Recognizing that mass e-mails are often used as an information and marketing tool, the Office of Information Technology has published these guidelines to assist the university community in deciding whether and/or how to use mass e-mailing functionality.
First, keep in mind that spam or junk mail is often defined as "the mass electronic distribution of unsolicited e-mail to individual e-mail accounts". Most users do not want to receive unsolicited or irrelevant e-mail; therefore it is prudent, as a first step, to evaluate the usefulness and necessity of your message.
Second, the Can-Spam (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act of 2003 went into effect in January of this year (2004). This act requires, among other things, that unsolicited commercial e-mail messages be labeled and include opt-out instructions and the sender's physical address.
Third, sending out mass unsolicited e-mails increases the risk of our campus e-mail system being added to a number of banned e-mail server lists. Many organizations and internet service providers block e-mail from systems on these lists, so all e-mail communication from our campus would be severely disrupted. Getting off these spam lists is a lengthy and costly process, so we want to avoid it at all costs.
OIT recommends the following guidelines when sending mass or group e-mails:
- E-mail distribution lists should only be "opt-in". That is, the user should have been clearly informed that providing you with their e-mail address is acknowledgment that he/she wishes to receive unsolicited e-mail from you.
- A conspicuous "unsubscribe" link must be included in every e-mail. Any unsubscribe request must be honored within ten days.
- Generally use the "blind copy" option when sending e-mail to a mass list to avoid the mass distribution of everyone's address.
- The "From" line should be from you or your department/unit account and not a marketing message.
- Include your full address within every e-mail message.
- Subject lines must be descriptive in nature about the content of the e-mail. Don't try to trick recipients into opening e-mails. There are specific civil penalties about the use of deceptive subject lines.
- E-mail should only be used for official university business with the University-business-related purpose of the communication clearly stated in the message. (Things such as bake sales, money drives, and holiday greetings do not qualify as official campus business!)
- Chain e-mails are not allowed. A chain e-mail is any type of message that asks you to forward a message to a certain number of users to hopefully gain money, good fortune, etc.
- Messages should be clear and concise - no more than one page. Additional information may be made available via a link in the text of the e-mail.
- Do not include attachments of any kind. Attachments are often sources of viruses and may be incompatible with a recipient's system.
- Do not use special fonts, different colors, graphics or pictures in your message.
- Any mass e-mail should be approved by the unit or area supervisor before distribution.
- Test the e-mail first by sending it to yourself or a UWP colleague. (The "junk mail rating" can be seen by looking at the message header. We currently label anything over 4.0 as junk, which is the typical default for most spam rating systems.)
If you are unsure about whether or not a message should be sent, run it by your IT Support person or a member of the OIT Network Staff for critique and analysis.
Thank you for your cooperation.