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List Email Headers

I send out an ezine (newsletter) called Snippets . And I manage that newsletter on my own computer using Gammadyne Mailer.

Because I have substantial control over the processing of Snippets subscriptions and mailings, I wanted to understand the standards for email headers. I wanted the headers for my ezine to be correct.

As I looked for standards, I not only found the standards for headers, I found other list "Best Practices" which I assembled here.

But this page describes just the issues of email headers for lists.

I use these list email headers for all the lists I manage using Gammadyne Mailer. To see a full set of email headers for my Snippets ezine, click here.

EMAIL ADDRESS MUNGING: In the examples on this page as well was the full set of the examples here, some email addresses have been munged to reduce spam. Specifically, an alternative, non-functional domain (JSH.zzz) has been used in place of the longer, correct domain (JamesSHuggins.com).


RFC Specified Headers

Within the Internet community, Requests for Comments (RFCs) are a critical source of "standards". The RFCs are organized as a series of notes, sequentially number. They began in 1969 when the Internet was ARPANeT.  

These notes include literally tons of information. They discuss, not only the various technical aspects of the Internet (e.g., networking protocols, procedures, programs, and concepts), but they also include meeting notes, opinion, and even humor

Note that all RFCs are not Internet standards documents. RFCs can have Informational or experimental status. Such RFCs do not represent any kind of standard. Instead, they contain information that may be useful or important to retain in this archival document series.

Two examples include an RFC on the RFC history called "30 Years of RFCs" and this tribute to Jon Postel entitled "I Remember IANA". (Note that the second RFC has number 2468. This is not an accident.)

Two of the RFCs, RFC 2919 and RFC 2369, directly apply to email headers for lists.

RFC 2919 
List-Id: A Structured Field and Namespace for the Identification of Mailing Lists

RFC 2919 specifies that emails from ezines and other email lists should include the standard header field List-Id. This header field clearly identifies that the email is from a "list" and also uniquely identifies the list being used.

I implement this in my email headers. To see a full set of email headers for my Snippets ezine, click here.

List-ID

List-ID designates a unique identifier for the mailing list. The identifier is built using the domain name, plus a string to uniquely identify that list within that domain name space. The field may also contain a plain text "name" of the list.

For example, for my Snippets ezine, I use:

<Snippets.JamesSHuggins.com>

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

List-ID:
Snippets from James S. Huggins' Refrigerator Door
<Snippets.JamesSHuggins.com>

RFC 2369 
The Use of URLs as Meta-Syntax for Core Mail List Commands and their Transport through Message Header Fields

RFC 2369 specifies that emails from ezines and other email lists should include six (6) standard header fields. These are:

  • List-Help,
  • List-Subscribe,
  • List-Unsubscribe,
  • List-Post,
  • List-Owner, and
  • List-Archive.

I implement each of these in my email headers. To see a full set of email headers for my Snippets ezine, click here.

List-Help

List-Help specifies an email URL and/or web URL to obtain help for a list. It may also include "comments". The RFC notes:

The List-Help field is the most important of the header fields described in this document. It would be acceptable for a list manager to include only this field, since by definition it SHOULD direct the user to complete instructions for all other commands.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

List-Help:
<mailto:Snippets-Help@JSH.zzz>,
<http://www.JSH.us/snippets>
(Information about the Snippets ezine and email list)

List-Subscribe

List-Subscribe specifies an email URL and/or web URL to directly subscribe the user (to request addition to the list). It may also include "comments".

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

List-Subscribe:
<mailto:Snippets-Subscribe@JSH.zzz>,
<http://www.JSH.us/snippets>
(How to subscribe to the Snippets ezine)

List-Unsubscribe

List-Unsubscribe specifies an email URL and/or web URL to directly unsubscribe the user (to request removal from the list). It may also include "comments".

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

List-Unsubscribe:
<mailto:Snippets-Unsubscribe@JSH.zzz>,
<http://www.JSH.us/snippets-unsubscribe>
(How to unsubscribe from the Snippets ezine)

List-Post

List-Post specifies an email URL and/or web URL to post to the list. Frequently the "address" of the list, this could also be a moderator or a web URL for submission. It may also include "comments". The RFC notes:

For the special case of a list that does not allow posting (e.g., an announcements list), the List-Post field may contain the special value "NO".

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

List-Post: NO (posting not allowed on this list)

List-Owner

List-Owner specifies an email URL and/or web URL to contact a human administrator for the list. It may also include "comments". The RFC notes:

The URL MAY contain the address of a administrator for the list, the mail system administrator, or any other person who can handle user contact for the list. There is no need to specify List-Owner if it is the same person as the mail system administrator (postmaster).

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

List-Owner:
<mailto:Snippets-8@JSH.zzz>
(James S. Huggins)

List-Archive

List-Archive specifies an email URL and/or web URL to access archives for the list. It may also include "comments".

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

List-Archive:
<http://www.JSH.us/snippets-archives>
(web archive of prior Snippets issues)


RFC Specified Email Addresses

In addition to the list headers specified by RFCs, there are standard email addresses specified by RFCs.

One RFC, RFC 2142, directly applies to email addresses.

The implementation of these standard email addresses is the subject of some debate because of the spam problem. However, I have implemented all of these email addresses within my system.

RFC 2142 
Mailbox Names for Common Services, Roles and Functions

RFC 2142 specifies a variety of standard email addresses which should be implemented. These are:

  • list-request@
  • abuse@
  • ftp@
  • hostmaster@
  • info@
  • marketing@
  • news@
  • noc@
  • postmaster@
  • sales@
  • support@
  • security@
  • usenet@
  • uucp@
  • www@

The first two of these specifically relate to ezines and lists.

I have implemented all of these for my site.

list-request@

RFC 2142 specifies that an address of "list-request@" should be implemented for the ezine, where "list" is the name of the ezine. For example, for Snippets, my first ezine, the address is Snippets-Request@JamesSHuggins.com. Email to this address should, at a minimum, return information on how to administer subscriptions.

abuse@

RFC 2142 specifies that an address of "abuse@" should be implemented so that individuals can easily send abuse information to a domain holder. Ezine subscribers may wish to use this address to complain about spam.


Additional User Defined Headers

In addition to the RFC specified headers, I include a variety of "user defined" headers in my ezine list emails.

RFC 822 provided for "user defined fields" in email headers. The RFC said:

4.7.5. USeR-DEFINED-FIeLD

Individual users of network mail are free to define and use additional header fields. Such fields must have names which are not already used in the current specification or in any definitions of extension-fields, and the overall syntax of these user-defined-fields must conform to this specification's rules for delimiting and folding fields. Due to the extension-field publishing process, the name of a user- defined-field may be pre-empted

Note: The prefatory string "X-" will never be used in the names of extension-fields. This provides user-defined fields with a protected set of names.

Note that "X-" is a reserved string to enable people to create their own user defined fields, without worrying that these fields would conflict with any standard fields. These are sometimes called X-Headers or X-Fields.

RFC 822 has been obsoleted by RFC 2822. And, unfortunately, RFC 2822 did not include the specification of X-Headers. This "flaw" in RFC 2822 has been commented on in several places on the net.

Nevertheless, the use of X-Fields or X-Headers remains common and I have implemented them for my ezines.

In making such implementations I have looked at other ezines to see what X-Headers they have used. I have adopted some, adapted others and invented my own.

These are my current X-Fields:

  • X-ezine-Title
  • X-ezine-Description
  • X-Author
  • X-Copyright
  • X-Mailer
  • X-Recipient
  • X-Subscriber
  • X-Subscribe-email
  • X-Subscribe-Web
  • X-Unsubscribe-email
  • X-Unsubscribe-Web
  • X-Information
  • X-Archives
  • X-Privacy
  • X-List-Best-Practices
  • X-Licensing
  • X-CAN-SPAM-1
  • X-CAN-SPAM-2
  • X-CAN-SPAM-3
  • X-CAN-SPAM-4

To see a full set of email headers for my Snippets ezine, click here.

X-ezine-Title

X-ezine-Title specifies the name of the list.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-ezine-Title: Snippets

X-ezine-Description

X-ezine-Description specifies a longer text string which provides more description of the list.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-ezine-Description: Snippets, the irregular journal from James S. Huggins and his website James S. Huggins' Refrigerator Door (http://www.JSH.us)

X-Author

X-Author specifies the formal, legal author of the ezine.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Author: James S. Huggins

X-Copyright

X-Copyright specifies the copyright statement for the list.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Copyright: Copyright 2008 James S. Huggins. All rights perversed.

X-Mailer

X-Mailer specifies the software used to email to the list.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Mailer: Gammadyne Mailer Version 24.4

X-Recipient

X-Recipient specifies the addressee of the ezine. This is important because individuals may maintain multiple addresses, including forwarding addresses. Having the addressee specified separately in an X-Field helps to ensure that subscription issues can be quickly resolved.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Recipient: Recipient Goes Here <0000000000@0000000000.com>

X-Subscriber

X-Subscriber is a duplicate of the X-Recipient field. I include both because my research revealed that both X-Fields were common.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Subscriber: Recipient Goes Here <0000000000@0000000000.com>

X-Subscribe-email

X-Subscribe-email provides the email address to be used to subscribe to the list. This information duplicates the information contained in the standard field List-Subscribe, but isolates the email address.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Subscribe-email:
<mailto:Snippets-Subscribe@JSH.zzz>

X-Subscribe-Web

X-Subscribe-Web provides the web address to be used to subscribe to the list. This information duplicates the information contained in the standard field List-Subscribe, but isolates the web address.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Subscribe-Web:
<http://www.JSH.us/snippets>

X-Unsubscribe-email

X-Unsubscribe-email provides the email address to be used to unsubscribe from the list. This information duplicates the information contained in the standard field List-Unsbscribe, but isolates the email address.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Unsubscribe-email:
<mailto:Snippets-Unsubscribe@JSH.zzz>

X-Unsubscribe-Web

X-Unsubscribe-Web provides the web address to be used to unsubscribe from the list. This information duplicates the information contained in the standard field List-Unsubscribe, but isolates the web address.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Unsubscribe-Web:
<http://www.JSH.us/snippets-unsubscribe>

X-Information

X-Information provides the web address for more information about the list.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Information:
<http://www.JSH.us/snippets>

X-Archives

X-Archives provides the web address for archived issues of the list.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Archives:
<http://www.JSH.us/snippets-archives>

X-Privacy

X-Privacy provides the web address for the privacy statement for the list.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Privacy:
<http://www.JSH.us/snippets-privacy>

X-List-Best-Practices

X-List-Best-Practices provides the web address for a statement of the Best Practices followed by the list.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-List-Best-Practices:
<http://www.JSH.us/list-best-practices>

X-Licensing

X-Licensing provides the web address for licensing information for list content.

Here is the field from my Snippets ezine:

X-Licensing:
<http://www.JSH.us/creative-commons>

X-CAN-SPAM-1,
X-CAN-SPAM-2,
X-CAN-SPAM-3, and
X-CAN-SPAM-4

X-CAN-SPAM-1, X-CAN-SPAM-2, X-CAN-SPAM-3 and X-CAN-SPAM-4 provide statements required or recommended for compliance with the US CAN-SPAM act.

Here are the fields from my Snippets ezine:

X-CAN-SPAM-1: This message is (or may be) a solicitation or advertisement within the specific meaning of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. (I'm pretty sure it's not, but just to be safe ....)

X-CAN-SPAM-2: You can decline to receive further email from this list ("commercial" and otherwise) by following the instructions in the body of the email or by using the resources in the List-Unsubscribe, X-Unsubscribe-email and X-Unsubscribe-Web email headers.

X-CAN-SPAM-3: My physical postal address is: 11150 Beamer Road #109-S2Y, Houston, Texas 77089-2331

X-CAN-SPAM-4: For more information on these notices see: http://JSH.us/why-can-spam-notices


List Management Information

Best Practices of Email, Ezine and List ManagementBest Practices of Email, Ezine and List Management: The organization known as MAPS (Mail Abuse Prevention System) once published a list it called "Basic Mailing List Management Principles for Preventing Abuse". I used this list as the starting point to create my own "Best Practices" which I follow in managing my lists.

CAN-SPAM Is StupidCAN-SPAM Is Stupid: A personal rant about the U. S. federal law known as known as CAN-SPAM. While it is supposedly designed to help eliminate email spam, I think the law is stupid. The article also provides links to CAN-SPAM resources.


external Sources

RFC 2142RFC 2142: Defines standard mailbox names for common services, roles and functions. These include abuse@, ftp@, hostmaster@, info@, marketing@, news@, noc@, postmaster@, sales@, support@, security@, usenet@, uucp@, www@ and list-request@.

RFC 2369RFC 2369: Defines structured header fields to be added to messages sent by email distribution lists. The three primary fields are List-Help, List-Subscribe, and List-Unsubscribe. The three supplementary fields are List-Post, List-Owner and List-Archive.

RFC 2468: I Remember IANARFC 2468: "I Remember IANA". A tribute to Jon Postel. Note that the RFC number (2468) is not an accident.

RFC 2555: 30 Years of RFCsRFC 2555: "30 Years of RFCs". A bit of history of the Internet RFCs.

RFC 2919RFC 2919: Defines the List-Id header field to identify message which belong to a list and identify the specific list.

RFC-Ignorant.orgRFC-Ignorant.org: A clearinghouse for sites which think that the rules of the internet don't apply to them, maintaining a number of lists containing domains or IP networks which choose not to obey the RFCs --- the building block "rules" of the net.


My ezine/Newsletter

All About Snippets, My EzineAll About Snippets, My Free Ezine: This page tells about my free ezine (newsletter), where it came from, how to subscribe . . . the whole banana.

Previous Issues of SnippetsPrevious Issues of Snippets: This page links to the archive of Snippets issues.

History of Changes to SnippetsHistory of Changes to Snippets: Describes the history of Snippets, with emphasis on the technical changes I've made since starting it, including moving to  Gammadyne, adding double-opt-in and complying with CAN-SPAM.

Snippets Privacy PolicySnippets Privacy Policy: The short version of my privacy policy for my Snippets ezine. It explains that I do not spam. Period. And, I do not sell, lend or release your subscription information to anyone for any reason. 


My Use of Gammadyne Mailer

I began using the Gammadyne Mailer to manage and broadcast my ezines in late 2002. It is possible to use it very simply, almost out of the box. But it also features a very complete internal programming language to let you do just about anything you want. And, it keeps all the information on my PC in an Access database, where I know the information is secure and under my control.

It is screaming software. I strongly recommend Gammadyne Mailer.

PS: You can test drive my implementation of the Gammadyne Mailer just to see how it works. I created an ezine named TestZine to let me test my programming. You can test it too. Subscribe and receive a "sample issue". You can even try out some of the tests I perform, like submitting a subscription request twice in a row, or subscribing when I'm already subscribed or unsubscribing when I'm not subscribed, just to see how it handles these "special conditions". Just go to my TestZine page.

Disclosure: I participate in the Gammadyne affiliate program. Click here to link without crediting my referral account.

The extra text menu links (previously here) are being removed in the site redesign.
Browser and search engine improvements have eliminated the motivation/necessity for them.

This page created:
Sun, 19.Oct.2003

Last updated:
16:21, Sat, 10.May.2014

. . .

NOTICE --- SITE  UNDERGOING REWRITE - SEE LINK BELOW FOR DETAILS

 Explanation of the rewrite: New Page Layout.
 Check out my blog: My Ephemerae
 Yes ... I want you to link to my site Please link to me
 Want to email me? I'd love to hear from you.
 I have begun tutoring in the South Houston, Texas area.

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list email headers user defined fields x-fields x-headers; qwerty . . . list email headers user defined fields x-fields x-headers; qwerty