Mailman Policies

Last updated: May 9, 2023
Audience: StudentsInstructorsStaff

This information applies to: Old Mailman New Mailman

General policy

Mailman is a resource provided and operated with Washington State funds. Its use is governed by federal and state laws and policies, as well as University of Washington policies. You may establish and use Mailman lists only for activities related to UW research, education, or administration.

Mailman lists may be established for UW students, faculty, or staff who need a list to further their work at the University. Staff ownership and use of Mailman lists is subject to the approval of their departments and supervisors.

All Mailman lists must have at least one owner who is a current UW student, faculty, or staff. Additional owners do not have to be affiliated with the UW; however, all Mailman list owners must have a valid UW NetID, such as a sponsored UW NetIDAny list without a current UW student, faculty, or staff owner will be removed from the server by the system administrator.

Mailman lists that are not used for a period of two years will be removed from the server. Mailman class lists are removed after one year, regardless of activity.

Mailman owners agree to properly maintain their lists. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Email lists are intended for discussions and announcements created and sent by humans, not alerts generated by computers. Using a mail list to send system-generated messages can quickly lead to volume issues (see last bullet point above). Please ensure that you are using your Mailman lists to send only messages created by people, not machines.

These procedures are important because they help keep email flowing smoothly and keep the UW from being blacklisted as a source of spam. If list owners do not follow these procedures, they risk having their list disabled. UW Information Technology will issue advance warning to list owners before disabling the list. However, if a list is not properly maintained and causes the UW to be blacklisted, the list will be disabled immediately.

See Appropriate use guidelines for more information on usage policies and our Mailman Data Retention Policy for details about what content is retained and for how long.

Archive Policy

Archive size limit

Archives must be under 500 MB. If your list archive is 500 MB or larger, you will be asked to reduce the size by deleting messages or removing attachments.

Archive policy

Effective December 1, 2020, UW-IT will delete Mailman archives older than two years. This effort supports institutional priorities to reduce risk. After the initial removal of archives, this policy will be implemented on a monthly basis; as archives age beyond two years, they will be deleted.

Note: Mailman users are responsible for maintaining any content associated with a retention policy.

In order to comply with the University’s retention and email policies, we strongly encourage you to review the content of your Mailman archives, saving only the content that is still subject to retention, rather than simply downloading and storing all contents. Review the University Email Policy.

UW Records Management Services recommends storing exported messages with continuing retention requirements in a persistent, shared repository so that they can be located, accessed, and deleted per the retention schedule. Review these University-supported options for online storage.

See the Mailman archive FAQs for information on archives.

Data retention policy

Mailman owners are responsible for ensuring that emails with continuing retention requirements are transferred to a local storage location such as a network drive. For more information, see UW’s retention schedule.

Examples of items that can be created and/or stored.
  • UW NetID
  • Email address
  • Email messages and attachments
  • Name (optional)
  • Application/transaction logs
What happens if an item is manually deleted?

Mailing lists that are deleted by their owners will be deleted immediately. Note: Owners with list archives of 500 MB or larger will be asked to reduce archive size via deletion or removing attachments.

Does anything ever get automatically deleted? To maintain a functional operating environment for Mailman, UW-IT periodically deletes obsolete lists and messages, per the following criteria:

  • A list will be deleted if
    • It hasn’t been used in two years, and;
    • The owner has not responded to notifications to keep it active.
  • Class lists are retained for three quarters; at the beginning of each quarter, class lists from the same quarter in the prior year will be deleted.
  • Lists that are never used will be deleted when they are at least one year old and the owner has not responded to notifications to keep it active.
  • Archived messages older than two years are deleted.
  • To practice good Mailman hygiene, we periodically remove moderators who are no longer affiliated with the UW and who do not have email forwarding turned on.
If a user is no longer authorized to use Mailman what happens to their profile data and items they’ve created?

Mailman does not store a user’s profile data, so it cannot be deleted.

Mailman lists created by a user will persist as long as it has at least one owner who is affiliated with the UW.

A user’s mailing list posts and responses will persist as long as a list is active and the owner has chosen to maintain it in an archive.