How do I manage listservs with Mailman?

2015-07-30 19:39

If you manage a listserv at Carthage, you will need to use Mailman software to do so. Mailman has a web interface at

You will see the welcome screen. At the bottom of the paragraph, you can create a new list by clicking the link "create a new mailing list" or manage an existing list by finding it in the list below.

Creating a List

To create a new list, you must first have the password. To obtain the password, send an e-mail to with an explanation of what the list will be called and what it is for. We will e-mail the password back to you. PLEASE be clear in your email subject heading that you are requesting the Mailman list creation password and include your name.

Once you have the password, go to the screen above and click on the link to create a new mailing list. The screen below will be displayed.

Fill out the name of the list with NO SPACES or special characters. The e-mail address of the initial list owner should be the same as the person who is setting it up. You can add additional owners later. We recommend that you select "No" so the system will not auto-generate a password. Instead, enter the initial password for the list in both spaces as prompted. You will need to know this password any time you want to manage the list. Members of the list will not need to know the password.

You can skip the rest of the options and scroll down to the bottom of the screen to enter the List Creator's (authentication) password; this is the password that was provided to you in response to your e-mail request. Click the “Create List” button.

Click "Visit the List's Admin Page" to manage the list.

Managing a List

Once your list has been created, you can manage it as shown at the end of the section above, or you can access the management screens by clicking on the list name on the screen shown on page 1. If you choose the latter, you will be shown the screen below, prompting you for the list password. This is the same password as you entered in the screen on page 2 when you created the list. Click the "Let me in…" button.

Most of the options you will not need to change at all. The important items are the general options on the main screen and the “Membership management” item where you enter the list members.

Setting General Options

On the general options screen, you may want to change the following options. If the item is not listed below, you likely want to leave it alone.

  • Public name of this list: You can only change the capitalization, such as changing “Lisservices” to “LISservices.”
  • List administrator addresses: You can enter multiple owners for your list. IMPORTANT: In order to pass ownership of the list from one person to another, the current owner should add the e-mail address of the new owner here.
  • A terse phrase describing the list: Enter a general description of the list; this will show up on the main page of lists.
  • Where are replies to list messages directed? This determines where the reply goes when someone click "Reply." Generally, you will want the response to go back to only the sender (poster), but you may want it to go the list or perhaps to another address that you choose.
  • Explicit “Reply-To”: header: If you chose an Explicit address in the screen on the previous page, specify that address in the box.
  • Default options for new members joining this list: We recommend you check "Acknowledge the member's posting" so that the person who sends the message will get some indication that the message was sent.
  • Maximum length in kilobytes (KB): The default of 40K is very, very small. A size of about 2000, which equals 2MB would be more logical. If people will be sending larger attachments, you may want to make this an even larger number.

Click the “Submit My Changes” button.

Managing List Membership

In order to add members to your list, follow the instructions below. Click the “Membership Management” link shown on the screen on page 3. If there are already members on your list, they will be shown on the screen. Click the “Mass Subscription” link to add multiple members at a time.

Set the options as you see fit. We recommend that you “Subscribe” rather than “Invite.” You may want to send notifications to the new members but probably not to the list owner. Enter the e-mail addresses – including for Carthage addresses – in the box at the center of the screen. Only enter one address per line. In the box below the addresses, enter any additional message that you want to have included in the notification that is sent out to new members .If you opted not to send notifications, you should leave that box empty. Click the “Submit My Changes” button.

If you want to remove a list member, click the "List Membership" link to display a list of members. Click in the “Unsub” box to the left of the member address, then click the “Save Your Changes” button at the bottom of the screen.

If there is a large numbers of members on the list and you want to search for a specific member, enter all or part of the address in the “Find member:” box, then click the “Search” button.

You can also use the “Mass Removal” screen to remove a large number of addresses from the list all at once. Enter the names in the box in the same way as you did to add them.

Setting Privacy Options

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! If you do not set this option, people will be able to subscribe to your list without your approval. From the main admin screen, click the Privacy options item shown in the second column. (See screen as shown on page 3.)

  • If you do not want your list to be shown on the list of Carthage e-mail lists, check No for the advertise option.
  • IMPORTANT! Unless you want for people to be able to subscribe to your list without your permission, click the "Require approval" option under "What steps are required for subscription."
  • If you don't want people to be able to unsubscribe from your list, check “Yes” to require the list moderator's approval for unsubscribing.

Another option shown further down the same screen is "Who can view the subscription list." Generally, all list members should be able to see it, but if you have a list of a confidential nature, you may want to limit it to the list owner only.

Managing Who Can Send to the Listserv

Mailman is designed to manage interactive lists. I f your list is designed only for the owner to be able to post, you should probably use a Google contact group instead. If you still want to use Mailman for an "announcement list" where only the owner can post, please contact for more information on turning on moderation for all posts to enforce that type of list.

If you want for any or all members to have their postings approved (moderated), you can set the “Moderation” bit for those members on the membership screen. Check the appropriate boxes, then click the “Submit you Changes” button.

At the bottom of that screen, there is an option to set everyone's moderation bit to “Yes” or “No” in one operation. Check the appropriate option, then click the “Set” button.

By default, if anyone who is not subscribed to your lists attempts to post to it, their posting will be held for approval. You can change that option to either “Accept,” “Reject,” or “Discard” their posting on the “Sender Filters” screen under “Privacy Options.”  See below.

Sending Messages to the List

Any member of a Mailman list can send a message to that list by sending it to, where "listname" is the name of the list. For example, any member of the francais list can send a message to

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