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Re: Moderating input

From: Bob Proulx
Subject: Re: Moderating input
Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2010 17:04:39 -0700
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)


> In trying to figure out exactly what address to add to the moderator
> field, I have become confused.

Mailman does this to me often. :-)

> mentions "listhelper at" and "listhelper-moderate at".

Mailman confuses things by sending the same mail to both the
administrator and to the moderator.  So the listed administrator
address gets moderator mail and the moderator gets administrator
mail.  I wish Mailman didn't work that way.

But in theory listhelper-moderator goes to a list of humans and so
would be most approriate for listing as the administrator.  The
listhelper address goes to the software robot running spamassassin and
cross-assassin and other custom rules and is the right address to use
in the moderator field.

Adding a slightly more amount of confusing is that both the
and addresses are basically the same.  At different times
both addresses have been used.

> Does the former just run spamassassin, and only ever reject things?

The listhelper robot run spamassassin, cross-assassin (checking that
the same message has been sent to many mailing lists all at once) and
other special rules.  It isn't solely spamassassin.

> So it would likely not be very useful in this case, since we already
> have a tuned spamassassin in place.

Two points:

1) You don't need to use it.  Use is voluntary but most find it
beneficial.  Didn't you (or someone else) raise just this same point a
while back and decide not to use listhelper originally?

2) Does your spamassassin benefit from seeing all of the other spam to
the other mailing lists?  I think the cross-assassin feature
at the list would still be beneficial in addition to the added Bayes
engine learning from spam from the other lists.  And particularly
annoying waves of spam I add custom rules too but I admit to those
being on a best-effort basis only.

> Looking how other lists I can access are configured, bug-gnu-emacs has
> moderator "listhelper at", but the more recently created
> help-debbugs has "listhelper at".

It was originally something completely different at my domain.  I
won't mention the old address to avoid adding to the confusion now.
Then it was added for use with a address.  It was not been
run on the machines and people were nervous as to whether a
3rd party should use the domain or not and so it went in on
the side of things.  Then as the years rolled by and
things have still been continuing that part was forgotten and it has
been added as a address anyway out of forgetfulness.
Personally it doesn't matter to me.  Since both domains are forwarded
by fencepost those addresses are really the same.

> But this makes me wonder how messages would get accepted at all on
> help-debbugs, if I hadn't added my own address as another moderator,
> which I was happy to do, but I seem to remember it wasn't required?

The help-debbugs mailing list is one of the thousand mailing lists at and is handled by the listhelper team.  Happy to have you
onboard for that mailing list too.  Many hands make light work.  But
strictly speaking it wasn't necessary since Karl, Oleg, and myself
already process it as just one of the many mailing
lists.  Spam is discarded mostly by the robot.  The human team
approves valid messages whitelists their authors for future messages.

> Maybe it works because listhelper-moderate at is the list
> admin in both case, and the admin address also get moderation emails?

Karl implemented a process to review all of the for mail
in the hold queue.  At one time some of the mailing lists had been
abandoned because of too much spam.  They were left unattended and the
disk space was just piling up with some mailing lists having thousands
and thousands of messages in the hold queue.  Now Karl's scripts scan
all of the queues on and present a list of work to be
done.  Any mailing list that has messages piling up is notice.  If the
spam isn't getting deleted we would look to see if it was attached to
the listhelper robot.  If not then we would add it so that it didn't
annoy us.  And with the spam discarded automatically then we would see
that it had valid messages to be approved and we would just handle any
random mailing list along with the other mailing lists on

So that part concerning handling messages is rather outside of whether
the admin address is to the listhelpers or not.  But unmaintained
mailing lists have been getting the listhelper-moderate address by
default by us so that users who send to the list owner using the
mailinglist-owner address will be able to reach a human to help them
with their problem.  Mostly that is subscription and unsubscription
help.  But just seeing messages to -owner go into the bit bucket
wasn't good.  So we mostly just took over that on unmaintained lists.
Of course you will see that on many mailing lists the maintainer is
still listed there and that is great!

As an aside...  While running the hold queues I will frequently see
people asking for help or other mailing list administration things.  I
will often jump in at that point and do things and help out because it
seems like the best thing to do at that point.  Although strictly
speaking the message hadn't been sent to the owner or moderator but to
the mailing list itself and since I would discard those from the queue
the mailing list never saw the message.  (Subscribe and unsubscribe
requests don't belong on the mailing list itself.)  But that is
another way that a listhelper might get involved when it will appear
as magic to someone who didn't know how we saw that message for help.

> If so, I guess the answer is that I should add "listhelper-moderate"
> as a moderator... Or do you prefer it to be added as an admin?

Put address@hidden in as the administrator.
(Karl prefers the DELETEME since this contact address doesn't have a
hold queue for spam deletion.  We see and must ignore a lot of spam to
those listname-OWNER addresses.  Eventually Karl was annoyed enough by
it to make that change.)  Put address@hidden in as moderator.


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