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Computing and Information Services

Frequently Asked Questions

List of FAQ categories

Email (General)

+How can I email all my students at once?

A mailing list can be created by following the instructions at:

+How do I find out what my Durham email address is?

Vist the user details web page at:

You will be prompted for your CIS username and password. Your email address will be displayed along with other useful information.

This web page is also available from the ITS Utilities menu on NPCS and MDS systems.

+How should I respond to unwanted email -- should I just delete or reply with unsubscribe?

It is a frequent occurrence to receive unwanted email messages, often advertising pornography or 'get-rich-quick' schemes. Many of these unwanted email messages inform you that you can "unsubscribe" or be "deleted" from the mailing list by replying to the sender. Our advice is that, in general, you should NEVER do this. By sending back an "unsubscribe" or "delete" message in response to an unsolicited email, you are confirming to the sender that your email address is valid, and that you are reading the email messages. This is most likely to cause your address to be added to more lists, and increase the unwanted email that you receive. Unless the unwanted email is itself pornographic or offensive, our advice is to just hit the DELETE button whenever you receive such a message. If the email is pornographic or offensive, please forward it to (always with the full message header information).

+I received spam that claims to come from my own address, has my account been compromised?

Keep in mind that most email headers are easily forged and may contain anything at all. Spammers use a variety of techniques to confuse recipients, presumably in an effort to minimize complaints. One such technique is to send their junk with headers that make it look like it came from the recipient.

Unfortunately, this is a common problem on the internet. This happens to all institutions and we are powerless to stop spammers from spoofing Durham email addresses to making users believe an email was sent from a certain address.

+Is it possible to set email groups by course code?

Yes, indeed we encourage this. Please forward details of the courses, lists, etc. to

+Is there any email best practice advice?

Please see the URL below for further details.

+What is Major Cool?

MajorCool is a WWW interface to Majordomo. It can be used if you are a list-owner wanting to change a list in some way. More details on Major Cool can be found at:

+What is the policy on e-mail filtering?

As a result of pressure from some users who felt ITS should do something to prevent the delivery of unsolicited unpleasant mail, Departments and Colleges were asked for their views. Many responses were received, both personal and representing Departmental/College views. Only a handful of individual responses were in favour of email filtering. Overwhelmingly, the view was that mail should not be filtered and the main reasons given were:

  • the University should not censor mail
  • it is difficult to define what constitutes 'unpleasant'
  • it is difficult to filter without losing mail which should be delivered
  • there are fears about slowing down the mail delivery process
  • spam and unpleasant mail is usually easy to detect and simple to delete

Consequently, the following University policy on the delivery of email was agreed at IT Strategy Committee on 11th February 2002. It is the users' responsibility to delete unwanted email. Email should be delivered without filtering but should be scanned for viruses. Mail that is SUSPECTED to be unsolicited junk mail (also known as SPAM) will be tagged as such in the message header. Such messages can be automatically filtered to a specific folder in most email clients and OWA but will still be delivered.

However in accordance with IT Strategy policy (minute 24(e),, a revised method for dealing with spam email has been adopted by the ITS mail gateways systems since Easter 2005. In addition to the user selectable method for filtering mail by a 'mid-range' spam score, an additional 'top-range' score has been introduced above which email will be discarded automatically. Unlike the existing opt-in filter mechanism, this top level discard will be an opt-out approach. In effect it will divide the spectrum of email spam score into three bands; a top band which will be automatically discarded, a mid range band which can be discarded or filtered into folders at the user's choice, and a low band which is assumed to be valid email and appears in the users inbox.

Trials of this approach indicate that 30-40% of email which would otherwise get delivered towards the user's account, is removed on entry to the campus network. Adoption of this approach has significant benefits to the efficiency of the email delivery process. Users wishing to opt out of this method altogether, which we do not recommend, will be able to do so by contacting the IT Service Desk