Mailing Lists

Sending to or receiving mails from a larger group of people


In general you have to differenciate between a mailinglist and a e-mail distribution list.
Our SYMPA mailinglist service, whose creation we will describe on this webpage, is hosted and administrated centrally on our server.
An simple e-mail distribution list is usually created manually in your mailclient and is not centrally administrated from our DESY IT service.

Function and types of mailinglists

Mailing lists are for sending e-mails to many recipients without having to address them seperately. Instead one send an e-mail to one address and the mailing list server accomplishes the sending itself. Examples are:

  • Newsletter: Sending information to many subscribers by the editors of a newsletter
  • Hotline or Contact Address: Possibility that many people send to very few, e.g. a support-line or an office, organising a conference
  • Wworking Group: A well defined set of people send e-mails to one another using a mailinglist

Mailing lists provisioned by R2

Newsletter-ähnliche Listen mit E0Mail-Adressen aus der DESY-Registry (R2) [to come]

Announcements / Newsletter

Mailing lists annoucing information, e.g. alle users with access to resource XYZ or all members of namespac UVW, must reach the corresponding account owners. Therefore the PCA is used as subscriber.


Beispiel 1: Resource access "xyz" for account "meierh" and "liesexyz"

User: Hans Meier
Account: meierh
Accounttyp: primary
PCA: will be subscribed

User: Liese Müller
Account: liesexyz
Accounttyp: functional
PCA: will be subscribed

Beispiel 2: three accounts of one person, all in namespace UVW

User: Kim Kanns
Account1: kimkanns
Accounttyp: primary

User: Kim Kanns
Account2: kkpers
Accounttyp: personal

User: Kim Kanns
Account3: kkfunc
Accounttyp: functional

The list r.nsall.uvw@desy.den> will have these subscribers
Hot-Line-ähnliche Listen mit E-Mail-Adressen aus der DESY-Registry (R2) [to come]

Namespace-Supervisor*innen und -Administrator*innen (Hotline)

Nowadays many administrators use an specific account for administration purposes (to seperate admin tasks from others) and other administrators keep using their primary account. Thus, the PCA must be used for this mailing list class.


Beispiel 1:

User: Hans Meier
Account: meierh
Accounttyp: primary
=> wird abonniert

Beispiel 2:

User: Liese Müller
Account: lieseadm
Accounttyp: personal
=> wird abonniert


Arbitsgruppen Listen mit E-Mail-Adressen aus der DESY-Registry (R2) [to come]

Working groups

R2 groups may be used as source for subscribers of SYMPA mailing lists. As accounts are members of groups, some mapping to e-mail addresses has to be set up. As most people use only the mailbox of their primary account, even if they have more than one account, e-mails to this kind of mailing lists will be sent with the PCA of the primary account of the subscribed account of that group. The reasons are, that otherwise one would have to switch identities in the mail programs and for every different account within a group the users would have to remember, which address would be the correct one. 

Example: three account in a group

User: Hans Meier (DESY)
Account: kimkanns
Accounttyp: primary

User: Liese Müller (EXFEL)
Account: liesemu
Accounttyp: primary

User: Peter Lustig (CSSB)
Account: plfunc
Accounttyp: functional


Access rights and parameters may be changed by the list owner, who is responsible for the mailing list.

By default, attachments sent via mailing list can have a maximum size of 5 MB. It is possible for the mailing list owner to request to increase or decrease that size.

Request of a new mailing list

Mailing lists may only be requested of persons with a DESY e-mail address or persons who are demonstrably in a relation with DESY. 

Requests for new mailing lists are possible via the specific institute website






dCache -


  1. If you log in the first time to our SYMPA website you need to register for a seperat login. Otherwise you can continue with step 2.
    Clikc on 'First Login' on the left side register with your DESY e-mailaddresse. After you ahve clicked on 'Send me my password' you will get a seperat password to log in.
  2. Log in with your SYMPA credentials.
  3. In order to creat a new mailiglist go to the tab 'Create List'. Here you need to fill in the future name of the list and choose what kind of list machtes your requirements.
    Please notice following information concerning the listname:
    • It is not allowed to use a underscore ('_') or capital letters in the name of the list
    • The suffix will be generated automatically to your listname. It is not necessary to add it to the name of the list.

These information will be forwarded automatically to our mailmasterteam and they will take care of the creation. As soon as it is done and your list is ready to use you will be informed by mail as a requestor.
In future the list will be reachable via

If necessary, all configurations for the list can be modified afterwards.

In case you got any questions or problem please contact the UCO

Configuration of Mailing Lists

Modify Owners

The list of owners can only be modfied by privileged owners who are able to add/remove other normal and privileged owners.

The Modification of the list can be done via

Admin > User > Owners.

Modify Notification Texts

Several actions result in sending out notification e-mail with standardized texts. You may alter those texts:

Admin > Edit List Config > Message templates

The standard templates are really technical, as they address a multi-language environment. If multi language is not your main objective, you may enter standard ASCII texts, perhaps in english and german at the same time.

Short overview of e-mail commands

In this section you will find a short overview of the most useful commands for managing SYMPA via e-mail. Please send the commands to Most user commands have three-letter abbreviations (e.g. REV instead of REVIEW). These commands can be indiscriminately placed in the Subject: or in the body of the message.

Some administrative requests are only available to list owner(s). They are indispensable for all procedures in limited access mode, and to perform requests in place of users. These comands are:

E-mail commands for list owners


action taken



Add command similar to SUBSCRIBE. You can avoid user notification by using the QUIET prefix (ie : QUIET ADD).

ADD listname user@host firstname name
QUIET ADD listname user@host firstname name


The delete command similar to SIGNOFF. You can avoid user notification by using the QUIET prefix (ie : QUIET DELETE).

DELETE listname user@host
QUIET DELETE listname user@host

E-mail commands for list subscribers


action taken



Provides instructions for the use of Sympa commands.



Provides the addresses of subscribers if the run mode authorizes it.

REVIEW listname


Returns the list of lists to which one is subscribed, as well as the configuration of his or her subscription to each of the lists (DIGEST, NOMAIL, SUMMARY, CONCEAL).



Requests sign-up to the specified list. The firstname and name are optional. If the list is parameterized with a restricted subscription, this command is sent to the list owner for approval.

SUBSCRIBE listname firstname name


Requests unsubscription from the specified list. SIGNOFF * means unsubscription from all lists.

SIGNOFF listname

SET listname CONCEAL

Puts the subscriber in conceal mode for the listname list. The subscriber will then become invisible during REVIEW on this list. Only owners will see the whole subscriber list.



Puts the subscriber in noconceal mode (default) for listname list. The subscriber will then become visible during REVIEW of this list. The conceal mode is then cancelled.



Ends acceptance of commands. This can prove useful when the message contains additional lines, as for example in the case where a signature is automatically added by the user’s mail program.



If the send parameter of a list is set to privatekey, publickey or privateorpublickey, messages are only distributed in the list after an authentication phase by return mail, using a one-time password (numeric key). For this authentication, the sender of the message is requested to post the “CONFIRM key” command to Sympa. This is also true for PUBLIC lists, where e-mails are above the SPAM-level of 5 points.



This command is used for silent (mute) processing : no performance report is returned for commands prefixed with QUIET.


Bouncing e-mails

Bounces may occur due to several reasons, e.g. the address of aa subscriber is no longer valid or the mailbox quota has been exceeded and mails are no longer accepted. As listwoner you may receive notification e-mails from SYMPA about this.

Finding the reason

With the following steps you find out, what the reason was for the last bounce of an address

  1. Login into the corresponding list server; perhaps you may need to let you sent your first time password
  2. Choose "Admin" from the left hand side navigation
  3. Choose Bounces on the right hand side
  4. A list of all subscribers with bounces will be displayed
  5. Choose the address of interest for you
  6. There is a link in the bottom left corner you have to klick, to open the technical report
  7. The (really) technical report will open and show the reason, why the last e-mail could not be delivered

Reasons may be temporary (code 4xx) or final (5xx) but may give you an idea, what to do next.

Reset of the bounce counter

The table with bouncing addresses offers you to reset the bounce counter for every address individually (check single checkboxes) or for all addresses at once (checkbox in the table head).

Navigation ADMIN und BOUNCES

administrative view

Tabelle bouncender Adressen

table of bouncing addresses


view of an individual subscriber

Ursachenfeststellung des Zustellfehlers

technical report

Useful addresses

  • : send an e-mail to this address and you will reach the list owners

  • : sending an e-mail to this address will subscribe you to the list (if it is an open list)

  • : will unsubscribe you in most cases; some e-mail programs even offer a link, which will send that e-mail automatically on your behalf