Announcement List

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There are two kinds of mailing list services you can set up on your domain:

  • Discussion lists
  • Announcement lists

Announcement lists allow you to send a single email to all of your site users/customers who have chosen to opt into receiving emails from you. If you send this correspondence using a regular web form or via SMTP, you are restricted to SMTP quota limitations:

However, if you choose to use the Announcement list to send, there are no quota limitations.

There are several things you can use an Announcement List for:

  • Keeping subscribers up to date on changes to your business or web community.
  • If your site is home to a club, you can keep subscribers apprised of meetings and events.
  • If you have a business site, you can use the list to send product updates to customers who have requested updates.
  • If your site has a newsletter, you can even use your mailing list to distribute your newsletter to people who have requested it.
Dh-kb-important-icon.fw.png Important: Mailing lists are only for mailing those who have specifically signed up to be on this list through your website. You may not send any unsolicited bulk email (also known as "spam") through this service. If you spam, your account may be immediately terminated without warning. In addition, at the bottom of every mailing, you must include instructions for unsubscribing from the list.

For more details on what you can and cannot do, please read the following Anti-spam policy:

How to set up and manage an Announcement List

Creating the list

  1. Navigate to the (Panel > ‘Mail’ > ‘Announcement List’) page.
    01 Announcement list.png
  2. Click the Add New Announcement List button. The ‘Create a New Announcement List’ page opens. The following screenshots have been split up for clarity:
    02 Announcement list.png
  3. Enter the following:
    • From name: Enter the name of your list or newsletter here.
    • Email address on the list: Enter the email you want to create as the list email. Also, make sure that the dropdown menu to the right is populated with the domain you want the list to be created under.
    • Default Announcement Subject: This is an optional field where you can enter the subject of your message.
    • Confirmation Email Subject: When a user subscribes to your list, a confirmation email is sent to the user. Enter into this field any subject line you’d like to use for this message.
    • Confirmation Email Message: When a user subscribes to your list, they receive a confirmation email with the details listed in the field to the right. The script is set up to automatically fill in the details between the double dashes (--) for this particular list. You can edit the notice as you like.
    • Unsubscribe Directions: This notice appears at the bottom of each announcement you send off in case the user no longer wishes to receive this email.
    The remaining fields are optional URLs you can create to customize the user experience. Adjust them as needed:
    03 Announcement list.png
  4. When complete, click the Create This List button at the bottom of the page.

Editing the list

  1. Navigate to the (Panel > 'Mail' > 'Announcement List') page.
  2. To the right of the list, click the Edit button.
    The edits pages opens allowing you to make your adjustments
    There are only a few fields that can actually be changed after clicking the ‘Edit’ button for the list in question:
    • From Name:
    • Default Announcement Subject
    • Confirmation Email Subject
    • Confirmation Email Message
    • Unsubscribe Directions
    • Remove Bad Addresses
    • All of the URL fields
Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: You cannot change the list name after it's been created. You must delete it and create a new list with the new name.

"Remove Bad Addresses"

11 Announcement list.png

After you create the list and click the Edit button, you'll see a new option titled 'Remove Bad Addresses' where you can choose to remove email addresses from your list after a specific number of bounces.

You can also set it to 'Never' so no address is ever removed.

Adding users to the list

  1. Navigate to the (Panel > 'Mail' > 'Announcement List') page.
  2. Click the Edit button to the far right of your list.
  3. Scroll down to the the 'Edit Subscriber List' section.
    04 Announcement list.png
    Explanation of fields-
    • Current Subscriber List (): Shows the email addresses of those who are already subscribed to the list. The empty parenthesis is populated by the number of users on this list. This example shows no users added to the list.
    • Emails To Add: To add an email address, you can simply enter the full email address in the provided field. Make sure to add only one email address per line.
    • Email to Remove: Enter the email address you wish to permanently remove from your list.
  4. When finished editing, click the Modify Subscribers... button to save.
    05 Announcement list.png
    Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: If you’re adding a user, you are directed to a page to confirm the email subscription notification before sending it to the user to verify their subscription.

  5. Click Send Confirmation Now! to send the request.
    The user then receives an email with a link to join the list. Once the user clicks the link, they see the following page:
    06 Announcement list.png
Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note:

If a user has already been sent a confirmation message for the list within the last 48 hours, they cannot be re-added to the list until that 48-hour window has expired. This is is to prevent the system from spamming users with potentially unwanted subscription notices.

Setting up an autoresponse welcome message for anyone who subscribes

  1. Set up to be a valid email alias (which can point to null if you don't want to receive an email notifying you each time a new person subscribes).
  2. Configure an auto-responder for that alias.
  3. Make sure you DO have the "emailit" hidden input in any form you're using for signups.
Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: This applies to the announcement-only mailing list, not the mailman discussion list feature, which has its own configuration to allow a welcome message to be sent to all new subscribers.

Viewing/editing user details

Once a user has accepted to be part of the list, you'll see them listed on the 'Edit' page in the 'Current Subscriber List':

07 Announcement list.png

To the left are three options:

  • show dates
  • shows names
  • show bounces

In the screenshot above, all three are already selected which displays the user information to the right of their email address.

Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: As you can see in the above screenshot, the name does not appear. Unfortunately, there is no way to edit an existing user to change the name. If you require a different name, you must remove the user, and then add again as shown in the next section.

How can I assign a name to a user?

When add the user to the 'Emails to Add' field for the first time, you can specify their name in this format: John Doe

For example:

08 Announcement list.png

You can only change the name when it's originally added. If you want to change it later, you must delete the address and then add it again with a new name.

How many emails can be added to the list?

There is no limit to the number of people you can add to a list. That is the reason why the list service should be used instead of sending a blast email to multiple contacts through your standard email address which has quota limits. SMTP limitations prevent this with your regular email address and other mail providers may have outgoing mail restrictions as well. So, the list service is ideal for sending a single email to a large amount of subscribers.

However, please note that it may take a while for all of the messages to go out if you have a very large list.

If a message sent for the list hasn’t been delivered and it’s been over a few hours, do not resend the message. contact support so the mail logs can be checked.

Sending announcements

  1. Navigate to the (Panel > ‘Mail’ > ‘Announcement List’) page.
  2. To the right of your list, click the Mail button.
    10 Announcement list.png
  3. Enter the following:
    • From: Enter the details that appear on the message’s ‘From’ information. The email address sending the message cannot be changed, but you can change the ‘From’ name if needed.
    • Subject: Enter the subject line of the post you’re sending. This field only accepts plain text.
    • Your message: Enter the body of the message here. This field will accept other non-standard characters, unlike the ‘Subject’ field above.
    • Is this HTML? If you’re entering HTML in the message, check the checkbox next to ‘Preview as HTML in a new window’. To preview the message before sending it, click the link titled 'Preview as HTML in a new window'.
    • Unsubscribe Directions Footer: This is the message automatically included at the bottom of all of your posts to allow users to unsubscribe from the list if they so choose. The message to the right of this field is the unsubscribe message you currently have set for your list posts. If you wish to edit that message, click the small ‘edit’ button under ‘Unsubscribe Directions Footer:’.
    • Send Announcement At: Enter the date and time for when you want to send the post to the subscribed users. The field uses a 24-hour clock instead of the 12-hour clock and is set to Pacific Time (US).
  4. Once you have configured your message, click the Submit Announcement Now button to send your announcement list.

Can I send HTML-encoded messages to my list?

Yes. As shown above, check the box titled 'Is this HTML' which enables HTML tags in your message to be interpreted as HTML for people whose mail clients have HTML capabilities. You should paste your HTML code directly into the text area that says "Your message:".

Also, even if some people on your list can't read HTML-formatted email, your message is sent as a multi-part message: those users with email clients that can't read HTML will still receive a plain text version.

How do the members post to the list?

They cannot. This is an announcement-only mailing list, not a discussion list. If you need to create a discussion list, visit the following article:

How to import/export content

Importing an existing list of subscribers

  1. Navigate to the (Panel > ‘Mail’ > ‘Announcement List’) page.
  2. Create a new list, or click the Edit button to the right of an existing list.
  3. Add all emails (one per line) into the 'Emails to Add' field.
Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: All subscribers to all announcement lists must confirm their intention to subscribe. So, when you paste in this list, you'll first be emailing all of them a message (which you can customize) explaining that you've moved your list provider and will need everybody who wants to keep receiving the list to re-confirm their subscription. Then, they'll only need to click a link in that email in order to do so.

Exporting a list of subscribers

The only way to do this is to cut and paste the subscribers in your panel into a text editor, and then save the file:

  1. Navigate to the (Panel > ‘Mail’ > ‘Announcement List’) page.
  2. Click the Edit button to the right of an existing list.
  3. Scroll down to the 'Current subscriber list' section.
    07 Announcement list.png
  4. Select which information you'd like displayed for each user.
  5. Copy all information in the text field to a text editor such as Notepad++.

You'll then have a list in a plain text file of all of your email subscribers.

Migrating an Announcement List between DreamHost accounts

If you need to move a list from one DreamHost account to another, support must assist with this. Details for the move of a list from one DreamHost account to another is described here:

It is very important that you contact DreamHost support to get this handled BEFORE deleting the domain from the old account since the list must be exported first before you delete the domain. Contact support from both the gaining and losing account to proceed with this request.

Will the Announcement List work if MX records are changed?

Yes. The discussion list and announcement list services run off of the list servers which are not tied to the MX machines used for regular email. So, the lists will continue to function.

Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: If MX records are changed and you had an autoresponder set up on a forwarding user, that autoresponder will no longer work with DreamHost since the autoresponder service is done through the email address, not the list service.


Building a form to allow people to self-subscribe

Instead of manually adding users, you can create an HTML form similar to the one below.

Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note:

The following items can be adjusted from your list's 'Edit' page so you don't need to manually add them to your form:

  • Unsubscribe URL
  • Already Subscribed URL
  • Not Subscribed URL
  • Invalid Email Address URL
  • Confirmation URL

When someone subscribes through this custom form, an email confirmation is sent displaying your SubscribedURL page (or a generic page if none is specified).

When the recipient confirms by clicking the link in the email, the script will show the EmailConfirmURL page (or a generic page if none is specified).

If any problems occur, the script shows one of the error pages, or the UnsubscribedURL page if the person is unsubscribing.

Form example

Here is a basic form that includes all the optional fields. Note that you must customize the text between underscore ("_") characters below (such as _MailingListName_) according to your needs. See below for an explanation of these fields. Also, if you have multiple mailing lists, you must have a separate subscription form for each one.

<form method="post" action="">
<table><input type="hidden" name="list" value="_MailingListName_" />
<input type="hidden" name="domain" value="_DomainName_" />

    <!-- Optional: -->
<input type="hidden" name="unsuburl" value="_http://UnsubscribedURL_" />
<input type="hidden" name="alreadyonurl" value="_http://AlreadyOnURL_" />
<input type="hidden" name="notonurl" value="_http://NotOnURL_" />
<input type="hidden" name="invalidurl" value="_http://InvalidURL_" />
<input type="hidden" name="emailconfirmurl" value="_http://EmailConfirmURL_" />
<input type="hidden" name="emailit" value="1" />
<tr><td>Name</td><td><input type="text" name="name" /></td></tr>

    <!-- Required: -->
<tr><td>E-mail</td><td><input type="text" name="email" /></td></tr>

    <!-- Optional: -->
<tr><td>Confirm E-mail</td><td><input type="text" name="address2" /></td></tr>

    <!-- Required: -->
<tr><td><input type="submit" name="submit" value="_Join Our Announcement List_" /></td><td></td></tr>

    <!-- Optional: -->
<tr><td><input type="submit" name="unsub" value="_Remove previous notification_" /></td><td></td></tr>

    <!-- Required: -->

Explanation of the fields above

Field Explanation
_MailingListName_ This is the part of your mailing list "From Email" that comes before the @ sign. So if your list is, this would be mylist. Please note that people won't actually be able to send email to unless you set that up as an independent email address or auto-responder in the panel.
_DomainName_ This is the domain name of the site where this form is residing. It's not necessary to have this field, but having it will ensure full compatibility with all browsers.
_http://UnsubscribedURL_ The URL of the page that appears if someone successfully unsubscribed from the list. You can create your own .html page or omit this field from the HTML form. If omitted, the value in the Unsubscribe URL field on the Announcement List edit page will be used instead.
_http://AlreadyOnURL_ The URL of the page that appears if someone who is already on the list attempts to subscribe to it. You can create your own .html page or omit this field from the HTML form. If omitted, the value in the Already Subscribed URL field on the Announcement List edit page will be used instead.
_http://NotOnURL_ The URL of the page that appears if they are not on the list, and they have attempted to unsubscribe. You can create your own .html page or omit this field from the HTML form. If omitted, the value in the Not Subscribed URL field on the Announcement List edit page will be used instead.
_http://InvalidURL_ The URL of the page that will appear if the email address entered is invalid. You can create your own .html page or omit this field. If omitted, the value in the Invalid Email Address URL field on the Announcement List edit page will be used instead.
_http://EmailConfirmURL_ The URL of the page that will appear when the user confirms their opt-in to your list by clicking a link in an email message just sent to them. If you customized the URL field, you should probably customize this one as well. You basically need a message that says something like "You are not QUITE subscribed yet.. please now check your email right now for the last step to confirm your subscription to our list!". You can create your own .html page with this message, or omit this field. If omitted the Confirmation URL field on the Announcement List edit page will be used instead.
<input type="hidden" name="emailit" value="1" /> If you have this hidden input in the form, you will automatically receive a default email sent to You can then set this up as an auto-responder whenever someone signs up for the mailing list. Plus, you will also get a default email sent to whenever somebody unsubscribes as well.
_Join Our Announcement List_ This label can be changed to anything that doesn't contain the words "remove", "out", "unsub", "leave", or "delete," and will act as the subscribe button. Also if you're an HTML expert you can use an image for the submit button.
_Unsubscribe_ This will be the label on your "unsubscribe" button. It's not mandatory to have this button, but it's more convenient if your list members can unsubscribe over the web, without your intervention. The name of this button must include one of the following: "remove", "out", "unsub", "leave", or "delete". If it doesn't, it will act as though it is a subscribe button.

A note for WordPress sites

If your site uses WordPress, you must link to the default "Ugly" permalink type (of the form "") even if you use any of the "Pretty" permalinks instead. This is because the mailing list scripts automatically add parameters to the URLs which don't work with "Pretty" permalinks. If you edit a post or a page, you can find the post ID number in the URL line after the post= text. For example, you might see something like:"edit", so the post ID is "3141". In this example, you would use something like: as the URL of the page even if it also has a "Pretty" permalink like: You may also create these pages outside WordPress to avoid the problems with permalinks.

Can I add more fields to the basic form?

Yes. Any extra fields you add to your form are included in the notification email you get when somebody subscribes to your list. You can also customize that with these three hidden fields:

Input name Example Explanation
required <input type=hidden name=required value="street1, city, state, zip, country"> A comma-separated list of fields your user is required to fill in in order to successfully submit the form.
missingrequrl <input type=hidden name=missingrequrl value=""> The URL to redirect to if somebody tries to submit a form without some of the required fields you specified via the "required" form element above. This URL will also get posted to it a variable called "missing" with a value like "field1,field2,field3" with all of the missing fields.
fieldorder <input type=hidden name=fieldorder value="orgname, street1, city, state, zip, country"> A comma-separated list that tells you the order you'd like the fields to be reported to you in the email you receive. If you don't specify this, they will appear in random order (not necessarily the order they appear in your html form). If you do specify this value, you will ONLY receive the fields you list here (plus name and email address, which are always first).
req_address2 <input type=hidden name=req_address2 value=1 ><input name=address2> You can add a field to ensure that the user filling out the form fills it out with their correct email address. The user will need to type their email address once, then re-type it again to be certain it’s correct.

How do I display information from the form if I use custom URLs?

If you use your own custom URLs in the 'optional' section of the form, you can still access some of the information submitted in the form. The DreamHost script now redirects to your URLs with the following variables:

  • name=Their+Name
  • code=#

Where the codes are as follows:

Address Successfully Subscribed: 1
Address Successfully Unsubscribed: 2
Address Successfully Mailed Confirmation Link: 3
Address Already on List: -1
Address Not In List (when Unsubscribing): -2
Invalid Email Address: -3
Missing Required Field(s): -4
Re-typed email doesn't match first: -5

The following example reads the name and address entered on the form on a custom Subscribe URL response page:

$email = $_GET['address'];
$name = $_GET['name'];
Thanks for subscribing, <?php echo $name; ?> - we'll send our next newsletter to you at <?php echo $email; ?>!

This example assumes you're using a PHP file and the name form field is required, otherwise you'd need to get a little fancier to display something else if the name field is blank.

Using a PHP conditional to check for data in the name field:

if ($name!="") 
echo "$name"; ?>
Thanks for subscribing<?php if ($name!="") echo ", $name"; ?> - we'll send our next newsletter to you at <?php echo $email; ?>!

This way, the name field does not print if it contains nothing.

Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: If you need to suppress these query variables (e.g., if you are using WordPress), you can do so by adding the nourlvars=1 query variable when adding someone to the list.

How do I use images for my subscribe and unsubscribe submit buttons?

If you don't want to use the standard submission buttons but would rather use your own images, you can do that with this code:

<input type="image" border="0" name="submit" src="subscribe.gif">
<input type="image" border="0" name="unsub" src="unsubscribe.gif">

instead of this:

<input type=submit name=submit value="Join Our Announcement List">
<input type=submit name=unsub value="Unsubscribe">

See also