Maillist Policies and Etiquette


Explore policies and best practices about the use of maillists at SFU.



This article outlines the policies and best practices about the use of maillists at SFU. You can find the following information on this page:



Note that University policy GP24, Fair use of Information Resources governs the use of all computing systems at SFU, including mailing lists.

  • Faculty and staff may create lists for instructional, administrative or research-related purposes. You may create lists whicb include digests, web archives, and/or authorized sending.
  • Faculty and staff may create a special type of list called a course list which automatically contains the registered students in a course.
  • Students may create lists that are related to course work, SFSS-recognised clubs, or student unions.


If you just need a list for a group of friends, create an address book entry in your e-mail program, rather than creating a mailing list.



Maillists are intended to be used in support of scholarly or work-related activity in accordance with University policy GP24, Fair use of Information Resources. When a list is created, it is activated by an IT Services staff member, generally within 24 hours (on weekdays), and you will be notified by email whether or not the list has been activated. Lists that have no apparent connection to any scholarly or work-related activity will not be activated.


Maillist names should indicate the purpose of a list. A good name encourages relevant contributions, discourages irrelevant mail from people who have nothing to do with the list, and generally helps to keep nuisance mail to a minimum.

The following will not be activated:

  • list names containing profanity
  • list names that are attempting to masquerade as some other entity in the system
  • list names that are silly, frivolous or appear to have no relationship to any scholarly activity
  • list names that conflict with the automatically populated "course list" naming patterns
  • "test" lists

Courselists are named in the format DEPT-# (eg. phil-100), DEPT#-SECTION (eg. phil100-d1), or in some cases, specifically CMPT courses, DEPT-#-SECTION (eg. cmpt-165-c1).

Section names are typically of the form of a letter designating the section type and a number indicating the section number. Avoid the use of the following patterns in naming your lists:

  • D#
  • E#
  • G#
  • H#
  • N#

For example if you request a list called engl100-g1 (meaning "ENGL100 project group 1"), it would be easily confused with a course list meaning "ENGL100 Graduate Section 1" and would not be activated. A name like "engl100-group1" or "engl100-chaucergroup" would better describe the use of the list and not be confused with a course list.

Lists that follow this pattern may not be able to be activated in general. Study groups/tutorials/etc within courses should choose names that don't conflict with course list names.

Lists created by students will only be activated if they clearly relate to course work, a SFSS-recognised club, or a student union. The course name/number (e.g. engl100 -- both department and number) or club name/acronym must appear in the list name, and the description should clearly indicate the purpose of the list.

Examples of correct names and descriptions for student run lists:

List Name Description
engl100-mygroup   Study group for ENGL100 -- Rudyard Kipling group
myclub-exec SFSS Club myclub Executives contact maillist

Note that there may be list names in the system that would not pass the above guidelines. They were activated before these guidelines were developed and should not be construed as evidence that a similar name will be accepted in future. Lists that existed prior to these guidelines may remain in the system as long as they do not cause any problems.

The web conferencing system, Sakai , is a possible alternative to a maillist.



It is strongly recommended that Sender Restrictions are activated. Doing so will reduce the chances of unintended email distribution or misuse of maillists. Typically, it is best to restrict sending to a specific group of individuals rather than allowing anyone to send to the maillist.

Under the Sender Restrictions tab, leave 'Restricted Sender' activated for both SFU and non-SFU users, uncheck 'Allow SFU members to send', and uncheck 'Allow non-SFU members to send'. You can then specify allowed senders under the 'Allowed Senders' tab.

For more information, please refer to the SFU Maillist Online Help document.



  • Never add someone into a mailing list without their consent.
  • Keep the volume of mail as low as possible; the e-mail system is a shared resource with limits on processing power and disk space.
  • Think through whether a reply needs to go back to the whole list; often a reply need go back to the sender only.
  • It is never approproate to send mail that is unrelated to the purpose of the list.
  • If someone sends unwelcome mail to the list, send a "please stop" reply back to the sender of the message only, not to the whole list. The idea is to give the sender negative feedback, not to deluge everyone else with junk mail.
  • If the discussion on a mailing list has gone badly off-track, it might help for the owner of the list to send a message restating the purpose of the list.




Article ID: 3872
Mon 7/4/22 5:30 PM
Fri 3/8/24 7:13 PM

Related Services / Offerings

Related Services / Offerings (1)

SFU Maillist is a web application designed to simplify the management of SFU email addresses. For email lists with External address, use SimpleLists or Campaigner