Mailing List Hosting

I’ve hosted email lists of one sort or another probably all the way back to 1995, when I first bought as an email-only domain fed off a UUCP connection on a long-distance dialup link.

I’ve only used two mailing list hosting programs in that whole time: Majordomo and Ecartis (used to be known as Listar). Unfortunately, Ecartis has not seen upstream work in several years, and as a result was removed from Debian in May.

That got me to thinking: what am I going to do with the mailing lists I host? I’m not pleased with my current list archives, which are very similar to what you get from Mailman: no search engine, and every thread is broken at the end of each month.

I also want to preserve my archives.

I’m presently looking at whether to continue hosting the lists myself, or turn to something like Google Groups or Nabble. Hosting it myself, the main choice is Mailman, which really has more features than I need in most areas, and fewer than I need for archiving.

For other hosts, I’ve looked at Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, and Nabble. Google Groups looks like the best option, and even has a (somewhat hidden) way to subscribe via pure email without having a Google account. They can import and export subscriber lists, though not archives.

I’m thinking I’ll also make sure all the lists have full archives at Gmane. Then, based on message IDs, I can generate a bunch of RedirectPermanent lines for Apache to links to the archives don’t get broken.

My current thought for list hosting itself is Google Groups. It would be nice to be free of the hassle of administering a mailing list host, which is nothing special these days. Another benefit of Google Groups is that those people that like web forums (who ARE those people anyway?) get a forum-like interface to the list if they so choose.

Nabble has some interesting features, and can optionally import a full history of a list, but it concentrates far more on the forum than the email aspects. It doesn’t even appear to have basic moderation settings.

7 thoughts on “Mailing List Hosting

  1. I think you’ve hit on the right combination: you should host the mailing list yourself, but you should rely on gmane or similar for archives.

  2. Email is a near-useless medium by now, because of spam. Mailing lists are to be avoided at all costs. I don’t have any public email address any more. It is best to just retire all your mailing lists. For the purposes they serve, this may sound weird, but I’d go to an even further throwback and use NNTP, with some tiny amount of authentication to slow down spam.

  3. I suggest to use mailman for mailinglist management and lurker for archiving the mails. for example uses lurker as archiver:
    lurker has a nice interface, lots of useful search features and is easy to maintain (remove spam via webinterface etc)

    the lurker debian package contains documentation on how to setup it along with mailman.

  4. solrize i never get spam to the normal mailman lists. google-groups lists tend to send me a lot of spam. they nuke it from the archives via a nightly cronjob or whatever but subscribed via email it’s annoying..

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