 > This went over my head.  What does "MTA manually" mean?   Does that 
 > mean it cannot be done with the web interface?   Do I need to contact 
 > my ISP, or is there something I can do using my shell account access?

Working with the mail transfer agent (MTA == Postfix IIRC) cannot be
done through Mailman's web interface.  [If you have something like
cPanel it might be possible.]  To change aliases in the MTA you would
need not just shell access, but root access.  You may need help from
your ISP in that case.

 > My ISP is using Mailman 2.1.11.  Is that the latest?  I'm guessing 
 > no, since it is currently NOT recognizing the envelope sender.  This 
 > sounds like one that I'll need to contact my ISP for.

No, it is not the latest, 2.1.12 is.

Unfortunately, it looks like things don't work as you need them to,
definitely not in 2.1.11, and probably not in 2.1.12.  As far as I can
tell from the 2.1.11 code, the envelope sender *is* recognized in the
moderation module, but only as one of several possible candidates for
the *author* of the message.  And the From header will be preferred to
envelope sender for that.

Among other things, I don't think Mailman knows who the moderator(s)
is; anybody with the moderation password is a moderator.  I can think
of several approaches to make this work, but the only non-invasive one
(ie, it restricts all changes in Mailman behavior to your lists) would
require ISP intervention every time you want to change the moderator's
address.  Otherwise, there would need to be changes to some web
templates and so on.  I wouldn't like that if I were them.

 > It seems that if you change the reply-to to an explicit address, that 
 > both digest and non-digest members should have the same reply-to.

Sounds plausible but these things are complex.  As I say, somebody
more familiar with the detail needs to answer this one.

 > >That said, the option you need is on the admin page, near the bottom.
 > >Try disabling inclusion of the "List-Post" header.  If that doesn't
 > >work, disable inclusion of the "RFC 2369" headers, too.
 > I did both.  It appears to have fixed the problem (not sure which 
 > action, if not both, resolved it).

Progress ....

 > >A second option here is to use the Approved: header or pseudo-header.
 > >Many MUAs can be set to add these automatically, YMMV.
 > Could you elaborate on this?

MUA is "mail user agent", also called a "client".  Most people think
of it as "my mail program", but on this list that could mean the MUA,
the MTA, or mailman itself, so ....

Most MUAs have a fixed set of headers which you fill in as a form in a
GUI: From, To, Cc, Subject.  A powerful MUA will allow you to add
arbitrary headers.  If this is possible, then you add a header like

Approved: <password>

A pseudo-header looks exactly the same, but it is placed as the very
first line of the body, before any formatted text.  Not all MUAs can
do this, either, unfortunately, if they are forwarding a formatted
(eg, HTML) mail.  In either case, Mailman automatically removes the
Approved header.

A third approach involves putting the approval in the subject.  There
was discussion of "Approved in the subject header" earlier this week
or last week, check the archives.  Mark provided a patch (that would
definitely need intervention by your ISP).  I think Mark's patch was
somewhat invasive (ie, it would affect other people's lists in the
same way, which your ISP might or might not like).  There's also a
method using a "Handler" that should work, and could be installed and
configured without affecting anyone else's lists.  It would require
intervention by the ISP both to install the handler and configure it
for you.

Both the pseudo-header and Approved in Subject are somewhat unreliable
and insecure IMO, but the advantage to Approved in Subject is that all
MUAs can do this.  "Moderator is Sender" is of course the easiest.

All of these approaches suffer from the possibility that your
moderation password could theoretically be "sniffed" on the net unless
your moderator uses an encrypted channel to send mail to the list
host.  The "Moderator is Enveloper Sender" approach is also
vulnerable, since it is easy (if you have the right tools such as a
Linux workstation, or certain "unofficial" MUAs) to spoof the envelope
sender.  I don't want to alarm you, just to give you some information
you need to compare these approaches.

 > >  > 4. Lastly, the web archives created by Autoshare automatically
 > >  > created clickable HTML links for all HTML URL's in posts.
 > >
 > >I don't think Pipermail (the default archiver bundled with Mailman)
 > >can do it at all,
 > Interestingly, the archives for *this* mailing list appears to have 
 > some decent formatted archives.  Does this list use MHonArc?

Apparently I was totally wrong.  I thought Pipermail only did that for
its own links (next message, etc), but it does seem to do it for all
URLs.  In particular, this list does use pipermail.

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