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List creation, editing and removal

The list creation can be done in two ways, according to listmaster needs:

  • family instanciation, to create and manage a large number of related lists. In this case, lists are linked to their family all along their life (moreover, you can let Sympa automatically create lists when needed. See Automatic list creation).
  • command line creation of individual list with or on the web interface according to privileges defined by listmasters. In this case, lists are free from their creation model.

Management of mailing lists by list owners is usually done through the web interface: when a list is created, whatever its status (pending or open), the owners can use WWSympa administration features to modify list parameters, to edit the welcome message, and so on.

WWSympa keeps logs of the creation and all modifications to a list as part of the list's config file (old configuration files are archived). A complete installation requires some careful planning, although default values should be acceptable for most sites.

List creation

Mailing lists can have many different uses. Sympa offers a wide choice of parameters to adapt a list behavior to different situations. Users might have difficulty selecting all the correct parameters to make the list configuration, so instead of selecting each parameters, list configuration is made with a list profile. This is an almost complete list configuration, but with a number of unspecified fields (such as owner email) to be replaced by Sympa at list creation time. It is easy to create new list templates by modifying existing ones.
Please note that contributions to the distribution are welcome to complete the set of existing templates... ;-)

Data for list creation

To create a list, some data concerning list parameters are required:

  • listname: name of the list;
  • subject: subject of the list (a short description);
  • owner(s): by static definition and/or dynamic definition. In case of static definition, the parameter owner and its subparameter email are required. For dynamic definition, the parameter owner_include and its subparameter source are required, indicating source file of data inclusion;
  • list creation template: the typical list profile.

in addition to these required data, provided values are assigned to vars being in the list creation template. Then the result is the list configuration file:

On the web interface, these data are given by the list creator in the web form. On command line, these data are given through an XML file.

Typical list profile (list template creation)

List profiles are stored in /home/sympa/etc/create_list_templates or in /home/sympa/bin/etc/create_list_templates (default of distribution) as directories with profile name. Directory of a profile should contain at least two files: config.tt2 and comment.tt2.

comment.tt2 is the descripion of list profile. It may contain tilte line(s) and HTML content. They are shown in list creation page of web interface.

config.tt2 is the template of list configuration. It will be formatted and save as config file when list is created.

You might want to hide or modify profiles (not useful, or dangerous for your site). If a profile exists both in the local site directory /home/sympa/etc/create_list_templates and in the /home/sympa/bin/etc/create_list_templates directory, then the local profile will be used by WWSympa.


Title line(s) are placed at beginning of config.tt2. They are separated from content by single newline. Below is an example.

title Liste de discussion publique Liste de discussion publique
title.gettext Public discussion mailing list

<ul><li>[%|loc%]public archives[%END%]</li>
<li>[%|loc%]only subscribers can post[%END%]</li>

Title lines are available as of Sympa 6.2.

XML file format

The XML file provides information on:

  • the list name;
  • values to assign vars in the list creation template;
  • the list description in order to be written in the list file information;
  • the name of the list creation template (only for list creation on command line with; in a family context, the template is specified by the family name).

    Here is an example of XML document that you can map with the following example of list creation template:

<?xml version="1.0" ?>
        <subject>a list example</subject>
      <owner multiple="1">
      <owner multiple="1">
      <owner_include multiple="1">
         <query>SELECT DISTINCT email FROM etudiant</query>

Then edit List Creation Template - example: /[sympahome]/bin/etc/create_list_templates/discussion_list/config.tt2

  subject [% subject %]

  status [% status %]

  [% IF topic %]
  topics [% topic %]

  [% END %]
  visibility noconceal

  send privateoreditorkey

    access public

  subscribe open_notify

    d_edit [% shared_edit %]
    d_read [% shared_read %]

  lang [% language %]

  [% FOREACH o = owner %]
    email [% %]
    profile privileged
    [% IF o.gecos %]
    gecos [% o.gecos %]
    [% END %]

  [% END %]
  [% IF moderator %]
     [% FOREACH m = moderator %]
    email [% %]

     [% END %]
  [% END %]

  [% IF sql %]
    db_type [% sql.type %]
    db_port [% sql.port %]
    host [% %]
    user [% sql.user %]
    passwd [% sql.pwd %]
    db_name [% %]
    db_env [% sql.env %]
    sql_query [% sql.query %]

  [% END %]

    reception urlize|mail|digest

  ttl 360

The XML file format should comply with the following rules:

  • The root element is <list>.
  • One XML element is mandatory: <listname> contains the name of the list. That does not exclude mandatory parameters for list creation (“listname, subject, and/or owner_include.source”).
  • <type>: this element contains the name of template list creation, it is used for list creation on command line with In a family context, this element is no used.
  • <description>: the text contained in this element is written in list info file (it can be a CDATA section).
  • For other elements, the name is the name of the var to assign in the list creation template.
  • Each element concerning multiple parameters must have the multiple attribute set to 1, example: <owner multiple="1">
  • For composed and multiple parameters, sub-elements are used. Example for the owner parameter: <email> and <gecos> elements are contained in the <owner> element. An element can only have homogeneous content.
  • A list requires at least one owner, defined in the XML input file with one of the following elements:
    • <owner multiple=“1”> <email> ... </email> </owner>
    • <owner_include multiple=“1”> <source> ... </source> </owner_include>

List families

See chapter Lists families.

List creation on command line with

This way to create lists is independent of family. The list creator has to choose a profile for the list and put its name in the XML element <type>.

Here is a sample command to create one list:. --create_list --robot --input_file /path/to/my_file.xml

The list is created under the my_robot robot and the list is described in the file my_file.xml. The XML file is described before, see XML file format.

By default, the status of the list created is open.

Creating and editing mailing lists using the Web

The management of mailing lists is based on a strict definition of privileges which pertain respectively to the listmaster, to the main list owner, and to basic list owners. The goal is to allow each listmaster to define who can create lists, and which parameters may be set by owners.

List creation on the web interface

Listmasters are responsible for validating new mailing lists and, depending on the configuration chosen, might be the only ones who can fill out the create list form.The listmaster is defined in sympa.conf and others are defined at the virtual host level. By default, any authenticated user can request a list creation, but newly created lists are then validated by the listmaster.

The list rejection message and list creation notification message are both templates you can customize (list_rejected.tt2 and list_created.tt2).

Who can create lists on the web interface

This is defined by the create_list sympa.conf parameter. This parameter refers to a create_list authorization scenario. It will determine whether the create list button is displayed and whether list creation requires a listmaster confirmation.

The authorization scenario can accept any condition concerning the [sender] (i.e. WWSympa user), and it returns reject, do_it or listmaster as an action.

Only in cases where a user is authorized by the create_list authorization scenario will the create button be available in the main menu. If the scenario returns do_it, the list will be created and installed. If the scenario returns listmaster, the user is allowed to create a list, but the list is created with the pending status, which means that only the list owner may view or use it. The listmaster will need to open the list of pending lists using the pending list button in the server admin menu in order to install or refuse a pending list.

Typical list profile and web interface

As on command line creation, the list creator has to choose a list profile and to fill in the owner's email and the list subject together with a short description. But in this case, you do not need any XML file. Concerning these typical list profiles, they are described before, see Typical list profile (list template creation). You can check available profiles. On the web interface, another way to control publicly available profiles is to edit the create_list.conf file (the default for this file is in the /home/sympa/bin/etc directory, and you may create your own customized version in /home/sympa/etc). This file controls which of the available list templates are to be displayed. Example:

  ## This sample hides the public_anonymous create_list template
  public_anonymous hidden
  defaults read

customize create_list_request.tt2

The list creation form is in a template named create_list_request.tt2 . You may modify this template in order to some other input that will be used to modify the created list. Any new input variable will be catched by wwsympa.fcgi and available in the tt2 hash [% custom_input %] when using the list template to create teh list.

exemple : ## This is an html part added in create_list-request.tt2
<input type=“text” name=”custom_input.ldap_group” />

In config.tt2 you may use
suffix ou=accounts,dc… filter (&(isMemberOf=[% custom_input.ldap_group %]))

For more details on tt2 customization, templates path etc please go to the web template files section

List editing

For each parameter, you may specify (through the /home/sympa/etc/edit_list.conf configuration file) who has the right to edit the parameter concerned; the default /home/sympa/bin/etc/edit_list.conf is reasonably safe.

Each line is a set of 3 field.

  <Parameter> <Population> <Privilege>
  <Population>: <listmaster|privileged_owner|owner>
  <Privilege>: <write|read|hidden>

Parameter can be any list config parameter or the name of a template (thus controlling the edition of the template through the customize web admin feature. You can refer to a subentry of a structured list parameter using the '.' as a separator (examples: or web_archive.quota). default is a reserved parameter name that means any other parameter.

There is no hierarchical relationship between populations in this configuration file. You need to explicitely list populations.

For example, listmaster will not match rules refering to owner or privileged_owner.


      # only listmaster can edit user_data_source, priority, ...
      user_data_source listmaster write

      priority     owner,privileged_owner         read
      priority     listmaster             write

      # only privileged owner can modify  editor parameter, send, ...
      editor privileged_owner write

      send         owner                 read
      send         privileged_owner,listmaster     write

      # other parameters can be changed by simple owners
      default     owner                 write

Privileged owners are defined in the list's config file as follows:

      profile privileged

Using edit_list.conf, you can define privileges on the following lists parameters:

  • All the lists config parameters (those used in the config file),
  • Any file used in list context and likely to be edited through the web interface:
    • homepage
    • info
    • welcome.tt2
    • rejection messages
    • invite.tt2
    • remind.tt2
    • message.footer
    • message.header
    • bye.tt2
    • removed.tt2
    • tour_infected_msg.tt2

Starting Sympa 6.1.10, a unique exception exists in the matching between file names and edition rights in the edit_list.conf: the “info” term.

“info” represents both a list parameter and a list file:

  • The info list parameter controls the authorization scenario that will be used to know who can view the lists information text, both in the list welcome page and by using the “info” command. the value to use in the edit_list.conf to control who can edit this parameter's value is “info”.
  • The info file contains the text to be displayed when somebody requests to see the list's informations. This is the content whose access is controlled by the info list parameter. the value to use in the edit_list.conf to control who can edit this parameter's value is “info.file”.

Obviously, there is no reason why the exact same people would have the same rights on these two informations. But as they have the same name, one must use differetn keys in the “edit_list.conf” file to discriminate them.

In the following example, an owner and a privileged owner can both edit the info file, but only the privileged owner can change the info scenario to be used (the owner is only allowed to read it):

      info.file    owner,privileged_owner        write
      info        privileged_owner        write
      info        privileged_owner        read

The following rules are hard coded in WWSympa:

  • Only the listmaster can edit the profile privileged owner attribute.
  • Owners can edit their own attributes (except profile and email).
  • The person creating a new list becomes its privileged owner.
  • Privileged owners can edit any gecos/reception/info attribute of any owner.
  • Privileged owners can edit owners' email addresses (but not privileged owners' email addresses).

Sympa aims at defining two levels of trust for owners (some being entitled simply to edit secondary parameters such as custom_subject, others having the right to manage more important parameters), while leaving control of crucial parameters (such as the list of privileged owners and user_data_sources) in the hands of the listmaster. Consequently, privileged owners can change owners' emails, but they cannot grant the responsibility of list management to others without referring to the listmaster.

Concerning list editing in a family context, see editing list parameters in a family context.

Removing a list

You can remove (close) a list either from the command line or by using the web interface. provides an option to remove a mailing list, see the example below: --close_list=mylist@mydomain

Privileged owners can remove a mailing list through the list administration part of the web interface. Removing the mailing list consists in removing its subscribers from the database and setting its status to closed. Once removed, the list can still be restored by the listmaster; list members are saved in a subscribers.closed.dump file.

manual/list-creation.txt · Last modified: 2017/12/20 11:56 by

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