City of Seattle Electronic Conferencing, Mailing List, Wiki, Blog Services Policies for List Owners and Subscribers

August 5th, 2008
Table of Contents


This document sets forth the policies for appropriate use of the City of Seattle electronic mailing lists/blogs/wiki and threaded discussion services. These are the cities Internet communications software technologies in use. These policies are intended to ensure the responsible and acceptable use of the electronic communication resources provided by the City of Seattle (the City). This policy applies to all employees, contractors, volunteers, subscribers and other individuals who are provided access to these resources. These resources are to be used only for purposes authorized by the City.

The safety and security of the City's network and resources must be considered paramount when using these resources. User passwords are confidential (See privacy information later in this document). It is the user's responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of their password(s). Individual users can be held accountable for use of their account by others.

All data and other electronic messages within this system are the property of the City. This includes all of the material and records created, transmitted or stored by this resource. Records stored on or transmitted via the City's electronic mailing list services, blog services, wiki services, and threaded discusions are generally subject to disclosure under the Washington Public Disclosure Act, unless non-disclosure of a particular record is either permitted or required by applicable law.

The City reserves the right to change this policy at any time.

This policy mainly focuses on the Lsoft mailing list software and will be expanded as needed to encompass blogging and wiki efforts at the city.

Glossary of Terms

Mailing Lists provide the primary structure for the services referred to here. In short, Currently mailing list services are provided by Lsoft software. A mailing list may be a one way announcement list or a two way discussion list.

Account A validated email account in the Lsoft web interface
Announcement List A list that subscribers can receive messages from. Messages are sent by the list owner and require validation. Synonymous with broadcast lists in functionality.
Blog A web log that allow conversational topics to be posted to the internet
Discussion List A list allowing all users to both receive and post messages. In short this is a two way conversation. Some discussion lists are moderated and messages may require approval by the list owner or editor before they are forwarded to the entire group of subscribers. Discussion lists are most useful where back and forth discussion of a topic would be useful or where a number of subscribers may have information to share with others.
Guest A user of list services without an active subscrition. All users of city lists are subscribed users at this writing.
Internet Communications Software For the purpose of this document this currently includes mailing lists, blogs, wikis, and threaded discussions that occur on the cities internet platform or any hosted services the city retains to enable these functions.
Listserv A general term describing a service that pools recipients under one email address, enabling a message sent to the list address to be transmitted to all subscribers or members of that list. Listservs can be one-way for announcements or two-way allowing response and discussion.
List owner A person within an organization or department who administers a list. List owners can add, delete, or modify email subscriptions to the list. They also troubleshoot problem with the list and escalate issues up to Lsoft maintainers or postmasters.
LSOFT The specific brand of software used by the City to provide announcement and discussion services.
Maintainer Overall manager of the Lsoft Software.
Postmaster High Level system admins of the hardware and software that maintain connections to complementary services. Also email destination of last resort.
System Administrator Person responsible for overall control of the Lsoft software. Synonymous with Lsoft maintainer and Postmaster.
Wiki A quick quick way for a group of people to share editing on a web page related to a common topic

Section A. Setting up Lists

  1. Domain authority
    1. The Department of Information Technology (hereafter referred to as DoIT) mailing list system administrator(s) grants and establish the technical infrastructure for mailing lists. This includes,, and subsequent domains and services. DoIT maintains ultimate control and rights over all mailing lists. DoIT may delegate to specific organizations or individuals specific responsibilities for list and other sub-services enabled by DoIT's electronic list system administrator(s).
    2. The DoIT system administrator will provide lists for each city department upon request.
    3. List owners will be the designated managers of their lists. A list may have more than one list owner
    4. DoIT may initially make lists available to a non-City entity (government or non-governmental entity) [See Section A2(c) and (d) for approval guidelines]
      1. Additional lists may be negotiated based upon approval of appropriate City of Seattle sponsors, need, demonstrated capacity of the organizations to appropriately manage their mailing lists, relevance to city service goals, and capacity of the city to support increased services.
      2. Lists made available for use by non-governmental entities should be as part of an overall contractual or other arrangement with the entity to provide the City with public services (See 2(d)).
  2. Who is allowed to set up mailing list and with whose permission?
    1. Mailing lists will be established per Section A.1 as approved by DoIT.
    2. Other governmental bodies may be granted a maling list by request of a department director and with the approval of a designated City of Seattle Department Director where the list to be established supports the goals and services of the City of Seattle.
    3. DoIT may enter into agreements with community based organizations to manage a mailing list as represented by their executive director, Board of Directors president or other designated leader and with the approval of a designated City of Seattle list owner or Department Director where the list to be established supports the goals and services of the City of Seattle.

Section B. List Management Required

All electronic list services provided by the City are established to address specific topics. All mailing lists must be managed to ensure they stay on topic and follow policy guidelines. Some mailing lists may also be moderated to the extent that each message travels through the moderator for approval prior to distribution. This option is implemented at the discretion of the list owner(s) subject to the approval by the system administrator.

The list owner as appropriate shall determine the scope of the mailing list, who is allowed to participate.

Section C. Adding and Removing Users

  1. Privacy.
    The City of Seattle respects the needs and rights of residents to control their electronic communications and the volume and type of information coming into their home, business or organization. DoIT, mailing list managers, and all users must abide by the City of Seattle's Online Privacy Policy with regards to subscriber information. For operation of the list and user accountability, users may be required to provide at least a valid email address.
  2. Opt-in policy.
    Generally we expect list owners to subscribe only those who request subscriptions. DoIT will not add users and list owners shall not add users to a mailing list unless:
    1. They are a current member of an existing list being transitioned to the services of
    2. The site postmasters will be represented as default subscribers in all lists on
    3. They elect to subscribe via web, email or sign-up form that describes what they are registering for.
    4. The City director of communications or director of emergency operations determines for reasons of public notice, business, health, safety or emergency services that the user should be on a particular mailing list.

      The City director of communications or director of emergency operations may also determine if and when messages may be sent to all or a specified portion of City electronic conferencing and list services subscribers. The system administrator may also send a notice to all subscribers where it is deemed necessary for technical reasons. [See also Subscriber Terms of Use]

      Subscribers shall be notified that the information they provide may be subject to public disclosure laws.
  3. Adding users.
    Subscribers may self-register when joining a mailing list via email or a city provided subscription form. A confirmation of the subscription is required.
    1. Public self-subscription. If the City decides to provide for self-subscription to a particular mailing list, members of the public who meet the criteria for subscription and participation may subscribe themselves as members of that mailing list.
    2. List owner additions. A list owner may add new users to the system where the user has agreed to or requested subscription and the subscriber meets the criteria for participation.
    3. System administrator additions. The system administrator(s) may add new users to the system, where the user has agreed to or requested subscription and the subscriber meets the criteria for participation, and a list owner has requested that the system administrator add said subscriber.
  4. Policy for removal of subscribers.
    Subscribers may be removed for any of the following reasons by DoIT or its designated list owners.
    1. Invalid email addresses.
    2. Lack of participation in a mailing list.
    3. Misuse.
    4. Client SMTP server issues causing continual delivery problems.
    5. Being flagged by the Lsoft software as having 100 consecutive undeliverable sends over a 4 day period. A successful send will restart the count.
  5. Misuse.
    We recognize that subscribers' misuse may result from misunderstanding. Depending upon the nature and seriousness of the misuse, users may be told to stop the misuse, may be removed from a mailing list and/or have their system privileges revoked. This may be permanent or for a specified period of time.
    1. Misuse may take many forms, including but not limited to:
      1. posting off-topic messages
      2. using abusive language
      3. violating city, state, county or federal law
      4. commercial use
      5. use of the system to support or oppose a political candidacy or ballot measure unless permitted by applicable law
      6. overuse/monopolizing public resources (Overuse may strain city and subscriber email systems and/or drive users away from the purpose of the forum. Overuse may include sending multiple messages in a day or short period of time; it may also include sending one or multiple large attachments).
    2. In cases of misuse, the list owner may send the user a notice identifying the incident(s), describing the infraction, the reason it is misuse, and any disciplinary action taken by the manager. This may include describing expectations for future use. If the user continues the misuse, or if the misuse constitutes a major violation of these rules, the list owner may remove the user from the list and shall provide a notice to the system administrator.
    3. DoIT reserves the right to revoke system privileges.
    4. The list owners, list maintainers, and postmasters may remove messages from the system if messages sent for distribution are outside the scope of the mailing list or in violation of mailing list use guidelines, this policy or other criteria as defined by the list owner.

Section D: Managing Mailing List

  1. List owners shall have the following responsibilities in addition to those spelled out elsewhere in this document.
    1. Distributing policy and procedural information. The list owner should distribute appropriate procedure and policy notices received from the system administrator to subscribers.
    2. Create and deliver welcome messages to new subscribers.
    3. Keep the system administrator informed when the management of the mailing list is to be delegated to another person.
    4. Ensure that a designated city Postmaster is listed an an alternate list owner and is also a list subscriber.
    5. Ensure that appropriate notice is sent to subscribers of a mailing list when the mailing list is being discontinued.
    6. Send a notice to the System administrator when a mailing list is being discontinued.
    7. Manage mailing list etiquette and subscribers. The mailing list owner is responsible for managing the appropriate use of their mailing list, keeping the mailing list on topic and implementing this policy in their mailing list.
    8. Manage mailing list subscribers. The list owner should work with the the system administrator, to determine the best set-up for each mailing list. The list owner is responsible for addressing questions about mailing list use from subscribers, with the understanding that the system administrator is available for technical consultation and online documentation is available for users.
    9. Distributing policy and procedural information. The list owner should distribute to any mailing list subscribers the appropriate procedure and policy notices received from the site maintainers.

    Discontinuance of mailing lists. The City may, at its discretion, discontinue a mailing list. Where appropriate, the list owner or system administrator who is discontinuing a mailing list shall send subscribers a notice of mailing list discontinuance. Reasons for discontinuance may include, among others, completion of task and term, lack of sufficient use , and/or misuse. User accounts will not automatically be deleted when a mailing list is discontinued.

Section E: Technical Policies

  1. Content. DoIT provides the mailing list services infrastructure and is not responsible for the content transmitted via these services, with the exception of system administrator generated messages.
  2. Reliability. The Department of Information Technology and the City of Seattle work hard to ensure the reliability of its electronic conferencing and list services. However errors do occur in any system and may be beyond our control. No warranties either express or implied, are provided. We are not responsible if a message is not transmitted.
  3. Authentication. We will use basic authentication unless otherwise needed. See City of Seattle Online Privacy Policy for more information.
  4. Reports and statistics. The Department of Information Technology may, at its discretion, create reports and statistics on use.
  5. Retention of messages. Content and messages generated from will be retained for a period of time to be determined by the DoIT System Administrator.
  6. Maintenance and repair. The City may need to take the system offline from time to time for technical reasons. The system administrator or designee will make an effort to notify list owners, but in emergency situations may not be able to.
  7. Message footers. The system administrator may automatically add text to the bottom of any and all messages in order to provide contact information for list managers, and instructions on how to unsubscribe. The footer for announcement lists will be the same or similar to the following:

  8. Notification on welcome messages. The welcome message delivered to new mailing list subscribers shall indicate the name of the list, contact information, the procedure for unsubscribing and notice of how to obtain these Electronic Conferencing and List Services Policies. It should also include the following message or a similar one approved by the System Administrator:
    The City of Seattle is committed to protecting your privacy. We encourage you to review our Privacy Statement. However, we also remind you that subscriber information and information exchanged on this system may be subject to disclosure under the Washington Public Disclosure Act, unless non-disclosure of particular information is either permitted or required by applicable law (
  9. Reply addressing. Messages delivered to mailing list subscribers shall include the email address of the primary list owner.

Section F. Publication

DoIT reserves the right to publicize the list name information about how to subscribe and unsubscribe, and mailing list and list owner contact information for all subscribing forums.


City of Seattle Online Privacy Policy