These secondary guidelines provide general orientation in the IT Services web page system and other facilities. There is no obligation to comply with these suggestions but note that a file recovery fee will be chargeable if files are lost for any reason other than failure of IT Services systems, also that file recovery is not necessarily possible when files have only been in the system for a short time.

1. Account Management

When you use the IT Services self-registration facilities on https://register.it.ox.ac.uk/ you must give the society's account name and password when prompted.

If you have previously used a Webauth authenticated service in the same browser session you will be connected under the previous account name. To get round this, either close all sessions using the same browser then start a fresh session, or you could open a completely different browser program when using your Society account.

You need to manage the account as follows:

  • Forwarding: when the account ownership changes the new owner should check for any unwanted forwarding setting and set a new one if required. Follow Set or update Nexus mailbox settings on the self-registration page, then select Email forwarding address settings.
  • Web space setup. Most accounts will have been set up correctly with a public_html directory. This may be missing from older accounts. If so, log in to the Linux account and give the command makeweblinks . If you still have problems please contact the IT Services Help Centre.

2. Web site

  • Loading files using secure FTP. Connect to host linux.ox.ac.uk and give the society's Single Sign-On username and password. The public_html directory is the home directory for your web site. The file for the home page should be called index.html or index.shtml (alternatives such as default or home are not recognised automatically).
  • You are strongly advised to keep a private copy of your web pages. If the live site is your only copy, you may lose files if an updating error is made or if you hit your disk quota limit.
  • Web quota. Go to https://register.it.ox.ac.uk/accman/web/ to see your usage, soft quota and hard quota values. You will be unable to load files to your web space if usage exceeds hard quota, or if it has exceeded soft quota for more than 7 days. Note that when you are in this situation, an attempt to replace an existing file in situ will leave the file empty on the live web site. It is therefore very important to keep a backup copy of the entire site in case any files need to be retrieved. The units are KiB (kibibyte = 1024 bytes). To get your quota values in MiB, add 1023 then divide by 1024 and discard the remainder.
  • When prompted for your username and password, give the society account details. If you are not prompted and the quota information is not from the society account, then your browser has remembered a previously-used account name. You can either close all copies of that browser then restart it, or use a different browser.

3. Email address

  • Only the official email address should be advertised for email or shown on outgoing messages. Alternative versions may stop working when central email systems are updated.

4. Mailing lists

  • Please obtain an Ezmlm mailing list for any routine mailings to more than about six people.
  • Distribution lists (where each message carries the address of every recipient) are inefficient as well as being inconvenient for the recipient. There are also privacy issues which may breach the Data Protection Act.
  • If the Single Sign-On account is only used to support the mailing list, please ensure that any email it receives is monitored, or forwarded to an address which is monitored regularly (more than once a month). Email to the society's central email account will be your only warning that account or password renewal is required.
  • Management of the mailing list is tied to the Single Sign-On username, so the list will automatically be transferred when there is a change of committee, but it will be deleted if the account lapses.
  • Any general mailing list should have the society's username as list name. Any other lists should have names starting with the username. This helps IT Services to deal with any queries from future committees.
  • See the following major section for details of mailing list configuration.

5. Account Expiry

  • When the username lapses, it will not be possible to view or update the web pages, to read email delivered to the account, or to use the interactive account. Email to the Society account should be monitored regularly and you should be sure to make contact with IT Services Registration if you receive a warning of username expiry. The warning will allow you one month to re-register.  It may be convenient to set forwarding to a personal account which is monitored regularly, but care should be taken to update the forwarding when there is a change of committee.

6. Guidelines for Society/Club mailing lists.

This information generally has secondary guideline status but a small number of points, clearly indicated, must be treated as primary guidelines. In some options, there is different guidance for the society's main discussion list and for special lists such as committee members only.

To manage lists for the Society, any authorised user of the Society account goes to https://maillist.ox.ac.uk/ and logs in using the Society's Single Sign-On username and password. For each list, the following management facilities are offered:

  • Configure
  • Subscribers
  • Moderators
  • Allow Posters
  • Deny Posters
  • Text Files
  • Sublog
  • Managers

The following sections describe recommended settings for Society accounts.

6.1. Configure options

Select configure for the principal configuration settings for the mailing list.

Set the options you require and then use the Make Changes button at the bottom of the page. In some cases, you have to switch on the main option first before you can set other options associated with it.

6.1.1. Configure options - Archives

The following settings can be enabled or disabled.

  1. All messages to be archived.
  2. Only moderators are allowed to access the archive.
  3. Archive access requests from addresses which are not subscribed to the mailing list will be rejected.
  4. Archives will be available for public web browsing.

For the main Society mailing list, option 1 must (primary guideline) be switched on so that all messages are archived. This allows the full message history to be traced if any dispute should arise in connection with the list. The other options can be set according to the society's needs. For lists restricted to the Committee or other small controlled groups, archiving may be desirable but it is not essential.

6.1.2. Configure options - Subscribers

The following settings can be enabled or disabled.

  1. List will respond to any subscribe and unsubscribe requests and allow public archive retrieval.
  2. Subscription requests to the mailing list and digest will be passed to the moderators.

For special lists, such as committee members only, it may be best to switch off both options and add email addresses of list members manually via the main Subscribers function.

If it is practical for you to check all subscription requests, enabling both options allows your moderators to control who joins the mailing list. You need to name one or more moderators for this to work.

Switching 1 on and 2 off will allow anyone to subscribe to the list. In this case, you should review the subscribers list, at least monthly (primary guideline), to check for anything unusual, particularly any concentration of names from a single outside organisation. If there is a problem with unwanted subscribers, it is sensible to have subscriptions moderated as above, at least temporarily.

The proportion of non-University subscribers to the list should be controlled, as for the number of non-University members who are allowed into membership of the society. As a rule of thumb, the number of addresses ending in ox.ac.uk should be at least 80% of the total (primary guideline).

6.1.3. Configure options - Posting

"Posting" is sending a message to the list. The following settings can be enabled or disabled.

  1. Posts from addresses other than those in the "Allow Posters" list will be rejected.
  2. Posts to the mailing list from addresses in the "Deny Posters" list will be rejected
  3. All posts to the mailing list will be moderated.
  4. Posts from addresses other than moderators will be rejected.
  5. Allow subscribed email addresses to post to the list.

For a general members' list which is only for sending information, the people allowed to post should be placed in the moderators list and the above settings should be 1-2 off, 3-4 on, 5 off. Posters will have to moderate their own messages, but this protects against their email addresses being forged.

For a general members' list which is a discussion forum, ideally the settings should be 1 off, 2-3 on, 4 off, 5 on. All postings will be moderated (you must enter at least one email address in the moderators list) but anyone can post a message unless they are temporarily in the "deny posters" list. If you wish to exercise the "deny posters" option, you should be sure that your society's constitution allows for this. If it is not practical to moderate all postings, option 3 can be switched off, but you should be prepared to switch it back on, or to set the list temporarily as an information-only list as above, if any undesirable postings start to occur. If serious problems are reported to IT Services, or if the committee requests help in controlling a difficult situation, IT Services will if it appears necessary reconfigure the list so that only the Senior Member can post messages until any dispute is resolved.

For more private lists, such as committee members, you may wish to be more relaxed about moderating messages (e.g. 1-4 off, 5 on), but remember to set the Subscribers options (see above) to stop any other people adding themselves. Note however that if you do not moderate messages, there is a risk of forged messages being accepted.

6.1.4. Configure options - Others

Please see the Other Options section of the EZMLM list owners' guide for additional details.

  1. A prefix such as the list name can be added at the front of the subject for all messages. This is useful for the recipient, to distinguish list messages from personal messages.
  2. A minimum and maximum message size can be set. A non-zero minimum size prevents empty messages from being sent accidentally, and the maximum reduces the risk of filling a subscriber's INBOX if the list gets very active.
  3. A trailer text can be added at the end of each message, for example including unsubscribing information so the list administrators are not bothered with trivial queries.
  4. Stripping unwanted message-types. You are recommended to restrict messages to plain text, which is acceptable to all browsers and consumes the least storage space. Pictures etc can be placed on the society web site and a link included in the email message.
  5. Remove or add email headers, for example to control "Reply-to:" options.

6.1.5. Configure options - User Notification

Notify new subscribers when they are added via the web interface. The text that is sent is called "sub-ok"; to edit it see the "Text Files" section.

6.1.6. Configure options - Settings

These are mainly for fine-tuning the Others options above.

  • Spam filtering: it is a sensible precaution to enable spam filtering. The default level of 5 is suitable in most cases.
  • Moderation time: maximum time a message will wait to be moderated. If you have a limited number of moderators, you may wish to set this to at least 192 hours (8 days) to allow for absences. You have to select option 3 in the "Posting" section, for this to have effect. When the list is moderated any messages not accepted or rejected by a moderator within this period of time will be rejected automatically.
  • Mime types to strip from all outgoing mail: when you select option 3 in the "Others" above, a default list of message-part types will be inserted. This list is usually appropriate as it stands.

6.2. Subscribers

  • This option is used to add or remove subscribers manually, or to view the subscribers list.
  • To ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act it is usually advisable to provide information, on your website or terrmcard, about the purpose of the list and how people can subscribe themselves, rather than adding users manually. This also avoids problems due to mistyping email addresses.
  • Detailed instructions are displayed when you select the Subscribers option.

6.3. Moderators

  • Moderators are trusted email addresses who can accept or reject requested mailing list actions, such as subscribing or posting.
  • If you specify any activity to be moderated, you must have at least one moderator, otherwise the action will automatically be rejected.
  • Operationally, it is similar to the Subscribers page.

6.4. Allow Posters

  • See also Configure - Posting.
  • This can be used to make a list of the only email addresses allowed to post to the list.
  • Alternatively it can name people who are allowed to post to the list but do not want to receive all the messages sent to subscribers.
  • Operationally, it is similar to the Subscribers page.

6.5. Deny Posters

  • This can be used for email addresses which are allowed to remain as subscribers to the list but are not allowed to post to it.
  • Operationally, it is similar to the Subscribers page.

6.6. Text Files

  • These are the templates for messages sent automatically when mailing list actions are performed. You can edit any messages to suit your needs.
  • See the sub-ok message for a good example (this is sent when a new subscriber is added manually, if Configure option User Notification is switched on).

6.7. Logs

  • This page shows the history of all additions and removals in the subscribers list, whether manual, user-requested, or arising from recurrent failure of the email address.

6.8. Managers

  • The owner of the list is the society account. Anyone authorised to use that username and password can manage the list using the society username. Therefore access to the list is automatically transferred when a new committee is registered with IT Services.
  • Additional users can be allowed to manage the list by adding their Oxford username to this list. They can be allowed to view the subscriber list, to update it, or to have full access to the list configuration. Particular care should be taken about granting the third option. It may be more useful to name additional people as moderators if the administration of the list is time-consuming.
  • The new committee should check the Managers list when taking over the Single Sign-On username, and remove any managers who are no longer required.

7. Knowledge and Training

The Regulations of the Rules Committee now require that the IT Officer and Webmaster for a Society account (and anyone else registered to use it) shall have an appropriate level of IT knowledge, to be supplemented by IT Services training facilities if necessary.

You can assess your level of IT knowledge by taking some of the tests at the web site http://learnit.ox.ac.uk/. The following tests at the Fundamental IT Skills level are relevant:

  • Windows Fundamentals
  • File Management Fundamentals
  • Web Use and email Fundamentals

or an equivalent level of knowledge if you do not use the Windows operating system. Your score will indicate whether you should undertake additional training.

The following tests will also be relevant if you intend to use the particular facilities:

  • Word Fundamentals: if you will use a word processor, for example to create a simple termcard.
  • Excel Fundamentals: if you will use a spreadsheet, for example to keep a list of members and subscriptions paid.
  • Access Fundamentals: if you will use a database, for example to record special interest groups within the membership.

Account users should familiarise themselves with the information indicated in the following subsections.

7.1. Email

  • Nexus web interface: whether or not you normally use the Nexus web interface, you should familiarise yourself with its facilities for setting the forwarding of messages to another account and for setting a vacation auto-reply during periods when nobody will be available to answer messages. If the account will not be used directly for email, forwarding should be set to an active account (usually the IT Officer's) to ensure that any administrative messages, such as warning of account expiry, are received. Check that these options are set appropriately when a new committee first takes over the account.
  • Netiquette: remember that the ICTC Regulations apply to Society accounts, and Network Etiquette should be followed as for personal accounts.

7.2. Web site

  • Content: general advice is in the IT Services Guidelines for Web Information Providers.
  • Specific Rules: on your webpage, do not include the name of the University in the title of your Society, or use the University crest, unless you have obtained the relevant permission. Do not imply that the University will take legal or financial responsibility for Society activities.
  • Advanced features: you are not expected to learn more advanced web page features such as CGI programming. If you have the relevant knowledge and want to use advanced facilities, give thought to possible maintenance problems in future years.
  • Production: for creating web pages, you should have knowledge at least to the level of the IT Services training course Web publishing: Essentials of creating web pages. If you do not have experience of producing web pages, you should attend this course. Additionally, Dreamweaver: Introduction will be relevant if you intend to use this software. IT Services also provides more advanced courses in Dreamweaver if you wish to build more sophisticated web pages.
  • Accessibility: it is desirable for the Webmaster to be aware of the issues covered in Web publishing: Essentials of creating web pages regarding design factors relevant to disabled users.
  • Publishing: to make your web pages available, see section 3 of the IT Services General Guide To Personal and Societies Web Space at Oxford. Check your space usage from time to time as explained under Secondary Guidelines above.

7.3. Linux account

The linux account provides Unix processing capability and secure storage of 500Mb. This could be used to save backups of Society records, such as membership data, even if the normal processing is with Windows utilities such as Excel. This may be particularly useful at Committee handover time. Account users are not expected to have any in-depth Unix knowledge. Direct use of Unix facilities may cause long-term problems if the next Committee does not have the relevant specialised knowledge. Files can be uploaded and downloaded using a secure FTP (sftp) program such as SSH Secure File Transfer Client.

7.4. Data Protection Act

As non-commercial organisations, Societies will not usually need to register under the Data Protection Act 1998. However, anyone handling information about living people, for example membership lists, is a Data Controller for purposes of the Act and does need to comply with the Data Protection Principles. See the official Government web site if you think you may need to register. A summary of the principles is in the Regulations and Notes of Guidance issued by the Proctors and Assessor. It is important that your data is secure (backed-up) and kept private - if you have your own computer, ensure that all valid usernames (such as Administrator) have a private password. Physical backup media must be locked away. If a public computer is used, programs must be closed properly and any data placed on the hard disk must be deleted (and the Recycle Bin or equivalent emptied) before you leave the computer.