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.

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