Email List Standards

This document describes Email List service components provided by CSULB and outlines campus standards for Email List users. The Email List Standards intend to ensure appropriate use and effective maintenance of email lists.

All CSULB Email Lists will conform to these standards and comply with campus guidelines for email usage. Lists that existed before publication of the Email List Standards document and that do not conform to the standards may continue to be operational providing: a) the list is owned or sponsored by a CSULB faculty or staff member and b) the list conforms to campus guidelines for email usage.

Distribution Groups vs. Mailing Lists

Two resources, Distribution Groups and Mailing Lists, are available for managing mass email communication at CSULB. Both resources allow message distribution amongst a group; however, there are differences that can help determine which resource is most appropriate for message distribution.

A campus Distribution Group is recommended if all current and future list members (subscribers) will have email addresses. In contrast, a Mailing List must be used if any list members receive or will receive messages with non-campus email addresses, such as those from other universities or third-party consumer email systems. See the following overview of available features:

Can include email accounts and email accounts

  • Distribution Group = No
  • Mailing List = Yes

Designated list owner(s)

  • Distribution Group = Yes
  • Mailing List = Yes

Manage list with BeachID & password

  • Distribution Group = Yes
  • Mailing List = Yes

Archiving options

  • Distribution Group = No
  • Mailing List = Yes, by request

Listed in CSULB online directory

  • Distribution Group = No
  • Mailing List = No

Searchable in CSULB Global Address Lookup (GAL)

  • Distribution Group = Yes
  • Mailing List = No

Email List Usage & Activity

Any CSULB employee (staff, faculty, auxiliary) with a valid CSULB BeachID account can request creation of an Email List.

An Email List for a CSULB-related activity other than academic or administrative purposes may be permitted providing the list conforms to all CSULB email and email list guidelines and standards and poses no risk to CSULB. Membership in such lists must be voluntary. In addition, the list name must respect the trademark held by the University for the name "CSULB." Service-level agreements do not apply to such lists.

Individuals and groups outside of the University may subscribe to lists maintained at CSULB; however, they are not permitted to own Email Lists.

CSULB Email Lists are intended for distribution of messages related to CSULB academic or administrative functions, activities, and interests. In accordance with the campus guidelines for email usage, an Email List must:

  • Serve the mission of CSULB
  • Not violate CSU or CSULB policies
  • Be owned by at least one current CSULB faculty member or staff member

Campus Broadcast Messages
Messages to CSULB email lists that include all students, all employees, all faculty, all staff, or combinations of these groups must be approved or issued by the President, Provost, or a Vice President. (CSULB University Police has its own broadcast email mechanism for safety and security purposes only.)

CSULB Email Lists are not intended to be used for personal or commercial gain. An Email List must not be used:

  • To promote commercial products, services, or organizations which are not officially associated with the University; or
  • For purposes which violate University policies, local ordinances, or state or federal laws.

If a list will contain only addresses, an @csulb Distribution Group should be used instead of a Mailing List.

CSULB reserves the right to disable any Email List that adversely impacts email distribution list service, campus computing services, or CSULB, or if a list owner is not adhering to responsibilities detailed in these standards.

Active Email Lists
To be considered active, a CSULB Email List:

  • Must have a valid and active Owner @csulb email address
  • Must receive one or more valid (non-SPAM) postings within any 12 month period
  • For Email Lists with editors, the list must have a valid email address for at least one readily available editor

Inactive Email Lists
ITS may delete Email Lists that remain dormant for a period of 12 months, contain no members, contain only single members, or are being used to promote commercial organizations, without any notification. If an email list is being used to promote a commercial activity, enterprise, or organization, campus computing services for the list owner(s) may also be terminated.

Email List owners can request a list to be deleted by contacting their local technical support coordinator who will submit a ticket. Deletion requests must include the list name.

Email List service administrator(s) may periodically review email lists to ensure compliance with these standards. If a list is found to be out of compliance, an Email List service administrator may take reasonable steps to ensure prompt compliance.

Mailing Lists

A Mailing List must be used if any list members receive or will receive messages with non-campus ( email addresses, such as those from other universities or third-party consumer email systems.


  • List Administrator: Provides IT administration and list creation for the email list system. ITS serves as List Administrator for all email lists.
  • Owner: Adds/deletes list subscribers; approve (send) message(s) for list posting. By default, a college or campus unit technical coordinator is added as a secondary list owner to provide technical support for the list subscribers/users.
  • Editor: May create messages for a list
  • Moderator: May approve messages to be sent
  • Subscriber: A list member


  • Announcement List: Provides one-way email messaging—from list owner/editor to Email List members/subscribers.
  • Moderated List: Owners and moderators receive each list message and determine whether it will be posted to the list; list membership is available to those approved by a list owner.
  • Unmoderated Lists: Anyone can post messages directly to list and without owner/editor approval; list membership may be open or by request.
  • Discussion Lists: List subscription available by owner-invitation only

Mailing Lists are not created with archive capabilities by default. This feature may be requested upon list creation. If an archive is established, the List Owner is responsible for ensuring that archived messages and information are removed from the server in a timely manner. Refer to the Mailing List (LISTSERV) Owner's Manual for instructions about managing list archives.

Naming Conventions

An Email List address:

  • Must have a minimum of three characters
  • May not contain spaces ( ) or other special characters ( &, *, #, etc. )
  • May be alpha-numeric

Distribution Lists
Distribution Lists have an email address of List names follow the naming convention or (for example, ITS– (mailto:ITS– or

Mailing Lists
Mailing Lists have an email address of List names follow the naming convention or (for example, ITS– (mailto:ITS– or
Existing mailing list email addresses from the campus' legacy system will be retained; however, a retained name will become an alias to a new account, which follows the standard naming convention.

Owner Responsibilities

Email List Owner(s) provide Email List support to their list subscribers/members as well as list editors and moderators.
Email List Owners are responsible for day-to-day monitoring and operation of their list(s) and doing so in accordance with campus guidelines for email usage as well as state and federal law.
Since functionality of campus computing systems or servers can be adversely affected when problems or issues arise with an Email List, list owners are required to perform certain activities, including the following, to maintain their lists and provide subscriber support:

Email List Maintenance

  • Add and delete subscribers and other roles, as available, such as editors and moderators
  • Decide what constitutes appropriate discussion threads and keeps subscribers on topic
  • Safeguard the usefulness of the Email List
  • Moderate list discussions
  • Interpret and resolve "bounced" mail, error delivery messages/information
  • Respond to requests made by the campus-wide list administrative service manager (ITS)
  • Address errors related to their Email List(s) such as email loops (from vacations messages or incorrect forwarding) bouncing from bad email addresses, and take reasonable and timely action to remove/unsubscribe an email address when off-topic/inappropriate messages are received
  • Notify ITS or a local technical coordinator when a list is no longer needed
  • Maintain Mailing List configuration
  • Ensure editors and moderators understand and adhere to their Mailing List roles and responsibilities.

Individual Subscriber Support

  • Advise individuals about the Email List's purpose and how to unsubscribe themselves.
  • Serve as the initial contact for subscribers with questions or problems and providing list subscriber support
  • Respond to subscribers' requests for removal from the list in a timely manner
  • Assist subscribers with subscribing or unsubscribing to the list
  • Teach subscribers how to use Email Lists
  • Provide help for subscribing, setting options, unsubscribing
  • Update and correct address changes
  • Help individuals on their list understand that the email lists are subject to all University email policies

Requesting a New Email List

An Email List can be requested by contacting a local technical support coordinator who will submit a request to ITS on behalf of the campus requester. Email List owners are responsible for creating and maintaining their list membership (subscribers). Submit the following information to initiate an Email List request:

  1. Owners: Every Email List must have at least two owners–a primary owner and a secondary owner. If no secondary owner is specified, an associated college or campus unit technician/technical coordinator will be designated by default.
  2. Email List Address: Include a desired list name that adheres to the naming convention described above.
  3. Email List Display Name: Provide a name that describes the list and that can appear in the "From" address field when members receive email messages sent from the list. For example URD-Japanese Garden might have a display name such as, Earl Burns Miller Garden Events or CSULB Japanese Garden Events.
  4. For a Mailing List, include List Type: Mailing List Types include Announcement, Discussion, Moderated, and Unmoderated. See the Mailing Lists entry above for more list type information.

Text Formatting & Images in Email List Messages

Email List messages sent that contain images or formatting such as colors, bold, italic, underlining, etc., are not guaranteed to be seen by recipients with the formatted text or images. If formatting is critical to a message, use an alternative method to communicate the information. For example, include an Accessible PDF attachment or a link to a web page that contains information with desired formatting.


Automatic Subscriptions
Campus employees and students are automatically subscribed to and may not opt out of campus email lists used to send mass broadcast emails for official University communication. In addition, a list owner may be authorized based on his or her campus function to populate a list with University faculty, staff, and/or students of a college, department, course, etc., (for example, an authorized departmental administrator may create lists that include staff members in his or her department, an authorized faculty administrator may create lists of students, etc.).
Opt-in Subscriptions
An individual's email address is not added to an opt-in membership email list unless: the individual has self-subscribed to a list, or the individual has sent an email request to be subscribed to the list.


CAN-SPAM is a 2003 federal law that applies to commercial email. It was passed to control spam electronic mail messages. Spam is unwanted, unsolicited junk email. While spam is typically sent to a large number of recipients usually promoting a product or service, the CAN-SPAM Act is not limited to bulk email; a single commercial email can qualify.

Does CAN-SPAM apply to campus email?
Yes. The Federal Trade Commission has made it clear that just because an email comes from a not-for-profit organization, this does not mean that the message is exempt. The primary purpose of the email determines whether it is bound by CAN-SPAM or not.

What are Commercial Emails?
Commercial email means "any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose)." Commercial emails are emails that typically promote "for profit" or "revenue generating" activities; for example:

  • Reservations for a spring break tour or alumni cruise
  • Tickets for sporting and cultural events
  • Subscriptions to journals or magazines

How do I know whether my email's primary purpose is commercial?

  • If the email has only commercial content, then the primary purpose is commercial.
  • If email has both commercial content and content that is neither commercial nor "transactional or relationship," then the primary purpose is commercial if either:
    • A recipient reasonably interpreting the subject line would conclude that the message advertises or promotes a product or service, or
    • A recipient reasonably interpreting the body of the email would conclude that the primary purpose of the message is to advertise or promote a product or service.
  • Relevant factors for evaluating the body of the email are:
  • The placement of commercial content at or near the beginning of the body of the message
  • How color, graphics, and type style and size are used to highlight the message's commercial content.

My email's primary purpose is commercial, now what?
The CAN-SPAM Act requires that all commercial emails have the following characteristics:

  • Opt-out ability - There must be a clear and conspicuous notice in the body of the message explaining how recipients can "opt out" (i.e., prevent the transmission of future messages) by using the sender's return email address or Internet-based reply. CSULB, or the responsible line of business or division, must honor "opt out" or unsubscribe requests within ten (10) business days of such request's receipt.
  • Valid return address - The email must contain a valid return email address or Internet-based reply mechanism that will function for at least thirty (30) days following the transmission of the message.
  • Valid email information - The sender must make sure that the header ("To," "From," "Subject/Topic," etc.), transmission, and routing information of the email are not false or misleading to a reasonable recipient.

Additional Requirements of CAN-SPAM

  • CSULB must not sell, exchange or otherwise transfer the email addresses of recipients who have made an "opt out" or unsubscribe request, except as is necessary to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. Therefore, CSULB cannot knowingly help another entity send email to the address of someone who has opted-out, or have another entity send email to the address of someone who has opted-out, or have another entity send email on NIU's behalf to that address.
  • The CAN-SPAM Act prohibits certain methods of generating email lists:
  • Harvesting electronic mail addresses of the users of a website, proprietary service, or other online public forum operated by another person, without the authorization of such person.
  • Using dictionary attacks and other automated, random methods of generating email lists.
  • Knowingly relay or retransmit unlawful commercial emails from a computer that the sender has accessed without authorization
  • Using scripts or other automated means to register for multiple email or online user accounts from which to send (or allow another person to send) unlawful commercial email.


  • By its terms, CAN-SPAM preempts all existing state spam laws, except for state laws that prohibit falsity or deception in any portion of commercial email.
  • In addition to the preemption provision, the CAN-SPAM Act specifically states that it does not have any effect on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of any ISP policies regarding the transmission or handling of email. Accordingly, an ISP may enforce more stringent policies regarding the use of its services.
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Article ID: 58035
Mon 7/23/18 1:39 PM
Thu 5/13/21 3:52 PM

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Mailing List (LISTSERV) is an email list service when members of the list contain non-campus email address (non, such as those from other universities or third-party consumer email systems, such as Gmail and Yahoo. This service is only available to campus employees.