This chapter helps the (potential) subscriber to ezmlm/idx lists to
learn the basic functions of the mailing list manager. It contains
information on how to start and stop subscribing to ezmlm/idx list,
how to access the list archive, how to send messages to the list, and
how to contact the list owner, if necessary.
Features marked ``(*)'' are available only if the list uses
ezmlm-idx in addition to ezmlm. See
for more information on ezmlm and ezmlm-idx.
Ezmlm is a modern mailing list manager. Its purpose is to efficiently
send a message to a large number of recipients with minimal delay.
It allows automated additions and subtractions from the subscriber
database. In addition, it may keep an archive of messages. It can also
impose restrictions on what may be sent or retrieved and by whom.
Some list manager keep a database of subscriber information
and tailor the message specifically for each subscriber. Ezmlm sends
the same message to all subscriber. Digests(*), ordered collections of
messages, are handled as a separate list.
The only information ezmlm keeps
about you is your subscriber address, and if applicable,
which messages that couldn't be delivered to you
due to e.g. problems with your mail server.
Ezmlm is highly automated. Virtually everything can be done simply, rapidly,
and without human intervention.
Ezmlm encodes your address and the message number in the return address to
automatically handle bounces, i.e. messages returned to sender because
they couldn't be delivered to the subscriber.
This can be used to find out the message number, as well
as the address you're subscribed under (see below).
Ezmlm has a different address for each command. In essence, the address is
the list address and the command.
This is straight forward to interpret and therefore very
fast. It also makes it very easy to send commands from the command line
without having to worry about the subject and the message body.
If you want to interact with the ezmlm mailing list
an empty message (contents and subject are ignored) to
the list address, and ``command'' with the desired command.
For some commands, you can add
arguments. Here are a few examples, which will be discussed further
As mentioned previously, ezmlm commands are put into the ADDRESS. To
- Subscribe me.
email@example.com. Here the
default subscriber address (the one you send from) is overridden by
an argument to the -subscribe command. To subscribe any address
firstname.lastname@example.org just replace the ``@'' in the
address with ``='' and add it after a hyphen to the command. In this
Of course, ezmlm will ask
email@example.com to confirm the request.
- Unsubscribe me.
- Tell me if my address is subscribed to the list or not.
- Get message 123 from the archive.
- Get the latest message from the archive. If the list has a digest, the messages
returned are the messages received since the latest digest.
- Get messages 45-67 from the archive. No more than 100 messages can be
returned per request.
- Send subject and author name for the last 100-200 messages. No more than 2000
entries are returned per request.
- Send subject and author of messages 300-399.
- Receive an ordered set of all messages that have the same subject as message
45. ``Re:'', etc, do not make a difference,
so the returned set is the usually entire thread.
- Send me some information about this list (the list owner decides how
this command is supported).
- Send me the list of frequently-asked questions (and answers) for this
list (the list owner decides how this command is supported).
firstname.lastname@example.org, send an (empty) message to
email@example.com. Ezmlm will send a confirmation request
back to you. To confirm your subscription, just reply to the ``Reply-To:''
address. Usually, the ``reply'' function of your mail program
will do this. When
ezmlm receives your confirmation, it will add your address to the
and send you a message to tell you that you are a subscriber.
If your mail program supports it, you may be able to just click on the
address in the message.
The confirmation is used so that only you (and the list administrator)
can add/remove your address from the list of subscribers.
Sometimes, you may want to subscribe an address other than the one
you are sending from. Let's say you're sitting at
that all your mail is forwarded here from
you are not in the office). You'd like
firstname.lastname@example.org to be the
subscriber (so that you get the messages at work). To do this, send mail to:
email@example.com. Ezmlm will send
the confirmation request to
firstname.lastname@example.org which will be forwarded
and reach you at
email@example.com. When you reply,
is added as a subscriber. The ezmlm verification mechanism tests the
only relevant issue: That the person at the subscriber address
really wants to be a subscriber. After the confirmation reply is received,
ezmlm will send a
message to the subscriber address to let the recipient know that
s/he is a subscriber.
Some ezmlm mailing lists may use subscription moderation(*).
Subscription to these lists is identical to the process
described above, except that after
confirmation the request is passed on to the list moderator(s).
You become a subscriber
only after one of the moderators has approved your request. If you want to send
any additional information to the moderator, do so in your confirmation message.
Ezmlm will notify you once you are a subscriber.
You've guessed it already!
To unsubscribe from
just send a message to
to the confirmation request. Ezmlm will send you a message
to let you know that you are no longer a subscriber.
Ezmlm will also let you know if the address was not in the subscriber list.
If so, you are probably subscribed under
To find out your subscription address, look at the very first header of
any message from the list. This should contain something like
firstname.lastname@example.org which tells you
that the message number is ``2345'' and the subscriber address is
email@example.com. Now you remember that you subscribed a different
address, and construct the appropriate command address to remove that
address from the subscriber database:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Replying to the
confirmation request will return the desired acknowledgement that the address
has been removed from the subscriber database.
There is another way to find which one of many possibilities is your
subscription address. Imagine you have addresses
email@example.com all forwarded
firstname.lastname@example.org. You get the messages, but you don't know
to which address they are sent. You could figure it out from
and ``Received:'' headers. You can also send -unsubscribe requests
for each potential subscription address and reply to the confirmation
requests. The message sent by ezmlm in response to you -unsubscribe
confirmations will tell you if you
-unsubscribe attempt was successful.
With ezmlm-idx(*) you can also send mail to
and so on. For each message, you will receive a reply telling you if the address is
subscribed or not. Construct a ``-unsubscribe'' message
from the one that
gave you a positive reply and you're off the list!
If you for some reason are not successful with these attempts you can as a
last resort contact
Please describe your problem and include a FORWARDED message from the list
and a list of the
possible addresses you might be subscribed under.
The list owner will be able to help you get off the list, and can
usually figure out your subscription address
from the information sent.
Unsubscribe from subscription moderated lists works the same way as for
You never need approval to remove your address from the list.
When a list is set up to allow posts from subscribers only(*),
a post from an address (
email@example.com) may be rejected since this
address is not a subscriber (even though mail to the subscriber
firstname.lastname@example.org reaches you, ezmlm has no way of knowing this). The
easiest way to deal with this is to unsubscribe
email@example.com. If this is not possible/desirable,
send the addresses in question with a note to
The list owner can add your sender address (in this
firstname.lastname@example.org) to an extra address lists of non-subscribers
allowed to post (and access the archive).
To send messages to an ezmlm list, you must know its name. If the list
email@example.com, just send a message to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Any message accepted at this address is sent
to all list subscribers.
Due to the efficiency of ezmlm, you usually get back the message you sent
to the list within a few minutes. Of course, this is true only
is you are a subscriber.
Most ezmlm lists require that you specify a ``Subject'', a few words that
give everyone an idea what your message is about. This is a good thing,
since many subscribers automatically delete mailing list messages without
subject. Conversely, a good subject causes those interested/able to
help with your comment/problem to read the message. If you send a message
without a subject, ezmlm will send it back to you with an error message.
ezmlm also rejects messages to the list if the subject is a single command
word only, such as ``subscribe'' or ``help''. These are almost always
misdirected commands from novice users. Instead of ``flames'' from
many subscribers, the sender gets an informative error message. As you
know, your should send mail to
unsubscribe from the list
email@example.com and a message to
firstname.lastname@example.org to get help and
The list owner may place additional restrictions on messages to the
list. Ezmlm allows rejection of messages that are not from subscribers(*),
that are too long/short(*), or that contain certain MIME parts(*). If your
message is not acceptable by these criteria, ezmlm will send your
message back to you and tell you why it failed. You can then
correct the problem and try again.
You can also mail
to reach the list owner
and ask for assistance.
and ``comp.org'' with the real list and host name, respectively.
In all messages to the owner, please include
a FORWARDED copy of the error/problem message (see below). Note:
ezmlm lists handle almost everything themselves. Therefore, the list-owner
may check the mail only infrequently. Use ezmlm if at all possible, and be
patient when you wait for a reply from the owner.
In special cases, the list owner may set up the list to be message moderated(*).
When you subscribe, you should be told if the list is moderated. Also,
ezmlm adds a special ``Delivered-To: moderator for ...'' header to the
messages. On a message moderated list,
your message, instead of going directly to the list, is sent to one
or more moderators. They can accept or reject, but not modify the message.
If the message is
accepted, it is sent to the list unmodified. If it is rejected, it is
sent back to you, optionally with an explanation from the moderator. On
moderated lists it may take a little longer for the message to reach all the
subscribers, since it has to be read and approved by at least one moderator
before being sent out to the subscribers.
Message moderation is very useful for e.g. announcement lists, or lists
where for other reasons not all posts are accepted.
Messages sent via an ezmlm mailing list come ``From:'' the original
sender. For many lists, it is appropriate to discuss privately with the
original sender, then post a follow-up message with e.g. a solution to
the list. In this case, just ``Reply'' to the sender. Without this
behavior two things may happen: First, a subscriber may intend to reply
to the original sender only, but sends a message to the entire list. This
can be very embarrassing. Second, misconfigured subscriber programs
sometimes send ``John is on vacation'' messages back to the ``From:''
address. The ezmlm setup allows these to go to the original sender
(a minor nuisance) rather than to the list (a major nuisance with the
potential for mail loops if the subscriber software is severely
In other cases, you may want to send the reply to all subscribers.
The easiest is to type in the list address by hand or to use
the ``Reply-to-all'' function of your mail reader. If you do this,
delete your address as well as the original sender's address
so that the message goes to the list only. Since messages reach
subscribers within minutes, it is usually superfluous to send a reply
directly to the sender as well.
By default, ezmlm mailing lists keep an archive of all the messages sent
to the list. Some of them may have been removed by the list owner, but
usually at least the last few month's message will be there. With
ezmlm you can retrieve one message at a time with the -get
command. With ezmlm-idx(*) you can
access the archive in three different ways: You can get an
``-index'' listing message
subjects and authors only. This information is sent as sets of 100 messages
with up to 2000 entries per request. You can also ``-get'' a range of
messages(*) (up to 100 per request) which will be sorted by subject (``Re:''
and other ``subject modifiers'' are ignored) and time received. Finally,
you can retrieve a set of messages or a ``thread'' containing a specific
message. This usually gives you an ordered set starting with the first
post, and then all replies in order received.
To access the archive, again remember that commands are put into the ADDRESS.
Here are examples of the commands:
If you haven't been following the list for a while,
or you just want to see the discussion of
a specific question, the easiest is to start with -index(*).
If not found,
send further -index(*) requests going backwards in the archive.
found one message (e.g. ``667'') in the thread use the -thread(*)
- Get message 123.
- Get the subject and author information for the last 100-200 messages.
This also tells you the latest message number.
- Get the index for messages 200-299.
- Get the index for messages 200-299.
- Get the messages accumulated since the latest digest (returns latest message
if there are no digests for the list). The normal format is MIME with only
the important headers. If you instead of the -get command use
-getr you get the digest as a single long message without MIME. The
-getv command gives you the MIME format, but now all the headers
of the individual messages are returned.
- Get messages 123-456. Because you can only get up to 100 messages per request,
only messages 123-222 will be send. Send new requests to get the remainder.
- Get the thread containing message 123. To change the format, use the
-threadr or -threadv format instead. These work just like
their -get cousins (see above).
email@example.com to get the entire set.
If you're a digest subscriber and find an interesting discussion,
firstname.lastname@example.org address to catch up with
the latest messages in that thread or on the list. The -thread(*)
command is also useful if you catch the tail end of a discussion
and want to read earlier messages.
Some lists may be set up to allow archive access to subscribers only(*). If
you are not a subscriber, you can simply subscribe. If you are a subscriber,
but are denied archive access, you are subscribed under an address different
from the one you are sending from. Easiest is to unsubscribe (see above)
the current subscriber address and subscribe the address you're sending from.
Alternatively, some mail programs (e.g. Mutt) allow you to change the
SENDER address depending on where you are sending mail. Last, if this
address difference is necessary, you may FORWARD a list message, and a note
with the two addresses and a request to
The owner will add your second address to
a special address list of senders allowed to access the archive (and post)
even though they are not subscribers. Remember to
email@example.com'' with the list address.
Ezmlm list may be set up with a digest function. This is basically a second
mailing list. The difference is that this list does not accept messages but
sends out ``digests'', ordered collections of messages sent to the main
list. Usually, a ``digest'' is sent out every other day. This is very
convenient for users who want to follow a list, but not participate in
the discussion. A digest is sorted, so it's easy to read what interests you.
Simple ezmlm/idx lists test if the conditions for a digest are met whenever
a message arrives. Thus, the digests do not arrive at a specific time, but
rather approximately every two days, or more often if there is a lot of
The digest of a list ``list'' is called ``list-digest'', and the commands
are the same as for the main list. Thus, to subscribe to
firstname.lastname@example.org (the digest
send a message to:
or to subscribe the address
Of course, ezmlm will send
a confirmation request, and then a message notifying the user that s/he is
You unsubscribe to the digest in the same manner as you unsubscribe from
the main list, but using the digest list name.
Thus, to unsubscribe your current address from
send mail to:
email@example.com. Again, you can unsubscribe
firstname.lastname@example.org by instead mailing
works as usual. If subscription to the main list is moderated(*), subscription
to the digest list is moderated as well.
Just unsubscribe from the list or list-digest,
then subscribe when you want mail to
resume. If desired, get missed messages from the archive with -get
or just subject/author info with -index(*).
Due to the fast replies from ezmlm this is easier and more efficient than
having ``dormant'' subscribers.
You can always contact the list owner by mailing to the ``owner'' address.
For the list
email@example.com just send your message to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please state your problem and FORWARD
any error message or a list message with your request. Since ezmlm can
take care of virtually all request without human intervention, the
list owner may read mail only infrequently. Please be patient and
remember that in most cases you are asking the list owner to manually
do what you could do yourself from your mail reader via ezmlm
with the information in the
error or list message.