blocking out-of-office

Glenn Steen glenn.steen at
Fri Aug 4 09:28:12 IST 2006

On 03/08/06, Jethro R Binks <jethro.binks at> wrote:
> On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, Koopmann, Jan-Peter wrote:
> > On Thursday, August 03, 2006 9:07 PM Rick Chadderdon wrote:
> >
> > > I'm curious as to some of the situations you believe need OoO.  I
> > > can't think of any that wouldn't be better handled by a different
> > > solution. Of course, "better" is subjective, so I might have
> > > considered the situations you're referring to and felt differently.
> > > Still, can you give me an idea of what you're thinking?
> >
> > I tend to get private and business mail in one mailbox. Therefore I
> > cannot simply forward all my mail to a collegue or give him/her access
> > to it. Maybe there is not even a collegue so things simply have to wait
> > a week but I want to let the client/customer/friend know. Etc.
> This is quite common.

Yes. Not all can be solved by mailbox delegations, this is quite true.
But is it really helpful for the sender to receive an OoO? Most times
no. If it is really urgent, why would you be using *email* and not the
phone? In an emergency? Oh well, that is a philosophical matter I

> We have legal reasons for requiring OoO; for example, the Freedom of
> Information Act in England and Wales considers a request sent by email to
> be 'received' by a public authority unless the sender hears otherwise (by
> way of a bounce or OoO).  If you're away for two or three weeks and hence
> don't respond to the request within the prescribed time, and the sender
> has no reason to believe the request has not been received (no OoO), then
> the public authority has failed in the obligations the Act places upon it.

Legislation differ from country to country, so ... An OoO would not be
enough, here in Sweden. Why? Cutting a long thing very short: Because
OoO is not a standardised thing.
So it is neither a help or a hindrance for the diverse agencies here.
Further, any missive sent to the government becomes a public document
upon receipt (unless specifically covered by secrecy... Not that much
is;), so in theory... the "private" mail one handles at ones work
address could simply become a public document (The principle of public
access... We've been busy selling the idea to the EU for quite some
time now:-).

> But likewise I don't like the lack of controllability that Exchange (which
> is used internally) offers for OoO.  I have implemented autoresponse
> systems in Exim with extreme measures so that it won't respond to,
> generically, 'stuff that it shouldn't respond to', so far as that is
> possible.  I can't do a fraction of that stuff with Exchange, so it will
> willy-nilly send mail out in response to practically any old tat it
> receives.
No argument there:)

> You can mitigate things by having delegated access to mailboxes, of
> course, but that all gets rather sticky where personal mail may be present
> (or there is no-one appropriate to delegate to, or whether mailbox
> contents really confidential to their owner, or there is no-one available
> to authorise delegation, or whatever).  Saying "personal mail is not
> permitted" isn't good enough unfortunately; regardless of whether it
> should be there or not, if it is there, it needs to be treated with
> respect.

Actually, for some organisations, it would be quite all right. But in
the real world, well... people are people, and one should take care
with their integrity. Mailbox delegation was mentioned just as an
example, not the surefire solution to the OoO madness. You and JP
mention letting a more capable autoresponder handle the
autoresponding... And that is a fine way to solve some of the madness
too. We have two problems: The policy decision regarding OoO (and this
is usually the domain of the PHBs), and the badness of some MTAs in
regards to autoresponding

> (Because of all this, I have been writing guidelines for our users in this
> area; how they should use OoOs, recommendations how they should handle
> personal mail, and so on).

Ah yes, the third option... Enlightenment. Unfortunately users are
people, and people a people... and there will always be a few that
simply don't read the guidelines. Sigh.

-- Glenn
email: glenn < dot > steen < at > gmail < dot > com
work: glenn < dot > steen < at > ap1 < dot > se

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