Mailing List Working Group (MACE-MList)
The MACE-MList working group is dormant
for now. Please contact Steve
group flywheel, with questions or comments.
Minutes || Mailing
List || Documents || Presentations
|| Links || Sympa RPMs (NEW)
NSF Middleware Initiative: NMI-EDIT
Mailing List (List Manager) software is a long-time "backbone"
service supporting collaboration. Software such as L-Soft ListServ, GNU Mailman,
Majordomo, or ListProc have been widely used for a variety of university-related
work and other inter-organizational collaborations. With the growth of the
web, these list software packages have added web-based interfaces for friendlier
access to functions like subscription management, list management, and archive
The use of mailing list software has also changed over the years. Mailing
lists traditionally assume that list members have no organizational affiliation
other than their membership in the list itself. Frequently, list software
extends this assumption to the point where each list is treated as an independent
organizational entity complete with its own subscription identities. While
this flexibility lowers barriers to collaboration, it introduces an undesirable
subscription management burden when users participate in collaborations across
a variety of lists. As use of mailing lists to support inter-institutional
collaborations has increased, the numbers of user logins and passwords has
exploded accordingly, compounding the problem.
Mailing list software often extends these membership assumptions to their
web interfaces, making it difficult to integrate those interfaces into enterprise
authentication and authorization environments. Such "stand-alone"
assumptions can also make it difficult to integrate lists into a larger collaboration
environment built using a collection of best-of-breed applications.
In short, mailing list software is an "old-reliable" that would
benefit from integration with infrastructure services such as: authentication,
authorization, groups, attributes, directories, etc. Middleware providing
this type of infrastructure integration will result in systems that enable
a user to easily read and review all their mailing lists via web interface
without appearing to require any special authentication.
Many of the mailing list products listed above have slightly different features
and operational assumptions; with the interoperability of the underlying SMTP
transport there is no need to standardize on a single mailing list software
package; however, it would be beneficial to learn what features are most important
(or most annoying) to higher education and ensure that at least one open source
product meets our needs and publish these requirements for the benefit of
other product vendors.
Internet2 is interested in exploring which features of applications make
them more or less difficult to re-engineer for infrastructure integration,
and also in learning what users' current expectations, hopes, and dreams are
for useable collaboration tools. For example, a common mailing list annoyance
is that using a digital signature to sign an email message sent to a list
causes the recipients to receive a warning that the message has been tampered
The development focus will be on open-source software, in part supported
by an NSF grant to the University of Alabama at Birmingham “NMI-Enabled
Open Source Collaboration Tools for Virtual Organizations”. Cooperation
and collaboration with other working groups and other bodies is critical to
the success of this working group.
The I2 MACE-MLIST working group intends to address the following sets of issues:
Outcomes / Deliverables
- The WG will research the issues surrounding middleware-enablement of
mailing list services. Where possible, the WG will document how to perform
this integration and provide forums where people can learn and help each
other in addressing these integration issues within campus contexts. Where
appropriate, the WG will collaborate with open source communities to consider
needed modifications or other techniques for achieving better integration
with the enterprise/federation.
- The WG will consider and implement a survey of current university mailing
list users to identify favorite features, needed improvements, and notable
warts. We will map existing mailing list capabilities to a matrix of available
- The WG will include persons who are actively working on integration with
the enterprise/federation using non-proprietary technology; experiences
will be shared regarding application designs best supporting infrastructure.
Working group members will test-drive pilot/prototype solutions.
- Survey results, identifying best features, absent features, and desired
improvements from users of mailing list software, along with a mapping of
this feature set to existing mailing list software.
- A simple model of mailing list management software operations, with middleware
enablement points identified.
- At least one open-source list software prototype (Sympa is a likely candidate)
using federated authN/Z.
- Documentation describing methods for modifying open source list software
for use in federated environments.
NOTE WELL: All Internet2 Activities are governed by the
Intellectual Property Framework.
of MList Conference Calls
- March 8, 2006
- February 15, 2006
- December 7, 2005
- November 9, 2005
- October 26, 2005
- October 12, 2005
- December 8, 2004
BoF September 27, 2004
BoF April 19, 2004
To subscribe to the MACE-Mlist mailing list, send email to pubsympa at internet2 dot edu, with the *subject line*:
subscribe <list name>
subscribe mace-mlist Jane
To unsubscribe, send email to pubsympa at internet2 dot edu, with the *subject line*:
These documents are works in progress. For more information on the status
of these documents, see the Internet2
Document Guidelines. For reference see also the Internet2
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