Special Information for MBARI Users
This server uses the Sympa public domain listserver software. The MBARI I.S. staff has put together a specialized set of tech notes on the IS web site dealing with MBARI's implementation of the Sympa package. You can find those tech notes by clicking here; they will open in a new window for your convenience. You may also submit a help ticket if you need additonal help.
The rest of this document is a customized version of the documentation distributed with the Sympa product.
Mailing lists - General introduction
What is a mailing list?
A mailing list is a distribution list allowing a group of subscribers to automatically receive by email all messages sent to the list: every message sent to the list by a subscriber is received by all the other subscribers.
- It is sometimes possible to send messages to a mailing lit without having subscribed to it. However, you need to be subscribed to a list to receive the messages.
- Lists are sometimes configured so that only a few people ("the list owners") may send messages to the list. In this case, you won't be able to send messages to the list even if you are subscribed to it.
Mailing List Catagories (Topics)
People subscribe to a mailing list to be informed about a particular topic and to take part in exchanges about it. MBARI has establisehed mailing lists in the following general catagories:
Mailing lists for MBARI committees Mailing lists for DMO related email lists Mailing lists for Human Resources (HR) related email lists Mailing lists for Engineering projects which are restricted to MBARI access Mailing lists for Engineering projects which may be accessed by the general public Mailing lists for Science projects which are restricted to MBARI access Mailing lists for Science projects which may be accessed by the general public Mailing lists for Recreational topics Mailing lists for Public Information topics Mailing lists for other MBARI related topics
Note that a single list can belong to more than one topic for ease of use. If you want to see a new topic added to the server, please submit a help request.
Types of mailing lists
There are thousands of mailing lists of all kinds on the Internet: public or private, free or not, with subscription subject to conditions or not, etc. Those lists may have from a dozen up to several thousand members.
According to the way they work, we can distinguish between two types of lists:
- Announcements lists allow subscribers to receive messages without being allowed to post some themselves. In fact, those messages are newsletters: electronic magazines, daily services (daily horoscope, daily weather report, daily security alert, etc.), update notices about a website, etc. With this type of mailing list, the information flows from a unique sender to a large number of recipients.
- Discussion lists allow all subscribers to take part in exchanges. Those lists can be moderated or not:
- In a moderated discussion list, messages are transmitted to all subscribers after approval by one of the list moderators. Moderation is a token of quality for the list. For example, it ensures that subscribers will not receive off-topic messages, unsolicited commercial messages (spams), messages containing large attachments, etc.
- In a non moderated discussion list, messages are transmitted to all subscribers as soon as the mailing list management robot receives them.
The majority of mailing lists hosted on MBARI's servers are non-moderated discussion lists.
Once subscribed to a mailing list service, you can:
- search for mailing lists matching your main interests or your particular situation;
- manage your subscriptions:
- subscribe to lists,
- unsubscribe from lists to which you are subscribed,
- change your subscriber options list by list,
- change your general preferences, which apply to the whole mailing list environment (name, password, language of the mailing list web interface, etc.);
- use mailing lists:
- read the online message archive of lists to which you are not subscribed if that archive is public and if your personal rights allow you to access those lists,
- read the archive of lists to which you are subscribed,
- perform searches in the list archive,
- send messages to lists to which you are subscribed,
- download documents from the shared document web space,
- upload documents in the shared document web space;
- manage mailing lists:
- create new lists (restricted access) - subject to authorization,
- configure lists you own,
- manage subscriptions,
- manage the shared document web space,
- moderate lists for which you are a moderator.
How the mailing list service works: roles and responsibilities
A mailing list service involves four types of roles:
It is possible to have several roles at once (for example, you can be an owner and a moderator of a list and be subscribed to several others).
The listmasters is in charge of the management of the mailing list service. The listmaster's duties include:
- manage the mailing list server (deployment, maintenance, etc.);
- create new lists when they are requested
The list owner is generally the person who requested the list creation or who became responsible for it. His/her role:
- fill out a list request form
- define the way the list will be used;
- write a list charter aimed at subscribers;
- manage subscriptions and unsubscriptions;
- answer questions from subscribers and potential subscribers about the list;
A list can have several owners. However, the 'Privileged' profile is reserved to the listmaster; other owners have a 'Normal' profile, which has fewer options.
Moderators are appointed by the list owner. They are in charge of controlling the relevancy of the messages sent to the list: after reading them, they choose to accept or to reject them . Moderation occurs before the message is actually sent to subscribers. Rejection of a message is possibly followed by a notice to the sender in order to explain the reason for that rejection.
A list can have one or several moderators; generally, the list owner is also a moderator.
Moderators are only configured when the list is a moderated list. Most lists at MBARI are unmoderatred lists where messages are sent automatically to the list server.
The use of a mailing list service means respecting the privacy of others. By using MBARI's email list server you are also bound by MBARI's Information Systems Policies.
To know more, refer to the section dedicated to good practices for subscribers and to the section about good practices for owners and moderators.