[sf-lug] maillist admin work

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue May 16 19:45:58 PDT 2006

[Cc'd back to the list, because I think it's of general interest.
Hope you don't mind.]

Quoting jim stockford (jim at well.com):

> I'll graduate to rereading Rick's email
> and try to relieve him of a little work.
> The interface is a pretty straightforward
> set of tools available via web browser.

Yeah.  The Mailman admin _model_ is just a bit retarded.

On http://linuxmafia.com/mailman/admin/sf-lug (page visible to Jim 
and me; to others only if Jim gives them the listadmin password),
near the top, there are two rosters into which you can put e-mail

o  "The list administrator email addresses. Multiple administrator
    addresses, each on separate line is okay."

o  "The list moderator email addresses. Multiple moderator addresses,
   each on separate line is okay."

What's supposed to be difference between the two (listadmins and
moderators)?  Let me quote the help screen:  

  There are two ownership roles associated with each mailing list. The
  list administrators are the people who have ultimate control over all
  parameters of this mailing list. They are able to change any list
  configuration variable available through these administration web

  The list moderators have more limited permissions; they are not able
  to change any list configuration variable, but they are allowed to
  tend to pending administration requests, including approving or
  rejecting held subscription requests, and disposing of held postings.
  Of course, the list administrators can also tend to pending requests. 

One of the reasons I say the model's a bit retarded is that membership
in _either_ group means you receive nagmail whenever a posting or
join request is held for listadmin approval, saying "Yo.  You need to
come to URL [foo] and settle an issue needing your attention."  (In
Jim's configuration, joining and leaving the group is strictly
self-service, so listadmins' vetting of same is _not_ required.
I'm guessing that listadmins will nonetheless get notices of
subscribers' comings and goings, while moderators don't.

One of FDR's VPs, John Nance Gardner of Texas, once observed to the
press that the Vice-Presidency, in his opinion, "isn't worth a warm
bucket of spit" (though "spit" is a more-polite, bowdlerised substitute
for what he _really_ said).  I hold the new-ish Mailman "moderator" role
in about equally high regard:  You get the ability to get bugged
repeatedly about held postings (which turn out to be mostly spam --
discard these, please, don't reject them!), but can't actually fix
fsck-all in the mailing list configuration.

Bloody freakin' useless, in my experience.  It's all I currently have to
work with, in keeping the SVLUG mailing lists healthy, which means there
are large numbers of things running badly that I have no power to fix.

The _other_, larger reason why I say the model's a bit retarded is that 
substantive access to administrative control is _not_ granted by having
your e-mail address added to either of those boxes.  It has nothing to
do with those:  It's granted by giving you the list's listadmin password. 

There's thus no such thing as a built-in roster of listadmins.
Substantively, the listadmins are everyone you've told the password to,
and everyone _they_ told the password to, etc.  The two rosters are
merely the people who get _nagmail_ about needed administrative action.

You can thus easily have the completely fux0red situation where
someone's e-mail address has been added to one of those rosters -- so
that he/she gets the nagmail -- but has _not_ been separately given the
listadmin or moderator password, and thus cannot _act_ on those

This is actually the situation I'm in concerning two of the SVLUG
mailing lists:  I get daily nagmail demanding that I attend to held
postings, but can't comply because I was never given the necessary
passwords.  (I've called this to the president and VP's attention;
they've done nothing for many, many months about it.)

Anyhow, Jim, I've noticed that you added your address to _both_ of the
rosters.  As I hope is now clearer, putting your address into the second
one was redundant, and you probably want to remove that.

Also, Jim and (potentially) Lx Rudis:  Have fun with the mailing list
configuration.  I merely suggest that, before you're tempted to touch
the "Reply-To: header munging" sections, talk to me offlist, first.

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