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The scs-all mailing list

Recently, there has been a lot of e-mail sent to scs-all. And there has been a lot of complaints about inappropriate use of this e-mail list. For now, we do not want to make scs-all a moderated mailing list. I hope that this page will clarify:

These guidelines have been approved by the Acting Dean of the School of Computer Science. If you have comments or questions about this page or mailing lists in general, please send mail to .


Any e-mail sent to scs-all will be sent to all of the faculty, staff, graduate students and some visitors in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. It is intended to be a mechanism that can be used to reach all directly associated with the school. Extreme discretion should be used before you post anything to this list.

Appropriate Subjects

The mailing list was setup for things that were relevant to all the people of the community. If your subject matter is merely appropriate for a few, some, or most, then it might not be suitable for scs-all.

Examples of subjects that might be appropriate:

  • Safety Notices. These are usually done by the Building Manager or Jim Skees. Avoid making posts unless you are sure you have the facts. We would hate to see you embarrass yourself by "crying wolf.". If there is a reasonable chance that your post will help the community avoid bodily harm or injury, please feel free to send mail to scs-all. If it is truly an emergency, please be sure to notify the University Police (412-268-2323 is their emergency number), Pittsburgh Police/Fire/Paramedics, Building Managers, and whoever else is appropriate.
  • Scheduled Facility wide interruption of network, phone, electrical or other service. These are usually done by Jim Skees, or senior members of the facilities staff. Again, unless you are sure you sure you know the nature of the service outage, its estimated duration, or other details, please encourage those in charge of such services to send a messages to SCS-all. If it only affects a few offices, labs, or people, please consider alternative methods of getting the information out.
  • Research talks of specific interest to the entire community. If the research talk is of interest only to a portion of our community, or involves only a specific area, please avoid making a post. If in doubt, please consult the Dean of the College, or his assistants.

Before you post a message, ask if you would be comfortable standing on a stage in front of two thousand of your peers (who are anxious, overworked, diverse, and occasionally short tempered) and delivering the same message? Would you be willing to take their time to give them this information? Is it information that all or almost all would appreciate? Are you sure your information is correct?

If you must send e-mail to scs-all, please consider sending it with scs-all in the Bcc: field. This way, when inexperienced users reply to your post, they will reply only to you and not to the entire list. That is a mistake that happens much too often.

If someone sends e-mail to scs-all that is incorrect, bogus, or a message that is not appropriate, please consider sending them private e-mail encouraging them to do what they can to correct their mistake. This will allow you to help the person without being antagonistic or embarrassing them in front of others.

If you are considering sending an attachment, such as a picture a movie, or other file that is more than a few thousand bytes, please consider putting the attachment on a web page, and send a pointer to the web page instead of sending that file as an attachment. A single attachment of a few megabytes times a few thousand recipients might cause a slight pause on our mail system. Only those recipients sincerely interested in your attachment would then consume the bandwidth necessary to retrieve your content. Large attachments will cause your message to be held until a moderator approves your message.

Inappropriate Subjects

Examples of some subjects that are inappropriate:

  • Lost and Found. I hate it when I lose my keys. Scs-all is not the place to report such information. There is local web site for lost and found. If that does not produce the expected results, you can try the University Police. They have a system for dealing with Lost and Found (off-site link, will open in a new window). The University Police non-emergency phone number is 412-268-6232.
  • For Sale, Free, and Wanted. If you have tickets to a sporting or social event, and time is running out, please avoid using scs-all for putting these tickets to good use. Please consider the classified section of the newspaper, cmu.cs.general or other less encompassing mailing lists.
  • Recommendations or other info. If you need a good used car, plumber, or travel agent, please consult the Consumer Reports, The Yellow Pages, or even our own Harry Bovik. If you have just found the most perfect real estate agent, please do not consider scs-all.
  • Charity causes or events. If your son or daughter is selling candy for the local PTA, we like to support them, but e-mail to scs-all is not appropriate. If your church is getting together blankets and canned goods for the latest flood victims, we would all like to help, but scs-all is not appropriate. Instead consider flyers, posters, cmu.cs.general, or other methods of getting out the information.
  • Social or Special Interest Events. There is no place in scs-all for matters of personal agenda. Whatever your particular hobby, religion, special-interest group might be, it is not appropriate material for scs-all.
  • Political issues. Even though it is extremely important that we raise/reduce taxes, even though it is vital that we improve/dismantle the military, in spite of the fact that your favorite political candidate is crooked/incompetent, please avoid posting to scs-all about such local/regional/national political issues.
  • Chain e-mail. Please double and triple check all info you receive via e-mail about viruses, threats, intrusions, and medical info. If the message says Please forward this message to everyone you know immediately, please suspect that it is a hoax or a virus. Send mail to to ask about viruses. Facilities will take care of notifying the community.

This list is not exhaustive. I'm sure that there are lots of other things that you could send mail about, including recipes, jokes, gossip, technical information, and personnel changes. And in most all of those cases it would not be appropriate for scs-all.

If you have information that you wish to publicly distribute, you might wish to try using one of these methods (any off-site links will open in a new window):

If you have a specific list of people who should get this information, you should send e-mail directly to those people (not to scs-all).