Webster University Statement of Practice Regarding Unsolicited E-mail ("Spam")|
Updated May 11, 2004
Why do we allow spam in our e-mail at Webster?
While we make every effort to quarantine messages containing harmful viruses, it is not a trivial undertaking to block other kinds of unwanted e-mail while at the same time allowing legitimate messages to flow freely. Filtering out spam based on the sender's address or message content will always be imperfect, because e-mail addresses are ever-changing, and the possible combinations and spellings of objectionable words are nearly infinite. This makes it nearly impossible to reliably identify and block unwanted content.
If you consider that legitimate e-mail might also contain words that some users find objectionable, the potential for discarding valid email is very high indeed.
Attempting to preemptively filter out unwanted content is particularly unsuited to a University setting, where we must be careful not to infringe upon legitimate academic endeavors. Exercising prior restraint over any form of communication puts freedom of academic discourse at risk.
What does Webster University do about spam?
Rather than preemptively deleting spam, we add a "spam score" to every message that attempts to quantify the probability that the message is junk mail. You can see this score by choosing "View...Headers...All" (Netscape) or "View...Options...Internet Headers" (Outlook 2003).
By creating a filter in your e-mail program, you can automatically move messages based on content, spam score, and other attributes to a specific folder, or to your trash folder. You can also choose to move all messages from senders who aren't in your address book to a particular folder for review; this can work well if you keep your address book up to date.
This method allows you to choose the level of control that is exercised over the content of your e-mail, rather than forcing everyone to conform to an institutional standard that would likely be too strict for some and too lenient for others.
What can I do to protect myself against spam?
Instructions for creating e-mail filters in Netscape, Microsoft Outlook, Eudora, and Apple Mail are posted here:
If you have any questions about how to setup email filters, please contact the Help Desk at (314) 968-5995.
There are some other ways to protect your e-mail address from spam:
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