Knowledge File AEGEE Mail - Mailing Lists


Mailing lists are always written in capitals for consistency, e.g. AEGEE-L or AEGEE-EVENT-L.

The users are divided in subscribers and listowners.

Everybody avoids mentioning company names on the mailing lists and doing other form of hidden advertisements (except somebody has really paid for being mentioned).

The subscribers have the right to receive prompt answers on questions related to the mailing lists they are subscribed to; questions relating which mailing lists are most appropriate for which posts; request the creation of new mailing lists; can propose over the mailing lists any changes (incl. deletion or renaming of the lists; or changing the listowner) and reach consensus. If no objections are expressed within one month by the other subscribers, the changes are made by the administrators.

The listowners have the right to request deletion or renaming of a mailing list they manage; get advices on how to manage mailing lists. In turn, if they want to make a change, they are told how to do the change on their own, and in very seldom cases the change is made by the site administrators.

The listowners have the obligation to periodically inform their subscribers who manage the lists; ensure that every mailing lists is managed by at least two distinct persons; and to actively communicate with the subscribers and administrators on matters related to their mailing list. If the listowners do not communicate upon three consecuitive requests within three months with the administrators, they loose the rights on their lists and the list is taken over by the site administrators.

The subscribers have no right to have a very specific name of a mailing list; make any requests towards mailing lists, they are not subscribed to, except for assistance to subscribe to a mailing list.

The listowners have no right to decide to change on their own the values of the Confidential and Changelog keywords in the list configuration to No, change the value on the Ack keyword to Yes in lists where everybody can post; modify the values of the Exit, List-Address and List-ID keywords; put Non-Members in the Send keyword; make possible for everybody to post to their mailing lists without installing spam filter; ignore the error messages for non-functional email addresses, including redirecting the error messages to phantom email mailboxes.

Currently the subscribers can contact the listowners of any list at . In the future there will be a website, where the subscribers can see who actually manages the lists they are subscribed to. Until then please refrain from asking this information, as it creates manual work.

Changing the Listowner

In an ideal world, our work will not be necessary -- the users can manage all operations by theirselves. As long as the world is not ideal, when the generations in AEGEE change the listowners of the mailing lists are not changed by the previous listowners and the AEGEE Mail Team is involved.

First of all, the intention is to show the users how can they perform certain operations by theirselves, especially how to change the listowners. Usually a hint to is enough.

Sometimes we have to deal with IT-blondies. In such cases sending the link above is not enough. The IT-blondies could be the current listowners, in such case assist them to make the changes, or the people who want to get the administrative rights on the list.

Sometimes the current listowners do not react (the email addresses do not exist any more, there is no password for them, people left AEGEE many years ago and do not answer to emails, there are quarrels within the atenna who shall be the listowners, but the AEGEE Mail Team is told that the current listowners do not react...). In such cases sending the link above is not enough.

The procedure in such cases:

Please keep in mind that the some extend the mailing lists are secret and not everybody shall be able to get listonwer of a mailing list. The procedure above avoids problems in the future, like somebody presenting wrong information and based on it becoming administrative rights on the list.

Deleting Mailing Lists

Don't delete lists over the web interface, as this will erase all the archives!

A mailing list can be deleted, upon request from one of the listowners; when a consensus among the subscribers is reached; the list has no subscribers; the list is used against the principles of the association. (N.B. if a person or antenna has a problem with a mailing list, this does not mean that the association has a problem.) The list deletion can be initiated by the site administrators, when the list was not used in the last six months. In this case all list owners are asked if they agree to close the list. In the query is explictly stated, that if the listowners need to consult somebody, they shall do so on their own and communicate back the final result (otherwise they reply they don't want to decide but tell you who shall you ask in order to get a definive answer about deleting the list). If a mailing list is related to an AEGEE-Body, the bosses of the body can be asked too, if they agree with a list deletion. When there is no feedback from the listowners within one month, a message is sent to all subscribers, stating that the list will be deleted within a month, if there are no objections.

In all cases the intention is to delete the mailing list when there is a clear indication that the list will not be used anymore.

Check if other lists depend on this one: have this one as sublists; have the owners/editors/moderators of this list as owners of another list; have the subscribers of this list as owners/editors/moderators of another list; have been granted read access to the archives of another list. This check can be done by checking if the name of this list appears in any other list. (grep -i THIS-LIST-L /home/listserv/home/*.list ). Before the list is deleted, the dependancies have to be resolved.

Once an agreement is made to delete the list, send an email to all listowners (or the list, if the agreement was reached over the list) stating that the list will be deleted, the archives will be stored and the list can be put again online in the future at its today state upon request. You could include also the number of the remaining mailing lists.

This notification has to include information with whom the agreement for deleting the list was made, so that all other listowners can see it. This is necessary because listowners do not necessary coordinate among each other if a list shall be deleted or not, but reply spontaneous. To avoid surprised listowners in the future, who do not understand why a list is deleted, include in the email informating about the list deletion, who ordered this operation. The easiest way to achieve this is to reply to the email asking for a list to be deleted and write at its top that the list is deleted.

To actually delete the list use the command /home/listserv/delete_list listname , where listname is the name of the list in small letters (no capitals). The files of the deleted lists are archived in a single .tar.bz2 file and stored under /home/listserv/deleted_lists/.

In all cases, the files on the servers are backed up every night, so if something goes wrong the files from the last 1-2-3 backups can be restored.

ES Clause [obsolet]

ES-GRADUATES-L was deleted on 14.01.2010.

For the european schools two mailing list of the form PRES/FRES/ITES/ES/ES2/T4T-city-L and PRES/FRES/ITES/ES/ES2/T4T-city-STAFF-L are created. After the event is over the list with the participans is added as sublist to ES-GRADUATES-L for two years. In the mean time the list with the participans is not deleted, even if it is not used for longer than half an year.

Daniel has agreed on 08.12.2009 on deleting ES-ENSCHEDE-L. The list canbe deleted, when it is removed from ES-GRADUATES-L.


The mailing lists of all projects' coordination teams are included as sublists of PROJECTS-L. This lists can be deleted, when they are removed from PROJECTS-L. PROJECTS-L can also contain individual subscribers. The list is managed by the Projects Directeur.

Renaming Mailing Lists

Renaming a mailing list is done upon request from the listowners, or when a concesus among the subscribers is reached.

Renaming a mailing list means ensuring that the new list address is not already allocated and fits in the naming convension for mailing lists, and practically renaming all files in /home/listserv that have as name the old list to the new list, preserving the extensions; updating the Notebook= keyword in the list configuration; creating a redirect for mails sent to the old address via the file /home/listserv/aliases.renamed_lists, removing the old sieve scripts from /usr/sieve, updating the list aliases and sending a confirmation/test mail.

Check if other lists depend on this one: have this one as sublists; have the ownrs/editors/moderators of this list as owners of another list; have the subscribers of this list as owners/editors/moderators of another list; have been granted read access to the archives of another list. This check can be done by checking if the name of this list appears in any other list. (grep -i THIS-LIST-L /home/listserv/home/*.list ). In case of list dependency rewrite the lists that depend on this one, to depend on the new one. You can even LOCK the other lists during the renaming process, so that no mails are sent over it, and UNLOCK it at the end: in this case mails sent to the lock lists will be delivered after the unlock.

The script /home/listserv/rename_list does all this work for you, except checking list dependancies, when you login via SSH. Before using it make sure, that there is no mailing list with the new name, and that the Notebook= keyword in the list configuration contains as directory name literally the name of the list. The script is then invoked with two or three parameters, like:/home/listserv/rename_list aegee-l aegee2-l Ivan\ Vasov\ \<\> . The first paramter is the old name of the mailing list in small case, the second parameter is the new name of the mailing list in small case (no capitals), and as last, optinal parameter, comes the name of the person who requested renaming the mailing list, including name and email address. Since the third parameter cannot contain spaces and special characters, in order to be one parameter, a slash is put before the spaces, < and > (as in the example). This script renames all files, adds redirect to /home/listserv/aliases.renamed_lists, subscribes to the list, removes the sieve scripts for the old list, uploads the sieve script for the new list.

Sometimes a mail over the list shall be sent informing the subscribers about the change, sometimes not. When the process of renaming the list was result of a consensus among the subscrbers, they must be informed about the change. If there is a third parameter to /home/listserv/home/rename_list, then a mail is sent by the script, otherwise you have to inform all the listowners manually, that the list was renamed. All, because the listowners do not necessary coordinate their actions among each other. When the subscribers are not informed about a change, it is not dramatic, as they just use the old address and the mails are silently redirected to the new address.

Creating Mailing Lists

Mailing lists are created upon request from anybody. Usually it can be undersood from the request, if the list is going to be used for communication with the external world (Send = Public), or for communication only among the members (Send = Private). If the request does not have sufficient informaiton, the person is hinted to read

Naming: Mailing list names start with the name of the antenna, or WG/Project abbreviation, followed by dash. Mailing lists names end with . In between the requester is free what to put. Ensure that in the past there was no list with that name. A list of deleted lists is available in /var/lib/wwwrun/deleted_lists.php .

There are mailing lists for communication within a team that has contact with the external world (e.g. boards) and teams that are not supposed to receive mails from the external world (list for members). The keywords in the list configuration are ordered alphabetically, having all „=“ signs aligned in one and the same 17th column. The alphabetical order makes finding specific keyword easier, when the list configuration is checked at a later moment.

Mandatory values :
    Ack             = No
    Change-Log      = Yes
    Default-Options = MAIL, SUBJ, REPRO, NOACK
    Errors-To       = Owners
    Exit            = MAILING_LISTS_SIEVE
    Notebook        = Yes, /home/listserv/THE NAME OF THE LIST/, Monthly, Private
    Notebook-Header = Full
    Validate        = All, Confirm
    X-Tags          = Yes

Exit = MAILING_LISTS_SIEVE installs rules for filtering out mails during the SMTP dialogue. The description of the remaining keywords can be found in the documentation of listserv: -> Support -> Manuals -> [Listserv Keyword References] Listserv 15.5 List Keyword Reference.

Review = controls who can see the list of the subscribers. The default is Private meaning, that every subscriber can see who else is subscribed on the list. On lists with Subscription = Open this is insecure, as it allows everybody to subscribe to the list, and retrieve the email of all subscribers. In this case set Review = Owners.

The following keywords shall be considered when a new list is created:
    Attachments     =
    Confidential    =
    .HH on
    Owner           = 1st@owner (Names of the person in ASCII)
    Owner           = 2nd@owner (Names of the person in ASCII)
    .HH off
    Reply-To        =
    Review          =
    Send            =
    SizeLim         =
    Subject-Tag     =
    Sublists        =
    Subscription    =

Pay attention who can see the list archives (Notebook=) and how can new people subscribe (Subscribe=)-- this concerns the securiry. In lists of closed teams (organizers, commissions, boards) there must be control who can subscribe the list, otherwise the team cannot discuss secret matters.

When entering email address in the list configuration, type in parentheses as ASCII code, the names of the persons whose email address this is. It is not always obvious and creates additional work to find the person, when the we want to contact the listowner, the email address is outdated and the name of the person is missing.

Some lists are interconnected. E.g. events have often list for organizers and list for participants. Since the organizers are supposed to read the mail exchanged with the participants and post to the participants, in the settings of the participans' list is added
    Notebook        = ... , (THE-ORGANIZERS-L)
    Send           = Private, (THE-ORGANIZERS-L)
    SubLists        = THE-ORGANIZERS-L

When the list is created all the requesters/listowners are manually added to the list, so that they receive notification. is silently added, so that nobody receives notification. Then the command _GENERATE_ALIASES is executed from Its purpose is to activate the address [obsoleted by the shut down in Aachen "immediately, rather than at 6:13 GMT"].

Then a welcome mail is sent to the new list, describing the basics to start with a new list. The welcome mail contains initial instructions how to run a mailing lists, indication that is subscribed to the list and summary of the list settings, especially:

Support for New Lists

This is currently automatically perfomed by listserv-monotor, module never_actively_used. This section is obsolete.

When a new list is created and is not used for more than a month, the persons who requested the list creation shall be contacted and asked if they need assistance to use the list.

For any given moment, the lists that need potentially support are those, where is subscribed. The email address is removed with the command "QUIET DEL listname-L mail" issued from once the list starts functioning.

If the deletion is not QUIET, then the listowners receive a mail To:, CC: the listowners, stating "You have been removed by ..." and afterwards they ask us why we have removed them, but in fact we have removed, and they got a copy of the message...

Undeleting Mailing Lists

Deleted mailing lists are stored in /home/listserv/deleted_lists/ as one .tar.bz2 file. To undelete a list this file needs to be extracted and the contained files put afterwards on the right places. Then the .tar.bz2 file shall be remoed. In addition the sieve scripts need to be regenerated by running "mailing-lists-sieve LISTNAME-L" or by adding Exit = MAILING_LISTS_SIEVE in the list configuration (if not there) and finally adding and removing a subscriber from the list. Eventually the list must be removed from

The undeletion can be done with the command /home/listserv/deleted_lists <listname> , run as user listserv, where the listname is written in small letters.

The command does not remove the list from , however the index is generated again, when another list is deleted.

Spam Filter

Mailing lists where everybody can post get a spam filter in the CONTENT_FILTER template. The template can be edited over the listserv webinterface, from the site of the list, then choose List Managemeng -> Customization -> Mail Templates -> (Select Template Category) Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam -> (Select Template) Rules for filtering list messages based on their content [CONTENT_FILTER]. There is a default value, but please customize it for the list, something like:
X-Spam-Level: +++++
Action: REJECT Your mail was evaluated as spam and was not delivered, however you can contact us at ...-- alternative means to contact that listonwers, like website, telephone number or fax -- .

Please note, that this are in total two lines.

CC: and To: headers

Listserv shows to the recipients the CC: and To: fields, when X-Tags=Yes is set in the list configuration and the subscribers have the option SUBJ. In this case, if the name of the list is put together with other addresses in To: or CC:, then the name of the list is removed and only the other addresses remain. To have the original CC/To preserved, the sender needs to put the name of the list either alone in To: or alone in CC:.

When X-Tags is not set to Yes, the list subscribers see only the name of the list in the CC:/To: headers.

Actually listserv does not allow to keep the CC:/To: except one does not need the Reply-To header and it is the process post-listserv-milter which takes the mails from listserv and unhides partically the CC:/To: headers.

The OK confirmation mechanism

The OK confirmation mechanism is described at

Please note, that when listserv creates on OK cookie, an /home/listserv/home/*.ok* file is created. If listserv terminates unexpectedly (power off, kill -9) it does not store to the hard disk which cookies are currently managed. In turn the cookies never expire, and listserv never deletes them. That's why once a year the old OK files are deleted.

Listserv Errors

Listserv postmasters, marked as non-quiet receive error messages from listserv, when some mails cannot be delivered or proceeded. This errors need to be investigated and reasons that lead to the errors, resolved.

If the daily limit of a list is exceeded, a mail containing: Message ("An error occurred while logging mail to the...")
Body: An error occurred while logging mail to the archives of the ALICANTE-JUNTA-L list. An incomplete copy of the message might be present in the archive file. The list is being held to prevent further occurrences of this error. Please take corrective action and issue a "FREE ALICANTE-JUNTA-L" command when you want the message to be reprocessed.
Is sent to the listowners and site administrators. In the log file of listserv is written something like:
13 Dec 2009 18:13:02 Processing file 14017658 from MAILER@LISTS.AEGEE.ORG
13 Dec 2009 18:13:03 -> Removing unwanted MIME message parts...
13 Dec 2009 18:13:03 Processing mail from SOMEBODY@SOMEWHERE for ALICANTE-JUNTA-L
13 Dec 2009 18:13:04 Digest size limit exceeded, sending special issue...
13 Dec 2009 18:13:04 Reindexing ALICANTE-JUNTA-L LOG0912... Load_index: V=0 T=0 size=320k
13 Dec 2009 18:13:04 To LISTOWNER@SOMEWHERE : An error occurred while logging mail to the archives of the ALICANTE-JUNTA-L (...)
13 Dec 2009 18:13:06 Sent information mail to LISTOWNER@SOMEWHERE

The solution is to increase the Size (5th parameter) in Digest= for the list, e.g. make it Digest = Yes,Same,Daily,00,Size(100M)

Messages to the owner-listname Address

When a mail cannot be delivered to a list recipient, a mail delivery report is sent to the address.

Mailing lists with Auto-Delete keyword proceed automatically the error messages.

For the other lists, all mails for are forwarded as attachment in a listserv-generated mail to the listowners (or the addresses, given in the Errors-To keyword). These can be delivery reports, or spam mails. The listowners, who dunno what to do with these emails, shall be informed about the mail delivery reports, spam sent to, and the possibility to install Auto-Delete keyword.

Please check also about real error messages from unreal subscribers.


Written in Mai 2009 by Дилян Палаузов.