Mailman is a powerful Open Source email list management system with a web control panel to help you manage your lists. You can download and install it on most web servers (as long as you have permission to install new software on the server), or you can choose a hosting package like ours that has built-in Mailman hosting.
How can I use Mailman email lists?
Email newsletters and announcements. Use Mailman to manage lists of users and send one email newsletter to all of them.
Subscribers to your list can add or remove themselves and change their own email addresses online, so you save time on routine administration.
Discussion groups and remote working. Mailman email lists can be used for discussion - all list subscribers are able to join in. Many organisations with members all around the world use mailman for worldwide discussion and even decision making (what about a discussion group for all group members, with another just for the committee? Or you set up a list for members of each project you are working on).
As the list grows, and subscribers become more active, some users may find things are getting too busy - Mailman has a 'digest' option, so that rather than getting each email as it is sent, your users can choose to get a daily or weekly digest containing every message.
Why Use Mailman Instead Of My Email Address Book?
An address book can usually only be used by only one person. A Mailman list is available to anyone who can send email, (so for example your newletter can easily be sent by someone else if you are away). It also gives you control over who can get messages distributed to the list - just you? You and a helper? Everyone on the list? You can set up a mailman email list as a tool for group discussion via email. Mailman email lists offer plenty of options for privacy, control over who can subscribe, control over who can send messages, and moderation of messages, and can automatically archive all the messages too.
You can even set up Mailman to parse any bounces from dead addresses, and use this information to automatically disable or delete disappeared subscribers.
What is the Different between a Discussion List and an Announcement or Newletter List?
A discussion list is intended to allow members of the list to discuss a particular subject via email. Email that is sent to the list, will then be distributed to everyone else on that list, sometimes via a moderator. For a large list, this may mean a single message being re-distributed to several thousand people. By their very nature discussion lists are two-way, with members both sending and receiving email. In time they take on a life of their own.
An announcement list is a one-way affair. They are used for product announcements, keeping customers up-to-date, and increasingly by news and sport organisations to provide frequent bulletins to subscribers via email.
Mailman Security and Privacy Tips
For extra protection, you can set Mailman to prevent the distribution of email attachments, or even to filter out HTML emails so that only plain text is used. Mailman already sets a limit on message sizes (otherwise one accidental attachment could annoy an awful lot of people!)
In your Mailman control panel, go to the Content Filtering section. Answer "Yes" to whether Mailman should filter mail. You can specify attachments Mailman should remove in several ways:
or more specifically
- and so on
Now you can configure how Mailman should handle messages that have matched your content filtering rules - by rejecting them (a message is sent to let the sender know), discarding them completely or sending them to the
list owner for manual processing.
Mailman also includes anti-spam measures, to prevent spammers from annoying the your list subscribers. These are found on the 'privacy' page of your Mailman control panel.
"Restrict posting privilege to list members? (member_posting_only)" is the most useful one : set this to YES; and only list members will be able to use the list address to email other members. (this only applied
to Mailman discussion lists, not email newsletters, where there is usually only one authorised sender.)
Another sensible precaution for discussion lists is to make the list archives available to members only.
Mailman lists and the DPA (Data Protection Act)
If you hold personally identifiable data about your list subscribers for business purposes, you might need to consider DPA registration (though check the exemptions first).
It shouldn't need to be said but - it is illegal to add individuals to your mailing list if they haven't given you permission to do so. It's also a really bad idea. Don't do it.
Mailman has a built-in confirmation system for users who subscribe on the web, so no-one can maliciously add a whole list of unwilling subscribers. When users subscribe, they have to respond to an email sent to their subscription address to say it's OK to go ahead and join.