Why do the URLs of posts here change?

Skip Montanaro skip.montanaro at gmail.com
Fri Jan 9 13:04:33 CET 2015

> Posts on this newsgroup/mailing list are archived on the web, but the URLs
> seem to change, which leaves dead links if you search for things.


It's a known issue, but one which appears to be somewhat unavoidable,
at least in Mailman 2.x. The problem is that every now and then,
postmaster at python.org gets a legitimate request from someone for a
message to be deleted from the list archive. The way this is done, is
that the message is removed from the underlying mbox file, and the
archive regenerated. That changes the counter for every message after
that point - or maybe every message in the generated archive. (I have
no idea why the numerical basename of your subject message would have
changed so much. Maybe there is just a single ever incrementing
counter for a given Mailman installation.)

>From a technical standpoint, these sorts of requests are pretty
futile, since comp.lang.python/python-list at python.org is archived in
so many places, but that doesn't make the requests any less
legitimate. Consequently, when they arrive at the postmaster address,
they are generally taken care of in short order.

In my experience, they have generally fallen into two categories:

1. Safety. I recall one request where a woman accidentally posted
using an otherwise private email address. She was being stalked by her
ex-husband, and that address was unknown to him.

2. Defamation. There was a spate of recent messages (in Italian)
defaming a couple people, accusing them of being Nazis or pedophiles.

I will point out one class of messages which aren't deleted: those
which demonstrate people's stupidity. People do dumb things - e.g.,
fly off the handle during a flame war - which they sometimes later
realize reflects rather poorly on them (in future job searches and so
forth). Those sorts of message deletion requests are rejected.

That all said, I don't know if Mailman 3 (or some other archiver than
pipermail) will improve on this problem. I suggest a post to
mailman-users at python.org if you're curious about the Mailman
state-of-the-art in this area.


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