FAQ
I'm part of a group of people ("sysops") that own several
lists. Because the group changes occasionally, we've created a Mailman
list called "sysops at foo.com", and all of our lists are owned by
"sysops at foo.com". The sysops list also receives other
(non-Mailman-generated) emails.

We tried to make sysops owned by itself, but ran into problems: a
spammer emailed sysops, and the mail was held for moderation. However,
the "sysops post requires approval" message came from sysops-bounces
and went to sysops: Mailman apparently detected a loop and didn't
deliver the message (either that, or Mailman automatically rejects
emails that come from a list itself?)

To be honest, we didn't investigate too deeply: we know that the
sysops list works great for the most part, but doesn't work when we
make it own itself. We even tried cheating by using an alias: we had
"bar at foo.com" forward to "sysops at foo.com" and then made the list owned
by "bar at foo.com", but Mailman figured out our trickery and somehow
disallowed it.

My question: what's the best way to handle a situation like this? Have
a list owned by itself or "effectively" owned by itself. An obvious
hack is to run "list_members sysops" in a cron job and then dump the
results into the 'owner' field, but this seems ugly, especially if
you're using topics (at any given time, only a subset of sysops may
decide to receive "message pending approval" type messages).

Is this the Mailman version of Russell's paradox?

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new ideas and technology is unwise and ultimately futile.

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  • Mark Sapiro at Feb 23, 2007 at 3:07 am

    Kelly Jones wrote:
    We tried to make sysops owned by itself, but ran into problems: a
    spammer emailed sysops, and the mail was held for moderation. However,
    the "sysops post requires approval" message came from sysops-bounces
    and went to sysops: Mailman apparently detected a loop and didn't
    deliver the message (either that, or Mailman automatically rejects
    emails that come from a list itself?)

    Actually, I think that the message comes From: sysops-owner with an
    envelope sender of mailman-bounces (or whatever the site list is).
    This however is irrelevant. What happens is this notice is sent with a
    header

    X-BeenThere: sysops at ...

    This header is detected when the message is received and processed for
    the list, and the message is discarded.

    To be honest, we didn't investigate too deeply: we know that the
    sysops list works great for the most part, but doesn't work when we
    make it own itself. We even tried cheating by using an alias: we had
    "bar at foo.com" forward to "sysops at foo.com" and then made the list owned
    by "bar at foo.com", but Mailman figured out our trickery and somehow
    disallowed it.

    Because you didn't remove the X-BeenThere: sysops at ... header.

    My question: what's the best way to handle a situation like this? Have
    a list owned by itself or "effectively" owned by itself. An obvious
    hack is to run "list_members sysops" in a cron job and then dump the
    results into the 'owner' field, but this seems ugly, especially if
    you're using topics (at any given time, only a subset of sysops may
    decide to receive "message pending approval" type messages).

    Is this the Mailman version of Russell's paradox?

    I don't think so. I think your alias trick will work if you make
    foo at example.com the owner and then process mail to foo at example.com by
    stripping any X-BeenThere: headers before forwarding to sysops at ...

    I haven't thought through the ramifications however. It's possible that
    this could result in a real loop. As I say, I haven't thought it
    through and it's possible that there are no loop scenarios, but I
    won't guarantee it.

    --
    Mark Sapiro <msapiro at value.net> The highway is for gamblers,
    San Francisco Bay Area, California better use your sense - B. Dylan
  • Brad Knowles at Feb 23, 2007 at 5:28 am

    At 6:43 PM -0700 2/22/07, Kelly Jones wrote:

    My question: what's the best way to handle a situation like this? Have
    a list owned by itself or "effectively" owned by itself.
    What I've done in situations similar to this, is to make the
    listowner list itself owned by an alias that is directly resolvable
    out of /etc/aliases. So, there is no loop -- owner mail for other
    lists goes to the listowner list, owner mail for the listowner list
    goes to the listmaster alias, and that's that.

    --
    Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>, Consultant & Author
    LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>
    Slides from Invited Talks: <http://tinyurl.com/tj6q4>
  • Kelly Jones at Feb 27, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    On 2/22/07, Brad Knowles wrote:
    At 6:43 PM -0700 2/22/07, Kelly Jones wrote:

    My question: what's the best way to handle a situation like this? Have
    a list owned by itself or "effectively" owned by itself.
    What I've done in situations similar to this, is to make the
    listowner list itself owned by an alias that is directly resolvable
    out of /etc/aliases. So, there is no loop -- owner mail for other
    lists goes to the listowner list, owner mail for the listowner list
    goes to the listmaster alias, and that's that.
    Thanks, Brad. My problem here is that the 'sysops' list changes
    frequently, and I don't want to maintain it in two places
    (/etc/mail/aliases and the list membership). I suppose I could have a
    script update /etc/mail/aliases using the output of "list_members
    sysops", but this seems kludgey.

    I'd also like members of 'sysops' to decide whether they want "message
    to 'sysops' awaiting approval" or not. If I make it an alias, everyone
    will get these emails. If I send it to a mailing list, I can setup a
    topic so that only people who want those messages will receive them.

    --
    We're just a Bunch Of Regular Guys, a collective group that's trying
    to understand and assimilate technology. We feel that resistance to
    new ideas and technology is unwise and ultimately futile.
  • Brad Knowles at Feb 27, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    At 6:43 AM -0700 2/27/07, Kelly Jones wrote:

    I'd also like members of 'sysops' to decide whether they want "message
    to 'sysops' awaiting approval" or not. If I make it an alias, everyone
    will get these emails. If I send it to a mailing list, I can setup a
    topic so that only people who want those messages will receive them.
    But you get into loop issues. That's why I do things the way I do --
    I don't get loops.

    You've got to decide which is more important to you:

    1) Avoiding loops and things working right virtually all the time?

    Or:

    2) Convenience?

    --
    Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>, Consultant & Author
    LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>
    Slides from Invited Talks: <http://tinyurl.com/tj6q4>
  • Dan Good at Feb 27, 2007 at 8:16 pm
    Where can I find more information concerning the uses of aliases and
    some examples?

    Dan Good
    On Feb 27, 2007, at 7:43 AM, Kelly Jones wrote:
    On 2/22/07, Brad Knowles wrote:
    At 6:43 PM -0700 2/22/07, Kelly Jones wrote:

    My question: what's the best way to handle a situation like
    this? Have
    a list owned by itself or "effectively" owned by itself.
    What I've done in situations similar to this, is to make the
    listowner list itself owned by an alias that is directly resolvable
    out of /etc/aliases. So, there is no loop -- owner mail for other
    lists goes to the listowner list, owner mail for the listowner list
    goes to the listmaster alias, and that's that.
    Thanks, Brad. My problem here is that the 'sysops' list changes
    frequently, and I don't want to maintain it in two places
    (/etc/mail/aliases and the list membership). I suppose I could have a
    script update /etc/mail/aliases using the output of "list_members
    sysops", but this seems kludgey.

    I'd also like members of 'sysops' to decide whether they want "message
    to 'sysops' awaiting approval" or not. If I make it an alias, everyone
    will get these emails. If I send it to a mailing list, I can setup a
    topic so that only people who want those messages will receive them.

    --
    We're just a Bunch Of Regular Guys, a collective group that's trying
    to understand and assimilate technology. We feel that resistance to
    new ideas and technology is unwise and ultimately futile.
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  • Brad Knowles at Feb 27, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    At 2:16 PM -0600 2/27/07, Dan Good wrote:

    Where can I find more information concerning the uses of aliases and
    some examples?
    That's going to depend on your MTA.

    We have a little information in the Mailman documentation, the FAQ
    Wizard, etc... but most of the useful information will probably be
    found within the documentation that is specific to your MTA.

    If you use sendmail, then try sendmail.org. If you use postfix, then
    try postfix.org. Or whatever is appropriate for your MTA.

    --
    Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>, Consultant & Author
    LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>
    Slides from Invited Talks: <http://tinyurl.com/tj6q4>

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