Help Moderate Mailing Lists


Most top-level lists on (like nbdev, nbusers, etc) are "discuss" lists, in the list server terminology. Discuss lists are lists to which you must be subscribed to post messages to. Any messages coming from an email address that is not subscribed are bounced to moderators for evaluation.

This is a very good way of stopping spam from getting through to the list and hence all subscribers. It's not worth the effort for a spammer to actually subscribe to a list before spamming it. The spams are bounced to the moderators where they can be stopped and junked before being sent on to the list.

However this kind of moderation can also delay legitimate posts from real NetBeans users. All of the following scenarios will result in a valid post being bounced to the moderators for approval :

  • A user does not realise they need to be subscribed to post to nbusers. They post their question to the list.

  • A user has 2 email addresses, eg work and home. One of those addresses is subscribed, and from that address they post freely. Sometimes they post from the other address, forgetting it is not subscribed.

  • A user in a corporate environment is subscribed to a list, and posts freely. The company mail servers are reconfigured, and the "From" address of messages she sends changes, without her knowledge. Such a change might be something like "From : " to "From : ".

As described in the FAQ, moderation will delay these valid posts. The more moderators there are, the less delay there will be, and of course, the less work for other moderators.

If you'd like to help moderate, here's how.

Who Should Apply ?

Moderation is a serious responsibility. Some of the lists are very large, with thousands of subscribers. Only people that are known on the lists and long term subscribers can be considered as moderators. This is to prevent for eg an unknown spammer signing up, spamming all lists with some junk or a virus, and then using her moderator position to approve all those spams.

If you think you qualify, and you'd like to help moderate, please .

Setting up your mail client

A shared Moderator account where all moderation messages are sent has been set up for moderators use. By configuring your mail client to access this mailbox, you can see the queue of messages waiting for moderation. If you approve or reject those msgs in the queue, and delete them from the mailbox, the next moderator to log in will only see any new messages that have not yet been processed.

Following are instructions for setting up Mozilla and Thunderbird mail clients to access this shared mailbox. If you are behind a firewall, also see the following section.

Thunderbird 1.0.* / Mozilla 1.x / Netscape 7.x

  • From the Edit Menu, choose Account Settings [Thunderbird] / Mail and Newsgroup Account Settings [Mozilla 1.x / Netscape 7.x]

  • On the panel that opens, Click Add Account. Follow through the wizard, using these settings :

      Type of Acct : Email
      Enter your real name and email as normal
      Select IMAP
      Server name is
      Username : moderator
      Account Name : whatever you like, eg NetBeans Moderator

    Click OK. You should now see the account listed on the left.

  • Select "Server Settings" for the Moderator acct.

      When I delete a msg : Move it to Trash
      Check Expunge Inbox on Exit
      DO NOT CHECK Empty Trash on Exit

  • Click Advanced.

      Check Show only subscribed folders
      UNCheck Server supports folders than contain sub-folders and msgs
      Leave Personal / Public / Other Namespaces fields blank
      UNCheck Allow server to override these namespaces

  • Select "Copies and Folders"

    When sending msgs : Using the "Sent" on Moderator option will not work, you should check the "Other" radio button, and via the combo-box choose Moderator -> Inbox -> Sent

    Click OK to close the Account panel. You should see your new NetBeans Moderator account listed under your normal account and folder list on the left.

  • Select (click on) the new Moderator account.

  • From the File menu, choose Subscribe

  • You will be prompted for a password - enter the password you received when your moderator application was accepted.

  • From the list of mailboxes, check (subscribe to) :

  • Outgoing Server (SMTP) - just use your default SMTP server here, your mail client should automatically fill that in. Do not use

You're done. See OK, What Next below to start moderating.

Behind a Firewall ?

If you are behind a corporate firewall it will not be possible to connect directly to mail server. In this case you may be able to set up a port forwarding SSH tunnel to the mail server. You will need a login account on some SSH server, somewhere, it doesn't matter where.

Setting up email client
Steps are almost the same as described in the previous section Setting up your mail client, except :

  • Server name is: localhost
  • Server port is: 4500

All other settings are the same.

Setting up the SSH tunnel

  • Linux users
    • Open a new ssh connection to host with this command (where user is your login name, and host is the host you have an account on) :

         ssh -L 

  • Windows users
    • Use your favourite SSH client, or if you don't have one, download and install Putty (free Win32 Telnet and SSH client). Directions here are for Putty, but other clients should be similar.
    • Open an SSH connection using Putty
      • enter the hostname of the host you have an account on
      • port: 22, Protocol: SSH
      • in the left menu click: Connection -> SSH -> Tunnels
      • in bottom part of the form insert following - Source port: 4500, Destination:
      • leave Local radio checked
      • click Add
      • click Open
      • enter appropriate password

You're done. As long as this tunnel connection is open, you will be able to connect to the mail server. See OK, What Next below to start moderating.

OK, What Next ?

Once your client is configured, and you can see the contents of the moderator mailbox, you can start moderating.
  • Choose a msg. You'll see a standard message from the list server, with 2 long email addresses in the body - one address including the word "accept", and one including "reject". Attached to this is the message that has been moderated.

  • View the attachment, and establish if it is a real message, or spam, or something inappropriate for the list. Remember some "real" messages are still not appropriate for delivery to lists - eg an unsubscribe reqeust should be rejected. Please be careful with your evaluation! If in doubt, leave the message alone.

  • If it is a valid message, you need to send a (blank) message to the "accept" address. Exactly how to do this depends on your mail client - in Mozilla, Netscape and Thunderbird it is as easy as clicking on the accept link displayed in the message. Whatever you do, carefully verify that the address you are about to send to is the real "accept" address, and only the real accept address (no cc's), and send the message.

  • If it is spam, please move (drag-and-drop) the message to the Spam folder - we are tracking spam to provide data to CollabNet. You do not need to explicitly reject a spam message - without a response, the server will automatically reject the message after 7 days.

  • If it is a real message, but somehow not appropriate for the list it was posted to, you might want to reject it, but give an explanation to the original poster. To do this, send a message to the "reject" address (eg by clicking the reject link in the message), and add your message between the following special markers :

      %%% Start comment
      %%% End comment

    Anything you write between these lines will be sent to the original poster, so you could explain why you are disapproving the msg and suggest an alternative list for them to post to.

    Here's an example I use to reject unsubscription requests, feel free to copy-paste it as a template :

    %%% Start comment
    I'm a moderator for the mailing lists.  I've just rejected the
    "unsubscribe" message you posted recently, as such messages should not go
    the lists themselves.
    There are unsubscribe links on the main lists page :
    If you're having trouble, please see the the list FAQ, and the unsubscribe
    guide :
    If you're still having trouble please get back to me with details.
    Thanks, and
    Best Regards,
    %%% End comment

  • This step is critical! Once you're done, no matter whether you approved or rejected the message, DELETE the message you have just processed. This way it is cleared from the queue, and the next moderator to come along doesn't need to look at it again.

That's it. Thank you for helping! Remember, if in doubt, just leave the message along, someone else can evaluate it. Any problems or questions please contact


It wont take long before you realise the huge volume of spam that moderating stops getting to the lists. That's good for the lists, but of course more messages for moderators to review.

More content to come.

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