Welcome to North Park University

Frequently Asked Questions by List Administrators

What are the responsibilities of a mailing list administrator?

Short answer: You are responsible for all use of your list, good and bad.

Long answer:

  • Help your mailing list community make the most of this resource! Mailing lists can really help connect people, share ideas, make announcements, organize projects and outings, etc. Advertise your list and start discussions!
  • Keep the subscription list reasonably up-to-date. Delete members who no longer should be on the list and add new members who should be getting your list's emails. The monthly automatic confirmation mechanism (which is on by default) helps out a lot with this. Lots of bounced postings wastes resources.
  • Answer questions from your members (e.g. how to post to the list, manage their subscription, etc.).
  • Approve subscriptions or posts, if you've elected to require administrator approval for members to subscribe or for members to post to the list. See the "Tend to pending moderator requests" link on the list administration page to approve/deny subscription requests and posts.
  • Protect against spam. If a spammer subscribes themselves to your list, you must promptly ban them. One way to prevent any spammer from joining your list is to require list administrator approval of all subscribe requests. This option is more time-intensive for you at the beginning, but it is the more safety-conservative approach.
  • If postings are made that violate Computer Services' Acceptable Use Policy, you need to take appropriate measures to discipline the poster and/or ensure this does not happen repeatedly. This can include gentle advice, warnings, unsubscribing the member, banning the member, or reconfiguring the list.

What are the default settings for a list?

By default, all mailing lists are set to the following:

  • Replies to postings are sent to the poster, not to the entire list. (In order to email the entire list you have to use the list's email address in your To: line.)
  • Non-members may not post to the list but all members can. Postings by non-members are rejected. This means you may only post to the list from the email account you are subscribed under.
  • Monthly confirmation emails are sent to subscribers. This helps keep emails current.

With regards to subscribing:

  • Many (but not all) lists require both email confirmation by the subscriber as well as approval by the list administrator in order for a person to be subscribed. Such lists will act on a subscription request in that order. If the person initiating the request does not confirm their address, the list administrator will not receive a notice asking for approval.
  • If the list does not require list administrator approval for subscription (i.e. a person can subscribe themselves), by default the administrator will still receive notification of all subscribe actions, as a safety precaution.

Note that mass subscribing by the list administrator does not require any confirmation; Mailman will directly process the request after you've submitted it.

What default settings for a list shouldn't I change?

List administrators are able to change any of the default settings, but please be aware of the following rules/warnings.

As default, replies to a posting are sent to the poster only. If you permit members to reply to the entire list (as opposed to just the poster), and this results in traffic that overwhelms the system, the Site Administrator may have to do an emergency shutdown and/or deletion of your list in which you may lose everything (the list, archives, etc.). We recommend that you do not change the default setting where the replies are sent to the poster; if you do, warn the people on your list not to engage in a flame war.

As default, subscription requires both email confirmation by the subscriber as well as approval by the list administrator. If you wish, you may change this to "confirm only" so that a person can subscribe without your permission. You must not, however, enable anyone to subscribe without confirmation of their email. This is prohibited under our hosting service's Terms of Use.

In general lists that are faculty-only require list administrator approval to join, while lists that are predominantly students (and thus will likely have more members) are set so anyone can subscribe themselves (but with notification to the list administrator of all subscribe requests). Both settings protect against unwanted subscribers, with administrator-approval-required being the more work-intensive but safer of the two.

Finally, when configuring your mailing list, the Site Administrator has set the "List Administrator Email Addresses" field under "General Options" to a special value that will both send administrator requests to you (the list administrator) as well as prevent unauthorized users from guessing who you are and posting to your list under your identity. Please do not change this field.

Can I subscribe/unsubscribe a whole list of users at one time?

Yes! On the list administration panel, click the "Membership Management" link, then select "Mass Subscription" or "Mass Removal" as appropriate. Fill-in the form and submit.

Can I make a mailing list for a class I teach?

In theory you could, but why? The mass email function in Blackboard (see the course Control Panel) does essentially what you want. Blackboard's mass email is even better because it accesses emails from the Registrar's database.

The reason you want to set up a mailing list in Mailman is to facilitate communication within groups that are not part of the University's course structure. This includes departments, committees, research groups, reading groups, student clubs, and alumni organizations.

Can I increase my posting frequency allotment?

More than likely, yes! The allotment is actually just a rule-of-thumb. The main reason the Site Administrator asks list administrators for an estimate of the traffic is to get a rough sense of whether the University will be charged extra by our hosting service for excessive use. As that limit is fairly high, as long as everyone's posting frequency is reasonable (e.g. less than 50 posts a day), we'll probably be okay. The bottom line: If you're planning on really ramping up your posting frequency, please let the Site Administrator know. Otherwise, just have fun with the increased sharing!

Can I change the administrator password?

Yes you can, but you must tell the Site Administrator the new list administrator password. Really. No kidding. You have to let the Site Administrator know your list's current password at all times. Don't forget to do this!

Is my mailing list private?

The answer to this depends on what you mean by private. All lists are private to the extent the list administrator sets the list to restrict posting/archive viewing to members-only. Non-members then cannot post to the list or access the archives. All lists are set to this by default. However, email itself is not private (the standard email protocol does not use encryption), and so your email list (and all passwords, including your administrator password) is not secure.

Note that the Site Administrator has administrator privileges to all mailing lists, and thus, in that sense too, your list is not private. The Site Administrator will, from time to time, need to access or check on the administrative settings of the lists as part of regular maintenance. Outside of maintenance issues, investigations of possible violations of the rules and policies for lists, as required by law or our provider's Terms of Service, or similar situations, the Site Administrator will not access or monitor your mailing list or archives.

Can I create a list for non-University groups?

This is considered on a case-by-case basis. In general, only lists that support the mission of the University, do not put the University into legal jeopardy (e.g. the University's tax-exempt status), do not strain University resources, and do not violate Computer Services' Acceptable Use Policy may be created. Please contact the Site Administrator.

Where can I get more help on administering mailing lists?

Information on using Mailman to manage a mailing list can be found here. Also see the Mailman FAQ as well as the List Members FAQ on the NPU Mailing Lists site.

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