• There is one list for unfunded users, called "visit-users". It's subscription only, and archived, and visit developers will hang out there and try to respond to questions that the rest of the community can't answer.
  • There are three lists so far for funded customers -- these all start with visit-help-*. All three lists are closed, private, not archived, and you must have approval by a moderator to post to the list. But users do not subscribe to the list -- it goes (indirectly) to the developers, not the users.
  • In order to make managing the list of developers more convenient, we have a catch-all "visit-help-funded" list which has all the developers as members. This list is the sole member/recipient of the three funded lists.
  • For visit development topics, there is a "visit-developers" list, which is subscription-only and archived. This contains not just primary developers, but also casual developers and users interested in development. For project management topics and issues we don't want publicly archived, there will still be a separate list (currently the main visit list at LLNL, but that address may change).
  • For commits, a "visit-commits" list is available.
  • The settings for the mailing lists block certain email attachments. The list of blocked extensions is: exe, bat, cmd, com, pif, scr, vbs, and cpl. In addition, any message that is larger than 512K will be quarantined for the list owners to handle manually. In almost all cases, such messages are rejected to protect the inboxes of all of our members.


This is a description of the current mailing lists, how they are used and administered. The implied domain for all of these is "". The name, type, mode, and description are the information that was used to create these lists, so when someone needs to create a new list, this is the information they need. E.g. to support a new funding group, follow the same instructions as the other visit-help-<fundinggroup> below.

  • name: visit-users
  • type: open
  • mode: unmoderated
  • description: Community discussion for users of the VisIt scientific analysis and visualization software package.

This list is the community support email address. It will replace as the place unfunded users can go for support. To encourage participation, one must subscribe to the list before they can send email to it. (Their first email is simply discarded, by the way -- the user must re-send it themselves. The only way around this is to have moderators approve them, but that doesn't match with the whole concept of users-can-subscribe-themselves.) The response a non-subscribed sender receives gives them a link to the subscribe page and a link to the current archives where they can search. Until a vibrant self-help community exists, VisIt developers should monitor and provide support on this list. In the future, the developers role will be limited to answering only the questions that go unanswered by the rest of the community, which means periodic monitoring will always be necessary.

The archive for this list is at

  • name: visit-help-funded
  • type: private
  • mode: unmoderated
  • description: Support for funded users of the VisIt scientific analysis and visualization software package.

This list is the one to which all visit developers are subscribed. The general setup here is that all developers are subscribed to visit-help-funded, and that the funding-group-specific lists all have this list as their single recipient. One can still distinguish which funding group’s participant sent some email since e.g. “[visit-help-gnep]” is prepended to the subject line.


  • name: visit-help-asc, visit-help-gnep, visit-help-scidac
  • type: closed
  • mode: unmoderated
  • description: Support for <fundinggroup>-funded users of the VisIt scientific analysis and visualization software package.

These email lists are the access-controlled lists to which funded users will be allowed to post. Note that these users are NOT subscribers to the list: they instead have their email addresses added to the list of allowed senders. (The only subscriber to this list is "visit-help-funded".) How this works is the first time a user tries to post to this list, their email is held until a moderator confirms that they are from the appropriate funding agency, at which point their email continues to the developers and they can then send emails to this list unhindered in the future.

  • name: visit-developers
  • type: open
  • mode: unmoderated
  • description: Discussion for developers of the VisIt scientific analysis and visualization software package.

This list is the developer email address. It replaces -- if there are some discussions we would prefer to remain private, e.g. about project management, we will need to create a new list. It also is a place other than that external developers can ask questions. Like visit-users, it is subscription-only, and if someone attempts to send a message without subscribing, the message is rejected and an automated response sent that contains subscription instructions. All primary VisIt developers must subscribe to this list, both for the benefit of themselves (since information critical to their ability to do development will be posted here) and other developers.

The archive for this list is at

  • name: visit-commits
  • type: closed (specifically, subscribers must both get confirmation and mod/admin approval to subscribe, and list archives are available only to subscribers)
  • mode: unmoderated
  • description: Commit Messages for the VisIt Scientific Analysis and Visualization Software Package.

This list is the place to which we send commit messages. All developers subscribe, and it accepts messages only from subscribers. This list is not for discussion about commits; the list is set up such that replies instead go to visit-developers.

The archive for this list is at

What to do when new funded users need help?

  1. funded user sends email to visit-help-<group>
  2. since they are not yet an allowed sender for that list, their email is held
  3. the user receives a notification that their email is awaiting approval
  4. the moderators are notified as well, and are given a link to follow
  5. after following that link, the moderator takes one of the following actions:
    1. it's from a funded user (check with the funding agency first!)
      1. click "Accept" for the action to take,
      2. click the checkbox for "Add email@domain.tld to one of these sender filters:"
      3. underneath that, click "Accepts" as the filter to add them to
    2. they're not a user from that funding group
      1. click "Reject" for the action to take
      2. you may want to inform the user why this action was taken
    3. it's spam/troll
      1. click "Discard" for the action to take
      2. click the checkbox for "Add email@domain.tld to one of these sender filters:"
      3. underneath that, click "Discards" as the filter to add them to
  6. then hit "Submit" at the bottom of the page
  7. if the moderator added them to the "accepts" filter, all further emails from that address will pass
  8. if the moderator was supposed to add them to the "accepts" filter but forgot, this can be corrected in the Privacy/Sender Filters setting by a list administrator

Administration and Moderation

For the funded email addresses, any email addresses from unknown users are first held for approval (details below), and either list administrators or list moderators may approve or reject these emails, add them to the list of unconditionally allowed senders for the list, or ban them if appropriate. Administrators have additional powers which should rarely be needed once a list is successfully working, but it may be easier for them to do some "normal moderation" tasks such as "bulk subscribe" or editing lists of allowed senders.

To administer a list, go to: (where “visit-users” is replaced by the name of the mail list to administer). The list administrator password is not in this document, so ask a current administrator for it if you’re becoming an administrator.

To moderate a list (including adding potential senders as future allowed senders), go to: (where “visit-users” is replaced by the name of the mail list to moderate). The list moderator password is not in this document, so ask a current administrator for it if you’re becoming a moderator.

Should a developer be an administrator or a moderator?

Administrators can do everything a moderator can do, and both admins and mods receive notices and can take action for, e.g. held email awaiting approval. But we may want most visit developers to be able to add funded users, so maybe we want to add all developers as moderators, but only a select few as administrators. You do not need to add anyone that’s an administrator as a moderator. Conversely, there’s no harm in having them duplicated, so it’s up to the list administrator if they’d prefer to view admins/mods as a partitioning or mods as a subset of admin.

List-specific notes

all lists

While I plan to advertise as the canonical location, it's actually It's not a big deal, but some things like moderation notes may use Also, note that the administrative addresses, like access to the mailman email interface, must contain the domain, not just Just something to be aware of.

Note: this changed from (after being taken offline from a network security incident in 4/2011) to on approximately 9/5/2011.

Also, for all lists, the Footer used to be this, but it turned into an attachment for me, so I deleted it. Now it's blank for them all.

%(real_name)s mailing list

UPDATE: There were enough questions about unsubscribing and archiving on visit-users, that we added a new footer to it. It still becomes an attachment for html messages. You can turn on filtering to convert html to plaintext in mailman, but this may have caused some replies to be devoid of their text, so I turned the filtering back off. So we're living with the occasional footer-as-attachment.


The text that non-members attempting to post to this list receive is defined under Privacy Options / Sender Filters. It currently points them to the subscription page and the archives, along with some explanation.

There are some options relating to things like archiving frequency that might need adjusting.

May 2, 2008: I increased the message digest threshold to 250k. Its default (30kb) was getting triggered after almost every message.


I've locked this list down to only receive email targeted for the various funding lists for some minor spam prevention. It would be nice if it would reject email sent only to the catch-all visit-help-funded list, but that's not possible.

This means under visit-help-funded/Privacy Options/Recipient filters, if you add a new funding group, add that email list address to the acceptable_aliases entry. NOTE: since both and work for all lists, it may be smarter to also add the addresses to this box. If not, an email to will be held with an "implicit destination" warning until a moderator does something with it. I'll add both and for now.

Unfortunately, real access control is not really possible with this setup. So if spam to visit-help-funded becomes a problem, we may have to delete visit-help-funded and just put the visit developers (the recipients of visit-help-funded) directly into each of the visit-help-<group> lists.


This list of allowed senders is under Privacy Options / Sender Filters -- if you need to add a bunch of people at once, this is where you'd do it.

To create a new list: Someone at ORNL will need to create a new list -- use the initial values (name / type / mode / description) described above, then once it is created, do the following:

  1. Go into the administrative settings for the "visit-help-funded" mailing list. (Repeat, not the new list, but the catch-all "visit-help-funded" list.)
    1. Add the new visit-help-<group> list address to the acceptable_aliases entry. Since both and work, we may have decided you also need to add visit-help<group> to this field.
  2. Go into the settings for this new email list:
    1. Archiving Options:
      1. Archive messages? NO
      2. Archive public or private? PRIVATE
    2. Non-digest options:
      1. Footer: -- get rid of this, it turns into an annoying attachment for me, at least --
    3. Privacy Options / Sender Filters:
      1. By default, new list members should be moderated? NO
      2. Action to take for postings from non-members for which no explicit action is defined: HOLD