[Balug-admin] Mailman, lists, etc.

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Tue Jun 13 12:57:00 PDT 2006

Quoting Michael Paoli (Michael.Paoli@cal.berkeley.edu):

> Thanks Rick.  Lots of good information - particularly for those of us
> not having the access to read those configuration details.

Yr. very welcome.

> Perhaps at our next BALUG meeting, at one table we can go over some of
> these administrivia details, and get a consensus (or at least strong
> plurality) of how we should handle/adjust these things.

Discussing these matters _with_ Internet access is pretty important when
you get down to specifics, in my experience.  Discussion over dinner
_without_ Internet access tends to be vague and fuzzy.  Maybe consensus
can be arrived at on this mailing list, or on IRC?  It'd also have the
advantage of speed.

I _could_ fix things pretty well right now, acting alone, and anything I
misjudge can be tweaked by other listadmins (whoever they are), but I
don't want to step on any toes.

> I'd guestimate one of the trickier areas may be the "approvers" and such
> for the "announce" list (and the Mailman nag recipients).  Seems we would
> want a relatively small number (e.g. approximately 3 or so?) of folks that
> could "approve" "announce" items and/or send directly to "announce" without
> another's approval, and that this same small number of folks (at least the
> approvers) would get the Mailman "nag" reminders (e.g. things held pending
> approval).

I sort of slept on that very question.  

Based on experience elsewhere, I'm guessing that having one's e-mail
address in the "nag" roster brings a significant daily spam harvest,
getting bigger all the time.  

Spam is a big enough burden that you don't want more than one or two
people's e-mail addresses (and -not- _role_ e-mail accounts, I'd say --
which is exactly what we have at present) on the nagmail roster.  One 
is fine, two is fine -- because you _also_ have one or two people possess 
the listadmin password but _not_ have e-mail addresses on the roster, as
a safety fallback.

The former (those on the roster) are the working listadmins.  The latter 
are people who've agreed to sit on their hands and not interfere, but 
are the human equivalent of the envelope containing root passwords
stored in the company safe.  All agree to inform the others promptly
(preferably by telephone or in person) if it's ever necessary to change
a list's listadmin password.

> I'd think by structuring and "advertising" (documenting, e.g. the lists and
> their usage) in appropriate manners, we could minimize the "burden" of the
> "announce" approvers.  

You can't do much about held spam at the Mailman level, only at the MTA
level.  ISP-managed MTAs tend to relatively spammy; that's just part of
the package and can't be fixed by individual customers.  I mention that
because shovelling spam typically is the lion's share of listadmin
"burden" -- and is irreducible unless you run your own MTA.

The best way to manage/lessen the remainder in my experience is to have
a clear, very brief per-list policy posted right where people expect to
find it, on the individual list's listinfo page.

And then, yes, you pick people willing and able to do the job.  ;->

Whoever approved those jobs postings on balug-announce _might_ be on
this mailing list (balug-admin) -- or might not.  If you are, nobody's 
going to beat you up.  ;->  For one thing, there's no posted policy, eh?

Having people possess the listadmin password but _not_ be on this
(balug-admin) mailing list would suck, but is distinctly possible.
Imagine someone who really doesn't know anything about running mailing
lists, but who'd been given that password.  One day, he/she gets around
to trying it out, and wanders around the administrative screens with
his/her Web browser, and stumbles across a queue of seven held postings
that (for whatever reason) nobody'd dealt with.  Either not bothering to
read specifics, or being unclear on what's offtopic, he/she thinks "Oh, 
well, as a listadmin I'm supposed to approve posts -- and here's a
bunch."  So, that person picks the Approved radio button on each, then
the big page-wide Submit button.  Job done.  Not being a reader of this
mailing list, the person never even learns that the action was unwise.

> But we'd need to set up some reasonable means for folks to bring to
> our attention stuff we might want to include, or include in part (or
> provide pointer to more details) on some "announce" item(s).

OK, FYI, every Mailman list has an inherent -owner role address that
automatically reaches everyone on the list's nagmail roster.  So, the
list policy could say something like "Please submit non-BALUG announcements 
you think might interest our members to

> Anyway, I'm sure we'll come up with ways to improve the process (like dropping
> stuff that's held more than 32 days.

Let's please take pity on volunteers asked to wade through held spam,
and make it no more than 5 days.

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