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Sympa List User and Owner Guide

1. Logging into Sympa
2. Viewing My lists
3. What if I can't see some of my lists?
4.  Managing my subscriptions. 
5. Managing list owners and moderators
6. Managing subscribers
7. Managing who can post to the list
8. Creating a new list
9. Editing the standard messages used by the list
10. Deleting or renaming lists
11. Searching for lists
12. Function tabs


1. Logging into Sympa

The web address for logging into Sympa is

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 those and then click on proceed to  If you are already logged into a single sign on service, you just need to click on Proceed to  

Note that although you login with your single sign on details, once logged in, Sympa uses your email address. One of these will be set as your default address. To use a different one, click on Logout to use a different address, then click on login again. You will be presented with your valid addresses. Choose the one you want to login with, and if you want that one to be your default address, click the box next to Use this as my default address. See section 3 below. 

2. Viewing my lists

Once you have logged into Sympa, you will see the lists you subscribe to, or are an owner of, on the left hand side- see screenshot below. For the ones for which you are an owner, you should be able to click on the admin  button which is next to the list name. 

3. What if I can’t see some of my lists?

Log out 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. 


Sympa also has three maillist domains 


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. 

4. Managing your subscriptions. 


If you click on Manage Your Subscriptions, you can see a list of all the maillists you are registered for in the active domain. Any you can’t see will be in a different domain, so choose the domain from the list  in the bottom left of the home screen as above.

All the lists you are subscribed to have a tick box next to them. Take great care here, as when you look at your subscribed lists, the default is that they are ALL ticked. So take care not to accidentally remove yourself from all lists.  If you click on toggle selection which is at the bottom of your lists that will unselect them all. You can then manually tick the box next to the one(s) you want to unsubscribe from. Once you have selected the list(s) you want to unsubscribe from, click on unsubscribe at the bottom of the screen.

You also have an option to suspend mail to a list or lists, for instance if you are going to be away. Select the lists you want to suspend subscriptions to. To select them all if they are not selected click on Toggle Selection

This lets you either select all the lists or deselect them all. You enter the range of dates for suspension and then click on Suspend my subscriptions. If you don’t know your return date, don’t fill in the end date but instead tick the box next to 

*Check this box if you want to suspend your subscription indefinitely. *

Then click on suspend my subscriptions.

To return to your lists at any time, just click on the Home tab at the top of the screen.

Under manage my subscriptions, you can also view information about each list by clicking on the relevant list name .


The  screenshot below shows you what this might look like, but the information you will be able to see, and what you can do, will depend upon the individual configuration of that list. So not all of these will be available for all lists.

If you are an owner, you will see an ADMIN button next to the list name which will take you into the list admin functions. To return to your lists, click the home button.

Subscriber options. This shows when you subscribed to the list, and if available, you might be able to change the method by which you receive mail to the list (e.g. a weekly digest rather than individual emails)

Unsubscribe will let you unsubscribe from the list if you are allowed to do so. With some lists you might be able to unsubscribe straight away, others might require a list owner approving the removal.

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

Please see the FAQ page for full information

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

Please see the FAQ page  for full information

Information gives you some basic information about the list, for instance the name and a description. 

Archive  will let you view the archives for the list, but what you can view will depend on the configuration and permissions set for the archive for that list, and some may be hidden. Some lists also don’t have archives. 

Post will give you a screen for posting a message to the list. This is an alternative to sending an email to list. 

5. Managing list owners and moderators. 

Privileged list owners are the ones who can make changes to list ownership. Normal ownership is similar to the list manager role in other systems, and only has limited admin rights.  Under Admin then List Config/List Definition, you can check the status of owners, and change them between Privileged and Normal via the drop down menu next to the email address. 

5a Adding/Removing owners.

The current list owners can be seen under admin then click on  the list config tab, then choose list definition.  

The current owners will be listed by email address. Privileged owners can add a new owner by scrolling  down to the blank owner field,  and entering the  new owners email address. The default setting for a new owner is “normal” which is similar to a list manager role on other systems, but has less permissions. So if you want the new owner to be able to change the list configuration, and add other owners, use the drop down menu  on the right next to Normal to choose Privileged. Then scroll down to save button which is right at the bottom of the screen. Once you have hit save the screen should refresh and you should see the new owner. 

To remove an owner, delete their address from the list of owners and then click on the save button at the bottom of the screen. 

If you are going to remove yourself as an owner of a list, or change your status from privileged to normal,  make sure you make any other changes before removing/updating your own entry. If you change your own entry first then you lose your admin rights.  

To change an owner from normal to privileged and vice versa, choose the relevant role from the drop down list next their address in the owners list,  then click on save.

You can’t leave a list without an owner. So if you want to add a new owner and remove the current one, add the new one first, then click save at the bottom of the screen. 

You can also only add one new owner at a time. So if you want to add more then one, when the screen refreshes you should see a blank field for adding another address as before.

If you are list owner, but you can’t make changes to the owners or moderators this will most likely be because you are a “normal” owner instead of a “privileged” owner. If you have the wrong status, you would need to ask one of the privileged owners of the list to change your status. 

5b Adding/Removing moderators.

The current moderators can be seen under admin then click on  the list config tab, then choose list definition. Scroll down the page to the Moderators section, which is below the owners section.  You will see any currently defined moderators by email address. 

To add a new moderator, add their email address in the blank field, then click on the Save button at the bottom of the screen.

To remove a moderator, blank their address and then click on the Save button at the bottom of the screen.

If the list is set to be moderated, make sure you don’t leave the list with no moderators.


6. Managing subscribers.  

6a Adding subscribers. 

Both privileged and normal owners can manage subscribers. Select the maillist which you want to work with from the list of your lists on the left of the home page. Then click on the admin button. Then click on the third tab from the left,  manage subscribers

Next to “Add Subscribers” there are two options :-

  • Add a subscriber
  • Add Multiple Subscribers.

Adding single subscriber.

Add a user lets you add a single address to the list.  Add the address in the blank field, then click on the Add button. A subscribe notification will be sent to the new address unless you tick the Do not notify box 

Adding multiple subscribers

Add multiple subscribers allows you to add more than one subscriber than a time. Click on the add multiple subscribers button. This will open a blank field where you can  add the addresses.  You can add them manually or copy and paste them from a list. Or upload the addresses from a selected file, e.g. a word document or a plain text list.

NOTE- There needs to be one address per line and make sure there are no leading or trailing spaces, as these will be added as part of the address which means it won’t work. 

Once the subscriber addresses have been added, click on Add subscribers. A subscribe notification will be sent to all the new addresses to let them know they have been subscribed. So if you don’t want this to be sent, tick Do not notify. 

6b Removing subscribers. 

To remove subscribers, you need to use the list of subscribers which is displayed just under “Current Subscribers”.  You select an address or addresses by clicking the box next to the address to select it. Take care though not to select all the addresses accidentally. You can use the toggle button to select or deselect all the subscribers. 

If you are going to do a bulk removal it might be as well to take a plain text list of addresses first. To do that, click on  Plain-text list of addresses which is near the top left of the screen. This will display a list of all the addresses which are subscribed to the list. 

Once you have made your selection, click on Delete selected email addresses under the list of subscribers. A removal  notifiication will be sent to the address selected addresses.   If you don't want a notification to be sent, click on the the tick box next to Do not notify. 

6c Pending subscribers.

If the list has been set so that applications to subscribe need to be approved click on the Pending Subscriptions button at the  top left of the subscribers screen. You will see a list of pending subscribers, and you can either approve or reject the request by clicking on the relevant option. 

6d Controlling subscription options.

It is possible to set options for subscribing or unsubscribing to the list. This might be useful if you have an announce type list which all members of a unit or group need to see, or if you don’t want to have unsolicited addresses subscribing to the list. To view and change the options, click on the admin button for the list, then the list config tab, then Privileges. There are several sections here. 

Who can subscribe to the list?



  • Who can add subscribers? While the first three options allow people to subscribe themselves, the last option means that only list owners can manage subscriptions using  list of subscribers via admin/list config/manage subscribers. 
  • Who can unsubscribe? 

The first two options mean that the person needs to log into unsubscribe, or request to unsubscribe. The third option means that only list owners can unsubscribe an address. The remaining options allow anyone to unsubscribe or request to be unsubscribed. 

There is no upper limit to the number of subscribers which a list can have. 


7. Managing who can post to the list. 


There are various ways to do this. The options can be seen under admin/list config/sending-receiving set up. Then Who can send messages. In each case, if you click on the Help button you will get a more detailed explanation of what the setting means. 

7a Subscribers only. 

You can set the list so that only subscribers can post. To do this under who can send messages,  choose restricted to subscribers (private). 

7b Moderate messages.

You can set the list so that messages have to be approved before they are posted.  This is called Moderation. There are several options here. 

- Moderated. This means that an approval message is sent to the addresses listed in Moderators under admin/list config/list definition. Only when one of the moderators have approved the message will it be sent to the list. Under this option moderators can post without having to approve the message.

If you even want moderators to have their posts approved then choose Moderated, even for moderators. 

If you only want subscribers to be able to post to the list, but have their posts approved then choose Moderated, restricted to subscribers

If you have an open list, but you only want to approve messages from non subscribers, for instance to reduce spam, then chose Private, moderated for non subscribers.

With any of these moderation options, you need to make sure you have at least one moderator set. You add/ remove moderator addresses under admin/list config/list definition.

7c Self moderation.

You can set the list so that subscribers can post but need to  moderate their own messages. Choose Restricted to subscribers who must self moderate. This means that subscribers will need to reply to a moderation prompt befure their messages are posted. This option protects against sender addresses being faked in order to spam a list. 

7d Whitelist.

With some types of list, such as an information or announcement list,  you might want to restrict posting to the list to a limited number of addresses. This is the whitelist.

There are two things you need to do :-

1). - First set the sending/receiving set up configuration. To do this click on  the  Admin button then choose the list config tab, then sending-receiving set up.

The first option here is who can send messages? There are two whitelist options

Whitelisted addresses only- with this option, as long as the from address is included in the whitelist, the message will go straight to the list. 

Whitelisted addresses only, self confirmation needed. - with this option, as long as the from address is in the whitelist, so that the message is accepted, the sender will get a message asking them to confirm that the message should be posted to the list. 

2). - Populate the Whitelist.

This is where you set the addresses who are allowed to post to the list. To access this, click on the admin button,  then List config then Whitelist

You need to add the addresses one per line with no leading or trailing spaces. You can paste a list of addresses from an external source, but do check them to make sure there are no spaces. Once you have set your list click on the save button at the bottom. 

You also remove addresses here, To do this highlight the relevant address, delete it, then click on the save button. 

Someone on the whitelist can't post to the list.

If someone who is on the whitelist can’t post to the list, then check their entry. 

  • It might be that they are posting from an address other than the one in the whitelist. 
  • The address could just be incorrect, (wrongly spelt or part missing).  
  • It could be that their entry has a leading or trailing space which needs to be removed. 
  • They might be trying to BCC to the list, which they can't do. 

Preventing addresses from posting to an open list

If you have an open list, which anyone can post to,  but you want to block certain addresses from posting, you do this by using the blacklist option. 

To access this and make changes,  click on the admin button next to the relevant list, and then click the Blacklist tab. 

Add addresses one per line, making sure there are no leading or trailing spaces,  then click on the save button. 

Spam filtering.

If the list needs to be open, but is receiving spam, you can also adjust the spam filtering via the  admin button, then list config/list definition. Scroll down to Reject mail with a higher Oxford spam score than this and then set the spam filter as a figure. Something like 5 would be a good start, but this can be adjusted up or down, if either genuine mail is being rejected, or too much spam is still being delivered. Make the number smaller to reject more spam, and bigger to reject less. 


8. Creating a new list

To request a new list you need to use the relevant form depending on which of the three list domains you want the list set up in.

For, the default,  the form is at

For, the domain for UAS lists,  the form is at

For, the domain for Chrmistry depatmental lists,  the form is at

You need to choose a name for the list. You can't leave spaces in list names so use hyphens or underscores. The owner address will be the one you are logged in with

Then there are several pre-defined types of list, but you can change the configuration if needed once the list has been created.

Announcement type list

Suitable for announcements to a fixed set of users (eg jordan-college-undergrads)

  • Only moderators and whitelisted addresses can post
  • Posters must self moderate their own messages
  • No subscription/unsubscription: only the list owner can add members
  • Archives visible to list members only
  • List visible to members only

Discussion list

  • Only subscribers and whitelisted addresses may post, posts from others are sent to a moderator
  • Anyone may (un)subscribe
  • Archives visible to list members only
  • List visible to members only


Suitable for an announcement type list where membership is not restricted. 

  • Only moderators and whitelisted addresses can post
  • Anyone may (un)subscribe
  • Archives visible to list members only
  • List visible to lost members only

Public list

Public mailing list

  • Anyone may post
  • Anyone may (un)subscribe
  • Archives visible to list members only
  • List visible to list members only

Project team

Like work team, but users may subscribe/unsubscribe

  • Only subscribers and whitelisted addresses may post, posts from others are sent to the moderator
  • Subscription requests must be approved by an owner
  • Unsubscriptions are notified to the owner
  • Archives visible to list members only
  • List visible to list members only. 


Work team

Suitable for a work team

  • Only subscribers and whitelisted addressses may post, posts from others are sent to the moderator
  • No subscription/unsubscription: only the list owner can add members
  • Archives visible to list members only
  • List visible to list members only.

Once you have selected your list type, you also need to give some more information.

The subject is a brief description of what the list is for. 

You can choose a cateogry from the drop down list (Clubs and Societies, College, Department, or leave set to the default value of Other)

You can also add a more involved description of the list, which will be visible in the List of Lists 

Once you have completed the form, click on Submit your creation request

That will send us a request to create the list. Once that has been done you will get an automated confirmation message from Sympa. If there are any queries we will contact you. Note Undergraduates are not allowed to own lists so these requests will be rejected with guidance as to how to proceed

You can also create a new list with the same configuration as an existing list

Once you have finished click on Submit your creation request as before. 

9. Editing the standard messages used by the list.

There are various messages which are sent out by the list software automatically, e.g. a welcome message,  or a rejection message, and the text of these can be changed via   admin for the relevant list, then choose the List Config tab and then Customising.  However you need to be really careful to only edit the text, and not the variable place holders enclosed in [%   %]. So if you are not confident about just editing the text, we can do that for you. Email

For more information and an example of what the text and coding looks like please refer to the FAQ section here

10. Deleting or renaming lists.

These operations have to be performed by one of the Listmasters, who are members of IT support. There is now a service request to ask for these changes Service Request form 

11. Searching for lists

There is a search function on the left hand side,  above where you see the lists you are subscribed to. Note that this will only search for lists which are either publicly viewable, or viewable by subscribers to the list. Some are hidden or viewable only by list owners.

12. Function tabs


Across the top of the home screen as per screenshot above there are 4 tabs :-

  • Create List
  • List of Lists
  • Home
  • Help.

Create list. You use this form to request a new list or copy an existing list as a new list with the same configuration as an existing one. Remember that if you want a new list in maillist.admin or maillist.chem, you will need to switch to that domain before choosing create list. 

For a full guide to how to request a list, including more information about the different domains, and which types of list are available please see

Creating new maillists

List of Lists. (note that this may be slow to load)

This will show you the lists you are a member of, and all the lists which are either publicly vieawable, or viewable from within This isn’t a list of all available mail lists, as some are viewable only to subscribers to the list and some are hidden even for subscribers. 


This will take you back to the screen where you can see your lists.


This is the inbuilt Sympa help and should provide guidance for a lot of question. 

For further help please see FAQ's page.










Service area: 

Written by IT Services. Latest revision 26 September 2017