SMB Mailing Lists

Introduction

The SMB Mailing lists are set up in a child-parent format. We manually maintain the child lists and the parent lists are automatically generated using the subscriptions from the child lists.

It may seem that it makes more sense to have this ordered the other way around, since the children are generated by the parents but the it is the convention of mailing lists to describe it this way. The scripts to automate this are named following this convention (see below). The term umbrella lists can also be used to describe this setup.

There are four basic child mailman lists which we can edit:

smb-academics
smb-general
smb-postgrads
smb-hons

Plus one extra "child" list for people that don't fit into one of the above four categories (rarely used):

smb-other

The parent lists are as follows:

smb-all
smb-staff
smb-students

These three lists are generated automatically using the "parentlist-*.sh" scripts in /usr/local/bin on the server. A crontab has been set up so that they are run every two hours.

The parent lists are generated thus:

smb-students: smb-hons + smb-postgrads
smb-staff: smb-academics + smb-general
smb-all: smb-academics + smb-general + smb-postgrads + smb-hons (+ smb-other)

Each list has two main web pages associated with it. The "General List Information" page and the "Administration" page. Links to both are provided on the right hand side of this page.

The URLs for the pages are as follows: (append the name of the list)

Administration Pages: http://smb-research.mmb.usyd.edu.au/mailman/admin/ *listname*

General List-Info Pages: http://smb-research.mmb.usyd.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/ *listname*

Adding and removing people

Adding people

There are a few ways that new people can be subscribed to lists:

  1. They can subscribe themselves by going to the general list-info pages.
  2. Someone else can subscribe them by going to the general list-info pages.
  3. A list administrator can mass subscribe people (or just one person) by going to the "Membership Management" section of the administration pages for that list.

Method 3 is preferable.

To Mass Subscribe people, simply type (or cut-and-paste) the email addresses into the box at the bottom of the "Membership Management... Mass Subscription" section.

http://smb-research.mmb.usyd.edu.au/mailman/admin/ *listname* /members/add

Ensure that there is only one address on each line. Include their full name parentheses after their email address, like this:

gareth.denyer@sydney.edu.au (Gareth Denyer)

I usually say "No" to the Welcome message, but it doesn't matter if people are sent this. Possibly it may even be useful!

If people subscribe themselves (or are are added by a non-administrator, methods 1 and 2, above) the list administrators will receive a request to approve or deny the subscription. This is to stop "bots" signing up to lists (and thence sending lots of spam, or possibly gaining access to sensitive information).

The moderation request will appear on the following page:

http://smb-research.mmb.usyd.edu.au/mailman/admindb/ *listname*

* Remember that people can only be subscribed to the main child lists. If someone is subscribed (by any method) to the parent lists, they will be automatically removed when the two-hourly syncronisation occurs.

Removing people

People can unsubscribe themselves by going to the general list-info pages. The administrators will get notification if people have done this. This is important as we need to know if someone isn't getting school emails.

To unsubscribe someone who has left the school, simply uncheck the subscr box next to their email address in the Membership Management section of the list administration page.

* Remember that people can only be unsubscribed from the main "child" lists. If someone is unsubscribed (by any method) from the "parent" lists, they will be automatically resubscribed when the two-hourly syncronisation occurs.

Moderator approval

All the lists are set up to be members-only lists. This means that messages will only be sent if the sender address is exactly the same as the subscribed one. The mailing list software is not "smart" enough to realise that (e.g.) gareth@sydney.edu.au is the same as gareth.denyer@sydney.edu.au or g.denyer@mmb.usyd.edu.au.

Everyone should be subscribed using their official "Firstname.Lastname@sydney.edu.au" address. However not everyone has their mail program configured to have their sending address in that format (e.g. using "auser@mail.usyd.edu.au" instead). In these cases, if they send to the one of the lists, their message will be held for "Moderator Approval".