Mailman Lists

Mailman is a list management system that allows the list admin(s) to set up and manage the list by logging in to a web page rather than sending special commands within email messages. It has many features but only a relative few need to be changed depending on the kind of list. The default email address for Mailman lists is @lists.columbia.edu.

Instructions for Mailman List Members

Instructions for Mailman List Owners

Lists can be configured in a variety of ways:

  • Standard: any list member can send (default)
  • Moderated: only a few can send
  • Open: anyone, whether on the list or not, can send

When a message comes in that is not allowed, it is bounced to the list admin for approval.

To manage the list, log in to the admin interface provided using the password you are given. The link will look something like

https://lists.columbia.edu/mailman/admin/listname, where listname is the part of the address before @lists.columbia.edu.

Note: after changing any list option, be sure to click Submit Your Changes at the bottom of the page.

Additional Options for Owners

Options you should not change/need:
  • Do not make changes to the option: Host name this list prefers for email (lists.columbia.edu)  Changing this will make mail to and from the list undeliverable.
  • Note: an important option that hopefully will never have to be used is 'Emergency moderation of all traffic', turned off by default. This can be useful especially in large lists if there is an email storm, so messages will bounce to the admin for approval rather than be distributed to the list. (Yes/No)
Options you can use:

General Options control the email addresses for the list admin(s), those who get the administrative mail from the list such as requests to approve messages, as well as notices when members are subscribed and unsubscribed. Separate moderators, those who only get requests to approve messages, can be defined here as well.

Edit options: 'The list administrator email address' and 'The list moderator email address', when applicable. (Enter email addresses, one per line)

You can increase the maximum allowable message length from the default 40k to a larger size in bytes.

Edit option: 'Maximum length (in kilobytes) of a message body' (Replace 40k with a size in bytes)

By default, password reminders are sent to members once per month. You can decide to turn this off. Some people find it intrusive.

Edit option: 'Send monthly password reminders?' (Yes/No)

By default, welcome messages are sent to members when they subscribe. Welcome messages contain information that allows members to set certain options for themselves as well as unsubscribe. These can be disabled, for example in an announcement list where membership is mandatory and the option to unsubscribe is turned off.

Edit option: 'Send welcome message to newly subscribed members?' (Yes/No)

Subscription rules

These options control list exposure and how members subscribe. For lists of students in a school or department, in Membership Exposure, only the list admin(s) should be allowed to view the membership list due to Federal regulations that protect student data.

Edit option: 'Who can view subscription list?' (Anyone/List members/List admin only)

For lists with a closed subscriber list, where the admins choose who can be members, the option to advertise the list should probably be turned off.

Edit option: 'Advertise this list when people ask what lists are on this machine?' (No/Yes)

In standard lists that accept mail only from list members, it may be necessary to allow certain people to send mail without necessarily being a member. These options are controlled in Privacy Options/Sender filters.

Edit option: 'List of non-member addresses whose postings should automatically be accepted' (Enter email addresses, one per line)

Moderated lists accept messages without approval from certain members only. Anything else will bounce to the list admin for approval. This page (accessed with the list password) has a summary of messages awaiting approval.

  • The listed admin will receive a message from MailMan saying that a message needs approval.
  • There will be a link to the moderator queue for that list, where the person needs to log in with the list password. No ID is necessary.
  • It will open to a page that has a text box with one or more numbers. The message in the queue will be numbered.
  • Click on a number, and it will open a page with 2 text boxes. The first is the header, the second is the message. (Most people don't need to look at the header in the first box.)
  • There will be 4 buttons at the top: Accept, Reject, Discard, Defer
  • Accept means "Approve for distribution."
  • There is a Submit button at the top and the bottom of the page. (Click Submit.)
It is simpler to make a list moderated before any members are subscribed. The settings are found in:

Privacy Options/Sender filters

Edit option: 'By default, should new member posting be moderated?' (Yes)

- To change a list to moderated if the list already has members, do the above first, then:

Edit optionMembership Management/Membership List

At the bottom of the page, under Additional Member Tasks, change: 'Set everyone's moderation bit, including those members not currently visible', to On, then click on Set.

- To allow certain members to send mail without approval:

Edit optionMembership Management/Membership List.

Remove the check in the column labelled 'mod' on the line with their entry, then Submit Your Changes. This applies even to those designated as list admins or moderators if they are also list members.

- To allow non-members to send mail without approval:

This applies even to those designated as list admins or moderators if they are non-members.

Privacy Options/Sender filters

Edit option: 'List of non-member addresses whose postings should be automatically accepted' (Enter email addresses, one per line)

- For lists that are moderated as well as closed (admin must approve subscription):

Privacy Options/Subscription rules

Edit option: 'What steps are required for subscription?' (Require approval)

Privacy Options/Sender filters

Edit option: 'Action to take for postings from non-members for which no explicit action is defined' (Accept)

Membership Management

Edit option: Mass Subscription

Enter or paste text into the first text box, then Submit Your Changes.

Only text can be pasted or entered, not Excel or Word documents.

Instructions for Mailman List Members

Mailman is a list management system that allows the list admin(s) to set up and manage the list by logging in to a web page rather than sending special commands within email messages. The default email address for Mailman lists is @lists.columbia.edu. The instructions below describe how to subscribe and manage your membership options.

List options such as moderation are set by the list admin. Depending on how they have set up subscription and posting rules, you may or may not be able to change certain options for yourself. Some lists require that the list admin approve subscription requests and all messages sent to the list, for example.

When a message comes in that is not allowed, it is bounced to the list admin for approval, and will tell you your request is being held.

Mailman tries to detect messages that contain administrative requests, such as "Subscribe me", and send them to the list admin for action.

To subscribe, go to the list's listinfo page. It will be something like:
https://lists.columbia.edu/mailman/listinfo/listname, where listname is the part of the list address before the @lists.columbia.edu.

You can also send subscribe requests via email:

  • To the list admins at listname-owner@lists.columbia.edu
  • To the subscribe/request address, at listname-join@lists.columbia.edu, with Subscribe in the message body.

Once your request is received, you will be asked to confirm it. This is a security measure to ensure that the request was a real one, sent from the email address that wishes to subscribe. The confirmation message will contain instructions for confirming and subscribing, either by sending an email to the address provided with a text string to be copied and pasted into your message, or clicking on a link within the message. The link sends you to a page where you will be able to enter your name and set a member password. Do NOT use your UNI password as your list password. The combination of your email address and your password will allow you to set certain options for yourself, as well as enter the list archive, if any.

To send mail to the list, send your message to listname@lists.columbia.edu, where listname is the part of the email address before the '@' sign.

If the list admin has allowed it and you have set a password, you can set certain list options for yourself. Go to your membership options page at https://lists.columbia.edu/mailman/options/listname/yoursubscribedemailaddress.

Mail delivery: Enabled/Disabled

By default set to Enabled, you can choose Disabled if you are going to be away, want to remain on the list, but stop mail delivery for a while.

Set Digest Mode: On/Off (if list admin has allowed it)

MIME or Plain Text Digests: MIME/Plain text (if digests allowed)

MIME will allow formatted text if sent and mail reader supports, Plain text can be ready by any mail reader

Receive your own posts: Yes/No

Most people want their own posts to confirm they were sent

Receive acknowledgement when you send mail to the list: Yes/No

Get password reminder email: Yes/No

If yes, you will get monthly emails with your list membershsip(s) and password(s)

Conceal yourself from subscriber list: Yes/No

If Yes, list admins but not other members will not see you on the membership list

Preferred language: Set by list admin

Topic categories/topic filters: Only apply if list admin has created topics

Avoid duplicate copies: Yes/No

Yes means if your address is included in a To/Cc of a message also sent to the list, you will not get the additional list copy

You can also unsubscribe, change your password, change your subscribed email address, and have your password emailed to you on this page.

Be sure to Submit My Changes at the bottom of the page to save any changes you have made.