Admin: New List Software

From: Ted Molczan (ssl3molcz@rogers.com)
Date: Mon Feb 22 2010 - 20:23:28 UTC

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    I have decided to make permanent, the switch in mailing-list software, from
    Smartlist to Mailman.
    
    1. Background
    
    This change was instigated by satobs.org's ISP, who requested that I give
    Mailman serious consideration, because it enables more reliable handling of
    bounced messages. Normally, bounced messages are little more than an
    occasional nuisance for the list administrator (yours truly), but in some
    cases, they can become a serious problem for the ISP - in particular when a
    subscriber reports the list as spam, whether inadvertently, or as an
    incompetent method of un-subscribing, which can result in blacklisting of
    the ISP. Our list has offended infrequently in that regard (and not
    recently) but it is something I take seriously.
    
    2. Benefits to Subscribers
    
    2.1 Faster Mail Delivery
    
    More timely mail delivery appears to be a major benefit arising from the
    change in list software. Mail delivery had long been sluggish at best,
    glacial at worst, and lately mostly terrible. I do not have a detailed
    understanding of the cause (it was not intrinsic to Smartlist), but I had
    reason to suspect that it would improve under the new setup, and since the
    switch delivery time has been excellent.
    
    2.2 More Convenient List Management
    
    Mailman provides a web interface to simplify list management. The one
    available to subscribers is here:
    
    http://mailman.satobs.org/mailman/listinfo/seesat-l
    
    You will need your password to access the interface, which you can have
    mailed to you via the button at the bottom of the screen, labelled
    "Unsubscribe or edit options" (first, enter your e-mail address in the box
    to the left of the button).
    
    2.3 No Need for Separate Digest and Post-Only Lists
    
    Mailman enables subscribers to select between individual-message and digest
    delivery, and to switch at will, so I have done away with the SeeSat-D list.
    In importing the Smartlist lists to Mailman, I took care to set up those
    that had been on SeeSat-D, for digest delivery. You can change this via the
    web interface, by scrolling down to the subscription options section, and
    changing the "Set Digest Mode" setting to off or on.
    
    Post-only mode enables sending messages to the list, but without receiving
    any messages. It is used most commonly to provide the ability to send
    messages from multiple addresses, while receiving replies at (typically)
    only one address. Under Smartlist, we operated a separate post-only list;
    under Mailman, post-only operation can be achieved via the web interface, by
    scrolling down to the subscription options section, and changing the "Mail
    delivery" setting to disabled. You can use the same method to temporarily
    suspend mail delivery, instead of having to un-subscribe and then
    re-subscribe. 
    
    In importing the Smartlist lists to Mailman, I took care to set up those
    that had been on SeeSat-L-postonly, with mail delivery disabled.
    
    3. IMPORTANT NOTE - Monthly Password Reminder Message
    
    Mailman provides the option to automatically send a monthly password
    reminder to each subscriber. This was the default setting when I set up the
    list, but I later decided that it was unnecessary, so I disabled it;
    however, I am not certain that this overrode the settings of each address,
    indeed, all of them appear to be set to receive the reminder. So, if
    receiving a monthly reminder will be inconvenient, perhaps at one of your
    post-only addresses, then I recommend visiting the web management interface,
    and choosing the appropriate settings for each of your addresses. If you
    have forgotten or are unsure of your addresses, please feel free to request
    my assistance.
    
    4. Retained Existing Web Archive
    
    Our existing Hypermail archive provides more convenient access for
    management than the ISP's implementation of Mailman's Pipermail web archive,
    so I have retained the former and taken the latter off-line. During the
    transition, about a dozen messages were not entered into the Hypermail
    archive, but I entered them manually last night, so the Hypermail archive
    now is completely uptodate, and remains in its usual location:
    http://www.satobs.org/seesat/index.html
    
    5. UseSat-L Discontinued
    
    UseSat-L was a forum to discuss matters relating to the use and operation of
    seesat-l. It has seldom received messages during the years that I have
    operated the list, perhaps because any significant controversies had been
    resolved long before. I can easily restore the existing Smartlist version,
    or create a new one under Mailman, but my sense is that for now it is not
    required.
    
    Thank you for your patience with the many test messages I sent while
    configuring our mail system for use with Mailman. If you have any questions,
    problems, requests or suggestions regarding the list, please contact me
    off-list.
    
    Ted Molczan
    Admin, satobs.org, seesat-l
    
    _______________________________________________
    Seesat-l mailing list
    http://mailman.satobs.org/mailman/listinfo/seesat-l
    



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