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Mailing List Service Policies and Guidelines


Stanford's Mailing List service is provided and maintained by University IT. To prevent misuse of this service, University IT reviews list names, list purposes, and patterns of use to ensure that usage conforms to established policies.

Please review these Mailing List policies before you begin using the service:

  • The @lists service is bound by the general Computer and Network Usage Policy as well as the Fundamental Standard. Please read these policy documents.
  • Mailing list service usage is "opt in" by policy. This means that you must have the person's explicit permission to add their email address to your list.
  • A list using @lists services is a privileged use, not a right. Lists may be shut down, have their address name modified, etc., by the administrators of the @lists system without the consent of a particular mailing list owner if resource usage, verifiable complaints, and/or eminent University business requires it.
  • The mailing lists service is not recommended for automated alert notification. If you must use a list for alert or report notification, please be sure to set a conservative notification interval. To protect general use of the list service, a list that uses excessive resources, may, without notice, be shut down and excessive messages removed.
  • A list owner is responsible for keeping list member addresses current and active and for managing issues with their list. Any list that fails to have an identifiable active Stanford community member as an owner/administrator may be shut down without notice.
  • A list owner is responsible for providing first-level support to list subscribers. This includes assistance with subscribing to and unsubscribing from lists, and responding to questions about list policy and charter.
  • The @lists system administrators do not monitor the system for content but will respond to complaints from list users/members if/as necessary.
  • All lists at the @lists service should have a defined charter. A list without a defined charter (a charter can be placed in the list information file) may be subject to being shut down without notice based on general verifiable complaints.
  • Spam mailing and/or repeated verifiable off-topic postings are potential grounds for removal from any and all @lists lists, including list ownership.
  • The @lists service is not to be used for general bulk mailings, nor one-time use lists.
  • @lists lists are not to be used for non-University (i.e., unrelated) business. This service is a campus resource for the campus community.

Usage recommendations

  • Place a list charter within the list information file. Define the topical focus of the list and the general acceptable language level of the list (business only, personal discussion encouraged, etc.).
  • Do not use mailing lists to distribute calendar invitations.
  • Norms learned in a particular e-mail environment may not apply in general to your email communication with people across the Internet. Be careful with slang or local acronyms.
  • Be aware of what you are sending (size, content, etc.) and to whom you are sending it. Sending someone mail may also cost them in other specific ways like network bandwidth, disk space, or CPU usage in ways that may or may not be costs that apply to you as a sender.
  • Consider that a large audience will see your posts. That may include your present or your next supervisor. Take care in what you write. Remember that mailing lists are frequently archived, and that your words may be stored for a very long time in a place to which many people have access.
  • Assume that individuals speak for themselves, and what they say does not represent their organization (unless stated explicitly).

  • Messages and articles should be brief and to the point. Don't wander off-topic, don't ramble, and don't send mail or post messages solely to point out other people's errors in typing or spelling. These, more than any other behavior, mark you as a beginner.
  • Attach a signature to your message. This will guarantee that any peculiarities of mailers which strip header information will not delete the only reference in the message of how people may reach you.
  • Don't send large files to mailing lists when links to the file will do. If you want to send multiple files, be sure to follow the culture of the group. If you don't know what that is, ask.

  • If you are caught in an argument, keep the discussion focused on issues rather than the personalities involved.
  • Don't get involved in flame wars. Neither post nor respond to incendiary material.
  • Avoid sending messages which are no more than gratuitous replies to replies.
  • Be careful with monospace fonts and diagrams. These will display differently on different systems, and with different mailers on the same system.
Last modified December 14, 2015