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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
— 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.
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.
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
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