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Mailing Lists

Within the department we have three different types of mailing lists. Our recommended method is using Mailman lists, but we also have what are known as User-Controlled Mailing lists, and simple aliases to multiple addresses. Follow the various links below to find how each one works.
  • Mailman Lists
  • User-Controlled Mailing Lists
  • Aliases

How do I know which one to use?

In order to figure out which type of list is best suited for your purposes, first answer a few questions
  • Are there a large number of members that will be using your list?
  • Will you need to be able to make various changes to your list and enable specific options?
  • Is this a short-term or permanent list?
Mailman lists are best for groups of larger numbers, that would like to be able to set certain options and will be around for a longer period of time.
User-Controlled Mailing Lists are good for any size group that does not need special options. The owner will be able to add and remove members at will. These lists are for any length of duration.
Aliases are primarily used for very small groups (ex. group of 5 people) whose members will not need to be changed frequently, and can be used for a short or long time.

Mailman Lists

A mailman list is one whose list is run with the GNU Mailing List Manager. The systems staff will create these lists upon the request. These lists are easy to use and are controlled through a web interface. We recommend using Mailman lists for large groups, for groups whos members may change often, or for those who wish to set up particular handling of their messages. These lists are our the ones most commonly used throughout the department.

User-Controlled Mailing Lists

A user-controlled list is one whose recipients are listed in a user-controlled file. E.g. the list of recipients for are contained in /home/userid/cs308-list.
The useful difference is that the mail server consults that file when mail arrives for This means that if the list of students changes, the user who owns the file (e.g. a TA for that class) can change the file without ever involving the System Staff.
Send mail to to have such an alias established.

Alias File Syntax

The following syntax is used in such alias files:
  • Addresses are listed either
    • one per line, or
    • several on one line, separated by commas
  • blank lines are ignored
  • comment lines begin with #
The following is an example, which is valid:
# # Alias list for students in CS XXX, Fall 1996 # # students # ... ad nauseum # local people (i.e. msn4u,bgs4e,fer3q # Other aliases can be listed in here, such as this one csXXX-staff # A program which runs for each message that comes in |"/home/msn4u/bin/log-csXXX-mail" # A file to which mail is appended as it comes in /home/msn4u/classes/csXXX/mail-log