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Good Practice Rules for Mass Mailing

E-mail provides a quick, convenient way to get through to a large audience for a variety of purposes. However, while most users will be in agreement about the nuisance of receiving spam mail [1], many may not consider the consequences of sending mail to a large number of addressees.

Any mass mailing that can be deemed unsolicited, no matter with what good intentions it might have been sent, may provoke negative reactions in a portion of the recipients. As there is a steadily increasing number of messages sent which no one would hesitate to define as "unsolicited bulk e-mail" (UBE), a series of measures have been taken to prevent such occurrences (for a detailed discussion see SPAM/UBE).

One of these countermeasures hinges on blocking messages sent from sources showing up in so-called blacklists, that is, directories of known or suspected originators of spam. These blacklisting services differ in quality, and sometimes it seems easier to get in than to get out of them. What needs to be understood is that if an unsolicited mass mailing directed to external addressees should result in blacklisting, it is not the single user's address that is blacklisted, but the whole eui.eu domain. This means that all mail from EUI users addressed to an institution relying on that particular filter would be blocked until the organizations concerned could be convinced to remove us from their blacklist.

In view of this very serious risk, as well as more general considerations on the less than enthusiastic reactions that an unsolicited mass mail may elicit from the recipients, we offer below some "rules of thumb" to observe when sending a mass mail either within or outside the Institute.

 

Recommendations

  • Whenever you first send out messages, newsletters, or the like to recipients you haven't contacted before, ask them for agreement ("opt-in") to any future mailings, and do not continue to send such messages where a positive reply has not been received.
  • Any mass mailing sent to external contacts should always offer an "opt-out", that is, recipients should be asked whether they would like to be removed from the address list used in the case of future mailings. Responses to the opt-out should be scrupulously respected.
  • Out of respect for privacy, the individual e-mail addresses of mass-mail recipients should be hidden from all other recipients, especially in the case of external mailings. This can be achieved by using the Bcc: ("Blind carbon copy") field (see Making the From Field Visible).
  • An appropriate "Subject:" line should be included in any mass mail.
  • Consider whether it might not be more suitable to offer your information on a Web page and distribute a short mass mail message only for the sake of publicizing the URL where those interested in the subject can find the details you want to communicate. 
  • Use of internal EUI Distribution Lists (DLs) appearing in the Global Address List is restricted to those EUI members authorized and enabled to send mass mail for strictly Institute-related matters. Permission to send to DLs should never be used for the sake of expressing political statements, personal opinions, conducting personal business, or making unverified public service announcements such as virus alerts.

Attention to all the various points raised above will help to safeguard the e-mail system, the image of the EUI vis-à-vis the rest of the world, and your own and your department's relations with correspondents, while taking advantage of the possibilities offered by modern e-mail.

 

 

[1] Unsolicited electronic messages sent in bulk. See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/spam.

 

Page last updated on 03 July 2019