Distribution lists at ETH

An overview of Sympa, MessageTree and Poor Man’s Spammer.


Sympa is an open source tool with extensive configuration options. Written in 1997 by the Comité Réseau des Universités CRU for French universities, it is currently in use all over the world. At ETH, there are presently 600 active mailing lists in Sympa.



Further Details


MessageTree was written in Perl by an employee of our own IT Services approximately in 2005. It is a hierarchical message distribution system with tree structure and recipient database. A subscription to areas of interest in the tree is only possible with nethz login. This shows that the software was written specifically for internal messages.



Currently MessageTree is used primarily for announcements from the IT Services regarding service availability and updates.
MessageTree is slated to be replaced as soon as Sympa provides the possibility of graphical registration in the hierarchical system.

Further Details

Poor Man’s Spammer

Poor Man’s Spammer was also written in Perl by an ITS employee around 2005. It is a message system for quick mass mailing. However, since the tool does not include a recipient database, recipients cannot subscribe and unsubscribe. It is primarily  intended as a service for sending emails to a strongly varying circle of recipients.


This is an abridged version of the German post. For the complete post, please visit the German blog.


Doris Tomaschewski-Walser, ITS Service Delivery





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