Ever since I joined the *nix side of the world I've been hearing about mailing lists a lot (especially when it comes to development).

Can someone explain to me what they are and how I can interact with them?

2 Answers 2


Mailing lists are used in a lot of open source projects. They are essentially a server you send email to and that broadcasts the email on to a load of subscribers. This simple model has a few functions:

  • Few to many/announcements. It's common that a release mailing list will have a few people who can broadcast email about updates and releases. People who need to know about these subscribe.

  • Devel/discussion. These are more like a forum where developers are free to table and talk over development topics.

  • Support. Identical in method to a discussion list but set aside for users to ask support questions, like here.

How you use them is largely up to you. You can read Ubuntu's without anything more than a browser as they are all publicly archived. If you want to subscribe (so that new messages are delivered into your inbox) you can from the list's listinfo page.

If you want to be able to post, most lists will require that you subscribe first. For some subjects this also requires that a moderator authorises you to send email. But sending the messages after that point is no harder than sending an email to the list's email address.


  • If I am seeking support, is it necessary to subscribe? (For example in a topic I'm too unfamiliar to provide support in return) IME, sending to mailing lists I'm not subscribed to did not return any responses for whatever reason. But I do want to seek support without the hassle to subscribe and subscribe again.
    – Oxwivi
    Oct 28, 2012 at 17:24
  • @Oxwivi IME it depends on the list. Some require subscription, some allow you to post and some allow moderated posting (a moderator reviews your post before it hits the list). This is all stuff that can be found out on the list information page.
    – Oli
    Oct 28, 2012 at 22:25
  • Ah yeah, that's a little difficult to find. Like, where's the list information page for those hosted on Launchpad? Rest of the projects seems to only mention the email of the mailing list on their contact/support pages, so I can only get the subscriotion link from the automated response. :( For now I need to contact the Lubuntu mailing list for a question (IRC was dead), so please link me if you know.
    – Oxwivi
    Oct 30, 2012 at 9:43

Not sure how this relates to Ubuntu, but a mailing list is like a collection of names (emails) and addresses used by an individual or an organization to send material to multiple recipients.

For example there's a mailing list of Ubuntu, it would be like a collection of people's email, that would send and receve emails to all of the people that belong to that list.

The mailing list term is often extended to include the people subscribed to such a list, so the group of subscribers is referred to as "the mailing list", or simply "the list".

On mailing lists you can subscribe or unsubscribe to the list, thus belonging or not and receiving or not all the info that is beeing exchanged by the mailing list users.

Listwashing is the process through which individual entries in mailing lists are removed. These mailing lists typically contain email addresses or phone numbers of those that have not voluntarily subscribed. An entry is removed from the list after a complaint is received.


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