Project Wombat: General FAQ

Can I subscribe to a Project Wombat list without being a librarian?
Can I submit a question to Project Wombat without subscribing?
Yes. But we can’t force people to address their replies to you—by default, replies are sent back to the list. So you may need to watch the archives for a while if you do this.
Will I be kicked out if I don’t answer any questions?
No. Lurkers are encouraged. Just because you can’t answer any questions today doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to answer one tomorrow.
How do I submit a question?
Send your question to There is a second address you can use if you are a subscriber and want to post something to the Open list which may break list guidelines. (See below.)
How do I subscribe?
Go to the relevant subscription management page — there are links on the main page — and fill out the subscription form on the appropriate page.
Are there any rules on the list?
How does list moderation work?
The structure of the list is somewhat complicated.
There is a set of list guidelines, which apply to the “Classic” and “FM” lists.
A post submitted to the list by a non-subscriber will always be held for moderation on all three versions of the list. (We have to do that to filter out spam.)
A post submitted to the main list address by a subscriber will usually go to the Open and Classic lists immediately, and will be held for moderation on the FM list (as you would expect, given the nature of that list).
If a subscriber has broken the list guidelines in the past, then that subscriber’s posts will be held for moderation on the “Classic” list as well as the FM list.
A subscriber who wishes to make a post which they feel may be appropriate only to the Open list — that is, a post which goes against the list guidelines — can send their post to the special address Messages sent this way are distributed immediately on the Open list, but will be held for moderation on the Classic list, and will not be considered to deviate from the list guidelines, although the moderators may choose not to approve the message. (For this reason, we recommend splitting any reply which might require that address into two parts, so that any content which is unquestionably acceptable can be automatically approved and only the parts which may deviate from the guidelines gets held up.)
Do the moderators edit messages?
No. Every message is either accepted or rejected directly as submitted.
How do I unsubscribe?
If you remember which version of the list you subscribed to, you can go to the subscription management page for that version and use the “Unsubscribe” section of the page. (Note that after using that form you must click the “Unsubscribe” button on the second page as well.) You will receive a confirmation message with instructions which you must follow in order to make the unsubscription final. See for links to the subscription management pages. (Click the name of the list at the top of the page.)
If you do not remember which version of the list you subscribed to, you can send an e-mail message to and the server will attempt to unsubscribe you from all three lists at once. This will only work if you are subscribed using the exact same address as you use for outgoing mail; if your subscription is being forwarded to you from an old address, the server will be unable to find your subscription. (If this method is successful, you should receive two error messages and a confirmation message.)
If neither method works for you, it probably means that your subscription is under an address other than the one you currently use (which means that messages are being forwarded to you). In that case, please send an e-mail message to and ask to be unsubscribed by hand. This last method may take much longer than the others, so we recommend trying the other two first.
My messages to the list are being rejected because of a “filter rule match”. What’s going on?
This question comes up often enough that we have built a whole extra page to answer it conveniently. (That way, we can just give people the URL.)
I’ve been subscribed to some version of this list since [fill in the blank]. What happened to the archives?!
Can I get a copy of the old Stumpers list archives? I am a graduate library science student/librarian/reference book author/nosy person.
The archives have had problems twice, so this section has two parts.
First there’s the question of the archives from the old Stumpers list. We have them — but there are some real problems with releasing them. Unlike Project Wombat, Stumpers was set up without any sort of terms of service. For years, people were submitting messages to the list without any clear archival or publication policies. As a result, the Stumpers archives contain a huge amount of personal information for a vast number of unsuspecting people. Although we have been advised that we (meaning the Project Wombat advisory board) would not be legally liable if we published the archives, we have decided to play it safe — to say nothing of being good Internet citizens — and not publish the archives. We have a vague long-term plan to remove personal information from the archives and publish the result, but nothing in particular has come of it yet.
We do not give out copies of the archives, even to researchers. Sorry!
As for the Project Wombat archives: Project Wombat has gone through several server crashes since it began. The most recent one (as of May 2009) ate a large chunk of the list archives. We’re working on recovering the content, but it may take a while. (Getting the list running again is enough work!)
However, there’s some good news: since the Project Wombat archives have been protected by a terms of service agreement since the beginning, we can publish anything we recover. At present, that’s limited to the archives of the first year. The rest of the archives will eventually be available, and we will almost certainly make them available in some easy-to-deal-with format. Meanwhile, all we have is a zip archive of the raw text files from the Open list, which you can download here. (At the very least, we will eventually put together some sort of interface so that you can search them. But right now we’re a bit busy writing, proofreading, and editing these pages, and configuring the lists on the new server, so you’ll have to do the searching yourself.)
My message got rejected (or did not come through) on the “Open” list! What’s going on?
My message got rejected (or did not come through) on the “Classic” list, yet I am a Classic subscriber and have never had a problem with the list guidelines! What’s going on?
These two questions have similar answers. First off: be sure to check the archives for the list about which you are complaining to make sure the message really didn’t go through. (If you did not receive an actual rejection notice, then your message might just be taking a while to get through to you.)
Ordinarily, messages from all subscribers automatically are accepted by the “Open” list, and messages from subscribers to the “Classic” list are automatically accepted by the Classic list. The only possible rejection under those circumstances is a “filter rule match” as described elsewhere. But in order for messages to be automatically accepted, they must come from a recognized address. If your e-mail client appears to be sending messages from a different address — even an address which is functionally identical to your subscribed address — the server will consider your messages to be from a non-subscriber, and pass them to the moderators. And although the moderators are excellent at passing messages, they are only human, and may mistakenly Reject or Discard a message.
If you are sure your message was sent correctly, please write to and report the problem. Otherwise, wait a few hours to make sure the message has a chance to come through, then try re-sending it.
I want to receive digests instead of individual messages, but I don’t see that as an option on the server’s listing. Where is it?
When you subscribe, you will be given the option of using Digest mode. It is a subscription option, not a list.
How do I unsubscribe/turn off mail delivery/switch to Digest mode/Turn off the monthly password reminders?
Go to the subcription management page for the list to which you subscribed, and use the appropriate section of that page. (It should be the second form on the page.) You can go to the subscription management page using the link which was e-mailed to you when you subscribed, or you can find the list on the Mailman server.
What’s up with the name “Project Wombat”?
Project Wombat was created to take over from the now defunct Stumpers discussion list. In May of 1994, several messages about wombats got caught in an endless mail-delivery loop and were sent repeatedly to subscribers. The word wombat became a joke, then a mascot, and finally a term for subscribers to the list. So when it was time to change the name of the mailing list, and we were going to be hosted by Project Gutenberg, there was an obvious choice...
Why is the word “Wombat” misspelled so often?
As mentioned above, the word “Wombat” is often used as a name for subscribers to the list, as in “Will there be any Wombats at the ALA Conference?”. In order to make sure that people searching the archives can differentiate between questions about real wombats and list members, the word is usually... creatively spelled when referring to list members. With the switch to Project Wombat, we are making an official recommendation: please use the spelling W0mbat, using a zero instead of a letter “o”. “W0mbat” is fully indexable, being just letters and numbers, and will never be mistaken for an e-mail address or split up by indexing software as the most common alternative, “Womb@t,” may.
I have suddenly stopped receiving any messages. What’s going on?
Usually this is a symptom of one of two things. Most commonly, you subscribed under an address which had been forwarded automatically to your new address, and the forwarding expired. (For example, if your address changed from “” to “”.) The other common cause of this problem is repeated bounced mail, because of a full mail account or mail server problems.
Try logging in to the server and see if your subscription is still active. If not, and you had another address which was being forwarded, try logging in with the other address as well.
If nothing seems to work, then send a message to explaining the problem.
Can’t I subscribe by sending e-mail?
Yes, you can. But supporting e-mail commands wastes a lot of time for list administrators, which slows everything down. If you’re familiar with Mailman e-mail control commands, then you can probably do everything without help. If not, just use the web interface instead. It’s fast, it’s easy, and you don’t have to worry which keywords the list processor will accept.
If I send you e-mail, will you subscribe me?
No. Unless, of course, you have already tried to subscribe to the list with the web interface and it failed. In that case, please write to and describe the error. We will subscribe you and, hopefully, fix the problem as well. Since the first thing we will try is using the normal web form, it probably isn’t a good idea to try this just to be lazy.
Can I help pay for the cost of hosting Project Wombat?
Actually, yes! We have a page about it which gives all the details.