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UCSF Communicators Network Resources

LISTSERV email mailing lists

The LISTSERV system enables you to send e-mail to multiple recipients using a single e-mail address. The School uses LISTSERVs to simplify the distribution of e-mail messages to large audiences. There are four important things to know about LISTSERVs:


LISTSERVs require approval

In order to reduce the amount of spam you receive, many LISTSERV mailing lists require approval.

How message approval works
  1. When you post a message to a mailing list, the server sends you a copy of the message asking you to approve—or confirm—that you sent the message.
  2. You review the contents of the message to ensure that it was created by you, then click the hyperlink provided. (If for some reason the hyperlink doesn’t work correctly, use the alternate method: reply to the message with OK in the body of the message on its own line.)
  3. The message is then distributed. Typically, you receive another message which confirms that your message was delivered.
How this stops spam

Fraudulent messages, such as spam and messages created by computer worms, fool the mail server into thinking the message was created by someone who is a member of the mailing list. Without message approval, these messages would get distributed to everyone within seconds or minutes. With message approval in place, you might still receive an approval request for one of these fraudulent messages. If you get one of these messages, simply delete the approval request and the message will not be distributed to the entire mailing list. Also, if you forget to confirm a legitimate message you send, it will not be distributed to the mailing list.

These changes do require an extra effort for everyone who posts a message, but they have proven to reduce the amount of spam.

Messages with attachments totaling 4 MB or more will not send

The LISTSERV system currently does not permit you to send attachments larger than 4 MB. If you do, your message will be returned to you as undeliverable, and it will include an error message similar to the following:

#< #5.0.0 X-Spam-&-Virus-Firewall; message size 14267863 exceeds size limit 4194304 of server 64.54.132.10[64.54.132.10]> #SMTP#

You can send attachments up to 25 MB to individuals, but 4 MB is the limit when sending to our mailing lists.

The workaround

To work around this limitation, split your large file into multiple files or use a way other than email to share your file. For example:

Don’t provide a LISTSERV email address, just grab the link

When you upload your files, these services might ask you for an email address that should be notified of the availability of the download. However, they cannot send download notices directly to our mailing lists—they’re outside services, and they’re not allowed to post. So do not provide a listserv email address—it won’t work. Instead:

  1. Ask the service to send the download notice to you.
  2. Log in to your UCSF email account.
  3. Find the message sent by the service that includes the download link.
  4. Copy the download link.
  5. Create and send a new message addressed to your class mailing list.
Keep confidential information secure

Outside services should not be used when sharing confidential information such as protected patient health information, student or employee records, credit card numbers, or social security numbers. If you need to share confidential information to a group, call the IT Service Desk at 415/514-4100 for advice. This number is available 24/7 including University holidays.

Don’t send secure e-mail to LISTSERVs

The LISTSERV system is not compatible with Secure E-mail. If you accidentally send a secure message to one of our LISTSERV mailing lists, simply ignore (delete) the message approval request. To send a message securely to a large group, you must do all of the following:

  1. Know which e-mail accounts you plan to send to are and aren’t on the UCSF Exchange e-mail system. If you’re not sure whether a particular e-mail address is or isn’t, ask that person. Or, ask your computer support coordinator, your degree program’s administration office, or your supervisor.
  2. Separate the e-mail addresses you need to send to into 2 groups: (a) those using UCSF Exchange, and (b) those not using UCSF Exchange
  3. Use a distribution list to send to those using UCSF Exchange. (See Create a distribution list for details).
  4. Use UCSF Secure E-mail to send to those not using UCSF Exchange.

Unfortunately, there is currently no way to send a secure e-mail message to receipients who use UCSF Exchange and recipients who do not use UCSF Exchange using a single message.

Text formatting is not guaranteed

If you create an email message with formatting such as colors, bold, italic, or underlining, that formatting might not be seen by your recipient because the LISTSERV system does not guarantee support for formatted text. Formatted text (sometimes called rich text) sent to a LISTSERV mailing list has been known to work when composing your message in recent versions of Outlook for Windows (but your settings must be set correctly). If formatting is critical to your message, use a different method to communicate your message. For example, include a PDF attachment or send a link to a web page that contains your message.


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