Mailman: The GNU Mailing List Manager
John Viega - Reliable Software Technologies
Barry Warsaw and Ken Manheimer - Corporation for
National Research Initiatives
Electronic mailing lists are ubiquitous community-forging tools
that serve the important needs of Internet users, both experienced and
novice. The most popular mailing list managers generally use textual
mail-based interfaces for all list operations, from subscription
management to list administration. Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence
suggests that most mailing list users, and many list administrators
and moderators are novice to intermediate computer users; textual
interfaces are often difficult to use effectively.
describes Mailman, the GNU mailing list manager, which offers a
dramatic step forward in usability and integration over other mailing
list management systems. Mailman brings to list management an
integrated Web interface for nearly all aspects of mailing list
interaction, including subscription requests and option settings by
members, list configuration and Web page editing by list
administrators, and post approvals by list moderators. Mailman offers
a mix of robustness, functionality and ease of installation and use
that is unsurpassed by other freely available mailing list managers.
Thus, it offers great benefits to site administrators, list
administrators and end users alike. Mailman is primarily implemented
in Python, a free, object-oriented scripting language; there are a few
C wrapper programs for security.
Mailman's architecture is based
on a centralized list-oriented database that contains configuration
options for each list. This allows for several unique and flexible
administrative mechanisms. In addition to Web access, traditional
email-command based control and interactive manipulation via the
Python interpreter are supported. Mailman also contains extensive
bounce and anti-spam devices.
While many of the features
discussed in this paper are generally improvements over other mailing
list packages, we will focus our comparisons on Majordomo, which is
almost certainly the most widely used freely available mailing list
manager at present.
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