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Guidelines on sending bulk email

What is bulk email?

A bulk or mass email is one that is sent to a large number of people. Unwanted bulk email is usually referred to as Spam or UBE (Unsolicited Bulk Email). This is a mass email where the recipient has not opted in to receive emails.

An exception to this is where receiving an email is part of you position as a member of staff or as a student, for example a departmental mailing list.

What problems can bulk email cause?

When bulk email is sent, there are a number of possible consequences:

  1. Our outgoing email servers may get added to a blacklist. Email from us may then be rejected from other email servers. It can take several days for this to be remedied and may cost the University money.
  2. It may damage the reputation of the University, or your department/cause, if mass email is seen to come from you.
  3. They can cause problems with some mail servers.
  4. Bulk email is likely to get marked as Spam, and so not get delivered to the recipient. If people see that an email has been sent from a source that they suspect of being Spam, they may well not read it.

Can I send unsolicited bulk email?

No. Unsolicited Bulk Email goes against the University AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) and also the AUP of JANET (the Joint Academic Network):

"Irresponsible use wastes these resources.....includes playing games and abuses of news and electronic mail facilities, such as the sending of chain, junk or bulk e-mail."

(From the University Calendar.)

"17. [It is unnacceptable to engage in the] Creation or transmission of unsolicited bulk or marketing material to users of networked facilities or services, save where that material is embedded within, or is otherwise part of, a service to which the user or their User Organisation has chosen to subscribe."

(From http://www.ja.net/company/policies/janet-aup.html, the section on Unacceptable Use)

You should not send mass email to people who have not requested that they receive it.

Can I send solicited bulk email?

Sending bulk email is not recommended unless it is absolutely necessary. If it is sent it must meet third criteria:

  1. The recipients have opted in to the email. This means that they have asked to receive it. If you send a mass email it is your responsibility to ensure that the recipients have opted into the list and as such it is unwise to use lists from third parties.
  2. The sending of the email does not impact or damage the email systems either at the University or elsewhere.
  3. The email should be kept short and to the point. It should be sent in plain text and not include unnecessary formatting or images.

You should consider how necessary the email is though. Many people consider bulk email to be impolite. Often they will simply delete it, and using mass email when it is not important often means that all bulk emails will be ignored, and more important messages may not get through.

If you have any queries or have any doubts about a mass email, you should contact ITS Help for further advice.

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Last Edited: 19 April 2016 | First Published: 4 November 2014

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