Managing mailing lists

Introduction

This document contains a description of how we manage a large set of community mailing lists, and how you can perform common operations required of a list owner or moderator.

The basics

Our list server is known as lists.okfn.org, and can be visited on the web at https://lists.okfn.org.

A mailing list called widgets-discuss will have an email address of the form widgets-discuss@lists.okfn.org. List owners can always be contacted by emailing widgets-discuss-owner@lists.okfn.org.

You can link to the widgets-discuss email address directly at https://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/widgets-discuss (please note that this particular link will not work, as we don’t – yet – have a widget discussion list).

List administrators and moderators

List administrators and moderators are responsible for the smooth operation of the list. Their tasks may include:

  • Helping users who have difficulty subscribing to or unsubscribing from their lists.
  • Banning abusive users.
  • Filtering spam that’s sent to the list.
  • Ensuring that the list description and settings are kept up-to-date.

In particular, list administrators (also known as list owners) can do all of these things and more. List moderators have a single role: reviewing the moderation queue of the mailing list and letting through legitimate emails while rejecting spam.

Obtaining a mailing list

If you need a mailing list for your project, you need to make a few decisions about your list, and then you can contact the Open Knowledge Foundation sysadmin administrators for help. You should decide:

  1. What you want your list to be called. A list to discuss geographic data might be called geodata-discuss, while a local group list for Spain might be called okfn-es. See the list names already taken at https://lists.okfn.org for ideas.
  2. Do you want your list to be public or private? Should anyone be able to subscribe, or do you want to approve new sign-ups on a case-by-case basis?
  3. Do you want your list to be publicly advertised in the list of lists at https://lists.okfn.org?
  4. Who will be your list owners? Ideally you should have at least two.
  5. Do you want to designate additional list moderators?

When you have answers to all these questions, you should contact the system administrators with your request. Details on how to do this can be found here on the Ops Manual: Getting help.

Administering or moderating a mailing list

Say your list is called widgets-discuss. You can visit the list information page at https://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/widgets-discuss. From there, you can select either the “administrative interface” or the “moderation interface” links at the bottom of the page.

If you are a list administrator or a list moderator, you should have been emailed a password allowing you to administer or moderate the list. Please check your email archive for this email (it will come from mailman@lists.okfn.org and have a subject like “Your new widgets-discuss list password” or “Your new widgets-discuss moderator password”).

If you still can’t find the password and think you can have it, please contact the system administrators: Getting help.

Moderating mailing list spam mail

If the list you are moderating recieves spam, you can forward these spam mails from the moderation interface to our bayes based spam learning address - learn-spam@lists.okfn.org

This will help our mailman spam filter to ‘learn’ and classify spam mails correctly.

Mailing list actions that require sysadmin help

You may request help from sysadmins for these mailing list queries

  • Create a new list @lists.okfn.org
  • Create a list on a different @domain
  • Delete a list
  • Keep list of subscribers
  • Keep list archive
  • Rename a list (copy subscribers over to a new list and archive the old one)
  • Mailing list archives in a tarball/zip
  • Reset the Admin password
  • Export list subscribers as csv