A reminder about RISCOSitory’s mailing lists

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Apparently, Yahoogroups mailing lists will be brought to a close in December and, if no further action is taken, that will mean the end of a number of mailing lists used to support (or allow discussion of) some RISC OS software. This would therefore be an ideal time to remind people that RISCOSitory is able to offer mailing lists on the .co.uk domain.

The set up uses a tried and tested mailing list server called Mailman, which has a wealth of options to contend with – but the good news there is that I deal with all the setting up and main administration, so I deal with all the difficult bits, and you don’t generally need to worry. You do, however, need to be aware of a few things – and to tell me a few things about what you want.

What you need to know

An obvious point to make is that the hosting package is funded by me, with no costs passed on to you or subscribers. That means my word is final on all administrative matters, and any rules I impose. You’ll be glad to know, however, there aren’t many:

  • The list MUST cover a RISC OS-related topic.
  • The lists are intended to be text only – no attachments of any kind – and in order to discourage people even trying to post something they shouldn’t, a size limit is imposed on messages. This is currently set at 20kB, which should be more than adequate for text only messages – and any exceeding that are held for moderation.
  • The server is set up to strip attachments it recognises based on common types – a list which can be expanded if necessary; and will be if anyone posts something that slips through.
  • Administration privileges are mine by default, and the person requesting the list (and anyone else they nominate) can be set up as moderator. In some circumstances, I may be willing to allow admin privileges as well, but you’ll have to make a good case for it – and I reserve the right to remove those privileges if I feel they’ve been mishandled.
  • Mailing list archives are (as of this month) not available to the public, only to list subscribers using their subscribed address and chosen (or allocated, depending on how they subscribe) password.
  • Subscribers should only include the list address as the message recipient – i.e. in the ‘To’ line of their message, with nothing in the ‘CC’ line. If they wish to copy the message to third parties, they should ‘BCC’ their addresses.

As noted in the first point, the lists are intended as text only – while some subscribers may be using software set up to send HTML emails, with formatting. Mailman is configured to convert these to plain text emails – if there is both an HTML part and a corresponding plain text part, the HTML part is simply removed. Where there is no text only equivalent, the HTML should be stripped to leave the message as plain text. HTML messages, therefore, are not a problem in general.

There is, however, one issue – the size limit. Mailman checks a message against that limit before dealing with the HTML – so even where a message would fit within the limit with the HTML is removed, if it doesn’t before it’s removed, the message is held for moderation. My policy, therefore, is to simply approve such messages when I become aware of them. The current 20kB limit is, in fact, an increased one to hopefully reduce the instances of this being needed.

What you need to tell me

The name of the list

An obvious first thing here is what the list is to be called! The list address will be ‘something’ at riscository dot co dot uk – and that something is what you need to decide. Historically, I’ve suffixed that something with -list (for example virtualacorn-list@riscository.co.uk) in case I ever wanted to use the domain for something else, so that the list addresses are easily identifiable at a glance – but in practice I never have (and have long sinced registered the .com on which you are reading this) so I am open to other naming preferences (eg -users, -discuss, or even just -l).

An important consideration here is that you might currently have multiple lists, each covering a separate product or product group – and while that might have been appropriate once upon a time, ask yourself whether it’s necessary now. The RISC OS community is very small, and many mailing lists are very quiet and don’t see a huge number of posts to them. Consider whether it might be better to have a single list to cover all of your products, rather than separate lists.

Subscription rules

The list would be, by default, set up so that anyone can subscribe – either via the web interface or by email – and when they do so they will receive an email to allow them to confirm that subscription. Clicking the link therein confirms their subscription, and thereafter they send and receive messages from the list.

You also have the option of moderating subscriptions – so that if someone tries to subscribe, you have to approve them. If you would prefer this approach, you need to tell me, otherwise the subscription will be as above.

You might prefer to limit subscriptions in this way if you only want to allow people who have purchased your product(s) to be on the mailing list, for example.

Moderation

The default set up is for the list to be unmoderated. As an unmoderated list, any subscriber can post to it and the only time moderator (or administrator) approval is required is when a message is caught by a filter – such as the size one mentioned above.

You have the option, though, of having the list set up as a moderated one, whereby all messages have to be approved.

Migrating existing subscriptions

It is possible to import your existing list of subscribers, and either subscribe them automatically or invite them to join the new list. The latter option means they will receive an email from the list server – not unlike the confirmation message when they subscribe themselves – and must confirm their subscription.

The other option is manual on the part of your existing subscribers – to ask on the list you have now for people to subscribe to the new one.

Does the list need to be private?

By default, the list server can be asked for details of all the lists it is serving – but if you don’t want anyone other than your subscribers (and customers who might want to subscribe) to know about it, your list can be excluded from this.

Anything else?

The details given above are only an overview of the more obvious and pertinent options. There are many other settings, but some are things that you really don’t need to know about, and others are things that can be fine tuned as necessary.

How do you get a list set up?

Armed with all of that, all you need to do is contact me with all the necessary details, and I can set things up as needed. If you wish to ‘test’ the list in order to decide if there is anything else needed – such as a specific list signature, a welcome message for new subscribers, etc. – this can be done by you and I subscribing to the list initially, perhaps with a selected additional group, for an initial discussion.

About VinceH

VinceH, aka Vince M Hudd, owns and operates Soft Rock Software, providing services and software to not only the RISC OS market, but also to the wider world. RISCOSitory and its associated sites and services are provided for free as a result of that - so buying his stuff is probably quite helpful.