Use of AllMentors and AllUsers Lists
There are two large mail lists in use in the college, AllMentors and AllUsers. They were created to facilitate communications about day to day work, policies and procedures, and general announcements. The AllMentors list contains over 350 names; the AllUsers list includes every employee of the college, a substantially higher number of people.
In response to an intense discussion with and among members of the college community this spring, OIT set up a Mentors Discussion Forum and forwarded a number of AllMentors messages to the database. The Mentors Discussion Forum is intended to provide a mechanism in support of discussion on a variety of topics. To make the discussion database more visible to the community, we have activated the digest feature in the Mentors Discussion Forum. The digest is a weekly message about all recent posts in the database and permits readers to link directly from their email to the discussion.
The issues related to the decision to set up and forward messages to the Mentors Discussion Forum had to do with the length of the messages and of the responses to them. The volume that results is problematic at the server level as "traffic" and at the individual level in filling up the space in email accounts. And, a number of people have expressed frustration over the amount of email they receive. Using the Mentors Discussion Forum (with the digest feature activated) provides a single space for discussion and updates everyone on the mail list that there are new items posted.
We did not explicitly include the AllUsers list in the discussion last spring, but it clearly represents an even larger drain on resources when used for lengthy community discussion.
At this point, the college is implementing the following practices:
- All messages sent to the AllMentors list will go directly into the Mentors Discussion Forum.
- Messages sent to the AllUsers list will be forwarded to that list when they are time-sensitive announcements directly related to college business. All other messages will generate an automated response, outlining the alternatives available for communicating the sender's message (i.e., a discussion database, a more limited mail list, web announcement, etc.) and indicating a staff member to whom they can address a question about alternatives.
- Cabinet offices will have access to a mechanism for forwarding messages to the AllMentors list.
- Individuals who believe that their message deserves an exception will have the opportunity to send it to the appropriate VP who can then authorize it, if they wish to do so.
As a consequence of this change in practice, it is no longer possible to mail directly to either list as email.