Content filtering

Mailman can filter the content of messages posted to a mailing list by stripping MIME subparts, and possibly reorganizing the MIME structure of a message.

>>> mlist = create_list('test@example.com')

Several mailing list options control content filtering. First, the feature must be enabled, then there are two options that control which MIME types get filtered and which get passed. Finally, there is an option to control whether text/html parts will get converted to plain text. Let’s set up some defaults for these variables, then we’ll explain them in more detail below.

>>> mlist.filter_content = True
>>> mlist.filter_types = []
>>> mlist.pass_types = []
>>> mlist.convert_html_to_plaintext = False

Filtering the outer content type

A simple filtering setting will just search the content types of the messages parts, discarding all parts with a matching MIME type. If the message’s outer content type matches the filter, the entire message will be discarded. However, if we turn off content filtering altogether, then the handler short-circuits.

>>> from mailman.interfaces.mime import FilterAction

>>> mlist.filter_types = ['image/jpeg']
>>> mlist.filter_action = FilterAction.discard

>>> msg = message_from_string("""\
... From: aperson@example.com
... Content-Type: image/jpeg
... MIME-Version: 1.0
...
... xxxxx
... """)

>>> process = config.handlers['mime-delete'].process
>>> mlist.filter_content = False
>>> msgdata = {}
>>> process(mlist, msg, msgdata)
>>> print(msg.as_string())
From: aperson@example.com
Content-Type: image/jpeg
MIME-Version: 1.0

xxxxx
>>> msgdata
{}

Similarly, no content filtering is performed on digest messages, which are crafted internally by Mailman.

>>> mlist.filter_content = True
>>> msgdata = {'isdigest': True}
>>> process(mlist, msg, msgdata)
>>> print(msg.as_string())
From: aperson@example.com
Content-Type: image/jpeg
MIME-Version: 1.0

xxxxx
>>> dump_msgdata(msgdata)
isdigest: True

Simple multipart filtering

If one of the subparts in a multipart message matches the filter type, then just that subpart will be stripped.

>>> msg = message_from_string("""\
... From: aperson@example.com
... Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=BOUNDARY
... MIME-Version: 1.0
...
... --BOUNDARY
... Content-Type: image/jpeg
... MIME-Version: 1.0
...
... xxx
...
... --BOUNDARY
... Content-Type: image/gif
... MIME-Version: 1.0
...
... yyy
... --BOUNDARY--
... """)

>>> process(mlist, msg, {})
>>> print(msg.as_string())
From: aperson@example.com
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=BOUNDARY
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Content-Filtered-By: Mailman/MimeDel ...

--BOUNDARY
Content-Type: image/gif
MIME-Version: 1.0

yyy
--BOUNDARY--

Collapsing multipart/alternative messages

When content filtering encounters a multipart/alternative part, and the results of filtering leave only one of the subparts, then the multipart/alternative may be collapsed. For example, in the following message, the outer content type is a multipart/mixed. Inside this part is just a single subpart that has a content type of multipart/alternative. This inner multipart has two subparts, a jpeg and a gif.

Content filtering will remove the jpeg part, leaving the multipart/alternative with only a single gif subpart. Because there’s only one subpart left, the MIME structure of the message will be reorganized, removing the inner multipart/alternative so that the outer multipart/mixed has just a single gif subpart.

>>> mlist.collapse_alternatives = True
>>> msg = message_from_string("""\
... From: aperson@example.com
... Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=BOUNDARY
... MIME-Version: 1.0
...
... --BOUNDARY
... Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=BOUND2
... MIME-Version: 1.0
...
... --BOUND2
... Content-Type: image/jpeg
... MIME-Version: 1.0
...
... xxx
...
... --BOUND2
... Content-Type: image/gif
... MIME-Version: 1.0
...
... yyy
... --BOUND2--
...
... --BOUNDARY--
... """)
>>> process(mlist, msg, {})
>>> print(msg.as_string())
From: aperson@example.com
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=BOUNDARY
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Content-Filtered-By: Mailman/MimeDel ...

--BOUNDARY
Content-Type: image/gif
MIME-Version: 1.0

yyy
--BOUNDARY--

When the outer part is a multipart/alternative and filtering leaves this outer part with just one subpart, the entire message is converted to the left over part’s content type. In other words, the left over inner part is promoted to being the outer part.

>>> mlist.filter_types = ['image/jpeg', 'text/html']
>>> msg = message_from_string("""\
... From: aperson@example.com
... Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=AAA
...
... --AAA
... Content-Type: text/html
...
... <b>This is some html</b>
... --AAA
... Content-Type: text/plain
...
... This is plain text
... --AAA--
... """)

>>> process(mlist, msg, {})
>>> print(msg.as_string())
From: aperson@example.com
Content-Type: text/plain
X-Content-Filtered-By: Mailman/MimeDel ...

This is plain text

Clean up.

>>> mlist.filter_types = ['image/jpeg']

Conversion to plain text

Some mailing lists prohibit HTML email, and in fact, such email can be a phishing or spam vector. However, many mail readers will send HTML email by default because users think it looks pretty. One approach to handling this would be to filter out text/html parts and rely on multipart/alternative collapsing to leave just a plain text part. This works because many mail readers that send HTML email actually send a plain text part in the second subpart of such multipart/alternatives.

While this is a good suggestion for plain text-only mailing lists, often a mail reader will send only a text/html part with no plain text alternative. in this case, the site administer can enable text/html to text/plain conversion by defining a conversion command. A list administrator still needs to enable such conversion for their list though.

>>> mlist.convert_html_to_plaintext = True

By default, Mailman sends the message through lynx, but since this program is not guaranteed to exist, we’ll craft a simple, but stupid script to simulate the conversion process. The script expects a single argument, which is the name of the file containing the message payload to filter.

>>> msg = message_from_string("""\
... From: aperson@example.com
... Content-Type: text/html
... MIME-Version: 1.0
...
... <html><head></head>
... <body></body></html>
... """)

>>> from mailman.handlers.tests.test_mimedel import dummy_script
>>> with dummy_script():
...     process(mlist, msg, {})
>>> print(msg.as_string())
From: aperson@example.com
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain
X-Content-Filtered-By: Mailman/MimeDel ...

Converted text/html to text/plain
Filename: ...

Discarding empty parts

Similarly, if after filtering a multipart section ends up empty, then the entire multipart is discarded. For example, here’s a message where an inner multipart/mixed contains two jpeg subparts. Both jpegs are filtered out, so the entire inner multipart/mixed is discarded.

>>> msg = message_from_string("""\
... From: aperson@example.com
... Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=AAA
...
... --AAA
... Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=BBB
...
... --BBB
... Content-Type: image/jpeg
...
... xxx
... --BBB
... Content-Type: image/jpeg
...
... yyy
... --BBB---
... --AAA
... Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=CCC
...
... --CCC
... Content-Type: text/html
...
... <h2>This is a header</h2>
...
... --CCC
... Content-Type: text/plain
...
... A different message
... --CCC--
... --AAA
... Content-Type: image/gif
...
... zzz
... --AAA
... Content-Type: image/gif
...
... aaa
... --AAA--
... """)

>>> with dummy_script():
...     process(mlist, msg, {})

>>> print(msg.as_string())
From: aperson@example.com
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=AAA
X-Content-Filtered-By: Mailman/MimeDel ...

--AAA
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Converted text/html to text/plain
Filename: ...

--AAA
Content-Type: image/gif

zzz
--AAA
Content-Type: image/gif

aaa
--AAA--

Passing MIME types

XXX Describe the pass_mime_types setting and how it interacts with filter_mime_types.