OK, a lot of people do not seem to understand what is involved in
administering a mailing list, so for those who would like to know a little
more, here's some insight.

Firstly, why should you believe or listen to me. Well, I have been
administering the brocp (Birthright Online City Project) mailing lists since
the project's inception, and am still continuing in that role, though I am
no longer in charge of the project itself. Though the lists are currently
[very] quiet, at times you could get 100 posts a day from them, so traffic
was much like this list, though the number of subscribers was much smaller
(about 50 compared to 250 or so on this list).

Basically, assuming that nothing goes wrong, the list software (Majordomo)
runs everything without problems. Unfortunately, nothing ever goes
perfectly, and when the software can't figure out what to do, it depends on
the administrator to tell it. The administrator has the power (via a
password) to change the configuration of the lists, kill posts, kill
members, etc. Essentially they have absolute power over the list, it's
contents and members.

So what is there to do. Assuming it is unnecessary to kill threads and tell
people off (like this list - congrats to everyone on the maturity and
downright friendliness that is seen on this list, btw), then all the
administrator has to do is maintenance. This involves keeping the FAQ up to
date (not a huge task, since this list already has one). Other duties
include approving posts that the software thinks may be suspect (sent from a
non-subscribed address, containing certain words - eg "subscribe"). The
biggest duty in my experience is simply killing off members whose accounts
have expired. If posts bounce, then the software alerts the administrator to
this fact and sends the post to them. So if everyone's email address died
all of a sudden, the administrator would get a huge amount of email all at

Another thing that you may not be aware of, and is often the reason behind
posts simply not appearing at all, is that the software only accepts posts
based on your email address. For example, if I subscribe myself to the list
under simong@iinet.net.au (my private email) and then post something from
work (simong@mech.uwa.edu.au), the software will interpret this as a
non-user post and forward it to the administrator to deal with. Since there
hasn't been an administrator on this list for quite some time, this would
explain why posts sometimes disappear. Similarly, if your post contains
certain keywords (such as "subscribe") that might indicate a botched attempt
to communicate with the software, the same thing happens.

Hopefully that clears a few things up for everyone. Cheers,


Simon Graindorge
E-Mail: simong@iinet.net.au
ICQ: 9222846
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