Excessive Distribution List Use
November 1, 2010 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Email Distribution Lists: we set up a bunch of distribution lists at work and guess what? They started off real useful, and now they've spiraled out of control and their effectiveness has been eclipsed by users receiving excessive amounts of email traffic. How do we get out of this? Shut them down? Police them? Re-train?

I'm trying to find the best way of dealing with this - I don't want to shut them down, but I'm a bit cynical that re-training will reduce the email volume for long. Bottom line is that most users can cite situations in which they're not sure who should be informed, and so inform everyone - a degree of insecurity, a degree of a$$-covering.

Is there any hope? Can we come back from this? Are distribution lists more trouble than they're worth? Is this a common tale? Would policing be effective, and how would this work?

Any wisdom on this matter would be most appreciated - thanks!
posted by forallmankind to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For a number of large distribution lists, my employer has a set "moderator" of the lists who reviews each e-mail before it is sent to the list. Once it is approved, it goes out. If it is not approved, well, I imagine the moderator sends a note to the original sender to the effect of the e-mail not being appropriate/right/proper/correct use of the list and to either revise, as necessary, or contact individuals, well, individually....

You could also set up a chart regarding who gets what information. Our deans office did this recently for curriculum changes by mapping out for everyone under what circumstances which people get which information. It's been very helpful. I'm sure for something that is pretty set in terms of who gets what info, that could be useful. But it won't be feasible to do it for EVERY situation.
posted by zizzle at 10:17 AM on November 1, 2010

Publish a "NEW" policy for such lists. Explain exactly (and truthfully) why it is being implemented (people inundated with emails, so they're ignoring useful information in the onslaught).

Suggest that, if a project/team/department wants to make frequent mailings, they create two lists: GROUPNAME_HIGH_PRIORITY and GROUPNAME_INFO. That way, members can choose whether to receive the high-volume mailings, or just the important stuff (meeting notifications, policy changes, etc). Emphasize that discussions DO NOT belong on the HIGH_PRIORITY list; replies and questions should be handled on the INFO list (although important answers might be sent out on HIGH_PRIORITY, such as if a meeting was scheduled for the wrong day).
posted by IAmBroom at 10:41 AM on November 1, 2010

Response by poster: Those are really great ideas - thanks!
posted by forallmankind at 10:57 AM on November 1, 2010

Part of the problem is the lists themselves.

Set the lists into small modules, managed by a person within that module. Aggregate lists up into larger modules (by geography, function etc).

That way, if someone just needs to email the local group, they can.

For the larger email groups, set your moderator. This stops people sending company or office-wide emails without good cause.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:25 AM on November 1, 2010

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