For Staff> Mailing Lists

Mailman - Mailing list management

The UNSW Mailman mailing list service is required for lists that contain non-unsw email addresses. Otherwise, UNSW Exchange mailing lists (distribution lists) are simpler to use and maintain.

This document is a high level overview for administrators and list members, and provides links to more detailed documentation.

In the following, replace LISTNAME with the name of your list.

Quick Reference Guide

To You should...
post message to a list post message to
administer a list use
join or leave a list use

Mailman List Roles

owner — responsible for configuration, maintenance and operation of the list.
moderator — (optional) can manage list subscriptions and approve posting.
member—a subscriber to the list, receives messages posted to the list, and may post messages to the list.

List Members

If a member of a mailing list wants to

  • subscribe/unsubscribe
  • enable/disable digests (daily summary posts rather than individual posts)
  • change your list options (including seeing all your subscriptions)
  • get a password reminder sent to you
Visit (replacing LISTNAME with the name of the list you are interested in).

To obtain your Mailman password for the first time (or if you forget):

Email requests can also be used for (un)subscription:

(No message contents required).

Further information for list members can be found in the Mailman Members Manual.

List Owners

After creation of a new list, we recommend administrators log onto the administrators web page to review settings at Your welcome message and list description may need updating (see welcome_msg and info in General Options).

Moderation (administrator confirmation of each post) is on a per-member basis. See Privacy options/Sender Filters default_member_moderation and member_moderation_action to change this.

You may allow particular members to post messages without moderation by clearing the mod flag for the member in Membership Management.

If you have a popular list, moderation can become time consuming, so you may wish to delegate moderation privileges to people whom you do not wish to give administrative privileges. See Passwords to set a moderator password, and General Options to set moderator email addresses.

Another way of regulating the impact of moderation is to batch the moderation request messages to daily. This can be altered under General Options by setting admin_immed_notify to off.

List Membership Changes
The members of your list can be seen in Membership Management. Note that for large lists, your members may appear across a number of pages. You can also see all email addresses of members on a single page by selecting Go to general list information page and clicking Visit Subscriber List.

To add a member, use the Mass Subscription section. Similarly to remove a member, use the Mass Removal section (regardless of the number of members involved). You will note options to notify the new member of the subscription/removal if so desired.

Bounce Processing
By default, bounce processing is turned on and member addresses that bounce will be automatically disabled and then deleted when the specified thresholds are met. For more information, select Bounce Processing.

List Archives
You may note some references in the mailman administration web pages to list archives. This feature is not implemented.

Further Information
Further information for list administrators can be found in the Mailman List Administrators Manual and Mailman List Administrators FAQ.

Standard List Types

There are three common list types: Enquiry, Forum and Notification. Each of the settings required for these list types is detailed below. Further customisation is possible, but in general these are the key required settings.

For some of the list types below, you may wish to have all messages approved before being forwarded to all members — this is known as moderation.

The final consideration is the subscription policy. In mailman anyone can request subscription to a list (via or by email). You need to decide if you wish to approve subscription requests.

Enquiry List
Accepts email from anywhere and forwards immediately to a set of recipients.

Membership Management/Membership List
All members have the moderation (mod) flag clear.
Privacy Options/Subscription rules
subscribe_policy = Require approval
Privacy Options/Sender Filters
default_member_moderation = No
member_moderation_action = Hold
generic_nonmember_action = Accept

Forum List
A group of people discuss common issues/interests.

Membership Management/Membership List
If moderated
        All members have the moderation (mod) flag set.
        All members have the moderation (mod) flag clear.
Privacy Options/Subscription rules
if open to anyone to subscribe
        subscribe_policy = Confirm
else if closed or new members require approval
        subscribe_policy = Confirm and approve
Privacy Options/Sender Filters
If moderated
        default_member_moderation = Yes
        default_member_moderation = No

member_moderation_action = Hold
generic_nonmember_action = Reject

Notification List
Broadcast notices to a set of recipients.

Membership Management/Membership List
All members have the moderation (mod) flag set (except for permitted posters to the list).
Privacy Options/Subscription rules
if open to anyone to subscribe
        subscribe_policy = Confirm
else if closed or new members require approval
        subscribe_policy = Confirm and approve
Privacy Options/Sender Filters
default_member_moderation = Yes
member_moderation_action = Hold
accept_these_nonmembers = email addresses of non members allowed to post to the list
generic_nonmember_action = Reject

Creation of New Lists

To request creation a new list, please submit an email to stating:
  1. will all subscribers have official UNSW email addresses (,,, ...) for the life of the list? (if yes - an Exchange distribution list may be more suitable)
  2. the list name (must contain a hyphen, use a suitable prefix and be descriptive of the list's function (e.g. law-allstaff), should not be overly general (e.g. the-list) or easily confused with official lists (e.g. unsw-allstaff))
  3. the list type (see above): enquiry, moderated forum, unmoderated forum or notification.
  4. purpose and audience for the list
  5. list owner(s) email addresses (lists without a current owner UNSW email address may be disabled)
  6. do subscription requests need to be approved?
  7. who are the initial list members? if the list is a notification list please identify which of the list members are notifiers.


Whilst Mailman provides secure connections to, as passwords are transmitted via email, the level of security is only moderate. Either allow Mailman to automatically generate a password for you or use a password that you do not use for important logins. For instance, do not use your UNSW zPass or Unipass as a Mailman password.

Bulk Uploading of Member List

This information is for admins who need to periodically upload a completely new list of members. You can follow this procedure to remove the current list and bulk upload a new list.

Remove the current list

  1. Use the text file of the current member list that you are replacing (if you do not have this file, see "Find the current list" below.
  2. Go to Membership Management / Mass Removal:
  3. Make sure the radio buttons are selected as follows:
    Send unsubscription acknowledgement to the user? No
    Send notifications to the list owner? No
  4. Click on Browse and select the text file with your current member list.
  5. Click on Submit Your Changes.

Add the new list

  1. Create a text file with one address per line for your new list.
  2. Go to Membership Management / Mass Subscription:
  3. Make sure the radio buttons are selected as follows:
    Subscribe these users now or invite them? Subscribe
    Send welcome messages to new subscribees? No
    Send notifications of new subscriptions to the list owner? No
  4. Click on Browse and select the text file with your new list.
  5. Click on Submit Your Changes.

Find the current list

If you do not have the current list available you can copy the current list addresses to a text file by

  1. Go to:
  2. Scroll down to LISTNAME Subscribers and enter your Admin address and Password and click on Visit Subscriber List.
  3. Highlight the members list and copy and paste to a text file.
  4. You may then use this text file to mass unsubscribe the current list.

Help and Assistance

If your have a particular question, issue or concern not covered above please contact the UNSW service desk: