pseudo anonymous list feature

Bug #1325568 reported by Christian Burger
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
GNU Mailman

Bug Description

Hey there,

I wanted to have a pseudo anonymous list. Meaning: The sender's e-mail address is rewritten to the list's address, but the name in "From:" is set to the member's name stored in the mailing list database. It's an extension to the "anonymous_list" feature.

Let's say we have a list 'exlist' sending from "<email address hidden>" with a member "John Doe" writing from "<email address hidden>". If his name is set in the mailing list configuration, and "anonymous_list" as well as the "pseudo_anonymous_list" feature is turned on, the original "From:" in John Doe's messages is rewritten to "John Doe <email address hidden>". So his e-mail address stays private, but the message can be recognized easily as being from him.

I don't know if that goes against any standards. Maybe it should be "John Doe via exlist <email address hidden>" to emphasize the it is a list message. Just a thought.

I didn't find a configuration providing that feature in mailman -- hope I did not overlook anything. I attached a small patch based upon

I could take a shot at integrating it into the latest revision of the 2.1 branch if there is any interest in that feature. If you want to try the patch, you have to execute 'bin/withlist -r add_pseudo_anonymous_list -a' for old lists to have the new configuration value.

I did not test the feature thoroughly, but it seems to work on my server.

Thanks and bye, Christian

Revision history for this message
Christian Burger (x-christian) wrote :
Revision history for this message
Mark Sapiro (msapiro) wrote :

I think the from_is list feature introduced in Mailman 2.1.16 and in the 2.1.17 version that you patched against and further improved and augmented with a dmarc_moderatioin action feature in 2.1.18-1 does pretty much the same thing as your change. Is there some reason you think it doesn't?

In 2.1.17, it does require enabling by putting


in, but then I think the from_is_list Mung From action does what you want.

Changed in mailman:
importance: Undecided → Medium
milestone: none → 2.1.16
status: New → Fix Released
Revision history for this message
Christian Burger (x-christian) wrote :

I agree that both features overlap. Maybe they overlap the same way as the anonymous_list and reply_goes_to_list feature? Both rewrite the reply-to address with the list address, but their intentions are differently.

I hope I am able to show the difference, I think, there is: The intention of my patch is to provide some pseudo-identity on an anonymous_list. The intention of the from_is_list feature -- correct my if I am wrong -- is to agree with spam protection standards.

What my propsal does differently is, that

* it works hand in hand with anonymous_list
quote from the documentation of from_is_list
"It is not useful to apply actions other than No to an anonymous list, and if you do so, the result may be surprising."

* it lets the list admin configure a name: sort of a pseudonym, if you like -- that way a (fixed) name is set even if the sender forgot to configure his/her e-mail client correctly (e. g. forget to set a name at all or accidentally set his/her real name)

* the rewrite by from_is_list is not stored in the archives according to the changelog of 2.1.18
and this bug
but I think that would defeat the purpose of (pseudo) anonymization.

Maybe "pseudonymous_list" would be a more fitting description for the configuration value or the value could be integrated into the "anonymous_list" configuration? Like this:

[x] no
[ ] anonymous
[ ] pseudonymous

That way it might add less complexity to the mailing list configuration than when it is a separate configuration value.

Revision history for this message
Mark Sapiro (msapiro) wrote :

OK. I see that your intent is different from that of the from_is_list feature which is solely intended for mitigation of bounce issues when a post is From: a domain that publishes a DMARC p=reject policy.

However, the whole point of the anonymous_list feature in Mailman is to allow a list where the poster is not identified. The need for such arises for example with a list intended for posting anonymous complaints or a list offering support for victims of domestic violence.

I think I understand your desire to identify the poster, even with only a list pseudnym, while completely removing the poster's email address, but I don't see it having enough general interest to warrant the additional configuration complication.

Changed in mailman:
importance: Medium → Wishlist
milestone: 2.1.16 → none
status: Fix Released → Won't Fix
Revision history for this message
Christian Burger (x-christian) wrote :

Okay, understood. Thanks for the consideration anyway.

Revision history for this message
Mark Sapiro (msapiro) wrote :

Just for information, the withlist script that is included in the patch is not the correct way to do this. The correct way is to patch Mailman/ around line 353 to add the lines


and to patch Mailman/ at line 40 to increment DATA_FILE_VERSION

Revision history for this message
Christian Burger (x-christian) wrote :

Cool, thanks, for taking the time to follow up on that. I improved my local repository accordingly.

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