Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers

Chris Tyler chris at tylers.info
Mon Jul 5 12:57:48 UTC 2010

On Mon, 2010-07-05 at 14:57 +0300, Felipe Contreras wrote:
> Hi,
> I don't see any component in bugzilla for mailing lists, so I'm posting here.
> In order to do that I have to subscribe, which takes more than a few
> bounces, and that's the problem.
> Public mailing lists should receive mail from *anybody*; if the poster
> is not subscribed, then the message should go through moderation. This
> is the truly open way.
> Orthogonal to this is that the mailing lists should not mingle with
> "Reply-To"; they should leave the To and Cc fields intact, so that the
> MUA can reply to the right addresses. See:
> http://www.unicom.com/pw/reply-to-harmful.html
> This way when a non-subscriber posts something, he doesn't have to add
> the "Please CC me as I'm not in the mailing list"; it will happen
> automatically.
> Decent mailing lists, such as LKML, and all the lists at
> vger.kernel.org[1], do this.
> Moreover you have dozens of mailing lists, do you expect people to
> subscribe to them when they want to send a one-time email?
> I'm sending this because my last mail to
> packaging at lists.fedoraproject.org ended with "Your message to
> packaging awaits moderator approval", and no feedback afterwards; it
> wasn't posted, it wasn't rejected, nothing. So I guess the moderator
> just deleted it.
> https://admin.fedoraproject.org/mailman/confirm/packaging/cb5b17e42464919ddd4a544f87093b6ff1f452b2
> I took a considerable amount of time writing that email, it's not nice
> for non-subscriber mails to just be dropped like that. Please, make
> Fedora mailing list friendly to outsiders.

Hi Felipe,

Thanks for your note and for your argument in favor of making the lists
open to the world.

However, there are also strong arguments in favor of the current
configuration, which permits posting only by subscribers:

(1) Spam is already a significant problem on the lists, and would rise
dramatically if anyone was permitted to post.

(2) Most posts provoke discussion. If the original poster is not
subscribed to the list, they will probably get dropped from the
discussion at some point, and not realize the full benefit of the
discussion. Also, it's likely that they will at some point respond
privately to a post in the discussion, leaving an incomplete record for
the subscribers and the list archives.

(3) You ask the question, "Moreover you have dozens of mailing lists, do
you expect people to subscribe to them when they want to send a one-time
email?". I think the complimentary question is this: "Do you expect the
participants in a list to invest time and energy in considering your
question and formulating a reply if you have indicated (by not
subscribing, a process that takes a few seconds) that you are not
engaged in the process?" The current list settings discourage one-time
e-mails and encourage involvement and participation.


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