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InCommon Mailing List Service

How the mailing list service works: roles and responsibilities

A mailing list service involves four types of roles:

  • listmaster;
  • owner;
  • moderator;
  • subscriber.

It is possible to have several roles at once (for example, you can be an owner and a moderator of a list and be subscribed to several others).


Listmasters are in charge of the management of the mailing list service. Their duties:

  • manage the mailing list server (deployment, maintenance, etc.);
  • define the general orientations of the mailing list service:
    • who will be allowed to ask for the creation of a new list,
    • which options will be available to manage lists (scenario definition),
    • what the default files will contain (creation of templates),
    • what will the mailing list web interface look like;
  • set the way the mailing list service should be used and document those rules through providing charters to subscribers, moderators and owners;
  • approve of requests of mailing list creations;
  • temporarily replace list owners when necessary; on the other hand, listmasters are not supposed to take the place of moderators.

List owners and moderators can turn to listmasters when they face a problem not dealt with by the documentation or for any comment. However, in order not to flood listmasters with messages, it is recommended that subscribers rather turn to list owners.


The list owner is generally its creator or, failing him/her, the person who requested the list creation or who became responsible for it. His/her role:

A list can have several owners. However, the 'Privileged' profile is reserved to the list's creator; other owners have a 'Normal' profile, which has fewer prerogatives.


Moderators are appointed by the list owner. They are in charge of controlling the relevancy of the messages sent to the list: after reading them, they choose to accept or to reject them . Moderation occurs before the message is actually sent to subscribers. Rejection of a message is possibly followed by a notice to the sender in order to explain the reason for that rejection.

A list can have one or several moderators; generally, the list owner is also a moderator.

This concerns only moderated lists.

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