The Grumpy Troll

Ramblings of a grumpy troll.

Sign up to Google mailing-list with external address

This grumpy troll is sometimes old-fashioned; I'm inclined to self-levitate my own patch of fog and call it a cloud. I run my own mail-server, where I receive the bulk of my mail. For anti-spam reasons, the addresses that go to companies and to the less clueful will be for a Gmail account, but for reading mail in bulk, I prefer to use mutt(1) pointed at my own IMAP setup.

Most commonly today, mailing-lists for public sign-up seem to be run using Mailman; Majordomo never seemed to publicly release v2, Sympa is more for internal use within an organisation (LDAP integration), LISTSERV costs money (not bad, just hard to compete for raw volume when there are sufficiently good free options available), ezmlm is closely tied to one mail-server platform and SmartList … is clever, with Procmail, which is sufficiently scary as a concept that many just stay away. (It also lacks shiny web interfaces for the less technical to manage a list).

And then there are the free hosting services from Yahoo! and Google. For corporate mail going to my corporate mailbox, Google Groups works well enough, although Gmail requires some major contortions to scale well to multiple lists pre-filtered for you, if you don't want one jumbled mess in your inbox.

Today, I wanted to subscribe to puppet-announce, which can be found at, but did not want to sign up with my Google email address. I wanted to send the mail to the same place that I read all my other mailing-list mails. I initially failed to find a web UI.

I used a search engine to try to find clues for a solution. In fact, I used Google's search engine. I found a site which showed how they were using Google Groups as their outsourced mailing-list management service and had a web form for signing up. “View Page Source” in, er, Google Chrome quickly revealed the form submission address.

There was a /boxsubscribe on the end of the URL. I tacked that onto the puppet-announce web address, and voilá: a web form saying I was missing some information and prompting me to fill in the email address I wished to subscribe with. I did so, and a confirmation mail was sent out.

No Google Accounts sign-in, no nudging to use a Google product more than I wished to in this instance, it just worked.

Armed with this knowledge, my searches suddenly got better and I found which showed the same thing, but showed how to tack on a form parameter to do things in one shot:

Hopefully promoting this will help others to find it.

-The Grumpy Troll


Ralph Corderoy
One can also subscribe to Google Groups lists by sending an email from the address you want subscribed to a command address, e.g.

mail </dev/null

"subscribe" can be replaced with "help" for further details. Note, "-" can occur within list names and it's a "+" to separate that from the command.
Nobody wants to be a sysadmin any more.

Which is probably a good thing, because most of them are very bad at it.

It's a pity that they expect computers to be crap, so they don't realise that there's a higher quality available than the ghastliness that is Yahoo/Google Groups.
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