Group Email – Hints and Tips

mailinglistEmail has become an integral tool for business communications.  However, using email to communicate among a group can be challenging.  Here are some ideas for more effective communication and collaboration within a team or other UCI community.

For small groups and short-term issues, a simple cc: list and “reply all” can get the job done, but when the number of recipients grows, communication becomes disjointed as people reply to different messages in a chain, respond to different drafts of a document, accidentally share comments intended for one recipient to the whole list, and other inefficiencies.

Mailing lists (provided at UCI by the Mailman software) are a convenient method for communication among a large group or interest community.  Lists can be configured to be for announcements only (list members see official postings but cannot reply), moderated (anyone can reply but the list administrator has to approve a reply before it is distributed), or open discussion.  You can request a new mailman list on the OIT Web site.  Administrators can build a list of recipients, or potential subscribers can add and remove themselves from a list as interests change.  Recipients are spared a chain of “Please remove me from this list” email messages which can result from using cc: addressing.

Beyond simple group communications, there are collaboration tools such as UCI Google Groups.  With collaboration software, you don’t have to send email attachments around – teams can work on a single on-line copy of a document together, discussing ideas in email, or attaching comments directly to the document.  Access to the document is tied to membership in the group, so as people join and leave the team, the ability to participate in discussions or change team documents follows in parallel.

If you have questions or wish assistance in using group communication tools, please contact the OIT Help Desk.


New Zotmail System

ZotmailAdministrative Policies and Records, working with OIT, has developed and released a new edition of Zotmail, the campus system for sending email announcements to faculty and staff.


Among the many features of the new Zotmail system are an easy-to-use interface (senders can more easily create and customize messages; everyone else can more easily control which Zotmail messages they receive) and a searchable archive for looking up past Zotmail releases.

Zotmail Lists

All employees are added to the Zotmail system as soon as their payroll records are created and the employee has selected an email service (“delivery point”).  Employees are automatically enrolled in a core set of official communications channels related to their affiliation (e.g., faculty, staff, main campus, School of Medicine), lists for Schools and other campus units, and certain other informative lists including:

  • Staff Assembly
  • UCI Brief
  • UCI in the News
  • UC Irvine Magazine

Employees can then use the Zotmail system to modify the lists they receive messages from.  There are certain lists (emergency communications and mandatory information relating to employment at the university) from which you cannot unsubscribe.

Mailman Lists

Many of the lists that were part of the old Zotmail system are now supported by the Mailman service, which is better suited to special-interest forums such as:

For more information on Zotmail and campus mailing lists, contact or call x42222.

Mailing List for Palm Users

A discussion list for users of PalmOS-based PDAs at UCI has been created. Topics include Palm PDA software, firmware, hardware, and add-ons like carrying cases, cameras, GPS systems, and so on.

If you currently own a Palm PDA or are considering purchasing one, please join us at

Mailing lists dedicated to other technologies are available as well. There are lists for the major platforms (Macintosh, Linux, Windows), research software (Mathematica, Matlab, SAS, SPSS), and UCI software services (Oracle Calendar, Webfiles).

A selection of useful lists can be found at:

You can find the full (very long) list of UCI mailing lists at:

Mailing List Service

A mailing list distributes electronic mail to a list of “subscribers.” This service provides a convenient means to exchange ideas and information among people with a common interest.

Mailing lists can be configured according to several distribution models, defining who may send messages and under what circumstances. Mailing lists can also store all messages associated with their lists in archives, and allow readers to search these archives.

Each list has a “list manager” who, depending on the needs of the list, controls the subscriber list, approves messages for distribution, and adjusts the characteristics of the list. Mailing lists at UCI are meant for instruction, research, and administration and must be sponsored by a faculty or staff member.

NACS supports mailing list software called “Mailman.” Mailman gives each mailing list a unique web page and allows people to subscribe, un-subscribe, and change their account options over the Web. Mailman also enables list managers to control a list entirely over the Web.

Most mailing lists are open to the entire campus community. The main Mailman page shows the lists available at UCI. By clicking on the name of a list, you can find out more about it, as well as subscribe to or unsubscribe from the list. You should join a mailing list if you would like to communicate with others on campus or receive announcements about services that interest you. To learn about current mailing lists, visit:

A detailed handout for mailing list administrators is available for download in PDF format.

New Mailing List Software

Many UCI communities make use of electronic discussion lists to send announcements and to foster communication among group members. Such communications are facilitated by “list management software,” such as the Listserv service NACS has provided to the campus for many years. This software tracks and controls who subscribes to which lists, who can post to which lists, and other administrative tasks.

NACS is pleased to introduce a new list management package called Mailman that offers significant improvements and simplifications compared with Listserv. Mailman provides a web interface to each mailing list, including facilities for list managers to administer lists and for individuals to subscribe, unsubscribe, or adjust their subscriptions (e.g., choose delivery options). Mailman also allows access to list archives to be limited to subscribers and provides many other useful features not present in Listserv.

Your subscription to NACS News, which has long been a Listserv list, has been automatically transferred to the new Mailman list. You can manage your subscription to this and other lists NACS sponsors at

Please see if you manage a Listserv mailing list that you would like to convert to Mailman, if you would like to start a new mailing list, or if you would simply like to know more about Mailman.