MIT Mailman User Guide:
ListServ Keywords in Current Use

MIT Mailman

This list of in-use LISTSERV Keywords and comparable Mailman options is being made available to assist LISTSERV Owners and Subscribers with the transition to Mailman. A list of Mailman Subscriber options and comparable LISTSERV commands is also available. If you have any comments or additions, please email them to A "cheat sheet" of LISTSERV keyword to Mailman config options is available from listmm.pdf [PDF, 10KB].

LISTSERV keywords
(roughly sorted by number of lists at MIT using the given keyword)
Location of Comparable Option
in Mailman and Description
Controls the level of acknowledgement messages to those posting messages
Auto-responder screen
Mailman can be set to send a custom auto-response to mailing list posters. Owners may also set the number of days between auto-responses to either the mailing list or -request/-owner address from the same poster. Set to zero (or negative) for no grace period (i.e. auto-respond to every message).
Control the posting of various types of MIME attachments (Yes, No, or Remove)
[Comparable functionality is available on the Content filtering screen. Delivery team is experimenting with this.]
Sets parameters for the auto-deletion feature
Bounce processing screen
Bounce detection sensitivity and bounce notifications may be set.
Defines search categories for the CataList service
Not available in Mailman. Minor usage at MIT.
Enable logging (in listname.CHANGELOG) of all subscription changes
Not available in Mailman; administrators can choose to get notification when members subscribe and unsubscribe from the General options screen, admin_notify_mchanges field.
Determines whether or not an entry for the list appears in the List of Lists
Privacy options, Subscription rules screen, advertised field
Can set if list is advertises when people ask what lists are on the mailman machine; list is available from
Defines a default number of hours LISTSERV holds jobs requiring confirmation
Not available in Mailman. Minor usage at MIT.
Limits the total number of messages that will be processed by the list per day before the list is held

Mailman doesn't have an explicit limit on the number of posts that can be sent to the list. However, if the list needs to be disabled due to excessive bounces or flame wars, a list owner can set the emergency field on the General Options screen. When this option is enabled, all list traffic is emergency moderated, i.e. held for moderation.

Not in use at MIT.
Defines what options should be set by default for new subscribers

General Options screen, new_member_options fields
When a new member is subscribed to this list, their initial set of options is taken from the this variable's settings: Conceal the member's address, Acknowledge the member's posting, Do not send a copy of a member's own post, Filter out duplicate messages to list members (if possible). Also can set if new member posts are moderated by default under Privacy options, Sender filters screen, default_member_moderation field.

Defines what topics should be set by default for new subscribers
Not available in Mailman.
Controls the automatic digestification option
Digest options screen
A number of options are settable, including if members get digests by default, if they can choose to get digests, MIME or plain format, digest size, daily digest, custom header and footer, and digest volume frequency.
Defines an editor or editors for moderated lists
General Options screen, moderator field
Multiple moderators are acceptable and areidentified by email address. 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. The list administrators can also tend to pending requests. In order to split the list ownership duties into administrators and moderators, a separate moderator password must be set.
Controls if an explanatory mail header is added to list messages forwarded to the list editor (if one is defined)

Custom text not available in Mailman; email asking moderators/owners to attend to list tasks is sent daily and immediately if the General options screen, admin_immed_notifyfield is set to send notices immediately on the arrival of new requests as well. The request generally looks as follows:

"As list administrator, your authorization is requested for the following mailing list posting:
Subject: hello world
Reason: Post by non-member to a members-only list"

Minor usage at MIT.

Determines the network address to whom mail delivery errors are directed
Mailman does not have a separate email address field for errors; the errors will be sent to list owners. However, Mailman will attempt to do bounce processing if you allow it to. Bounce options are available from the Bounce processing screen.
EXIT Not in use at MIT.
Determines whether non-mail files may be distributed by the list

Not applicable in Mailman (obsolete in LISTSERV)

Gives list owners control over problem users and/or gateways
Privacy options, Sender filters screen
A number of sender options are available from this screen. Member postings are held for moderation if their moderation flag is turned on. You can control whether member postings are moderated by default or not. Non-member postings can be automatically accepted, held for moderation, rejected (bounced), or discarded, either individually or as a group. Any posting from a non-member who is not explicitly accepted, rejected, or discarded, will have their posting filtered by the general non-member rules.
Not in use at MIT.
Not in use at MIT.
Defines the language in which information mail and messages are sent
Language options screen
Default languages and list supported languages may be set here.
Defines certain limits (no. of subscribers, etc.) for a list (ISP scope option only)
Minor usage at MIT.
Determines how the list address is announced in message headers
General Options screen has some message header options
Some message headers can be set/changed, such as setting a prefix for subject line of list postings, hiding the sender of a message, and including or exlcuding the RFC 2369 (i.e. List-*) headers.
Defines a long listname alias for the list
Not applicable in Mailman since list names (ids) can be greater than 8 characters
Minor usage at MIT.
Not in use at MIT.
Defines the type of mailing loop checking performed by LISTSERV
Not in use at MIT.
Determines how LISTSERV distributes list mail
Not applicable in Mailman.
Defines the editors on moderated lists who will receive postings for approval
General Options, moderator field
The list moderator email addresses. Multiple moderator addresses are ok.
Sets forwarding when a list is moved to a different LISTSERV host
Not available in Mailman. Minor usage at MIT.
Defines USENET newsgroups linked to the list
Mail<->News gateways screen, linked_newsgroup field
Owners may link a USENET group to the list. Minor usage at MIT.
Not in use at MIT.

Controls the notebook archive for a list

Archiving Options screen
Mailman allows you to set list traffic archival policies, including whether to archive, who may view the archive and how often a new volume is started.
Determines the type of header information included in the notebook archive
Not applicable in Mailman.
Defines whether or not (or to whom) subscription notification is sent
General Options screen, admin_notify_mchanges
Can set if administrator(s) should get notices of subscribes and unsubscribes. Cannot set a different list to send subscription notifications.
Defines the owner (or owners) of the list
General Options screen, owner field
Multiple administrators are acceptable; owners are identified by email address. 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 pages. "Quiet" owners may also exist if they know the list administrative password.
Not in use at MIT.
Controls whether or not mail will be processed during "prime time"
Not available in Mailman. Minor usage at MIT.
Sets a password used for validation of list maintenance commands
Passwords screen
A list password will be automatically generated and sent to list administrators when the list is first created. List administrators may change the password on the password screen, as well as add a moderator password.
Controls whether or not subscription renewal is implemented, and how
There is not a comparable feature in Mailman. However, Mailman does have bounce processing, which has the ability to automatically set to nomail or unsubscribe a user based on bounces.
Sets a default for the "Reply-To:" field in the header of list mail

General Options screen, reply_goes_to_list field and reply_to_address field
List owners may set where replies to list messages directed: Poster, This list or Explicit address. If Explicit address is selected, an email address may be entered in the reply_to_address field for the Reply-To header.

Restricts who may review the list of subscribers
Privacy options, Subscription rules screen, private_roster field
Who can view subscription list? Anyone, List members or List admin only
Determines which built-in address filter is used by LISTSERV
Not applicable in Mailman. Minor usage at MIT.
Defines the value LISTSERV places in the "Sender:" header field of list mail
Mailman doesn't have a replacement field to put in the Sender header. However, the list owner can choose to hide the sender of a message, replacing it with the list address (Removes From, Sender and Reply-To fields) on the General Options screen, anonymous_list field.
Restricts who may send postings to the list

Privacy options, Subscription rules, Sender filters screen
Allows list owner to set up rules for member and non-member posts. Actions for moderated member post are Hold, Reject, Discard. Actions for non-member posts include Accept, Hold, Reject, Discard.
Membership Management, Membership List screen
Allows list owner to set list member posts as moderated or unmoderated.

Defines an area or areas outside which subscription requests are not accepted

Privacy options, Sender filters screen
Somewhat comparable to features available are available by using the ban_list. To restrict specific domains, regular expressions may be used. [delivery team is experimenting with this]

Controls the maximum size of any single message posted to the list
General Options screen, max_message_size field
Owners can set a maximum length in kilobytes (KB) of a message body or use 0 for no limit.
Normal statistics include number of mailings for each user on the list
Not available in Mailman.
Controls the "subject tag" text for messages coming from the list
General Options screen, subject_prefix field
This text will be prepended to subject lines of messages posted to the list, to distinguish mailing list messages in in mailbox summaries.
Defines sub-lists of a "container" or "super-" list.
Not available in Mailman. Minor usage at MIT.
Defines how new subscriptions are handled, and if confirmation is required
Privacy options, Subscription rules screen, subscribe_policy field
What steps are required for subscription?
- Confirm (*) - email confirmation required
- Require approval - require list administrator approval for subscriptions
- Confirm and approve - both confirm and approve
Defines up to 23 sub-topics for a list
Topics screen
Topic filters can be enabled or disabled; owners can specify the number of body lines the topic matcher should scan, and specify topic keywords to match against each message.
Not in use at MIT.
Determines whether or not list commands must be validated with a password or the "OK" mechanism

Everyone (subscribers, moderators and list owners) must use a password to manage Mailman options.

Indicates whether "X-To:" and "X-cc:" tags are to be included in the output mail files to list recipients
Not available in Mailman.

MIT Updated April 30, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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