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Email Guide

Vanderbilt Divinity School Mailing List Usage Guide

This is a guide to the Vanderbilt Divinity mailing lists (sometimes called a LISTSERV). These mailing lists are created by Vanderbilt Divinity School staff to aid students and faculty in communicating with each other. Like all University resources, there are guidelines for appropriate use which all users should consider. 

The various mailing lists each have an intended audience, and communications should be appropriate and applicable for these audiences. All correspondence to the mailing lists should follow Vanderbilt University policies and guidelines. A current copy of the official Acceptable Use Policy can be viewed here:  Rather than repeat the content of this policy, this guide summarizes it for your convenience. For details, please refer to the full policy.

Acceptable Use

Please refrain from distributing information unlawfully.  The mailing lists should not be used for distributing copyrighted or defamatory material.

The mailing lists should not be used to distribute any confidential, Vanderbilt proprietary information or intellectual property.

Any messages sent to the lists should not violate Vanderbilt’s Student Honor and Conduct Codes.


The Divinity School is committed to an individual’s right to free speech. With this right, comes a responsibility to use the mailing lists with the rights of others in mind. When sending to the mailing lists, please think about the following.

You are accountable for what you say.
The mailing lists are not anonymous; therefore please try to be respectful and sensitive to other recipients.

The mailing lists have finite computing resources.
Please refrain from using the mailing lists to distribute large files (those over 1 or 2 megabytes). Each message sent can potentially go to hundreds of people – and attachments are duplicated for each recipient. Further, mailboxes often have space limits, and large attachments can push people over those limits. If there is a need to distribute large files such as pictures and video, consider instead making it available at an appropriate location online and sending a link instead.

The mailing lists are provided by the University.
Please try to keep messages either related to, or of interest to University students, faculty and staff. Personal correspondence should be sent directly via email. This is not to say that the lists cannot be used to advertise outside events – but consider any message sent as if from the point of view of the recipient. Would you want to receive this message? Is this message something appropriate to post on a bulletin board or in public?

Mailing List Moderation and Anti-Spam efforts

Most of the Divinity School mailing lists have enabled features found in the LISTSERV software to reduce spam. These mechanisms are not intended to be a means to review, edit, or censor the free speech of the subscribers. This section describes how these mechanisms work.

Message confirmation is enabled for all lists. This mechanism reduces the risk of someone else spoofing (impersonating) a subscriber. Once a message is submitted to a list, the LISTSERV software sends a confirmation message to the sender. The sender must reply to this message before the message can be submitted. In this way, a person cannot send messages to a mailing list pretending to be someone else (a common tactic of spammers).

Once confirmed, if a message comes from an address which is not also a subscriber of the list, it might be sent to a moderator for approval (depending on the list). In this way, people from outside the mailing list are able to send messages, however the message will be screened to ensure it is not spam. A moderator (staff member) will review the message to check whether it is spam or not before approving it. If approved, the message is sent to the subscribers. The moderators generally will not consider the content of the message except to evaluate if it is spam. However, if a message blatantly breaks the Acceptable Use Policy (pornographic, illegal, etc.), it is possible the message may be rejected on those grounds as well. Messages sent to a moderator for approval cannot be edited; they can only be approved or rejected.

There are repercussions to using the moderator approval model. A message will only be sent for moderation if the message comes from an email address which is not a current subscriber. In general, the email addresses subscribed to the mailing lists are the Vanderbilt email addresses (i.e. If a subscriber sends to the lists from a Gmail account to which they have forwarded e-mail, this will generally be seen as an outside sender, and will be sent for Moderation.

List moderators generally work standard business hours (8am – 5pm). If a message requiring moderation is sent after-hours or on weekends, it will likely not be reviewed and approved until the next business day. Please take this into consideration when sending time-sensitive e-mails from outside addresses.

If you have further questions about moderation, or any other aspect of the Vanderbilt Divinity School mailing lists, feel free to send email to the Divinity School IT support contact, or submit a support request at