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Mail List Command Specification:

Last update: May 16, 1997
Grant Neufeld - <>

This sub-document discusses the use of a MIME part to transport mailing list commands (in the form of a meta-syntax) and information.

General Notes

See the document on the use of header fields for descriptions of command fields, the use of URLs as meta syntax, and the use of plain text.

Keith Moore <> wrote:

For example, someone might send mail to the list-managers list, telling them about the list-header list. The message received by subscribers to the list-managers list would contain List-* headers describing the list-managers list.
However, the message could also have a foo/mailing-list-info attachment describing the list-header list, to make it easy for people on the list-managers list to subscribe to the list-header list, should they choose to do so.
Of course, a single multipart message could contain any number of foo/mailing-list-info body parts.

Delivery of the MIME Object

Header Field Pointing to Retrieval of MIME Object

A header field could be used to identify the method of retrieval for a MIME object with complete details for a given mailing list.

Possible labels for the field include:

For example:

List-Detals: <>
where accessing the specified URL would retrieve the MIME object for the somelist mailing list.

Content Structure

Use of List Field Identifiers

The List header fields could be used within a text object. The advantage this presents is that a minimal set of header fields can be used within general list messages (avoiding header bloat) with a more comprehensive list of 'header fields' available for retrieval by the user.

An example (based on one from Keith Moore):

A message from a list might contain three header fields:

List-Unsubscribe: <mailto:foo-REQUEST@x.y.z?subject=unsubscribe>
List-Maintainer: <mailto:owner-foo@x.y.z>
List-Info: <http://www.x.y.z/lists/foo/foo.list-info>

The URL in the List-Info field would retrieve the complete set of info for that list:

content-type: text/mailing-list-info
(the content-type would be in the http response header or, in the case of a mailto retrieval, in the MIME part header)
List-Subscribe: <mailto:foo-REQUEST@x.y.z?subject=subscribe>
List-Unsubscribe: <mailto:foo-REQUEST@x.y.z?subject=unsubscribe>
List-Maintainer: <mailto:owner-foo@x.y.z>
List-Info: <http://www.x.y.z/lists/foo/foo.list-info>
List-Archive: <http://www.z.y.z/lists/foo/archive/> <imap://imap.x.y.z/lists/foo/>
List-Post: <mailto:foo@x.y.z>
List-Description: this list discusses foos
List-Spam-Policy: let's stamp out spam in our lifetime

Use of HTML

An HTML form, with a mailto action, could be used to identify the commands available for a list. The form could be distributed as a MIME object using the text/html type.

Security and Authentication

It may be useful to define a structure for including authentication details in a list-info object. Perhaps a PGP-style signature?

Not all of the protocols described here are intended for actual use at this time. Only those portions which undergo some form of peer-review or standards formalization should be deployed.
This document may be redistributed provided the copyright notice remains intact.

Copyright ©1997-1998 Grant Neufeld.
Nisto and are trademarks of Grant Neufeld.