Mailing Lists Account Management

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General Info

This page is a resource for members looking to manage their subscription to Artisan's Asylum lists. You'll also want to review the following:

Subscribing and unsubscribing

There are two ways to join or leave any list we have:

  • Via email
  • Via a web form

Using the email approach is usually the easiest way to subscribe or unsubscribe. For more commplicated actions, such as putting multiple alternate addresses on a list, switching your mail delivery options, or viewing list archives, you can use the web form, or you can send commands directly to Mailman via email. See below.

Via email

To join the list listname, send a blank message to listname-subscribe. You can also send mail to listname-join.

For some lists, you will receive a confirmation message from Mailman to verify that you actually wanted to subscribe. You must reply to this message or Mailman will ignore your attempt. Do so soon; such confirmation messages expire in a day or so.

To leave the list listname, send a blank message to listname-unsubscribe or listname-leave. You will be instantly unsubscribed; no confirmation is needed. Please don't put "subscribe" in the subject line.

Via a web form

To join any list go to this link and replace "listname" at the end with the name of the list you are trying to join: We have a list of these links here for your convenience as well: Mailing Lists: Which List For What

Getting Mailman to tell you your password

If you're giving Mailman commands over the web, it doesn't automatically know who you are---you'll have to prove to Mailman who you are, so someone else can't change your options. The way to prove who you are is to ask Mailman to send your list password to your email address, and you can then log in at the Mailman options page using that password.

To get Mailman to send you your password, go to the bottom of any posting to that list and visit the URL you see there. Look at the bottom of that web page, and you'll see:

 To unsubscribe from listname, get a password reminder, or change
 your subscription options enter your subscription email address:

right above a button that says "Unsubscribe or edit options".

Fill in your email address and click the button. Your current password will be mailed to you. You can then use that password on the same page to log into Mailman and adjust your settings.

Password security

Mailman sends your password in email, in plain text.

This means that you should never use a valuable password if you change Mailman's random password to one that's easier to remember. We cannot guarantee the security of that password. Also, at the moment, if you log in to a Mailman options page using that password, your password will again transit the net in the clear---it is not SSL protected from your web browser to our server. There's little point doing so, because Mailman may have sent it to you in the clear to begin with. So, again, don't use a valuable password.

What happens after you request a subscription

When you send a subscription request, you'll get a confirmation message that you must answer in order to prove to Mailman that you own the address. If you don't answer, you won't be subscribed. This prevents someone else from maliciously signing you up for lists you don't want to be on. (This was a common tactic in the early days of the Internet and was called "listbombing.")

Some of our lists allow anyone in the world to sign up, with no human intervention. These include announce and discuss. Most, however, require a human to approve the subscription, to allow at least some control over spammers or because they are only open to particular groups of people. This means you won't be subscribed instantly, but your request will probably be approved in a few minutes to a few hours.

What happens if you ask to unsubscribe from a list

You're dropped instantly, without requiring you to confirm again via email. This makes it easy for you to leave any list you don't want to see.

What happens if you leave the Asylum

We do not automatically unsubscribe members from lists when they leave the Asylum. In part, this is because "leave" is a fuzzy concept for daypass users, or people who buy a month of membership occasionally. Also, some our lists contain both members and nonmembers, so it would make no sense to unsubscribe someone from one of those lists just because they're no longer a member.

If you leave the Asylum and decide you don't want to hear from us again, the easiest solution (for us) is for you to manually ask Mailman to unsubscribe you from every list you're on, by sending to the listname-unsubscribe address each time you get mail from a list you're still on. It is possible for us to remove you from all lists simultaneously, but this requires human attention from a sysadmin, so we'd rather not do this too often. But if you're on a large number of lists, feel free to ask us by sending mail to

What to do if you unsubscribe and it doesn't seem to take effect

Occasionally, people try to unsubscribe and think they can't. This is generally caused by one of the following:

  • You weren't actually on the list from that address. Often this is because you're getting your mail via a forward through some other site. You'll have to figure out what address that is.
  • You're not on the list you think you're on.

The simplest way to unsubscribe is to read the footer at the bottom of every message you get and send mail to the indicated -unsubscribe address. But if you still can't manage to unsubscribe (perhaps because you have your mail forwarded but are having difficulty determining through which other address), please send mail to and we'll get you straightened out.

Changing options

You can change a variety of things about your Mailman subscriptions, such as your password, whether any particular email address should have list mail delivered to it, and so forth. One way to do this is by using Mailman's web interface; see above for how to do that.

Alternately, many options may be changed directly via email. To get started, send a message containing just the word help to listname-request. You'll get back some instructions on how to proceed, including how to supply your password for those commands that need one. Two particularly useful commands at that point are set help and set show, which give help on which options you may change via email, and how your options are currently set, respectively.

Reading archives

If you'd like to see the archives for a particular list, you must first know your Mailman password. If you don't know what it is, ask Mailman to tell you (and optionally set it to something you'll remember). Next, visit the homepage for the list. At the very top, under the section that says "About listname", you'll see a sentence that says, "To see the collection of prior postings to the list, visit..."

If you click there, you'll have the option of perusing the archives by date or thread, or downloading them in various-sized chunks.

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