Web4Lib Subscriber's Troubleshooting Guide

How to tell when something has gone horribly wrong and what to do about it

Web4Lib is a large (around 3,400 subscribers) and busy (average of 15-20 messages/day) electronic discussion. It generates hundreds of bounced mail messages a day, which, as the discussion manager, it is my unmitigated pleasure to wade through and decide who lives and dies. Over time I have become all too familiar with what can go wrong, from both the user and list owner's perspectives. Here, then, are some tips and tricks for keeping us both happy. - Roy Tennant

Symptom What May Be Happening What to Do About It Comments
You subscribe and nothing happens Your server is not configured properly and I'm getting buried in bounced mail, so I summarily remove your address from the subscriber list. Email me at roytennant@gmail.com and ask me (nicely) to subscribe you manually. Gifts accepted. Configuring a host computer on the internet, and managing SMTP is rocket science. And not many people are rocket scientists.
You unsubscribe and nothing happens Your system administrator may be mucking around with your host address while you aren't looking. Or your account may have changed. Or there may be too much sunspot activity. Don't ask me, I just fly this plane. Email me at roytennant@gmail.com and beg me to remove you manually. Stuff happens. Get used to it.
Your Web4Lib mail suddenly stops coming 1. Your mail server is bouncing your mail because your mailbox is full or your server just feels like it.
2. I go crazy and summarily remove your address from the list. Since the notification of this removal also bounces, you are none the wiser.


1. Mailman chokes and stops sending out mail.
1. Check the Web4Lib Archive to see if anything is going out.
2. If there are new messages there, then wait.
3. If, after a little while, you still don't receive any messages, then mail me at roytennant@gmail.com so I can reinstate you, with my apologies.
You receive the message "You have been removed..." Your server was bouncing your mail and for kicks I removed you from the subscriber list. Email me at roytennant@gmail.com and accept my abject apology. Hey, nobody's perfect!
You post a message to Web4Lib and you get back dozens of copies of it from some strange place The computer or account of some Web4Lib subscriber is misconfigured, and is returning your message to you rather than to the address for errors. Notify me that it is happening. Hardware and software configuration is more difficult than rocket science. Either that, or more people are idiots than you could possibly imagine.
Someone posts a message to the list asking how to unsubscribe. They can't remember the proper command or the address of the Web4Lib Web Site. Go figure. Nothing. I read the list too, and will respond to that person individually. If you simply must do something, reply to them privately. The list membership will thank you for it. We can't all be perfect.
Someone posts an idiotic message to the list. They're an idiot. It can't be helped. Be thankful that it isn't you.