Proper list server? (was Re: Automatic means for spinning down disks available?)

Jeffrey Goldberg jeffrey at
Wed Apr 11 21:08:23 UTC 2007

On Apr 11, 2007, at 2:14 PM, L Goodwin wrote:

> Well, Jonathan, since you asked, here are the things I've found  
> cumbersome about freebsd-questions, some/all of which may be due to  
> my own ignorance:

It's not so much your ignorance (well ultimately it is), but that you  
are using a webmail system (Yahoo!) to manage your mail.

Quite simply, if you are going to be getting lots of mail (as happens  
when you subscribe to a mailing list or two) and communicating with  
people on discussion lists, you should use a proper mail client.

I'm sure that there will be ways to doing the things you want with  
Yahoo!, but on the whole mailing lists were designed to work with  
real email clients.

Anyway, here are comments on the original.
> 1) I get all email posted to freebsd-questions in my inbox  
> (actually, some end up in "bulk mail" folder). That's a lot of mail  
> to wade through. I'm trying to get a system up and running so I can  
> move on to the next task.
> I suppose I could set up some email filtering rules to limit what  
> comes in.

Sorting of incoming mail is essential if you belong to several  
mailing lists.  I'm sure that Yahoo will have some way of doing this  
so that mail that matches a particular pattern will go into a  
designated mail folder.  As others have pointed out, the best pattern  
to use is based on the List-Id header, which for this lists looks like

  List-Id: 	User questions <>

I have a sorting rule that puts all of my lists (I  
subscribe to several) in a specific folder.  Because I'm sorting mail  
with something called sieve (almost certainly not what Yahoo is  
doing) my rule looks like

   elsif header :contains ["List-Id"] "" {
   fileinto "INBOX.LISTS.Comp.BSD"; stop;

But don't worry, you won't have to edit such rules by hand.  Yahoo  
will have a nice web interface for you.

> 2) To reply to an email, I have to copy/paste "freebsd- 
> questions at" into the "To" field. If I forget to do this,  
> my reply gets send to the sender only.
> See? I almost forgot to do it for this reply. :-}

Most mailers (and I assume Yahoo! as well) make a distinction between  
"Reply" and "Reply to all".  It might be called something else on  
Yahoo! but look for something that seems to mean the same thing.

For some discussion lists, things are configured so that the Reply-To  
header in mail to the list will make a simple "Reply" to go just to  
the list.  There are fierce debates among list managers about whether  
that is a good thing or a force for evil.  I will not step into it  
here, except to note that the people who configured this discussion  
list made a conscious and informed choice about how to configure the  
list.  (Mailman allows lists to be set up either way.)

> One feature I like about (some) list servers is the ability to send  
> a private message to another member. This comes in handy when one  
> person is helping troubleshoot a problem, and you don't need  
> everybody on the list to get involved.

That is what a simple "Reply" will do given how this list is set up.   
Use Reply to All to send the response to the list as well.

I don't mean to present an argument from authority, but you are  
clearly new to email discussion lists.  The people who made the  
choices about the configuration of this list have much more  
experience about what works and what doesn't work.  I managed my  
first email list in 1986, and over the decades have formed some very  
strong opinions.  It's good for you to query things and point out  
stuff that doesn't seem to work right.  It wouldn't be the first time  
that the experts are wrong.  But do keep in mind that most everything  
you encounter has been configured or designed the way it is for a  
reason.  And so when you run into something that seems strange or  
annoying to you, the question to ask is not "why can't we do it  
right?" but "why are things set up as they are?"

Once you get used to the way of doing things on proper email  
discussion lists, you'll never want to go back to anything like  
Yahoo! Groups.



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