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Handling moderation e-mails automatically

Posted by kohsuke on August 25, 2005 at 2:24 PM PDT

Ryan and I launched another service to make it easy to own a project in

One of the things that we didn't like about is the mailing list moderation policy. To protect lists from spam, you need to mark a list as "moderated" to indicate that the posting can be only done by subscribers. But if you do this, and someone sends a message to a list without subscribing, they won't get any notification. To him it looks as if his e-mail is sucked into a blackhole.

Since people who posted a message is clueless as to why their post doesn't show up in the list, they either abandon it (in which case we lose potential participants), or they decided to write to us individually (in which case it wastes our time because we have to reply manually). It would have been much better if the mailing list engine could send an auto-reply to the sender, asking them to subscribe first.

We've been talking about writing a program to do this auto-responding for quite some time now. Ryan wrote an almost working code back then, but he had some troubles deploying it. Since this wasn't very high on our priority list, we left it there and moved on to other things... until now! I picked it up recently and deployed it on my system. Now I'm also monitoring it with Hudson.

Anyway, this service now is available for anyone on To use this service, go to your project mailing list edit page (typically it looks like, then click "edit moderators", and add as your mailing list moderator. You can remove yourself from the moderator too, if you don't want to see those moderation e-mails.

With this setting, if someone sends an e-mail to the list without subscriving, he/she will get a nice reminder asking them to subscribe, with a complete instruction as to how.

I hope you like it!

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