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HI,

I am looking port a mailing list application for a fishing club in my local town over to Webfaction. Most of the club's business is handled on pen and paper but when a new member joins, I input the member's information into a database, which includes each member's email address. One of the primary means of communication for the club is to have one of the club officers send an email to an address (such as club-members@example.com), which then gets forwarded to each of the email addresses in the members database.

I understand you can create a mailing list on Webfaction by opening a support ticket and supplying a name and a list of recipient email addresses.

  1. Am I correct to assume that this would allow certain "privileged" members to send an email to a designated address, which would then get forwarded to the list of recipients?

  2. Is there any way to have this (or similar) functionality, but with the recipient list driven off of the database of members that we maintain? We don't have a high turnover rate as a club but it is by no means a fixed list and it would be great if we could change the list over time, as needed.

Other info:

  • The total number of club members usually hovers between 200 and 400 members
  • Usually between 50 and 100 members will join or leave the club per year
  • We send out approximately 4-5 emails to the members per month, so it would not need to support a high volume of emails
  • What I do not want is a "newsletter"-type of solution because most of the club officers are non-savvy and they like just sending a plain text email to a single address and having the email go out to all the members of the club

asked 09 Aug '14, 03:35

jimmy
1316
accept rate: 0%

edited 09 Aug '14, 03:42


Mailing lists use Mailman. Mailman lists have a lot of functionality, including the ability to have privileged members who can send messages to the rest of the list, or you could configure the list to allow members to communicate. Based on your description, a few "admin" users who can send to all members of the list via the list address sounds like what you are looking for.

That said, there is no database-driven functionality for Mailman. You can edit the list members via the administrative interface, so you might be able to write a script to facilitate setting the correct members, but it would otherwise still be a manual process.

If the database-driven functionality is your primary goal, then a Mailman mailing list isn't ideal. It would likely be easier to write a custom script to send email, which simply gets a list of the addresses and sends of an email to each. This would require more technical ability from your admins, since they'd probably send the email by running the script directly on the server - not by sending an email to a special list address.

One final option would be to write a script as above, but also create an address and send email to the script using mail2script. You'd need to protect this and ensure that it can't be used by spammers to send email, and is the most complicated of all options largely due to security implications.

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answered 09 Aug '14, 05:15

ryans ♦♦
5.0k103760
accept rate: 43%

Thanks ryans for your prompt and thorough response. This is why I love WebFaction!

It sounds like my best option is to abandon the "table driven" list and go with the Mailman approach. But just to explore the final option you mentioned a little further, I suppose such a script might look like this:

#!/usr/bin/env python2.7

import sys
import email
from smtplib import SMTP

to_addrs = [] #some database lookup goes here

message = email.message_from_string(sys.stdin.read()) #mail2script to sys.stdin
body = message.get_payload()[0].get_payload()

new_message_string = "From: {0}\r\nTo: {1}\r\nSubject: {2}\r\n\r\n{3}".format(
    from_addr, ', '.join(to_addrs), message['Subject'], body)

server = SMTP()
server.connect('smtp.webfaction.com')
server.login('mailbox_user', 'mailbox_pass')
server.sendmail(from_addr, to_addrs, new_message_string)

My followup question is, what are some of the security (and scalability) concerns with that? If we're talking somewhere in the ~10^2 recipients, would it be better to batch it up and send the email to a few (~10^1) of the recipients at a time?

Thanks again, ryans!

(10 Aug '14, 21:14) jimmy

You may send up to 500 messages a day, unless we increase the limit. As long as you are under your daily use limit there should be no issue with scaling.

(11 Aug '14, 02:38) johns
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question asked: 09 Aug '14, 03:35

question was seen: 2,272 times

last updated: 11 Aug '14, 02:38

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