How can my visitors subscribe themselves to a list?

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This page explains how your visitors can subscribe themselves to a Mailman mailing list. (To learn how to create a mailing list, please see creating Mailman lists.)

On this page:

Different ways people can subscribe

There are three different ways that people can subscribe to your list. They can:

  • Visit a Mailman Web page;
  • Send an email message to an address like "listname-subscribe@example.com" (where "listname" is the actual name of the list); or
  • Use a custom "subscribe" form you add to your website.

The latter is often the best choice, because it can be integrated into your site and may look more professional than simply providing a link to the Mailman Web page.

However, the first two choices are much simpler and don't require any configuration.

To see the exact Web page, subscription address, or HTML form code for your list:

  1. Login to the “My Account” control panel (having trouble?)
  2. Click E-Mail Options
  3. Locate the mailing list and click show mailing list details
  4. View the instructions in the "Subscribing to the List" section.

Changing the subscription results page

If you use a custom form on your site for subscribing, you may also want to edit the appearance of the subscription results page to match your site.

In the Mailman administration screens, click Edit the public HTML pages and text files > Subscribe results page. You can either add an entire HTML page there, or add a redirect to your own page with something like this:

<html>
<head>
<title>Subscription Results</title>
<meta http-equiv="refresh"
 content="1;url=http://www.example.com/mypage.html">
</head>
<body></body>
</html>

What happens when a visitor subscribes?

When people subscribe to your list using any of the above methods, they receive an email message asking them to verify their subscription. The recipient must either reply or click on a link within the message to actually be added to the list. This step protects you against false spam accusations: when someone replies or clicks that link, it provides permanent evidence that the person at that address actually agreed to subscribe (and was not mistakenly added because someone mistyped their own email address or something like that).

If we later receive spam complaints from verified addresses, we'll know the complaints are invalid and your list won't be affected. If people at verified addresses complain to other ISP or anti-spam blacklist operators, we can use the verification records to make sure the ISP or blacklist doesn't permanently block your mail.

The message that the recipient receives looks like this:

Subject: Verify your example.com ListName subscription

We have received a request to subscribe address@example.com to the example.com "ListName" mailing list.

To protect you from unwanted email, YOU MUST FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW TO JOIN THE LIST. You will not be added if you ignore this message.

To join the list, visit this Web page:

http://lists.example.com/...

If you prefer, you can join by replying to this email message. Your reply will be sent to a special address that adds you to the list. The text of your reply does not matter and will not be seen by a human being.

If you don't want to join this list, please ignore this message. If you have any questions, please send a separate message to listname-owner@example.com.

After the person follows the instructions to verify the subscription, they'll be added to your list.

What if the recipient doesn’t get the verification message?

Some mail systems filter all list mail, including the initial verification message, into folders named something like “Promotions”, “Bulk”, “Junk” or “Spam”.

If someone says they didn't get the message, they should search their mail, including folders like those, for your domain name, which will be in the subject of the message.

In particular, if the person is using Gmail, we have a blog post explaining how to search the special folders (it’s not obvious).