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How can I add or remove myself from email lists?

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This document is intended for members of mailing lists or for people wishing to add themselves to public lists. List administrators should view these documents instead:

There are two kinds of lists: Moira lists and Mailman lists. The procedure to add or remove yourself differs for each kind of list.

Mailman lists

Visit the list web page at:

replacing "listname" with the name of the list in question. For example, for the list, visit:

The web page for the list contains instructions and web forms for subscribing to and unsubscribing from the list.

Moira lists

Adding or removing yourself from an Athena mailing list is simple, although the procedure depends on whether the mailing list is public or private. If you wish to add yourself to a public mailing list, you can use the following command:

joeuser@athena:~$ blanche -a $USER listname

Note: Be sure to fill in the correct information for listname.

After the next moira update, you should start receiving email sent to that list. If you get an error such as /usr/athena/bin/blanche: Insufficient permission to perform requested database access..., it can mean one of two things. First, the list could actually be a Mailman list, in which case you should follow the Mailman procedure described above. Alternatively, it could mean that the list is not a public list, and you will need to contact the list maintainer to be added to the list.

You can remove yourself from both public and private Moira lists. To remove yourself from a moira list, you can use the following command:

joeuser@athena:~$ blanche -d $USER listname

Note: Be sure to fill in the correct information for listname.

You will stop receiving email from that list at the next moira update. If you receive an error such as /usr/athena/bin/blanche: Unable to find member joeuser to delete from listname, that means you are not a member of that list. Instead, you could be a member of a sublist. For example, the list "biglist" could contain the list "smallerlist" of which you are a member. In that case, you'd need to remove yourself from "smallerlist", not "biglist". If instead you receive an error /usr/athena/bin/blanche: Insufficient permission to perform requested database access, the list may be a Mailman list instead.

Be Careful
You may have been added to certain mailing lists automatically (e.g. a list of the entire freshman class, a list of people in your 18.03 recitation, a list of residents of your dorm). We do not recommend you remove yourself from such lists, as you may miss important information about academic deadlines, tests, quizzes, office hours, or safety issues in your residence.

Another method of adding yourself to public lists, or removing yourself from lists that you don't want to be on, is to use the web interface to moira. This is located at and requires MIT certificates.

Non-MIT users

If you are on an MIT mailing list, but do not have an Athena account, you should contact the list maintainers to remove yourself. Please see "How do I contact the owner or maintainer of a list?" for more information. If the list maintainers do not respond within a a reasonable amount of time (a week, for example), you can contact Athena User Accounts to get yourself removed. They can be contacted by sending email to or by calling 617-253-1325 during regular business hours (M-F 9-5).

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

May 25, 2012

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  1. May 18, 2009

    DebAthena users may find using $ATHENA_USER works better than $USER if their Athena username does not match their local username:

    blanche -a $ATHENA_USER listname
    blanche -d $ATHENA_USER listname

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