Mailman announcement lists a no-no?

Anyone know why “DreamHost does not allow the discussion list system to be used for announcement or newsletter functions.”?

I’d really prefer to do all lists in mailman, and am not really sure why they frown on this.


Few reasons:

  1. Mailman allows bulk imports without any sort of confirmation, which means that it’s currently sort of incompatible with our spam policy, and allows people to circumvent restrictions we’ve put in place for good reasons. The same is true for discussion lists, of course, but we see much less abuse with the discussion lists (and if we did see abuse of this sort, we’d be quick to squash it). A longer term “fix” for this is planned down the road.
  2. Announcement lists (especially large ones) gum up the works and slow down normal discussion list email. Our announcement list system is much better designed to deal with large volumes of email gracefully. It’s not perfect, but it does do the trick for most people.
  3. Mailman isn’t really designed for outgoing-only lists, although the new versions do make it fairly easy to set things up this way.
  4. It’s important for us to keep the different types of email as separate as possible just in terms of reducing the potential harm if our mail servers get blocked as spam sources.

Bottom line; if our announcement list doesn’t provide functionality you need, either request improvements, use an outside service, or get a dedicated machine and install your own software. Note that in any of these cases, our spam policy must be followed.

Spam is certainly not our intent.

One additional question though. It appears to me that there’s no opt-in for the unsubscribe on the announcement list. So if someone was so inclined, they could unsubscribe people from the form by simply entering their email address (which they might acquire from the discussion list).

I realize this is perhaps unrealistic, but it’s something that you don’t have
to worry about with mailman and their email/password scheme.


Whether or not spam is your intent, if you (or anyone) mass-add people to your list who haven’t confirmed their subscription in compliance with our policy, there’s always the possibility of accidental or malicious subscriptions. If you have proof that you have a list which already meets our requirements, we can mass-add it to our announcement list system for you (but you still can’t use Mailman for announce-only lists).

Making it easy for people to unsubscribe is always a good idea - if someone gets unsubscribed, they can always re-subscribe. For the announcement lists, we do want some “hoops” for people to subscribe, but we definitely don’t want them to have to jump through any hoops to unsubscribe.

If you have issues specific to your situation that require the use of Mailman for an announcement list and the list has a low number of subscribers, all of which have subscribed using some sort of confirmed opt-in system, write into support care of myself or Jeff; we’re not inflexible, and it’s possible that we can work something out for you.