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Mailman: Getting Started for Mailing List Subscribers

Overview

Mailman is a software program used to manage electronic mailing lists.  A mailing list is a list of addresses to which the same information is being sent. Two popular types of mailing lists are announcements and discussions.  Announcement lists enable one person or group to send announcements to an assigned group, whereas discussion lists allow a group to discuss topics amongst themselves.  Some common Mailman terms include a “post”, which is a message sent to a mailing list; a “subscriber”, which is a member of a mailing list; and a “list administrator”, which is the individual who maintains a mailing list. 

This help sheet explains how to subscribe and unsubscribe to a mailing list, post a message, get password reminders, change delivery options, and other options available to mailing list subscribers.  Those users interested in managing a mailing list should refer to the document titled Getting Started with Mailman for List Administrators, available on the Documentation page at technology.pitt.edu.

Although Mailman offers both a Web and e-mail interface for the list subscriber, this document explains how to use the Web interface. 

Subscribe to a Mailing List

To join a mailing list, you will need to subscribe to it.  You may receive the list name in an e-mail invitation.  If you don’t know the list name, you can browse a list of all public mailing lists by opening a Web browser to http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/listinfo.  If you do know the name of the list, you can go directly to that list by completing the following steps.  

1.   Open a Web browser to http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/listinfo/listname, where listname is the name of the list you wish to join.  The subscription page will appear as shown below.

 

2.  Scroll down to the Subscribing to Listname section and complete the following fields:

 •  Enter your e-mail address.

•  Enter your full name in the name field (optional).

•  Choose a password.  (If you do not choose a password, Mailman will generate one for you.)

•  Re-confirm your password.

•  For the Digest option, choose Yes if you want to receive list mail in a digest that is distributed once per day.  If you would prefer to receive messages as they are posted, click NO to this option.

Note:    CSSD recommends that you choose a new password for the mailing list that differs from your University Computer Account password or other passwords you use to access personal information.  This is because your Mailman password will sometimes be mailed to you in an e-mail.

3.   After you have completed the fields in step 2, click on the Subscribe button.

4.   You will receive a message that your request has been sent, as shown in the example below.


 5.    You will also receive an e-mail message to the address you have entered asking you to confirm your subscription.  This feature prevents other individuals from subscribing you to a mailing list without your permission.  The confirmation e-mail will be similar to the one shown below.

Note:  There may be rare instances in which a confirmation e-mail is not sent.  This would likely occur if the list administrator has configured the list so that he or she must approve subscription requests before they are processed. 

6.  Follow the instructions in the message to confirm your subscription. Once your subscription is confirmed, you will receive a   welcome message to the mailing list, as shown in the example below.

 

Post a Message to a Mailing List

As a mailing list subscriber, you can post a message to the mailing list by sending an e-mail message to listname@list.pitt.edu, where listname is the name of the mailing list.  You will receive an e-mail message confirming that your message has been posted to the list. If there is a problem with the post, you will receive notification that the message is being held and you will be contacted by the list moderator.  If you need help using a mailing list, please send a message to mailman@list.pitt.edu.

Unsubscribe to a Mailing List

If you decide that you no longer wish to belong to a mailing list, you can unsubscribe to it by completing the following steps.

1.  Open a Web browser to http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your e-mail address

2.  The Member Options screen will display.  Click the Unsubscribe button.

 

3.  You will receive an e-mail message asking you to confirm your request.  This option exists to prevent others from unsubscribing you without your permission.  Simply reply to the message to confirm that you want to leave the list.

Password Options

Your mailing list password was either set by you or generated by Mailman when you subscribed.  Your password was stated in the welcome message you received when you joined the mailing list and you may also receive a monthly password reminder.  Your mailing list password is used to verify your identity to Mailman so that only you and the list administrator can view and change your settings.

Note:  As mentioned previously,CSSD recommends that you choose a new password for the mailing list that differs from your University Computer Account password or other passwords you use to access personal information.  This is because your Mailman password will sometimes be mailed to you in an e-mail. 

Password Reminder

If you have forgotten your password or did not save the welcome message, you can get a reminder from Mailman by completing the following steps.

1.  Open a Web browser to http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your e-mail address.

2.  The Member Options log in page will display. Click on the Remind button to have a password reminder sent to the

  e-mail address you have specified.

 

Note:  You can also receive a password reminder using Mailman’s e-mail interface. To do so, send an e-mail message with the Subject password to LISTNAME-request@list.pitt.edu, where listname is the name of the mailing list.

Change your Password

1.  Open a Web browser to http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your e-mail address.

2.  The Member Options page will appear.  Enter your password into the Password field and click the Log in button.

 

3.  Your mailing list Membership Configuration page will appear as follows.

 

4.  Scroll down to the Change Your Password option.  Enter a new password, enter it again to confirm it, and click on the Change My Password button.  You will receive an e-mail message confirming that your password was changed successfully.

 

Password Reminder Options

By default, the Mailman program will send a monthly password reminder message to the e-mail address that you used to subscribe to a mailing list.  You can disable this option from the Member Options page by completing the following steps.

1.  Log in to your Member Options page at http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your e-mail address.

2.  Scroll down to the Subscription Options section and locate the option marked Get password reminder e-mail for this List?  Select No to stop receiving the monthly password reminders. 

Note:  Select the Set Globally option to apply this setting to all the mailing lists to which you subscribe.

3.  Next, click on the Submit My Changes button at the bottom of the screen.  You will receive a confirmation message at the top of the mailing list membership page that your option has been re-set, as shown in the screen below.

 

Advanced Mailing List Subscription Options

The following chart displays the subscription options for a mailing list.  You can change these options by logging in to your Member Options page at http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your
e-mail address.  The most commonly used settings are explained below in more detail.

Mail Delivery Options

You can temporarily stop receiving messages from a mailing list without actually unsubscribing to the list by disabling mail delivery.  You will retain your password and other settings.  This feature can be useful if you are on vacation or if you become too busy to read extra messages.  To start receiving messages again at a later date, simply re-enable the mail delivery option.

Disable Mail Delivery

1.  Log in to your Member Options page at http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your e-mail address. 

2.  Scroll down to the Subscription Options section and locate the section marked Mail delivery.  Select Disabled to stop receiving the messages from the mailing list. 

 

Note:  Select the Set Globally option to apply this setting to all the mailing lists to which you subscribe.

3.  Click on the Submit My Changes button at the bottom of the screen.  You will receive a confirmation message at the top of the mailing list membership page that your option has been re-set, as shown in the screen below.

 

Re-enable Mail Delivery

To re-enable mail delivery, complete the steps in the previous section but select Enabled in step 2.  

Prevent Receiving Duplicate Messages

Sometimes mailing list subscribers will receive several copies of the same message. This happens if the sender has used a group reply function to send mail to both the list members as well as to individual subscribers. You can use Mailman’s Avoid Duplicate Copies of Messages option to prevent multiple messages from being delivered.  This option checks to determine if your e-mail address appears in the To: or CC: fields of a message.  If it does, Mailman will not deliver another copy of the message to you.  To set this option, complete the following steps.

1.  Log in to your Member Options page at http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your e-mail address. 

2.  Scroll down to the Subscription Options section and locate the section marked Avoid duplicate copies of messages.  Select Yes to avoid receiving multiple copies of a message. 

 

Note:  Select the Set Globally option to apply this setting to all the mailing lists to which you subscribe.

3.  Click on the Submit My Changes button at the bottom of the screen.  You will receive a confirmation message at the top of the mailing list membership page that your option has been re-set, as shown in the screen below.

 

Change Your Subscription Address

If you wish to change the e-mail address you use to subscribe to a mailing list, complete the following steps.

1.  Log in to your Member Options page at http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your e-mail address.

2.  Scroll down to the Change your membership information section.  Enter a new e-mail address and re-enter it to confirm.  If you wish to add your name, enter it in the Your Name field.  

3.  Click on the Change My Address and Name button.

 

4.  A confirmation e-mail will be sent to the new e-mail address you have entered.  You must confirm the change before it will be processed.  This option exists to prevent others from changing your subscription without your permission.

Receiving Copies of Your Own Posts

Mailman will automatically send you a copy of every message that you post to a mailing list by default.  Some users prefer this option since it lets them know when a message has been posted and also provides a copy for their records.  Other users choose to disable this option since they prefer not to download or archive their posts.  To change this option, complete the following steps.

Note:  If you receive your mailing list messages in Digest Mode, you cannot disable receiving copies of your own posts.

1.  Log in to your Member Options page at http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your e-mail address.

2.  Scroll down to the Subscription Options section and locate the option marked Receive your own posts to the list?  Select No to stop receiving copies of the messages that you post.

 

3.  Click on the Submit My Changes button at the bottom of the screen.  You will receive a confirmation message at the top of the mailing list membership page that your option has been re-set, as shown in the screen below

 

Receiving Confirmation of Posts

If you would like an acknowledgement from Mailman once a message you have submitted has been successfully posted, complete the following steps.    

Note:   You can only receive acknowledgements of your posts if you are a subscriber to the mailing list. 

1.  Log in to your Member Options page at http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your e-mail address.

2.  Scroll down to the Subscription Options section and locate the option marked Receive acknowledgement mail when you send mail to the list?  Select Yes to receive an e-mail message indicating that your message has been sent.

 

3.  Click on the Submit My Changes button at the bottom of the screen. You will receive a confirmation message at the top of the mailing list membership page that your option has been re-set, as shown in the screen below.

 

Receiving Mail in Digest Format

In Mailman, groups of posts are called “digests.”  Rather than receiving individual messages as they are posted to the mailing list, you can opt to receive all posts grouped together, usually in one daily e-mail message. By default, this option is set to no.  To change this option, complete the following steps. 

1.  Log in to your Member Options page at http://list.pitt.edu/mailman/options/listname/address, where listname is the name of the list and address is your e-mail address.

2.  Scroll down to the Subscription options section and locate the option marked Set Digest Mode.  Select On to begin receiving mailing list messages in digest format. 

 

3.  Click on the Submit My Changes button at the bottom of the screen.  You will receive a confirmation message at the top of the mailing list membership page that your option has been re-set, as shown in the screen below.