Postmaster

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In order to manage electronic communications, it is appropriate for The Augustan Society, Inc., to name a Postmaster to have charge of same.

The Postmaster is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Webmaster. He may name Assistant Postmasters for backup or other purposes as he may find necessary.

His duties include:

  • Managing the email forwarding system;
  • Performing periodic tests to confirm that the email addresses for members are valid;
  • Designing, implementing, and maintaining the Society's email server;
  • Designing, implementing, and maintaining a spam filter on the email server;
  • Making regular reports to the Webmaster as requested or as seems appropriate; and
  • Making an Annual Report to the Board each July, or as requested.


Email Forwarding

The Email Forwarding system is presently housed on the Society's virtual server at the Dallas RimuHosting site, and must be accessed remotely. It consists primarily of a list in '/etc/postfix/virtual'. Once edited, 'postfix /etc/postfix/virtual' must be run. There is a macro called 'emailmaint' that launches the file in 'nano' and then runs 'postfix' to make sure all is done.

The structure of the file is that each line may list an email address followed by one or more addresses to which mail received for the first is forwarded. If a line starts with a space, tab, or #, it is considered a comment. The first address must be separated from the second by a space or tab. The second address must be separated from any others by a comma (and no space or tab). Addressing may be recursive; that is, one address may forward to another Society address, as when <chivalry.comm@augustansociety.org> forwards to <chivalry@augustansociety.org> (and others), which in turn forwards to the current chairman <firstname.lastname@augustansociety.net>, before finally being forwarded to the member's personal email.

The file has been organized into the following sections:

  • By group, department, and committee — .ORG addresses are found here;
  • By the names of members and other participants — .NET addresses are found here;
  • By the names of companies to whom an email address has been assigned for the purpose of spam tracking — .COM addresses are found here;
  • Spam easily identified — these are forwarded to a "spam bucket" (presently <bmetcalf2@yahoo.com>); and
  • Catchall to direct mail to the .NET and .COM Society domains that are not found above, which route to the Postmaster for resolution.
  • Catchall to direct mail to the .ORG Socity domain to the "spam bucket"; there is too much of this to review.

Note please that the first section should only forward to other .ORG addresses or to .NET member addresses, not directly to a private email address. Such private addresses should only be forwarded to from the second section.

Notices of appointments to office should be copied to the Postmaster by Headquarters Staff so that he can make appropriate changes to this file.

The Postmaster should be given sufficient access to the Membership Database that he can view, edit, and delete the email addresses of members and others listed there. He should also be given notice of new members, but it is not required that all members be listed in the second section. Present practice is to add them only when they are appointed to an office or committee and might thus need a listing, or upon request. They are not routinely removed if they drop all offices, though an occasional purge is probably wise.

When someone discontinues their membership, or when a non-member contributor ends his relationship, they should immediately be removed from citations in the first section, but left in the second section for at least a month. An obvious exception is when an individual dies, resigns, or is forcibly ejected from the Society, in which case they should be removed immediately.

The Society receives a very substantial amount of spam. Going through this to pluck out the few valid messages takes a great deal of the Postmaster's hours. He is presently working on an improved spam filter to reduce this burden. The Postmaster is expected to check the spam buckets this nearly daily, with backups (or the Webmaster) being asked to cover for any extended absence.

Email Server & Spam Filter

At present, forwarded email is filtered using SpamAssassin, and those with a failing score are flagged as spam. Unfortunately they are still delivered, which means that recipients still have to filter or delete them locally. Staff are looking into ways to improve on this.

It has been proposed that the Society should build our own email server, rather than relying solely upon a forwarder with a spam filter attached. This is the primary technical question for the Postmaster at this time.

Once a decision is reached, it will be up to the Postmaster to implement such a system, or to hire it done, as authorized by the Budget.


Reporting

Reporting to the Webmaster is expected to be fairly rare. No reports need be made of statistics, new spam sources, or other problems that can be handled without Webmaster involvement. They should be made when the Webmaster has questions, proposals for significant change, or challenges he cannot surmount in a reasonable time. This particularly includes a shortage of drive space or other capacity problems.

Submitting an Annual Report to the Board each July may be pro-forma, unless major change is proposed, such as installing an Email Server, which news need not wait for the annual cycle. The Webmaster may call for your Annual Report in June to permit him to consolidate them for his July report.