First Subscribing Unsubscribing Useful Commands Errors Moderated Lists Resources MajorCool
Want to "own" a mailing list, maybe been suckered into owning a mail list, or already own one? Read on. This page should help you to maintain your list successfully and show you how to prevent some of the more common errors.
At CCSF, we use Majordomo as our mailing list processing software. Mail software can be finicky and demanding with regard to syntax, so it is important that the instructions below are followed closely.
If you (CCSF student) want to own a mailing list, ask Dean Of Student Activities to send a memo/email to Majordomo-Owner@cloud.ccsf.cc.ca.us authorizing the creation of your list.
If you (faculty, staff, or adminstrator of CCSF) want to own a mailing list, first check that it doesn't already exist! If not, you should fill out our on-line form
Users can self subscribe to some mailing lists, with others, the owner must do the subscription for them. As owner, you decide how users are allowed to subscribe to "your" list. In either case, the owner can subscribe or unsubscribe users at any time - this may be useful if a subscriber starts abusing the service, or is unable to self subscribe due to repeated errors.
As owner, whenever you want to subscribe someone, you have to send an email as follows;
Address the email to;
Remember, you must not include a subject line, or your signature/tag line. Including either of these may cause Majordomo to fail.
The body of the email should contain;
approve <password> subscribe <list name> <subscriber's email address>
Substitute the real password for <password> the real list name for <listname> and the subscriber's actual email address for <subscriber's email address>. Don't use the brackets <>, and space the email as above.
Example - to subscribe "someone" at hills to the list "ccsf-something" the owner would need to send an email to email@example.com with the following message body (and of course, no subject or signature!);
approve made1up subscribe ccsf-something firstname.lastname@example.org
You can subscribe more than one person at a time, just start a new line for each new subscriber. Be warned that if you have any mistakes in a list of subscriptions, you may cause the whole attempted subscription to fail - certainly any subscriptions after the error will fail. For this reason I recommend sending multi subscriptions in small batches, but it's really up to you.
You should shortly get a message from majordomo saying the subscription was successful. You should also get an email from Majordomo advising that the new subscriber has been added to the list and that no action is required on your behalf. The new members will also get an email advising they have been subscribed and offering an incorrect method of unsubscribing.... Well, it's only incorrect for closed lists, not open lists, but there appears to be only version sent. This may be fixed in future but is a very low priority!
For all mailing lists, users are able to self unsubscribe, however as owner you are all powerful (!!!) and can unsubscribe anybody from your list.
To unsubscribe members, send an email as follows:
Address the email to;
Remember, you must not include a subject line, or your signature/tag line. Including either of these may cause Majordomo to fail. I know you're getting sick of reading this, but signatures have been the major cause of mail administration errors at CCSF.
The body of the email should contain;
approve <password> unsubscribe <list name> <subscriber's email address>
No brackets <> and spaced as above.
Example - to unsubscribe "someone" at hills from the mythical ccsf-something mailing list, the owner would send and email to email@example.com (no subject, no signature...) with the following as the body;
approve made1up unsubscribe ccsf-something firstname.lastname@example.org
As with subscribing, you can unsubscribe multiple members with one email by starting a new line for each unsubscription. The same recommendation on using small batches rather than one large email for multi unsubscribes applies.
As the list owner, you have amazing powers and can ruin your list's functionality by trying commands you don't understand. For this reason, don't divulge the password to others - they can then act as owner, and don't try it if you don't understand. If in doubt, feel free to email me - I'd rather spend time explaining than fixing errors.
Anyone can send this request, owners, subscribers or the just plain curious.
Send an email (no subject, no signature) to email@example.com with the command:
as the body. In a few minutes you'll receive a list of all the general commands available to all users, including some of those listed below. Every list owner should run this command and save the reply for future reference.
Need a list of all subscribers to your list? Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (do I need to add.... no subject, no signature) with the command:
who <list name>
as the body of the email - no brackets <>. In a few minutes, Majordomo will reply with a list of all subscribers unless the list members are concealed to non-members or to everyone, in which case Majordomo will reply that you do not have permission to see the list of subscribers.
Need a list of all lists run through CCSF? Send another email to email@example.com (no subject, no signature) with the command:
as the body of the email. In a few minutes, Majordomo will send you a list of all non-concealed lists operating through our server, with a brief description of the list in many cases.
There was a computer nerd who lived in a shoe, they were in so many lists, they didn't know what to do. If this sounds like you, and you want to know just which CCSF mailing lists you are subscribed to, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (no subject, no signature...) with the command:
as the body of the email. In a few minutes, Majordomo will respond with a list of the CCSF mailing lists you are subscribed to, if any.
As a list owner, copies of all error messages should come to you, so you can resolve the problem. Copies of some errors also go to Majordomo-Owner@cloud.ccsf.cc.ca.us, who will often follow up persistent or unresolved errors with the owner.
The most common error reports as a subscriber having an incorrect address. This may be for a number of reasons - the subscriber may have used the wrong address to subscribe, they may have changed Internet Service Providers and no longer have that email address, or network connections may be faulty somewhere in between the list and the subscriber. Owners should check the address, and unsubscribe the incorrect address and resubscribe with the correct address. If you are unable to contact the subscriber, it is probably best to unsubscribe the person and wait until they contact you, wondering what's happened with their email from the mailing list. Don't unsubscribe someone after one error message! Make certain the errors are consistent first.
Another error that occurs is messages that appear normal are bounced to the owner, with the header Bounce - Admin request. These occur because Majordomo has a feature called administrivia, which stops administrative requests such as subscribe/unsubscribe being posted to the list (such messages are very annoying on high volume lists). If a poster includes either subscribe or unsubscribe in the first ten lines of their email, the message will be bounced to you. The options to prevent this are:
Turn off administrivia - can cause problems with administrative requests going to the list and annoying other members.
Users should be advised not to use subscribe/unsubscribe in the first paragraph of their email.
Owners can redirect the bounced email to the list, following the instructions for moderated lists.
Re-read the above instructions - if that doesn't help, email me, and include a copy of any error message(s) you have received, or forward the error message email to me with your comments as a prefix.
What will happen is that you (as owner) will receive an email with the subject "BOUNCE <list name:> Approval required". You need to respond and approve the message if the message is to reach the list. If you don't approve the message, just delete it and it won't be posted.
There are a couple of options available for approvals:
If you are using Pine, your can use the "Forward" option. If you are using Eudora, you can use the "redirect" option (under the "Message" menu). Other mail programs should have a similar option.
1) After choosing Forward or Redirect, the email will change to a format you can edit.
In the message header area....
2) Add the list address in the To: area - you'll notice the From: address now shows from you by way of the original sender.
3) Delete the subject line (actually, this is optional)
In the body of the email area....
as the first line - The colon (:) is essential, don't use the <> and substitute the real list password for <password>.
5) Delete all the "rubbish" header information (in the email body) except those lines that begin with Date:, From:, and Subject:. Deleting the From line will mean replies go to you and the message will have apparently come from you, not the original poster, deleting the subject will mean the email is received by the mailing list without a subject, and deleting the date will mean the email will show the date when you resent it, not when the original poster sent it.
6) Leave at least one blank line between the subject/from/date/approved lines and the body of the email.
7) Turn off your signature (if you have one) for this email. If you don't, your signature file will be appended to the email received by the list, possibly confusing recipients - "who wrote this, Jill or Jack? Jack or Jill?".
8) Post the email.
Alternatively, if you don't use Pine or Eudora, or maybe just want to be different, you can use the "Reply" option from the "Message" menu - there are minor differences to forward or redirection.
In the header area...
1) Change the reply address from "owner-<listname>@cloud.ccsf.cc.ca.us" to <listname>@cloud.ccsf.cc.ca.us (Don't include the <> brackets)
2) Delete the subject line
In the body of the email area...
as the first line - the colon (:) is essential, don't use the <> and substitute the real password for <password>.
4) Delete all the "rubbish" header information (in the email body) except those lines that begin >Date:, >From:, and >Subject:. Deleting the From line makes the final email appear to come from you, deleting the subject means the email will be sent to the mailing list without a subject.
5) Delete the >'s from the front of these lines
6) If you want, you can delete the >'s from the rest of the body of the email - this is optional. (This seems to be the major difference with the Forward/Redirect option - forward/redirect does not place the >'s in the real body of the email - there is no such option in the header information)
7) Leave one blank line between the subject/from/date/approved lines and the body of the email.
8) Turn off your signature (if you have one) for this email. If you don't, your signature file will be appended to the email received by the list, possibly confusing recipients - "who wrote this, Jill or Jack? Jack or Jill?".
9) Post the email.
Although it sounds complex, it really isn't hard. If your moderation or subscription/unsubscription attempt fails, read the error message that's been sent to you. If your mistake is unclear, or you think you've done the right thing and don't understand why it didn't work, forward the error message to:
together with any comments about what you tried. With the error message and your commentary, I should be able to figure out the problem.
There are a number of web based resources for Majordomo, and a mail list that owners can join (although the list generates lots of mail, much of which is quite technical, programming type information).
To join list-managers list, which discusses issues relating to managing Internet mailing lists, such as methods, mechanisms, techniques, policies, and software, send an email to:
as the body.
To join the majordomo-users list, which discusses the technical details of setting up Majordomo (and is thus less useful for list owners), send an email to:
as the body.
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