[Mailman-Users] Block reply to all

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Mon May 3 06:30:41 CEST 2010

rpschwar at knology.net writes:

 > Let me give further explanation of why I need this.  The site I
 > support is a community band.  When there is an email set to
 > everyone from the director about something, we do not want each
 > person to reply to all.  They should only be replying back to the
 > person who sent the email (the director).  That is why we want to
 > limit the reply to all.

The obvious solution is to have a dedicated announce list for the
director's use for such announcements.  Set the reply-to to the
director's preferred mail address for receiving such responses.  Set
member post to no.  Set the allowed posters to the director's
addresses, plus the addresses of any other "responsible parties" who
should be allowed to post (vice director, listmaster relaying a phone
message from the director, etc).  Finally, set a privacy rule to
discard (possibly reject) unauthorized posts.  There's more info in
the FAQ, a search for "announcement list" should pull it up.  Also,
"clone list" (since you'll want a convenient way to copy the
membership list).

Rationale: everything should be obvious except the use of a separate
list, and the discard vs reject issue.  Using a separate list allows
you to have different rules for announcements (band member polls, I
guess?) and for discussion.  Since only the director needs to post to
it, only he/she needs to learn to use it, and it shouldn't be too hard
to learn if use is at all frequent.  Everybody else only really needs
to know the discussion list posting address.  The biggest cost is that
somebody needs to make sure that every new member is on both lists.
(Yes, this is stupid, and it will be fixed in Mailman 3, but we're not
there yet.  It also has the advantage that people who don't want to
receive general discussion can tune out without losing the important
announcements from the director.)

"Discard" means "without notifying the sender".  "Reject" means with
notification.  For the expected reply, there are three cases:

1.  The respondent sends only to the director: the list filter is not
    involved at all.  No problem with any list settings! :-)
2.  The respondent does reply-to-all: the personal copy to the
    director is sent and received, the copy to the list filtered.
    With discard, the director is informed and the respondent is not
    spammed with a reject notice.  This is what you want.  With
    reject, the respondent is spammed, may try again, and worse, may
    contact you for help.  Yucky.
3.  The respondent removes the director's address and sends only to
    the list.  With "discard", they never know; with "reject", they
    are informed of their mistake.  However, this is perverse
    behavior.  It seems unlikely to be a frequent problem, since it
    requires both doing reply-to-all and deliberately removing the
    director's address, which will *always* be one of the addresses.

Unexpected replies are probably of the form "it's a band list, if I
reply to it, it will go to the band".  I can't really call this
"perverse", just, ah, "uneducated".  I suggest calling the list "XYZ
Band Director Announcement", and even if people accidentally send to
it thinking it's the discussion list, they'll be a little sheepish
about it, which will reduce the likelihood of complaints.

When first introducing the system, you might consider "hold" instead
of "discard"; this would allow you to recover inadvertant real posts,
at the cost of having to explicitly discard a possibly large number of
reply-to-alls.  After a reasonable educational period (you'd have to
decide that based on the band members), switch to discard.  Keep stats
on how many reply-to-alls are received vs. inadvertant real posts;
that will convince any reasonable person that the educational period
is really a burden on the list moderator, and should be kept short.

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