FAQ: Mailing Lists
- Does the EECS Department offer mailing list services?
- I have a question about a specific list. Who do I contact?
- How Do I Access The Mailing List Server?
- What Can I Do With The Mailing List Server?
- How Do I Create A List?
- How Do I Add or Remove Subscribers From My List?
- Can My List Contain People From Outside The Department?
- I use both user@cs and user@eecs e-mail addresses. How Does Sympa Handle That?
- What Will Be My List’s Address?
- Are Mailing Lists E-mail Virus or Spam Filtered?
- How can I manage spam to my list?
- Does the Mailing List Server accept Commands by Email?
- How do I list all my subscriptions?
- How do I unsubscribe/signoff from all lists?
- How do I transfer ownership of a list?
- Why are some messages not being delivered to my list?
- Can I merge subscriptions for two different email addresses?
- What are the policies on Archives?
- What Policies Apply To Mailing Lists?
- What Is The Maximum Message Size Supported?
- List Owner Etiquette Suggestions
- I got a warning that the “bounce rate” is very high in my list. What does this mean and what can I do about it?
- Full List of Sympa Email Commands
Does the EECS Department offer mailing list services?
The Department offers a self-serve mailing list service using the Sympa mailing list manager. Lists can be created by anyone who has a Standard Account in EECS.
I have a question about a specific list. Who do I contact?
Questions about any specific list should be sent to email@example.com. For example, to contact the owner of the list “firstname.lastname@example.org”, you should send email to
If a list owner is not reponsive, you can contact the administrators of the mailing list server at email@example.com.
How Do I Access The Mailing List Server?
Most people will want to use the web interface, which is available athttps://lists.eecs.berkeley.edu/sympa. Login with your EECS username (e.g.joesmith) and your EECS LDAP password.
Commands can also be sent via e-mail. See the Sympa website for documentation on those commands. Those commands should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
What Can I Do With The Mailing List Server?
After you login, you will see the lists to which you are subscribed or which you own. For the former, you can unsubscribe (if that is allowed; some official Department lists do not allow that), or you can change your reception options. For example, for a busy list, you might be able to request a digest so that you receive the messages bundled on a daily basis. Or you can set your reception mode to “nomail” if you do not want to receive any e-mail from that list (useful when you go on vacation). You are still considered to be subscribed, and you can still browse the web archives if the list owner has enabled them.
You can browse the public lists that are available on the server with the “List of Lists” tab (listed alphabetically), or the “Home” tab (listed by category), and subscribe to any lists you find interesting, or browse their archives if they are public.
You can create a new list by using the “Create List” tab at the top of the page.
How Do I Create A List?
To create a new list, you must have an active EECS account, and you must be logged in with your @eecs.berkeley.edu or @cs.berkeley.edu address.
Sympa offers many options, and creating a new list can be a bit overwhelming. Here is a basic overview of how to create a simple private list.
After you login, click on the “Create A List” tab. Your list needs a unique name, a short description (aka “Subject”) and a Description. You can also choose a category from the server’s pre-defined list, and most importantly a “List Type”. The List Type predefines a number of privacy and access options, so this should be chosen carefully. For a “private” group, where only the list members can post or read the archives, choose “private working group.” The other options are pretty self-explanatory, and may better fit your needs. If you’re not sure what the options mean, just take the closest fit. You can always change or fine-tune these options later.
After the list is created, click on the Admin button in the left column, then click Edit List Config. Here you can review or change any of the list parameters.
Most importantly, you will want to use the Manage Subscribers option to add people to the list. See the Etiquette section below for suggestions on good mailing list etiquette.
For a full discussion of all the available options, see the Sympa web site.
How Do I Add or Remove Subscribers From My List?
To add or remove people from your list, follow these steps:
- Login to https://lists.eecs.berkeley.edu and look for your list in the left sidebar..
- Click the Admin button next to your list.
- Click the Review Members link from the left sidebar near the bottom.
- To Add:
- You can add a single user in the “Add An User” box. The user will get a Welcome email unless you check the ‘Quiet’ box.
- You can use the Multiple Add box to paste in a bunch of email addresses if you have many to add.
- To Delete Users:
- Click the checkbox to the left of the users you want to delete.
- Click the “Delete Selected Email Addresses” button. The user will receive an email notification that they have been removed, unless you check the ‘Quiet’ box.
Can My List Contain People From Outside The Department?
Yes, people from outside the department can subscribe to any list that allows it, or even be listed as a co-owner of the list. However, only current EECS users can create lists initially, and all lists must have at least one active EECS member listed as an owner. For the purposes of Sympa, it recognizes users whose e-mail address is of the form @eecs.berkeley.edu, @cs.berkeley.edu, or @erso.berkeley.edu as being in the department. Any other e-mail address is considered “outside” the Department and therefore ineligible to create a list.
I use both user@cs and user@eecs e-mail addresses. How Does Sympa Handle That?
For the purposes of logging in to the web interface, you can use either your email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com e-mail address. Your EECS LDAP password will work with whichever address is listed as your default address in the LDAP directory. However, the particular e-mail address that is subscribed to a list will affect how some operations are handled. In particular, if a list is configured to only allow posts from subscribers, you must send your message “From” that exact address. This is a shortcoming that we hope will be addressed in the future.
What Will Be My List’s Address?
Your list address will immediately be available as firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want your list to also be available @eecs.berkeley.edu, we recommend that you either create a SPA (Special Purpose Account), or request that help@eecs create for you a bConnected mail list for your new @eecs address. These two methods are preferred over us creating a simple @eecs forward alias, since they both create an object in the Google domain used by campus.
If you create a SPA, we can make the @eecs email address an alias for the SPA’s bMail account. If we create a bConnected @eecs/@cs mailing list for you, you can make an @lists.eecs.berkeley.edu email address a member of the list.
The primary advantage of using a SPA or bConnected list over simple @eecs email forwarding is the handling of mail detected as probable spam. With the SPA, spam is labeled; with a bConnected list, spam is by default placed on the pending queue. But with simple @eecs email forwarding, mail that Google detects as spam is bounced back to the sender via “Mail Delivery Subsystem email@example.com” stating (erroneously):
** Address not found **
Are Mailing Lists E-mail Virus Checked or Spam Tagged?
Yes. As of June 17, 2016, all incoming mail to lists.eecs is checked for viruses and spam. Any mail containing a virus is rejected. The DNSRBL service is utilized to reject mail from suspect addresses. All incoming mail must also come from a IP address with a reverse DNS entry.
Apache’s SpamAssassin software is used to provide spam tagging. Each message that has a non-zero spam “score” will have an extra header added, which can be used for filtering.
X-Spam-Score: will contain some number of asterisks from 1 to 40. You can match on this to determine your own threshhold for possible spam. Some Sympa scenari will look for this header and request additional authentication for any score over 20. You can set this on the Admin->Edit List Config->Sending/Reception page under “Who can send messages”.
How can I manage spam to my list?
All messages sent into lists.eecs.berkeley.edu are scanned by spam-detecting sofware. All messages are given a score that indicates the likelihood it contains spam. Sympa can be configured with one of three options based on this score. These options can be found on the Admin->Edit List Config->Sending/Reception page, under “Who can send messages”.
- Moderate Spam > 50%, accept everything else — This is the safest option in terms of never losing any legitimate mail, since nothing is automatically rejected, but it requires a person to moderate suspected spam messages.
- Reject Spam > 50%, accept everything else — This requires the least effort (since there is no moderation) but risks rejecting legitimate mail.
- Reject Spam > 50%, moderate everything else. — This is the safest in terms of never allowing spam to get to the list. Suspected spam is immediately rejected and a person has to moderate everything else.
If you find these scenarios are not quite working for you, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can consider creating new scenarios with different spam scores or actions.
Does the Mailing List Server accept Commands by Email?
Yes, some functions are easier to access by email, especially if your @eecs account is closed and you can’t login to the web server. It can also be very convenient when changing multiple lists at once (e.g. you are going on vacation and want to put multiple lists in NOMAIL mode.) You can put one or multiple commands in one message
To send a command to the email list server, do as follows:
- If you send a single command, type it into the subject line of your email and leave its body blank.
- If you send several commands, leave the subject line of your email blank and type all the commands in the email body.
- Write every command on a new line.
- Send your message in plain text, not in HTML (no formatting).
- Delete anything other than commands to the server (e.g., no signature block).
See the full list of available commands below.
How do I list all my subscriptions by email?
Send an email to email@example.com from the address you wish to query with this command in the subject:
How do I unsubscribe/signoff from all lists by email?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org from the address you wish to unsubscribe with this command in the subject:
How do I transfer ownership of a list?
To transfer ownership of a list to someone else (or to just add a new owner), go to the Admin->Edit List Config->List Definition page for your list. In the Owner section, there will be a blank set of fields after the last owner where you can add a new owner. A “privileged” owner can add other owners. You can remove owners by just blanking out their fields. Be sure to save your changes by clicking the Update button at the bottom of the page.
Can I merge subscriptions for two different email addresses?
Many people are starting to use their @berkeley.edu email address instead of their @eecs.berkeley.edu address, and finding that they now have essentially two accounts on lists.eecs.berkeley.edu. Sympa treats each email address as its own account, and at this time it is not possible to merge subscriptions for two different email addresses.
Part of the problem is that the membership of many Sympa lists is generated from external databases. For example, all the staff lists and graduate student lists are maintained this way, and for historical reasons most of these assume your email address is your <username>@eecs.berkeley.edu. In order to change the subscribed email address to any of these lists, the external databse must be updated, not lists.eecs. Because of this, bulk-changing email addresses is not something email@example.com can accomodate at this time.
As usual, any requests for updates to a particular list should be sent to the owner of that list. See “How Do I Contact The Owner of a Specific List?” elsewhere in this document. It is up to each list owner to accomodate such requests.
It is strongly recommended that all EECS members use their @eecs.berkeley.edu address for all lists.eecs lists, for a few reasons. First, only email addresses that match @eecs.berkeley.edu, @cs.berkeley.edu or @erso.berkeley.edu can create new lists. Second, the web interface for lists.eecs is configured to use our LDAP server for authentication, and by using your @eecs email address when logging in can you take advantage of this. Once you login using this address, you can only manage subscriptions using that exact address.
Why are some messages not being delivered to my list?
The newest version of Sympa has some additional features to prevent loops from occurring. If you are noticing some emails not being delivered to lists, check these options.
- Any mail where the sender matches this regular expression is considered a loop and is dropped:
- Any mail containing a header:
Auto-Submitted:is considered an “auto reply” and is dropped.
You can disable both of these checks on a list’s configuration page under List Configuration -> Sending/Receving Setup. Change the parameter “Reject mail from automatic processes” to “Disabled”.
See also: Section on Spam and Virus filtering.
What are the policies on Mailing List Archives?
By default all lists have web archives enabled, with a 25Mb quota. When the archives are 95% full, the list owners will receive a warning. When the archives are 100% full, no more messages will be archived.
Archives can be deleted or downloaded through the web interface from the page https://lists.eecs.berkeley.edu/sympa/arc_manage/listname. (Click on the Admin button for your list, then click on “Manage Archives”.)
Archive behavior is configured at the https://lists.eecs.berkeley.edu/sympa/edit_list_request/listname/archives page. You can get here by clicking on the Admin button for your list, then Edit List Config->Archives.
By default there is no auto-deletion of archives. List owners have these options for managing archives:
- Disable web archiving completely. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want this option.
- Manually maintain archives by occasionally deleting months or individual messages.
- Set the “Maximum number of months archived” on the Archive configuration page to a value that ensures that you do not go over the 25MB quota. Old months are automatically deleted as new months are archived. A large message or two could still cause a list to go over quota, in which case individual messages or months will have to be deleted manually.
- If more than 25 MB of archives are desired, a list owner can request that the archives be moved to their group’s project space, where disk usage will be billed along with their other file storage. We will need a directory created that is writable by the group “sympa” (GID 668, as defined in the department’s NIS domain), on a filesystem that is NFS-exported to lists.eecs.berkeley.edu. Requests for archive relocation should be sent to email@example.com
By default, archives are excluded from web crawling robots via a robots.txt file. By request, individual archives can be opened up to searching by robots. Send such requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Policies Apply To Mailing Lists?
All UC Campus IT Policies apply. See https://security.berkeley.edu/policy/
Official Department Lists will be given a higher priority for delivery of e-mail: http://www.sympa.org/manual/parameters-others#priority
Inactive lists will be reviewed on a yearly basis and closed at listmaster’s discretion.
What Is The Maximum Message Size Supported?
This can vary from list-to-list, but the default size is 512KB. If you are trying to send a bigger message than the maximum allowed, you will get a message back explaining this. To request a larger limit, contact the list owner at the address in the message (email@example.com). If the owners wishes to allow it, they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to increase the maximum size. Large messages to lists with many subscribers impose a high load on the server and are discouraged. We cannot allow any list to have a maximum size over 5MB.
List Owner Etiquette Suggestions
It is suggested that you invite people to a list, rather than automatically subscribing them. When you invite someone, they will receive an e-mail containing a standard message with the list’s Subject, and a URL that will allow them to subscribe. You can customize this message for your list in the Admin→Customizing section.
To invite people, send an e-mail to email@example.com with each invite command on its own line:
invite <listname> myfriend@helpy
invite <listname> firstname.lastname@example.org
Where <listname> is the name of your list.