Mailing lists/Administration

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This page is a help guide for admins on the Wikimedia mailing lists. For more information about the lists and links to other help pages, see Mailing lists.

If you have any other (specific) questions about the list configuration, just ask on the talk page.

Duties of list administrators[edit]

The primary responsibilities of public mailing list administrators are setting up the mailing list, dealing with spam, and moderating trouble users or those who are sending lots of out-of-office mails. Larger lists also sometimes need to gently suggest that contributors keep on topic, watch their tone, and avoid flaming each other. Administrators of private lists do the same things, but they also help with approving and managing subscriptions.

Mundane chores include deciding whether to pass on posts from people who are not subscribed to the list, or inviting them to join the list instead. Occasionally people will ask for information or wish to send complaints (such as for copyright infringement) who do not want to subscribe.

Note that these must be distinguished from SPAM, which should be deleted. DO NOT send spammers any messages, such as asking them to subscribe in order to post, because their software will interpret that as "please put me on your sucker list" and make your job ten times harder!

List admins (also known as list owners) have the possibility to change specific options on their mailing lists and to edit the moderation queue. The admin interface is reachable by using the link , followed by the name of the list (wikipedia-l, for example).

Configuration options[edit]

General options[edit]

Generally, there are no special tasks needed. If the list is new, you should change the following options:

  • real_name (public list name) – change the case if you want to, e.g. wiktionary-en => Wiktionary-EN
  • owner (list admin addresses) – you can add more admins to help you manage the list, remember that you still need to give them the password yourself
  • description – this is a short phrase explaining what the list is; this phrase shows up on on the list directory and at the top of the listinfo page
  • info (introductory description) – a longer description of what the mailing list is about; you can include links to other pages, but you need to use HTML

You can change other options on there, but most of them are probably best left at the default.


Use this site to change the list owner(s) or list moderator(s) password.

Note: There is no way to retrieve a mailing list password from the mailman interface (there is no "send a password reminder button"), so you need to share new passwords with the other list administrators and not forget the password.

Language options[edit]

Use this page to change the default language to adjust it to the wiki the mailing list was created for. It will change all the interfaces (public, subscribers, owners) to the language you have chosen.

You can also add as many other "available languages" as you would like. However, most lists just pick a few of the ones closest to their language or that most of their subscribers would understand (e.g. wikide-l gets German and English; wikimk-l gets English, Ukrainian, and Russian because there's no Macedonian interface).

If your language is not listed and you would like to translate the mailman interface, please see translation instructions.

Membership management[edit]

Use this page to have an overview of the members and their options. You can unsubscribe a user, set him as moderated (his message will be held in the moderation queue), set him as a user who wants to be registered without receiving mails, etc. Use the link above the member overview to get a legend of the possible options. You usually don't need to edit the page.

You can also add or remove a bunch of users using the "Mass Subscription" and "Mass Removal" options.

Non-digest & Digest options[edit]

You can change digest options here, but you usually won't need to and probably should not mess with options on these two pages.

Privacy options[edit]

These pages allow you to add people to different filters. It allows you to set individual e-mail addresses of non-members to be auto-accepted, deleted, held, or rejected. Also, you can set what approval is needed if someone wants to subscribe to the list.

For most lists, you want the subscription rules set so they make things as public as possible (advertised = yes; subscribe_policy = confirm; unsubscribe_policy = no; private_roster = members; obscure_addresses = yes). However, for private lists you might not want to advertise it and you probably want to require that new members "confirm and approve".

Be careful when setting the filters, because sometimes spammers like to fake the To: fields. (For example, it's usually not a good idea to just whitelist any people who send from because spammers could easily get past that.)

Archiving options[edit]

You can set here whether the archive of your list is private (so only members can see it) or public. For most public lists, you'll want to keep the archives public as well, and for most private lists, you'll want to keep the archives private as well. However, sometimes you'll want to mismatch. (For example a committee whose discussions are public but only certain people can contribute, or an open group who doesn't care who reads what they're doing but does want to know who those people are.)

Other configuration options[edit]

(Bounce processing, Mail<->News Gateway, Auto-responder, Content filtering, Topics)

You usually don't want to touch these things.

Other Administrative Activities[edit]

Tend to pending moderator requests[edit]

This is a very important page you should check regularly. This is the list of messages which have been held because they were stopped by a filter, or because they were posted by a non-member. If a message is spam, you should select "delete" as "Action to take on all these held messages" and select "delete" as "Add to one of these sender filters:". If a mail is not spam, you should select "accept" as the action. Don't forget to use the Submit button when you're finished.

Bulk processing[edit]

If a moderation queue is too long for you, you can use the following:

  • Add this to your bookmarks: javascript:var el=document.forms[0].elements;for (var i=0; i<el.length;i++) if (el[i].type=='radio' && el[i].value==3) void(el[i].checked=true);
  • When you're in the moderation queue, only select accept for the non-spam messages and do not select anything for the spam messages.
  • Select the javascript line you have added to your bookmarks.
  • The "delete" action should be chosen for the non-spam messages now; you'll just have to use the Submit button.

Browser issues[edit]

As of v.2.1.13, the moderation interface has severe issues with browsers like Chrome or Safari on Mac OS, causing frequent timeouts. A temporary solution for Mac users is to use Firefox.

Edit the public HTML pages and text files[edit]

You may want to use a Wikimedia specific template for the info page of your mailing list. See it applied to the wikitech-announce info page.

Other than that, it's probably best to not touch this unless you know what you're doing and have a specific thing you'd like to accomplish. Also remember to backup all previous versions before you change them, because there is no "history" or "undo" button!

Communication with list administrators[edit]

Requests to list admins as such should be directed to their -owner address, also linked from the list description. If the communication involves multiple lists, consider some points.

  • If it suffices, email the list admins only (few hundreds in total) rather than the lists themselves (several thousands subscribers).
  • It's nice to notify people of proposals and events which affect "their" lists. However, leave proposals/opinions in a link where people can comment, like a talk page or Phabricator report; keep the notification neutral. It's possible that URLs make your message look like spam to filters; but an incomprehensible message may end up being spam.
  • Usually, long To/Cc fields are considered ugly. Keep addresses in Bcc and explain in the body why they're receiving your message.
  • Before hitting send, check your message and this list again.
Subject: Event/Proposal X
To: me
Bcc:, ...
Hi, I write you to let you know of something that affects a list you are administrator of, "Event/Proposal X".
Please find it at $URL and comment there.
Regards, random person