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Maillist FAQ

1. Logging into Sympa

2.  Requesting new lists

3. List user FAQ's

4. List owner FAQ's

5. Whitelists and moderation

6. List configuration.

7. Bounce messages. 

 


1. Loggin into Sympa. 

1.1 How do I log into Sympa?

The service address is https://web.maillist.ox.ac.uk

You need to click on the login button in the top right hand corner. You use your single sign on account username and password, (these are the same as the ones you use for Nexus email and other single sign on services such as Weblearn). If you are not logged into another single sign on service, then you will need to enter your username and password and then click on Proceed to web.maillist.ox.ac.uk.  If you are already logged into a single sign on service, you just need to click  Proceed to web.maillist.ox.ac.uk

1.2 I have logged into Sympa so why can't I see all the lists I am subscribed to?

Sympa permissions are linked to email addresses rather then usernames. So if you have more than one email address, some of the lists might be associated with an address other than the one you are logged in with. So you need to click on the Logout to use a new address button in the top right hand corner. Then choose a different address from the drop down menu presented. You can also select which address should be your default login address from here. Choose the address you want to use from the drop down list, then tick the box next to Automatically use this address in future

Sympa also has three maillist domains

maillist.ox.ac.uk

mailist.admin.ox.ac.uk

maillist.chem.ox.ac.uk

So if you own or subscribe to lists in more than one domain, choose the relevant domain from Manage subscription for other domains. At the bottom of your "Manage your Subscriptions" section on the left hand side of the maillist home page, you can see links to the three domains. To change domain, just click on the relevant one. 


2. Requesting new lists

2.1 How can I request a new list?

There is a form which you complete, to request a new list. 

For maillist.ox.ac.uk the link is  https://web.maillist.ox.ac.uk/ox/create_list_request

For maillist.admin.ox.ac.uk the link is https://web.maillist.ox.ac.uk/admin/create_list_request

For maillist.chem.ox.ac.uk the link is https://web.maillist.ox.ac.uk/chem/create_list_request

If you are logged into Sympa, choose the create list tab on the right of the home screen. You can check that the list will be in the right domain,  as at the top it will say @maillist.ox.ac.uk, @maillist.admin.ox.ac.uk or @maillist.chem.ox.ac.uk. To change to a different domain list creation request, you can click on the direct link as above.Alternatively,  click on "home" and then at the bottom of your list of the lists you own/are subscribed to, click on the relevant domain and then choose the create list tab again. 

There are several pre-configured list options, with a description of each. Note that if none of them exactly match what you want, choose the closest one, as you can change the settings once the list has been created. Full details of these options are given in the List owners guide.

The list name needs to have characters or words separated with either hyphens or underscores as you are not able to leave spaces in list names. 

Once you have submitted the request, it will be sent to IT Services. We then install the list for you and the Sympa maillist system will send you a list creation confirmation message. 

2.2 Can I set up a new list with exactly the same configuration as an existing list?

Yes, you can. At the bottom of the relevant list creation page for the ox.ac.uk,  admin.ox.ac.uk or chem.ox.ac.uk,  there is a Copy an existing list  option.  Choose the name of the list from the drop down menu of lists you already own, and then enter the name of the new list in the field on the right. Then click on copy list configuration. That will send  a request to IT Services to create the new list with the same configuration as the existing one. 

 


3. List user FAQ's

3.1 Why am I not able to see some some of my lists, or information about some of the lists I am subscribed to?

Logout to use a different address. 

Sympa permissions are linked to email addresses rather then usernames. So if you have more than one email address, some of the lists might be associated with an address other than the one you are logged in with.  You have one address set as your default address, so the lists you see will be the ones associated with that address. So the lists you can’t see might be associated with a different address. To change to a different address,  click on the Logout to use a new address  in the top right hand corner.

Then choose a different address from the drop down menu presented. You can also select which address should be your default login address from here by ticking “use this as my default address” tick box. 

Domains. 

Sympa also has three maillist domains 

  • maillist.ox.ac.uk 
  • mailist.admin.ox.ac.uk 
  • maillist.chem.ox.ac.uk 

So if you own lists in more than one domain, choose the relevant domain from Manage subscription for other domains, which is at the bottom on the left hand side where lists your lists are displayed. Just click on the right domain to change and your screen will refresh. 

Why am I not able to see information about some of the lists I am subscribed to? 

This will be due to the configuration of each list. With some the information is publicly available and with some, it can be hidden or restricted. If you can’t see all the information about a list which you think you should be able to see you need to contact one of the lists owners. To find out who a list owner is, click on the relevant list, and then click on Contact owners which should be one of the options listed on the left hand side. This should allow you to send an email to the list owner(s). Note that it will open a window in a mail client which you have installed on your computer eg Outlook/Apple Mail for you to send the message. 

3.2 Why am I able to unsubscribe from some lists and not from others?

Whether you can unsubscribe yourself is dependant on the configuration of the lists. With some announce type lists for instance,  there may be a requirement that everyone in a unit is included, so you are not able to unsubscribe yourself. 

If you want to be removed from a list which you can’t unsubscribe yourself from you can contact one of the list owners. You can see a list of the names of the owners of a list as part of the list information. If you click on Contact owners

a form will open which will allow you to send an email to one of the list owners.

Or you can send an email to

listname-owner@maillist.ox.ac.uk 

inserting the actual name of the list instead of listname

with the subject unsubscribe nameofthelist (inserting the actual list name instead of the phrase nameofthelist.)

3.3 How do I find out who owns a list?

Click on Home to see your list of subscriptions then click on the name of the relevant list. You will see a list of the owners underneath the list name on the left hand side. If you click on contact owners that will open a dialogue box which will allow you to send a email to the list owners. Note that this will be opened in a mail client which you have on your computer such as Outlook,  or Mail on a mac.

3.4 Why can’t I see an archive for some lists?

This may be because archiving has been turned off for the relevant lists. 

Or, If there is an archive, it might be restricted access only, so for instance only the list owner(s) or subscribers can view it. 

If you think this needs to be changed, you will need to contact one of the list owners. 

3.5 Why can’t I see all lists in the “list of lists”

Not all lists are publicly viewable. Some are restricted to subscribers only,  or owners only,  for privacy or security reasons. If you think a list should be included which isn't, then you would need to contact one of the list owners. 

3.6 Can I globally change the address I am subscribed to lists with?

You are not able to do this yourself but list masters can do this. You need to send the details of your current address(es) and the details of your new address to

registration@it.ox.ac.uk

and we can do that for you.


4. List owner FAQ's

4.1 I am a list owner, how can I add and remove subscribers.

Select the relevant list from  left hand side of the Sympa home page,  and then click on the admin button. Then click on the third tab from the left at the top, manage subscribers

At the top is an Add a user field. You can use this to add a single address to the list. Enter the address in the blank field,  then  click on the Add button.  A notice will be sent to the new address confirming the subscription. If you don't want this to happen then tick the do not notify box. 

4.2 Can I bulk add subscribers? 

You also have an Add multiple subscribers option. Click on Add multiple users. This will bring up a blank box where you add the addresses, one per line.  You can add them manually,  or copy and paste them in from another source such as a text or word document.   Or you can upload the addresses from a selected file.  To do this click on the Choose File button, then find the relevant file, choose it, and add it. Once done, click on Add subscribers. A  subscribe notification will be sent to all the new addresses. If you don’t want this to be sent choose tick the box next to Do not notify.

Note that if you are copying and pasting a list of addresses, or adding them from an external file, make sure there are no leading or trailing spaces as these will be added to the address which means it will bounce. You can spot a leading space as the address will be indented. To check for a trailing space click at the end of an address. If there is a space between the end of the address and the cursor, that is a trailing space. 

4.3 I am a list owner, how do I remove subscribers?

4.4 Can I bulk remove subscribers?

To remove a single subscriber,  go to the list  list of subscribed addresses on the manage subscribers tab for the list. Click  the tick box next to the address to select it. Once you have made your selection, click on the Delete selected email addresses to remove the subscribers. An unsubscribe notification will be sent to advise the owner of the relevant address that it has been removed. Click Do not notify if you don’t want this to be sent.

You can also remove several addresses at once. Select the ones you want to remove, as above,  then click on the delete key as before. 

You can also select all the subscribers. To do this click on toggle selection so that all the addresss are selected. However a record of the subscribers won't be kept so it might be a good idea to make a file with the selected addresses in case you do need to restore all or some of them. To do this, click on Plain text list of addresses which is near the top of the subscribers screen. Then copy and save that list. To get back to the subscribers page, just click the back button on your browser.

4.5 Can I change the name of a list?

Yes, this can be done, but only by list masters. You can do this via a service request form

 

You also need to remember to let subscibers know that the name of the list has changed, as the old name will no longer work.

4.6 How can I delete a list?

This has to be done by list masters.  You can do this via a service request form

This puts the list into closed status. 

4.7 Is it possible to recover a deleted list?

Yes it, is. This has to be done by one of the list masters, so you need to send an email with the name of the list to

registration@it.ox.ac.uk

We will then  change the status of the list from closed back to current. 

4.8 How do I change an automated message on a list I own?

The list templates are managed via the customising tab in the list admin section. There are some description texts under HTML pages, where you can make changes to the list description, which is just a case of editing the text.  There are also standard messages which are sent out with various list options, such as a welcome message for new subscribers. Also a section where you can add headers and footers. These fields have the text,  but the also have the coding to make the text work. So you need to make sure you only edit the actual text and not the coding.

This is an example of what the coding for a message looks like, and where the text parts are (shown in italics). 

From: [% fromlist %]
Subject: [% FILTER qencode %][%|loc(list.name)%]Welcome to list %1[%END%][%END%]
 
Dear [% user.email %],
 
[%|loc(list.name,list.host)%]Welcome to list %1@%2[%END%]
[%|loc(user.email)%]Your subscription email is %1[%END%]
 
[% TRY %]
The list's description is:
 
[% INSERT "info" %]
[% CATCH %]
[% END %]
 
[%|loc%]The list homepage:[%END%] [% conf.wwsympa_url %]/info/[% list.name %]
 
General information about the University's mailing list service can be found at [% conf.wwsympa_url %]/help/introduction
 
 
If you are not sure what to do, then email

registration@it.ox.ac.uk

and we can make the edit for you.

4.9 Can I change the configuration of a list once it has been created?

Yes, you can. Click on the admin button for the relevant list. Then click on the list config tab. You then have various configuration options.

- List definition, which is where you can change things like the description  of the list, the list visibility, owners and moderators etc, as well as setting a spam filter level. 

- Sending/receiving setup. This is where you set things like who can send messages to the list, and some permissions like allowing and rejecting certain sorts of messages.

- Privileges. This is where you set things like who can view the list, who can subscribe, unsubscription options, etc.

There are also some more advanced options such as managing the archives and  managing bounces.  Most of these are set to defaults so if you are not sure what an option does, check with us. 

Note that modifying the configuration is  only available to privileged owners of the list

For more information see the List owners guide

or click on any of the   help  buttons which takes you to the inbuilt help on that topic. 

4.10 How can I add or delete a list owner,  or moderators?

  1. Look up the relevant list, and then click on the admin button. 
  2. Click on the List Config tab, then click on edit list config
  3. Then click on List definition.

To add an owner, add their email address in the blank address field under owner and choose their level of permissions from the drop down menu next to "Profile” (privileged which gives full list admin or normal which gives then the ability to add/remove subscribers and view the list configuration). Then click on the save button right at the bottom of the screen.

To remove an owner, blank their address, and then click on the Save button right at the bottom of the screen.

To add/remove moderators, the process is the same only under the Moderators (editor) section. 

Unfortunately with both you can only add one address at a time. You also can’t delete the only owner of a list

If you are removing yourself as an owner, you will need to make any other required changes before you do this. Once you have removed yourself and saved this, you will immediately lose your owner rights. 

4.11 Why can’t I add/delete another list owner?

This will be because you don’t have permission to do this, for instance if you are not an owner of the list, or are a “normal” owner instead of a "privileged" one. To be made an owner or to have your ownership status changed to privileged you would need to contact one of the list owners. 

4.12 I am a list owner, but I can’t make changes to the list configuration or update who can post to the list.

This will be because you are a "normal" owner, rather than a "privileged" owner, which means you can view but not change the list configuration. If you need to be a privileged owner, you will need to contact one of the existing list owners to ask for your status to be changed. 

4.13 I am leaving and I want to hand the list over to a new owner.

You can add the new owner under admin/list config/list definition,. See section 4.10. Make sure that you add the new owner and save first, before removing yourself, as once you have removed yourself your ownership privileges stop straight away.

Unfortunately you do have to make the change one list at a time.

4.14 Can a non ox.ac.uk address be a list owner?

No. As a list owner you need to be able to log into the sympa system, which you can’t do with a non ox.ac.uk address. If non ox.ac.uk addresses are added as owners, these are removed by listmasters. 

4.15 Can a project account own a list?

A generic/project account can own a list, using the email address for the account. But it must have a single sign on component with a password. Mailbox only accounts are not able to be list owners.

4.16 How can I update my owner address?

If you change your email address, for instance if you move units within the University or change your name, you can update your list owner address yourself. Look up the relevant list on the Sympa home page by clicking on the Home tab and choosing the list from the index on the left hand side. Click on the admin button. Click on Edit list config, and then List definition. Find your address among the list owners, and simply overwrite your old address with your new one. Then click on the Save button at the bottom of the page. 


Whitelists and moderation. 

5.1 How do whitelists work and how do I add/remove addresses from them?

If you want to limit who is allowed to post to a list (e.g. with something like an announcement list) then you can restrict the addresses who can post to those in the white list. This is the same as an  allowed posters list in other systems. 

First you need to set which whitelist option you want to choose. So go to admin for the relevant list, then click edit list config, and then choose Sending/Receiving set up

Under Who can send messages (sent), from the drop down list you will see the following whitelist options :-

Whitelisted addresses only (whitelist). With this option whitelisted addresses can post directly to the list.

Whitelisted addresses only, self confirmation needed (whitelistkey) With this option, the addresses sending to the list will receive an email asking them to confirm that the message can be released to the list. 

Once you have set this option you also then need to populate the whitelist. Under admin for the relevant list, click on the whitelist tab. Then add the addresses which should be able to post, one per line making sure there are no leading or trailing spaces. Once you have added them click on the Save button at the bottom of the screen.

5.2 Why can’t one of the addresses in a whitelist post to the list?

The address might be malformed, e.g. wrongly spelt,  or with an extra character such as a full stop at the end. 

There might be a leading or trailing space, which will be interpreted as a character. Leading spaces are usually obvious, as there is  an indent at the beginning of the address. Trailing spaces are invisible though, but you can find out of there is one by  clicking to the right of the address. If the cursor isn't immediately behind the last character of the address, there is a trailing space. 

The sender might be sending from an address other than the one in the whitelist. One of the privileged list owners can add additional addresses to the whitelist. 

Sometimes, if an address looks correct, removing it and re-adding works. 

You also can't BCC to a list. 

 

5.3 What is moderation and how do I set it?

This is where a message has to be approved before it can be released to the list. This is a way of preventing posts which might be inappropriate or offensive, or to prevent spam from being sent to the list. 

You need to set the list to be moderated and also set at least one moderator. 

The moderation options can be set under admin/list config/sending receiving setup/ then choose who can send messages. There are several options which include moderation, each with a description :-

- Moderated This means that anyone can post but  all messages sent to the list will need to be approved by one of the moderators, except for posts sent from a moderators address.

- Moderated, even for moderators. This means that anyone can post but all messages, even from moderators have to be approved by one of the moderators.

- Moderated, moderators self moderate. This means that everyones posts are moderated , and if moderators post, they will get a message to approve their own post. 

- Moderated, restricted to subscribers . This means that only subscribed addresses are allowed to post to the list, but posts have to be approved by a moderator. Posts from non subscribed addresses will be rejected. Addresses listed as moderators can just post. 

- Moderated,  for subscribers and even for moderators themselves. Only subcribed addresses can post, but even posts from moderator addresses have to be moderated. 

To add one or more moderator addresses click on Admin, then list config, then list definition. Scroll down to the section which says Moderators. Add the address(es), one at a time, and then  click on the save button right at the bottom of the screen between each addition. 

5.4 How do I update the list of moderators?

Click on the admin button for the relevant list, then choose list config, then list definition.  Scroll down to the section which says Moderators. To add a new address add it to the blank address field then click on the save button at the bottom of the page. To remove a moderator address,  delete the address and click on the save button. Make sure that you never leave the moderators list blank for a moderated list


6. List configuration

6.1 How do I make sure that “reply all” is disabled.

This means that replies will only go to the list and not to any other non list addresses. This is useful for public lists. 

You need to look up the relevant list, then choose

List config sending/receiving setup reply address

address - this allows the list to set a Reply-To header which will be the address of the list. 

6.2 What are nested lists?

A nested list is when a list address is added as a subscriber to another list. When a message is sent to the parent list, it will also be sent to any other lists which have been added as subscribers. However, whether the post arrives on the nested list straight away will depend on the individual settings of the list. So for instance if the parent list is open but the nested list is moderated, one of the moderators will need to approve the message to the nested one. Also if the nested list is restricted to whitelisted addresses only, you will need to add the parent list address to the whitelist. 

7. Bounce messages and bounce rate too high. 

Sometimes a message sent to a list will bounce, which will generate a failure message  These can look complicated, however they do contain the reason for the bounce. Some reasons for bounces are :-

  • The posting address isn't in the whitelist. If it seems to be, check for spelling mistakes, or make sure there isn't a leading or trailing space, which will be interpreted as part of the address.
  • One of my moderators has rejected the message. You would need to check the reason with them.
  • The list is set so that only subscribers can post, and the sending address isn't a subsciber.
  • The address of the list is wrong. Check the address carefully noting,  if hyphens or underscores are used in the list name. 
  • The message has an attachment which exceeds the maximum message size. 
  • There may be an attachment which is of a type not allowed to be posted. 
  • You may have tried to BCC to the list address, which isn't allowed. 

The list owner(s) may also sometimes get a message to say that the bounce rate among the subscribers is too high. This may be because there are expired addresses among the subscribers. This can also sometimes be a "false positive" either due to mail relay problems, or due to a message being sent to the list which generates a high spam score.

If you click on the bounce tab for the list, you can see which addresses are bouncing. Check them for errors such as leading or trailing spaces, or malformed addresses. You can also remove any which are obsolete. There is also an option on that page to reset errors for selected users. You can either tick the box next to the addresses you want to reset the bounce rate for. Or use the toggle selection check box. When the selection has been made, click Reset errors for selected users

 

Last revised21/3/2017 by Jackie Hewitt

 

 

Service area: 

Written by IT Services. Latest revision 6 December 2017