IET answers common user questions as campus email list migration begins

UC Davis began moving thousands of campus email lists to Sympa this week, as planned. Questions inevitably surface, and Information and Educational Technology has pulled together a list of the most common.

If you don't find your answer here, consult the help documents and instructions. If you need additional assistance, please contact the IT Express Computing Services Help Desk at (530) 754-HELP (4357).

The list migrations will run for several weeks, at the rate of about 200 per weekday, proceeding in alphabetical order. If you need special attention for your list, please contact Find the service at

On to the most common questions so far:

My email list has a password. Now that my list has moved to Sympa, why doesn't the password work?

Sympa is user-centric, not list-centric. You log in through CAS with your campus Kerberos passphrase; Sympa then displays all the lists you are affiliated with. The individual lists no longer have passwords.

How come the email list hosted on my departmental email server does not show up on

Sympa, or, only has access to lists hosted by the central campus email list server. Many departmental email services, especially those that use Exchange, may maintain their own distribution lists. Unfortunately, those lists are not accessible via You will need to contact your departmental technical services desk for assistance with those lists.

I want to name a campus email list the same name as my departmental server list, but Sympa won't let me. Why?

If you receive an error pop-up with this message--"Mothra lock for $ already exists, please choose another name"--it indicates that the name you want for your list is already in use. It could be an old list name that has not been released yet, a loginID of a current or past member of the UC Davis community, or a reserved name. You can contact IT Express at and request that the name be released. If it is not currently in use, the IT Express Team can release the name for you.

What do I use to log in?

Go here.

How do I change the owners of a list?

Go here, and read the last entry, \034How do I add more owners/moderators?\035

How do I add subscribers?

See the "Edit Subscribers" section here.

Why are the list owners being moderated by the moderators?

If a list has no moderators, then Sympa uses the owners as moderators. However, if the owners create moderators, Sympa assumes that the owner(s) wanted to delegate that responsibility--and therefore the moderators end up moderating the list, including any posts from list owners. Owners who also want to act as moderators should make themselves moderators too.

Why are all the owners of a list getting all the error messages for the list?

By default, Sympa assumes that owners want to receive administrative messages about their lists. Owners who do not wish to receive these administrative messages can set their reception method to "nomail" in the "Owner" section under the "List definition" tab (see area outlined in red in this screen shot).