Usual Mailing Lists (addresses [email protected])

A “usual mailing list” is a mechanism that allows you to subscribe to a list and to cancel the subscription by sending an email to a specific address. The only item registered to the list is an email address (whereas it is people in the group lists above). Finally these usual mailing lists can also be used with non EPFL email addresses. A typical example of use is a discussion group around a computer language, a technical project, a research field, etc.

The Web interface allows you to create traditional mailing lists. This Web interface also allows list owners to register a whole list of addresses at once and to modify settings (moderation, registration control, etc.)

The format of these mailing lists is [email protected].

Before requesting the creation of a mailing-list through the form mentioned at the end of this document, please read the following explanations. They will allow you to make the choices adapted to your needs when you fill in the fields of the form.

Please note that EPFL mailing-lists are managed by Dan J. Bernstein’s ezmlm software. It uses some features of the e-mail software qmail, by the same author.

Qmail is also used on the School’s central mail servers.

Each mailing-list is identified by an e-mail address. At EPFL, this address general format is (where the mylist part varies from one list to another, the part being fixed and imposed).

Hereafter we will be using the list name to explain how to manage this type of mailing-list (for examples: please replace mylist by the name you think you will use for your future list).

People interested in the topics covered by a given list can subscribe to it.

Messages sent to are redistributed to all list subscribers (after moderation, if applicable).

Subscription, termination of subscription, moderation, subscribers’ list, etc. are done by exchanging e-mail messages to addresses in a specific format. For example, subscribers subscribe by sending a message (of any kind) to mylist[email protected].
To avoid problems related to address spoofing (quite easy to achieve with e-mail), ezmlm always asks for a confirmation message to be sent to a specific address containing an unpredictable character string (e.g. mylist[email protected]) before actually making a request.

One or more owners of a list are defined during its creation.

  • The owners who are members of the EPFL (with a Gaspar account) can manage the lists through a Web interface.
  • A specific address [email protected] allows them to be reached (a copy of the messages is sent to this address, consequently all the owners will get the message). The owners themselves can, of course, use it to chat with each other. The existence of this address is not otherwise published, and it is up to the owners to decide whether they want to make it public or keep it confidential.
  • Only owners can obtain the list of subscribers.
  • Owners are automatically subscribed to the list when it is created, unless it is moderated (in which case they will receive all messages submitted to the list anyway). However, they can cancel their subscription (and therefore no longer receive messages sent to the list) while remaining owners: one reason for doing this could be that they have just enough time to manage the list, but not enough time to read the messages sent to the list…
  • Owners have the right to subscribe whomever they wish to the list (to help someone who is having trouble doing so, for example) as well as the right to terminate the subscription of any member of the list.
  • The owners are responsible for moderating the mailing list, if necessary (see next point).

Mailing-lists can be moderated:

  • moderation on registration: the list is not, by default, open to everyone. Owners must give their consent before people who subscribe are actually subscribed and receive messages sent to the list. The list is therefore a kind of select club…
  • message moderation: each message is submitted to the list owners who decide whether it should be sent to the list subscribers. This allows for example to check that its content corresponds to the list’s charter. At the creation of the list, you must specify whether senders should be notified that their message is being considered for moderation.

These two types of moderation are independent of each other. It is of course possible to have neither of them (open distribution list): you will indicate your choices when filling in the form.

In practice, owners signal their agreement by sending an e-mail of some kind to a specific address (containing an unpredictable string of characters acting as a password) which is communicated to them at each registration request or message submission.

In both cases of moderation and when there are several owners, the agreement of only one of them is sufficient to allow the inscription or the sending of the message to the list.

Owners can also do most operations on their lists through this web interface.

Here are the some measures to prevent spam from reaching the list:

  • Avoid publishing the address of the list on the Web and prefer this turn of phrase:
    • to subscribe to the mailing-list dedicated to topic X, please send a message to

Instead of :

    • the mailing-list is dedicated to topic X, to subscribe to it, please… etc.
  • Moderate the list: the owners control the content of the messages sent to the list and in particular can eliminate spam.
  • it is possible to limit the possibility to send messages to the list members (this is an option in the list creation form). Although this filtering is based on the e-mail address of the sender of the messages, which is easy to spoof, it is quite effective because spammers generally don’t know the list members.
  • it is possible to limit access to the list at EPFL: messages for the list must be sent from an EPFL post (just send a request to [email protected])

You can simply ask future users of your list to send a message to the address:
mylist[email protected].
In return, they will receive brief instructions on how to interact with the list, in particular how to confirm their registration.
For more information, you can provide them with the following URL:
In the URL above make sure to replace mylist with the actual name of your list.

After creating the list, you will find information about it by following this link :
In the URL above make sure to replace mylist with the actual name of your list.

I hope you know enough by now to fill out this form