FAQ
I run an installation of Mailman 2.1.9 installed from the Debian stable branch, and includes Sendmail 8.13.8, and have discovered some quirky handling of user addresses.

On occasion, I've had users complain about sending multiple subscription request to a list's -join address, and never getting any response. This happened last week, and with a little checking of logs, I found that what happened is that for some reason, some outbound messages addressed to individual users are getting "-owner" tagged to the username portion of the address. Of course, because the address is invalid, the message bounces.

Thus, if I'm hosting a list whose posting address is thislist at example.com, and a user whose email address is demouser at somewhere.com, the result of sending a subscription to thislist-join at example.com generated a reply message that was addressed not to demouser at somewhere.com but demouser-owner at somewhere.com.

This seems to be an intermittent problem. When this particular problem happened, the user submitted subscriptions to nearly a dozen lists, only this one list had a problem -- all the other subscriptions were handled correctly. Also, as far as I can tell, this problem seems to be not specific to subscription responses, nor to this list. A check of my logs indicates a handful of other mis-addressed -owner addresses for regular message traffic.

Additionally, a few minutes ago. I was looking at the web interface for my own subscription options to thislist, and found in the the section for requesting a password reminder, the following text:

(Note - you are subscribing to a list of mailing lists, so the password notice will be sent to the admin address for your membership, myaddress-owner at example.com)

I've never seen that one before.

I do happen to be the owner of this list. I clicked the button, and the logs indicate that the message was sent to the specified address, and because it's invalid, the message bounced.

I also checked subscriptions of several other lists that I own, and none of them shows that note in the subscription options.

Any idea of what's going on?

NFN Smith




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  • Stephen J. Turnbull at Dec 19, 2008 at 9:32 am
    NFN Smith writes:
    (Note - you are subscribing to a list of mailing lists, so the
    password notice will be sent to the admin address for your
    membership, myaddress-owner at example.com)
    This is a feature oriented to "umbrella lists". For example, suppose
    you have two departments, "Support" and "Marketing". Some messages
    need to go to Support, some to Marketing, and some to both. The
    obvious thing to do is to create a third list "SupportAndMarketing".
    But this is administratively annoying because users need to deal with
    two lists to get all their mail, and two sets of archives as well.

    An umbrella list handles this by having SupportAndMarketing be
    subscribed to not by members, but by the Support list and the
    Marketing list. Shut off SupportAndMarketing archiving, and now (1)
    human users only need to worry about their departmental list and (2)
    all posts relevant to each group are archived in a single place (of
    course there will be duplication of archived posts in this case, but
    diskspace is cheap...).

    There remains one problem: passwords and other administrivia for the
    members of the umbrella list. If you treat them as ordinary list
    members, then all such administrivia will get broadcast to all the
    list members of the Support and Marketing lists! If you mark it as an
    "umbrella list", however, administrivia will get sent, not to the
    members of the Support and Marketing lists, but to support-owner and
    marketing-owner, which is what you observe here.

    Why this particular list is marked as an umbrella list, I can't
    guess. Presumably you (the owner) did that, perhaps inadvertantly.

    What you can do: (1) turn off the umbrella list feature, with the
    possible bad effect of sublist-members getting useless administrivia,
    or (2) "hide" the umbrella list from ordinary users in the web
    interface by unchecking the "advertise this list" box, unsubscribe any
    members who aren't sublists and resubscribe them to an appropriate
    sublist.

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postedDec 18, '08 at 11:35p
activeDec 19, '08 at 9:32a
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