Why not use discussion list for announcements?


When signing up for a discussion list, I noticed the little caveat that “DreamHost does not allow the discussion list system to be used for announcement or newsletter functions.” This is puzzling to me. Why does it matter to Dreamhost if people send announcements out via discussion lists? The interface is certainly easier (your preferred email client versus having to log in to the Announcement List panel). If people on the discussion list receive announcements and don’t respond, that’s just less overhead for Dreamhost. I have used Mailman at another host for many years in this way. It has been very convenient. I moderate all posts so that only authorized people can post to the Mailman “discussion” list.


Good question. I thought it was also a suitable alternative until I heard that it violated ToS. Needing a Panel login to make an announcement is a drag.


Because Mailman discussion lists do not reliably respect opt-in mail policies — in particular, they do not log opt-in confirmation data to the extent that we require (ref). Large discussion mailing lists also bog down our Mailman servers considerably; delivering messages to large announcement lists is considerably more efficient.

If you need to send announcements from outside the Panel, you can set up an API key to do so. See http://wiki.dreamhost.com/API for details.


I wonder if you could expand on that (and forgive me if I’m being dense)… Why is it okay to use Mailman discussion lists AT ALL, if they do not respect opt-in mail policies? Why are they okay for discussion, but not for announcement?


I’m going to make a guess here:

Mailman doesn’t have a good double opt-in + opt out mechanism. This means that potentially a Black Hat can paste his list of scrapped email addresses into Mailman and send out a metric tonne of spam.

This gets DH’s server on the banned list, and creates a mess for everyone.

I would like to have a single list for newsletters and discussion, because I think I can create a better community this way.

I can see several ways to deal with this from DH’s point of view:

  1. Mailing lists have required moderation at least for the first N messages from a given user. When I ran a google group, I moderated all the messages (about 20 per day) because of the list spamming problem.
  2. Add the opt-in mechanism/opt-out mechanism.
  3. Limit the number of addresses that can be pasted into the panel interface at any given time. Limit the number of addresses that can be added with a ‘subscribe’ message in a given day. A limit such as 25 names or 5% of the list size, whichever is larger, would make it essentially unusable for spammers.
  4. The ‘opt-in’ email is checked when a list passes a certain size. This prevents someone from composing their spam in the opt-in, adding a million names, and stepping back.
  5. Count mailing list traffic as part of a customer’s bandwidth.

I like having a unified presence on Dream Host. But my announce list is young. If I need to find an alternate hosting system to merge announce and discussion I’ll do so.

If Mailman isn’t the answer, how about an alternate?

From Spamhaus’s page:

“Some examples of software which use COI include Majordomo-2, EZMLM, Mailman, and Lyris.”