Dada Mail Mailing Lists

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The free Dada Mail mailing list software (previously known as "Mojo Mail") works well with our servers. Dada Mail is a good alternative to Mailman if:

  • You don't mind installing the script yourself; and
  • You want to run an announcement-only mailing list (as opposed to a group discussion mailing list); and
  • You prefer to post list messages using a Web page instead of a mailing list program.

Note that if you use Dada Mail, you must use certain settings to comply with our spam policy.

On this page:

Setting up Dada Mail

To set up Dada Mail, follow the installation instructions that come with the program. The instructions tell you to change four things in the "Config.pm" file. Here are some hints about what to use:

1. Change the root password.

It's very important to change the root password; if you don't, other people can send messages to your list.

2. Choose a files directory.

For simplicity, we recommend using your FTP program to create a directory named "private_dada_files" at the top level of your website, then setting this variable to point to that directory. (There are other ways to do this that add more privacy if you prefer; see the Dada Mail documentation.)

3. Set $MAILPROG.

The default "$MAILPROG" setting of "/usr/sbin/sendmail" is already correct for our servers, and does not need to be changed.

4. Set $PROGRAM_URL.

Change this to the address of the "mail.cgi" script on your website

After making those changes, you'll need to publish the "dada" folder so that it's inside your cgi-bin folder, then make the "mail.cgi" script executable.

Enabling proper tracking of bounces (VERP)

You can configure Dada Mail to help track bounced messages by using a scheme called VERP.

Dada Mail does not use the VERP method by default. If you enable it (by setting verp_return_path to 1 in Config.pm), you will also need to make one other change to Config.pm. Dada Mail defaults to using a "-" separator when encoding the return path, but our servers require it to use a "+" separator instead.

To fix this, edit the Config.pm file. Look for a line which reads:

$MAIL_VERP_SEPARATOR = '-';

and change it to look like this:

$MAIL_VERP_SEPARATOR = '+';

Set batch timing

If your mailing list has more than a few hundred addresses, you should configure Dada Mail to send messages in many small batches rather than all at once. This keeps the server load manageable and makes sure your website stays responsive.

The Dada Mail process that distributes the mailing can only run for a maximum of 6 hours on our servers. If it runs for more than 6 hours, our servers will think it's a "runaway process" and terminate it, and you'll have to start it again.

You should make sure Dada Mail doesn't run for more than 5 hours by setting the number of messages to be sent in a batch and the number of seconds to wait between batches.

Our recommended settings are to send 10 messages per batch, then wait 5 seconds between batches. With those settings, Dada Mail will be able to send up to 7,200 messages per hour, and a list of 1,000 addresses will complete in around 8 minutes. That should be large and fast enough for most lists. If you need to send larger numbers of messages or you need to send your messages more quickly, please contact us.

To configure your batch timing options:

  1. Login to your Dada mail list.
  2. Click Sending Options.
  3. Make sure Enable Batch Sending is checked.
  4. Set the number of messages per batch and the wait time.
  5. Click Save Sending Options.

Dada Mail and our spam policy

Dada Mail has a feature in the "Mailing List Options" screen marked "Send Subscription Confirmation Emails (Double Opt-In)".

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This option is turned on by default when you install Dada Mail, and it must be left on for your list to comply with our spam policy. Do not turn it off under any circumstances. If you turn it off and we receive a spam complaint about your list, we will disable your ability to send mail from Dada Mail and other scripts.

As the Dada Mail documentation itself says, "This may seem like an unnecessary step, but it is almost essential that you use this option. Briefly, this option stops unwanted subscriptions (spoofed email addresses), incorrectly typed in email addresses, and spam complaints (real or misinterpreted)".

When you leave this option on, it proves that when an address was added to your list, the person at that address agreed. That gives you an ironclad defense against false spam accusations.

If you turn this option off, anyone can (accidentally or intentionally) subscribe a stranger to your list. If that happens, the strangers will probably complain that you're spamming them, and the strangers will be right: after all, you had an easy way to make sure strangers can't be added to your list, but you intentionally disabled it. What's worse, if the strangers complain to their ISP, the ISP might block all messages from your mailing list. Then you won't be able to send mail to your legitimate subscribers at that ISP.

Don't risk it. Always leave this option turned on.

Dada Mail and unsubscriptions

Dada Mail also has an option called "Send Unsubscription Confirmation Emails (Double Opt-Out)":

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This option must be turned off. If it isn't, your list would violate our mailing list policies and the 2008 update to the U.S. CAN-SPAM law that requires people to be able to unsubscribe themselves by visiting a single Web page. (Technically speaking, that law only applies to commercial mailing lists, but it's unwise to try to argue that distinction with someone who complains. Many people consider a mailing list "commercial" if it includes links to any site containing any advertising, for example.)