Mass Email Use and Abuse

The following document is an interpretation of the University’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). Mailings that are acceptable under this document may violate the AUP in other ways. Also, messages that are not acceptable under this document may, in certain circumstances, be acceptable. If you are unsure, please call 2-5800 or email the IT Services Service Desk.

When sending email to more than a handful of people, great care must be taken to make sure that the mail is not sent to people who do not wish to receive it. Additionally, a message that is sent that does not follow the guidelines below can cause serious performance problems on the University’s mail servers.

For the purposes of this document, any mail message that is being sent to more than one hundred people is mass mailing. Additionally, any mass mailing that has not been specifically requested by the recipients is a bulk mailing.


General help for sending email to lots of people

If a message is destined to more than two dozen people, the message must not display the list of recipients. The usual way of handling this is either to send it to a mailing list run on a mailing list server (such as the University’s mailing list server) or to blind carbon copy (using the bcc header) the message to the recipients.

Using a mail alias, nickname, or group address book entry from within your mail program or putting the addresses on the to or cc line is not enough. Doing so may well cause problems on the mail server if people reply to the whole group.

Some mail servers (for example, the University’s main email server) put a limit the number of recipients in a single mailing. This does not mean that you may necessarily send a message to one fewer people than that limit without it being a violation of the AUP.


Mass Mailings

Email messages being sent to more than one hundred should be opt-in mailings. That is, the recipients of such mailings must have specifically requested the mailing (generally via some sort of sign-up sheet or web page). Additionally, anyone should be able to opt-out of the mailings at any time.

It is possible to subscribe people to a mailing list as part of a service. For example, the Department of Athletics could require the people who have gym passes to be subscribed to a mailing list. Similarly departments may require their staff to be subscribed to a mailing list; instructors may require their students to be subscribed to a mailing list.

If this is being done, the person being subscribed should be notified when either when they sign up for the service or when subscribed to the list.

Such mailing lists should be moderated such that all messages destined for the list are sent to the moderator(s) for approval before being distributed to the members of the list.

If the list of people is being used for more than a handful of mailings, the preferred way to send these sorts of messages is via a mailing list on the University’s mailing list server.


Bulk Mailings

Under certain circumstances, unsolicited email messages may be sent to large numbers of people, possibly the entire University community. These messages require special approval before being sent and must be sent via the University’s bulk mail service.

This approval process ensures that the message is of such import that it is necessary to send to recipients regardless of their preferences, and also that the message is sent in such a way that it does not put undue stress on the University’s mail system and network and thereby violate the AUP.

All such mailings are approved by the CITO of the University. Before the CITO approves such mail, they should be recommended for approval by an appropriate member of the University community. The person making the recommendation must have oversight over the population being emailed.

For example, if someone wants a mail message sent to the entire Social Sciences Division, the message should be recommended for approval by the Dean of the Social Sciences. If the message is destined for the entire faculty, it should be recommended for approval by the Office of the Provost. Messages destined for the entire University must be recommended by the President’s Office.

If you wish to send a bulk email, or want more information on the approval process (including the list of people who may recommend a message for mailing) please visit Self-Service Bulkmail or email the Bulkmail Request List.


Mass Mailing Abuse

Abuse of the mail system in the ways outlined in this document constitutes a violation of the University’s Acceptable Use Policy. Violators may be referred for disciplinary action to the appropriate University body. Access to University information technology resources may be denied without notice until the issue has been resolved.

Please report any violations to