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Mailman: Configuring a New List

How to request and configure a Mailman mailing list at WSU.

Establish Your List
Do you even have a list to manage yet? If not, you can request one by submitting the appropriate Mailman List Request Form here.  For more information, please read "Requesting a Mailman List."

Review List Configuration
Once you have received your list creation email and your list is set up, you may want to see exactly how it's configured. To review your list's configuration settings, go to and log in with your list password.  Once you are logged on to the administration site for your list, you should see the following configuration categories:
  • General Options
  • Passwords
  • Language Options (default is English)
  • Membership Management
  • Non-Digest Options
  • Digest Options
  • Privacy Options
  • Bounce Processing
  • Archiving Options
  • Mail to News Gateways
  • Auto-Responder
  • Content Filtering
  • Topics
There are also some sub-categories for Membership Management and Privacy Options that can be accessed when you enter each of those categories. Browse through each of the available configuration screens to become familiar with the configuration options. Click on each option for more information.

Get the List Ready for Use
Once you have familiarized yourself with your list's configuration and options, you will want to set up an info file, welcome message, and goodbye message. All of these options can be found in the "General Options" section of the administration pages.
  • Info file
    The info file should be a brief introductory description about the list. It will be included at the top of your list's list info page at where listname is replaced with the actual name of your list.
  • Welcome message
    The welcome message will be added to the generic welcome message from Mailman and will be sent to all new subscribers if you choose that option. See the "welcome_msg" and "send_welcome_msg" settings.
  • Goodbye message
    The goodbye message is similar to the welcome message except that, as its name implies, it is sent to subscribers who are leaving the list. See the goodbye_msg and send_goodbye_msg settings.

Subscribe Yourself

When you establish a Mailman list, you are not automatically added as a subscriber. This means that you must subscribe yourself if you want to receive messages that are posted to the list. To add yourself to your list, go to the Membership Management section of your list's administration pages and choose the Mass Subscription category. Now is a good time to test your welcome message so make sure that the "Send welcome messages to new subscribers" option is marked "Yes" and put your address in the box. If you are just subscribing yourself, you probably don't need to send a notification of the new subscription to the list owner so you can mark that option "No." When finished, don't forget to click on Submit Your Changes.

Of course, you do not need to subscribe yourself to your list if you do not want to. Keep in mind, however, that some lists are configured to only allow subscribers to post messages. If you are an owner of such a list and do not subscribe yourself, your posts will not be accepted by the list.

Get Subscribers

As you might imagine, mailing lists need subscribers to be worthwhile. How you get them will depend on what your list is for. If it is for a class or small group of people, then you can probably tell people about the list in class, or email them, or even add them yourself. Learning how to add subscribers is easy.

If your list is intended for a larger body of subscribers, you might want to post information about your list on a Web page. Subscribers will generally want to know the following information:
  • Name of the list
  • Purpose of the list
  • Restrictions on the use of the list
  • How to subscribe
  • How to unsubscribe

Now You're Ready to Use Mailman

Once you've done the above, that's pretty much it. The only times you'll really need to be active as a list owner are:
  • If your list is a private or moderated list
  • If and when you receive error messages
  • If you have a problem subscriber or spammer
To learn how to deal with these issues, click on the related links. These subjects, as well as others, are all covered in "Maintaining a Mailman List." If all else fails, you can send email to for assistance.

Keywords:listserv mailing listproc configuring mailman   Doc ID:78610
Owner:Lindsay H.Group:Washington State University
Created:2017-12-07 12:50 PSTUpdated:2017-12-11 15:31 PST
Sites:Washington State University, Washington State University - Spokane, Washington State University - Tri-Cities, Washington State University - Vancouver
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