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[liberationtech] liberationtech Digest, Vol 231, Issue 1

Rich Kulawiec rsk at gsp.org
Wed Jan 28 18:35:03 PST 2015


On Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 01:19:05PM -0500, Joe Hall wrote:
> Mailing lists like this often include a header element like this that
> you can use to unsubscribe yourself:
> 
> List-Unsubscribe: <https://mailman.stanford.edu/mailman/options/liberationtech>,
>  <mailto:liberationtech-request at lists.stanford.edu?subject=unsubscribe>

You're right, this list carries RFC 2369 headers.[1]  But it's even
simpler than that.

Every correctly-run mailing list on the Internet has an associated
address of the form:

	[listname]-request@[listhost]
as in:
	liberationtech-request at lists.stanford.edu

I say "correctly" because it's been a standard for 18 years:

	Mailbox names for common services, roles and functions
	http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2142.txt

and it was a very frequently-used convention for 15+ years before that.
All sensible mailing list management software (e.g., Mailman, which
operates this list) supports it.

So all you need to remember is that tacking "-request" onto the left
hand side of any mailing list's address should connect you to the entity
(probably software; could be a human, but probably not) that can subscribe
and unsubscribe you, and change your list options (if applicable).

But wait!  There's more.

You should also be able to reach the human(s) behind any mailing list
by using "-owner" in the same way, e.g., if there's a mailing list whose
address is joe at example.com, then joe-owner at example.com should reach
whoever's behind it.  Unlike -request, which these days almost certainly
connects to software, -owner should connect you to people.  So keep in
mind that messages to -request should use the proper syntax (send "help"
and only that if you don't know) but messages to -owner should use
complete sentences, because otherwise you probably won't be understood.

And finally, if all else fails, it has been an absolutely mandatory
requirement since approximately forever (okay, RFC 822, which dates from
1982) that "postmaster" reach the human(s) responsible for the care and
feeding of whichever mail system is in play.  Any operation that doesn't
support that has no business sending or accepting email, period, full stop.
This is thus a fallback if -request doesn't seem to work and -owner
also yields no joy.

So.  First try -request.  If confusion ensues, try -owner.  If all else
fails, try "postmaster".

If all of those fail, then get the cluestick ready because you're dealing
with incompetent morons who should be forced (a) to fix their horribly
broken mail system and (b) to listen to the 3-CD, 137-minute anthology
"Bieber and Skrillex Tribute to Pink Floyd".  [2] On 10.  With headphones.

---rsk


[1] RFC 2369 is described here:

	The Use of URLs as Meta-Syntax for Core Mail List Commands
        and their Transport through Message Header Fields
	http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2369.txt

and on this list, these are set:

	List-Id:
	List-Unsubscribe:
	List-Archive:
	List-Post:
	List-Help:
	List-Subscribe:

If your mail client doesn't make it very easy for you to see those
on demand, then your mail client is misconfigured or broken.  If the
former, fix the configuration; if the latter, discard it, because
there is absolutely no excuse, in 2015, for a mail client that doesn't
facilitate compliance with an important RFC from 1998 -- doubly so one
that is key to participation in every responsibly-run mailing list
on the Internet.  (Of which, I'm happy to note, liberationtech et.al. are.)

[2] Rest easy.  I made that up.  The world is still safe.  For the moment.



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