Mailman Mailing Lists at UNH


Mailman is designed to expertly manage sending email to a list of subscribers and managing issues like controlling who may post to the list and what to do with messages that could not be delivered. Mailman can also automatically save a historical record of the messages distributed via your list which can then be easily shared as web pages.



• What is Mailman?
• What Can Mailman Do For You?
• Subscriber FAQ
• List Owner FAQ
• New List FAQ
• The List Owner's Cookbook

Mailman at UNH makes creating and managing an email list easy. But no software can successfully be all things to all people. Here are some examples of where a Mailman list is a good solution, and situations where it is not.

Managing List Membership

[YES] Team, Work Group, Committee, or Department Lists — A Mailman list can be an ideal communication venue where the list of required subscribers is well known and changes infrequently. As the list owner, you can use the Mailman web interface to add, change, and remove individual email addresses with about the same convenience as using a spreadsheet.

[YES] Large Self-Selected Community of Subscribers — Mailman makes it easy for people to request a subscription to your list and to remove themselves when they find it no longer of interest. Every Mailman list has its own home page where you can explain the mission of the list. This page also provides readers with tools for self-subscription and sign-off. How you advertise and link to this page is up to you. You can also easily add your list to the global UNH Mailman list-of-lists page for additional exposure. With this type of list, your subscription management should primarily be helping individuals who may have problems using the provided self-service tools.

[YES] Subscriptions by Invitation — The Mailman bulk subscription feature enables you to send out bulk invitations to people you believe may be interested in subscribing to your list. This is an excellent way to enlist subscribers using email addresses gathered from a meeting's sign-up sheet.

[NO] Automatic Student Subscriptions Based on Enrollment Data — There is currently no plan to automatically maintain student announcement lists based on student enrollment data such as college, class year, or major. Please refer to the Directed Communications System for this requirement. You may, however, create a Mailman opt-in list and advertise a web link where students are invited to self-subscribe to receive announcements from your department or organization.

[MAYBE] Large Targeted Cohorts — The Mailman server is not connected or integrated with any existing UNH database or directory. It thus cannot be used to automatically subscribe or unsubscribe individuals based on demographic data. Bulk email to specific UNH demographics is a service provided by the Directed Communications System. It is possible to manually bulk add any number of email addresses gathered from some data source using the Mailman web interface. The UNH Mailing List Server Admin may also be able to do a one-time email bulk load from a curated data source such as a spreadsheet. However keep in mind that removal of a subscription requires individually finding and selecting each entry from a list of email addresses. This quickly becomes tedious, unwieldy, and error prone, as the size of the list grows. Also remember that subscribers are not captive and always have the ability of self sign-off from your list.

[MAYBE] Sub Groups — Mailman does not have the feature of being able to send a message to only a selected subset of your subscribers. You may, however, have as many lists as you need, each with its own particular constituency that you wish to reach (committee chairs, volunteers, etc.). Mailman does support so-called umbrella lists which is a list where the subscribers are other Mailman lists. But this feature has its issues and is not recommended except for the most intrepid of list owners.

[NO] Disposable Lists — A Mailman list is designed to facilitate on-going communication with a standing list of opt-in subscribers. Creating a Mailman list to be used to make just one or two announcements, and then be discarded, is not a supported service. The Directed Communications System is specifically designed for one-time unsolicited mailings.

Sharing Documents

[YES] Email List Archives — You can turn on automatic archiving for your Mailman list. Archives can be found using a link on your list's own home page. By default archives are available only to subscribers of the list using the subscriber's own list password. However, as the list owner, you can open up your list's archives to the Internet at large.

[YES] Time Sensitive Documents — Documents that have a limited life time can be distributed via your Mailman list as email attachments. Examples of such documents might include meeting announcements, invitations, recruitment sessions, and deadline notices. It is strongly recommended that such documents be in a portable format like plain text, HTML, or PDF. Sending proprietary application files like word processing documents (Microsoft Word), spreadsheets (Excel), and slide decks (PowerPoint) should be avoided since these often require having specific software that some of your subscribers may not have.

[MAYBE] Working Documents — Distributing any document that is likely to change over time, as an email attachment, is bad idea when better solutions exist. Giving every subscriber their own copy of a document invites confusion as to which version of the document is the most current. Instead use Box @ UNH to store the document in the cloud and email a link to the document instead. Your UNH Box account provides a secure platform for always sharing the latest and greatest version of a document, and allows you to control exactly the right level of access to that document.

[NO] Large Documents — Sending large documents, such as images and video clips, via email is never a good idea, since the space taken up by such attachments counts against each individual subscriber's email quota. A large attachment could cause some of your subscribers to actually not be able to receive new email message until that message has been retrieved and deleted from their mailbox. Instead use your UNH Box account for sharing large documents.

Miscellaneous

[NO] Usage Reporting — Mailman does not provide any sort of statistical reporting on list traffic, nor on individual subscriber activity. Turning on archiving can provide raw data from which you may be able to infer list traffic trends. Or you can subscribe to the list and maintain your own folder of all list traffic for possible analysis.

If you have any questions about how you can best use Mailman for your project or organization, please contact List.Admin@unh.edu.

Next: Subscriber FAQ

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