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What is Mailman Hosting?

Mailman is a free software application designed to assist with electronic mail management, especially lists for things like newsletters and discussions. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License, and integrated with the Web for easier management and administration. Mailman is written in the Python programming language.

What It's For

Despite the rise of popular alternatives to email, electronic mailing lists still facilitate the wide distribution of information to specified recipients. For many industries, such as software development, mailing lists are an effective way for individuals to communicate, share ideas and collaborate.

Typically, these mailing lists include email addresses and the names of their owners (subscribing recipients), the publications sent to those addresses, and a reflector. The reflector receives composed messages, and forwards, or reflects, them to all of the addresses on the list.

Features

Mailman is a full-featured mailing list solution, and the application supports more than two dozen languages. The languages can be configured on a per-site, per-list and per-user basis.

Users may create and remove lists through the Web, though automatic support depends on the Mail Transfer Agent (MTA). Users can subscribe and unsubscribe through the Web, and even temporarily disable their accounts or hide their address from other users. Mailman also offers "real name" support for its users.

Mailman provides several different delivery options, configurable on a per-list and per-user basis. The regular method delivers individual messages immediately. There are also two digest modes, either Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) or Plain, that deliver periodic emails containing the various messages since the last digest.

Emergency moderation is available to manage rapid posting among large groups. MIME-based content filtering, including the ability to strip MIME attachments, regular expression-based topic filtering and integrated spam filtering are included. Each mailing list may have its own, customized homepage.

The lists on Mailman each enjoy their own privacy features, among which are private membership rosters and archives, closed subscriptions, and sender-based posting rules. If a particular email address bounces sent messages, the application will detect it, and automatically unsubscribe the account. The lists allow multiple owners and moderators. Further, Mailman offers support for virtual domains and high-performance mail delivery.

Pricing and Availability

You should have no trouble finding a hosting provider for Mailman. It runs on Linux and other Unix-like Operating Systems (OS), and requires a mail server and support for Python. As you will be working with numerous email addresses, ensure your host offers the appropriate support for managing email accounts, access and security.

When evaluating a host, find out what restrictions or requirements they place on mailing lists. For example, some hosts require a dedicated server or Virtual Private Server (VPS) for mailing lists that exceed a specified amount of subscribers.

Because Mailman is open source, the software itself is free to use. Depending on your hosting company's requirements, however, you may have to pay additional fees for the necessary hardware or hosting package.

Alternatives

Despite its widespread use, Mailman is by no means the only mailing list software on the market.

phpList is an open source, PHP-based mailing list package. It offers many similar features as Mailman, and may be a good choice for admins whose website is already PHP-based.

Dada Mail is another alternative that emphasizes the ability to "run a verified mailing list that your subscribers can trust," thanks to a closed-loop opt-in system.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Powerful features
  • Widespread support
  • Relatively simple
  • Free

Cons:

  • None

Points to Remember

Mailman has established itself as one of the main mailing list applications on the market today. It boasts an array of powerful features and customization options, not the least of which is Web-based administration for nearly everything.

As free, open source software under active development, Mailman is a compelling option for any individual or organization looking to create and maintain an electronic mailing list.

Mailman Frequently Asked Questions

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