How to administer a mailing list

Software Mailman

Here we describe the basics for list management and give an overview of the most important initial settings for your mailing list.

Programm/Version: Mailman 2.1.29

General information for admins

This section is especially for list administration. There are two primary administrative roles for each mailing list, a list owner and a list moderator.

Usually, the list owner and list moderator are the same person. In fact, the list owner can always do all the tasks a list moderator can do. Access to both the owner’s configuration pages, and the moderation pages are protected by the same password. However, if the list owner wants to delegate posting and subscription approval authority to other people, a separate list moderator password can be set, giving moderators access to the approval pages, but not the configuration pages. In this setup, list owners can still moderate the list, of course.

The most important settings

The perhaps most important settings you should make on a mailing list you administer are listed here.

  1. Provide some brief information about your list:
    1. Go to Allgemeine Optionen 4. Question (“Kurze, prägnante Beschreibung dieser Liste.”): Enter about half a line of text here that describes your list, e.g. Full Name. It appears in the right column of all existing mailing lists under
    2. Go to Allgemeine Optionen 5. Question (“Eine kleine einführende Beschreibung in die Liste.”): Enter a short description of your list here (about 1-5 lines). This will appear under the heading “about XYZ” and before the link to the archive in the registration page.
  2. Decide whether your mailing list should have a private or public archive. Private archives require a valid member address and password, or a list administrator password in order to access them. Go to Archivierungsoptionen 2. Question (“Sind die Archivdateien für ein privates oder öffentliches Archiv?”)
  3. How should the registration work:
    Go to Aboregeln & Adressfilter 2. Question (“Was muss ich tun, um eine Mailingliste zu abonnieren?”): > Rückbestätigung
    This option controls the steps that a new member must take to join the list.
    1. Rückbestätigung durch den User
      An e-mail confirmation step is required before the address is added to the list. When a member requests subscription, either via the web page or by sending a message to, Mailman will send a confirmation message to the requesting address. This mail-back confirmation contains a unique identifier, which the requester can present to Mailman in order to confirm their subscription. This can be done either by replying to the mail-back, or by visiting the URL in the mail-back message. The URL points to a page that lets the user either discard or confirm their request.
    2. Genehmigung durch den Listenadministrator
      All subscription requests are held for approval of the list moderator. No mail-back confirmation is sent, but the list admins will recieve a message indicating that approval is pending.
    3. Bestätigung und Genehmigung
      Here, a mail-back notice must first be confirmed by the requester. Once confirmed, the list moderator must then approve the request. This is the most secure method for users to subscribe since it both verifies the requesting address, and forces the list moderators to approve the request.
  4. Who is allowed to see the subscriber list?
    Go to Aboregeln & Adressfilter 5. Question (“Wer darf die Mitgliederliste einer Mailingliste einsehen?”): If this option is enabled, the members’ address list can be viewed only by members (after password request) and the administrator.
    1. Jeder
    2. Abonnenten der Liste
    3. Nur der Listenadministrator

If you are looking for detailed instructions on the different possibilities, take a look here: