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Mailing List Services

The Enterprise Messaging team maintains a mailing list server for the Hopkins community.  This service is powered by Sympa, an open source mailing list engine that provides several functions and enhancements long sought after for Hopkins mailing list solution.  These include:

  • Enterprise Authentication (JHED Login ID and password)
  • Web interface for list/subscriber administration
  • Web enabled archives
  • Ability to populate subscribers files automatically from a data souce (aka dynamically populated lists)
  • Ease of unsubscribe options

In October 2012 the mailing list service was upgraded to Sympa version 6, which includes some new features not previously available in version 5.  

The Enterprise Mailing List Server

Mailing lists are a free service provided to the Johns Hopkins community by IT@JH and Enterprise Messaging. They provide an easy electronic means for the dispersal of information and/or a forum for discussion on a topic or area. Mail sent to a mailing list is automatically sent to the electronic mail address of all subscribers on the list.

Who Can Have a Mailing List?

Any Johns Hopkins affiliate (faculty, staff, student) may apply to establish a mailing list. There is no charge if the mailing list supports educational and research activities of the Schools of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, SPSBE, Peabody, or affiliated research centers, is supported or sponsored by a faculty member from the above institutions , or is directly linked to a Student Council sanctioned student organization. There must be atleast two owners on each mailing list and one owner of the list must have an active JHED account (JHED Login ID).

What Kinds of Mailing Lists Are Available?

Enterprise Messaging supports mailing lists through the Sympa software on the lists.johnshopkins.edu server.  Mailing lists have a host of features which are not available with typical address book distribution lists such as those available in the Microsoft Exchange email system. If you are not sure what type of mailing list you need, this detailed comparison between Sympa mailing lists and Exchange distributation lists.  The comparison also includes a list of criteria that may be helpful in deciding what type of mailing list to use.

Requesting A List And Owning A List

To request a new mailing list, go to the myJH Portal and login using your JHED LID and password.  Click on the MyJHED tab and under "Service and Access Request" click on "Request a Mailing List."  You will need to accept the List Owners Policy; if you do not agree to it the list will not be created.  A sample of the List Owners Policy can be viewed here Once you have agreed to the policy you will be asked to fill out a form that asks how you want the list to be configured.  Step-by-step instructions for how to request a mailing list are available here. 

When the list request form has been completed, click the "Send Form" button at the bottom of the page.  You should immediately receive an email message telling you that your form has been submitted.  Within three (3) business days you will receive notification of the creation of your new list.

When completing the form for a new Sympa mailing list, the following features must be specified:

  • Closed or open subscription: In a closed subscription list, the list owner(s) adds/deletes subscribers to/from the list. In an open subscription list, anyone may add/delete their name to/from the mailing list via electronic mail.
  • Moderated or unmoderated: In a moderated list, all submissions to the list are sent to a designated person (moderator) who screens them and sends appropriate submissions out to the mailing list.
  • Archived or not archived: An archived mailing list allows the previous 12 months of postings to the list to be retrieved electronically.  Please note that list archives retain at most 12 months of mailing list messages for each list.
  • Visible or hidden: A visible mailing list will be displayed to anyone who logs on to the mailing list web server and looks at the Index of Lists.  Use the visible setting if you want users to be able to search for your list and click a link to subscribe.  A hidden mailing list will be displayed only to users who are subscribers of the mailing list.  Use the hidden setting if your list needs to be private. 
  • Replies can go to the sender or to the list: Mailing lists whose function is information dispersal usually have replies directed to the sender; those whose function is to provide a forum for discussion usually have replies directed to the list.
  • Digest messages:  Messages can be sent in digest format if the list tends to be busy and subscribers prefer to receive one email with a listing of the messages that were sent to the list rather than a copy of all messages that were sent.
  • Dynamic subscriber lists:  Some lists may benefit from having their subscriber files automatically populated and updated by connecting to an outside database.  If your list meets the criteria for a dynamic list, subscriptions will be controlled by the information within the database and the query used to find the subscribers.  To learn more about dynamic lists, please open a ticket with the Help Desk or help@jhu.edu

Most of the list configurations are changeable by a list owner, so do not think that these settings are permanent.  If there is a setting that needs to be changed for your list after the creation and the owner does not have the capability to change it, please open a ticket with the Help Desk or help@jhu.edu.

Getting Started with Sympa

Mailing List web server:  http://lists.johnshopkins.edu

Mailing list Help and FAQ

New mailing list owners may also find the following documentation helpful if they do not have experience with mailing list management.  It provides instructions, including screen shots, for logging on to the mailing list server and adding subscribers to a mailing list.

For more information please open a ticket with the Help Desk or help@jhu.edu