Happy Mailman Day!


For people who are on many discussion mailing lists, the first of every month is “Mailman Day”, and has been for nearly a decade.
Mailman is the most widely used mailing list manager for discussion lists and, by default, it sends email to all subscribers on the first of the month reminding them that they’re still subscribed to the list and how to unsubscribe. This is really useful, as I’m on some mailing lists that haven’t had any traffic other than the reminders in a couple of years, but it does mean that my mailbox looks like this this morning:

Discussion lists sending reminders is a close parallel to our usual recommendations for bulk mailing lists to send something at least monthly, so that recipients remember who you are and that they’re subscribed – and so that recipients who have vanished bounce that mail, so you can eventually remove them from your mailing list. (We’re not suggesting that you send a “this is a reminder” mail monthly – create some real content and send that).
Mailman Day also means that if you’re sending mail to a technical/internet-savvy demographic and you choose to send it first thing in the morning of the first of the month, you’re competing with a lot of noise in your recipient inbox. Unless you’re mailing daily it might be worth shifting a day forward or backward to avoid that conflict.

About the author


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Is that last thing really a potential issue? My unscientific experience is that email volume from lists on the first day of the month is less than about 10% higher than on other days’. Unless all your lists are sent from servers in the same time zone, traffic is reasonably spread throughout the day.

  • Most of my happy mailman day traffic comes in over about a four hour period (mostly US timezone based servers) before my day starts. That’s a significant chunk – about half, maybe – of the mail in my main inbox first thing in the morning. So during that first trawl through the days mail I’m seeing about twice the volume – and much less than half the S/N ration – I do on other mornings.
    I’m probably a couple of sigmas away from the overall population norm, but I’d guess I’m much closer for an American timezone, internet-savvy population. Is it an issue? Possibly – someone should do some A/B testing. 🙂

  • I would hope that most mail servers could deal with a temporary 100% increase in (legitimate) traffic. Especially if they receive a lot of mailing list traffic – my inbox is more than twice as big in the morning if someone has come up with a FUSSP during the night… 🙂

  • Oh, it’s not mail server load – it’s recipient attention load. If I’m trolling through twice the amount of messages in the morning, and half of them are just mailman notifications, I’m less likely to pay attention to other bulk mail that’s in my inbox at the same time.

  • I read this wondering what it was about, and then focused in on the next-to-last post. Steve, you don’t filter admin stuff into an admin folder? Or bulk email into a list mail folder?
    I’m on a bunch of mailman lists, and I scarcely notice the first day of the month.

By steve

Recent Posts


Follow Us