[Molvis-list] To the moderator (and list admin)

Reed, Ruth (REED) REED at Juniata.Edu
Mon Nov 22 09:15:24 EST 2004

I strongly prefer moderation--

Ruth Reed

-----Original Message-----
From: molvis-list-admin at bioinformatics.org
[mailto:molvis-list-admin at bioinformatics.org] On Behalf Of Eric Martz
Sent: Sunday, November 21, 2004 12:21 PM
To: molvis-list at bioinformatics.org
Cc: jeff at bioinformatics.org
Subject: Re: [Molvis-list] To the moderator (and list admin)

At 11/20/04, you wrote:

>Can I ask why this list is moderated?
>In the spirit of "This makes the discussion more interesting"
>(http://bioinformatics.org/mailman/listinfo/molvis-list) I don't see
>this should be necessary.

Presently this list is moderated by Eric Martz or Tim Driscoll.

"Moderating" an email list means that a moderator must approve each
before it is broadcast to the list. The moderator may refuse to
inappropriate messages. The RasMol-list subscribers have been quite
during the 9-year history of this list. However, were a disrespectful, 
name-calling, or inflammatory message to be sent, the moderators could 
request that such messages be rephrased, or reject them. In some cases
moderator may choose to edit messages before they are broadcast, but the

mailman software running molvis-list does not provide this option.

I chose to moderate the new molvis-list, at least for an initial period,
preclude the broadcasting of spam. Messages are accepted only from 
subscribers, but it is easy for spammers to "spoof" a message as being 
"From" a sender, fooling this safeguard. A handful of spam messages were

broadcast on the old list because I chose not to moderate it for most of

its history.

Moderation also enables me to respond to "unsubscribe" requests that are

inappropriately sent to the entire list, without broadcasting them.
has already been one of those.

The present mechanism for moderation in mailman does not allow me to
messages before broadcasting. I have found no need for such editing, but

sometimes it would be useful to add a comment before broadcasting (which

mailman does not enable me to do at present). Bioinformatics.org plans
upgrade to a new version of mailman which may have more flexibility.

The old listproc mechanism enabled me to get a little information about
subscribers, which helped me to refuse subscriptions to dozens of
bogus requests received over the years. The present mailman mechanism
me only the email address for subscription requests, so I have no basis
refusing a subscription request. This made me a little more nervous
the possibility of vandals subscribing to broadcast spam. So far it
happened, but it has only been one month. The list is more visible than
used to be because of its presence in a large group of lists at 

The only downside of moderation that I can see is the sometime delay of
to a day (rarely more) before Tim or I get around to checking and
new messages. Tim Driscoll has just today been added as
This should reduce the lag time on average.

The lag occurs in part because the mechanism provided by mailman, to
the list administrators when a message has been sent, also displays the 
admininstrators' email addresses plainly on the main list web page. Tim
I did not want this because it makes it easy for email address
worms to spam us. So I displayed the admin addresses in an alternate 
format. However, doing so obviates the mechanism mailman has for
us of new messages.

If the subscribership prefers that the list not be moderated, I don't
turning moderation off. There is a slight risk that all 600-some of us
be bombarded with molvis-list spam one of these days. Dan, if you wish
propose to the list subscribers that it not be moderated, go ahead. I
no convenient mechanism for taking a vote of all subscribers, but we can

see if there are any objections. I would not object to trying it

Otherwise, I plan to continue moderating the list for a couple more
until I see how it goes. Then I expect I'll turn off moderation if it


Eric Martz, Professor Emeritus, Dept Microbiology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA US

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