Mailman is a web-based, open source, electronic Mailing List Management system (MLM). With Mailman, any member of the UNH Community may sponsor and manage a community mailing list as a discussion forum or for organizational announcements.
The electronic mailing list is almost as old as email itself, with the first widely used program dating back to 1984. It is still a useful technology today because it leverages an application we all still use, email. An email list can be used to efficiently send an announcement to a standing list of subscribers. Or it can be used to provide a common forum where subscribers can trade ideas, insights, or ask the group for its collected wisdom.
At the heart of this type of list is a unique email address that is used to reach all subscribers. The primary job of the mailing list system is to make sure only authorized individuals are allowed to send messages via the list, and to politely inform posters when they may not do so and why. With any large number of email addresses, inevitably there will be email delivery problems for a few subscribers. The mailing list system automatically handles these delivery issues, notifying the list owner as necessary and making sure that subscribers are shielded from error notices and similar mailing list administrivia.
Mailman is an example of a classic Internet electronic mailing list service. You'll often hear this type of service casually referred to as a LISTSERV, much as people may ask for a Kleenex when what is actually wanted is any handy facial tissue. Two hallmarks of this type of mailing list, compared to other methods of distributing email, include:
Each list has its own unique Internet email address. Sending an ordinary email message to that address can redistribute that message to everyone subscribed to the list.
Subscribers are provided self service tools to manage their own subscription and may opt-in or opt-out of the list at any time.
The four primary user roles related to the use, care, and feeding of an email mailing list at UNH are:
subscriber — The list subscriber or member receives messages posted to the list. Depending upon the goals and policy of the list, subscribers may or may not be able to post their own messages to the list.
owner — The list owner is the person or persons responsible for the day-to-day management of the mailing list. When a subscriber needs help with using the list, they turn to the list owner for assistance. The list owner sees all subscribers, can add and remove subscribers as needed, and can modify how the list functions.
sponsor — The list sponsor is responsible for establishing the mission of the list and the goals for how it is to be used. The list sponsor can delegate list management to one or more list owners, although it is quite common for the list sponsor and list owner to be one in the same person.
list server admin — The list server admin is the IT support staff responsible for the installation and maintenance of the mail list server software and, when requested, the creation and retirement of individual mailing lists. The list server admin also provides direct help and support to the list owner community. Since each list has its own set of goals and policies, questions from a subscriber are not handled by the list server admin, but are instead redirected to the specific list owner.
Mailman at the University of New Hampshire is provided by UNH IT as a free service in support of the university's mission as the state’s public research university, providing comprehensive, high-quality undergraduate programs and graduate programs of distinction.
Next: What Can Mailman Do For You?
If you are having any problems using this service or have any questions, please contact List.Admin@unh.edu.