Once a unit of the university no longer exists, is re-branded, merged or split and wants to use a different email domain, the old email domain begins a process of being wound down and mail sent to it will eventually fail to be delivered.
Some people have argued that the old addresses should be allowed to run indefinteley. Academic staff who have used the same address for many years, have it published in numerous publications and registered with world wide contacts, can feel particularly disadvantaged. However, there are several reasons why we should do this.
- Reputation. It does not look go for the university, if someone is using an address e.g. @radiology.ox.ac.uk when the university no longer has a dept of Radiology. Others could question how good the university was at managing any of its other data.
- There are overheads in maintaining a email domain. By 'law', each domain must have a working postmaster@domain email address - this needs to be checked periodically.
- There can be confusion/complexity when people return to the dept after a gap and only have the new address.
- The MX domain registration has to be maintained and periodically audited. ie adhoc requests from postmaster of the form Is this domain still used?
In the past, when a domain mail address change was an rare event, the addresses were wound down over 2 years. However, because of the ongoing administrative overhead of winding down domains, 12 months is the ideal upper limit. To put this into context, if an individual moves dept or changes their name, their old email address will work for only 2 months. There is lot to be said for make limiting the old address to 2 months once the new address has become the default, even for domain wind downs.
- Alternative is added - new addresses are added for each person belonging
to the new unit, and for the unit generics, so they can start to be used immediately. No
new people are assigned the old address (the unit is marked as univ opt 6 in the
Registration Database- a unit in wind down - this value gets into
ldap.oak). Users should notify their contacts of a change of address e.g. but putting it in a signature file.
- New address is made the default. The timing of making the new unit the default sending address on Nexus and being the address that get passed to other depts is done in consultation with the Department - usually the administrator and ITSS. The default sending address on IMAP email clients will be unaffected.
- Personal automated warning sent An automated warning message 3 months before email address expiry is sent to the people affected. People themselves should search for the occurrence of the old address in recent incoming messages in INBOX and contact the senders. (Postmaster may be able to provide ITSS with lists of people who are receiving mail or sending mail to/from the old address.)
- Email address fail All mail sent to that domain will fail to be delivered.
- Tailored failure message It is possible to set up a tailored failure
message such that people sending to the domain can get e.g. "You emailed
email@example.com"This is not something that is configurable per person- it is for the whole mail domain and has to be requested by the department.
- The domain is de-registered by Postmaster. This can happen at any time. The tailored message has rapidly decreasing value over time and has the disadvantage of returning potentially good addresses to spammers. Suggest 6 months as the default, if a tailored message is set up - other wise as soon as possible after the addresses fail.