Internationalisation

Today I deployed a massive update to improve internationalisation at OnlineGroups.net. We hope that the improved internationalisation makes your sites and groups more inviting to those who use languages other than English, starting with French and German.

To see the changes change the language in your browser preferences (options) to French or German and visit a group (any group). The main web-pages that group members see every day have been updated, and we are working on adding internationalisation support to more pages and the email messages.

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Export messages and export membership

OnlineGroups.net gives you the ability to export the group membership and export the messages. This allows you to keep your own backup of the membership and posts. (We keep backups, but you may want your own.) You may also export the information and leave OnlineGroups.net and use another service. While we would be sad to see you go, we strongly believe you should have the ability to leave if you should choose to do so.

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Multiple email addresses

A person can have multiple email addresses with GroupServer, the system that underlies OnlineGroups.net. Multiple email addresses have a huge influence on what makes GroupServer different from the other mailing list managers. Yesterday, 27 October, marked ten years since this feature was added, so in many ways yesterday was the tenth birthday of GroupServer. To celebrate, I examine this seemingly simple feature.

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The design of email notifications

Email notifications (also known as transactional email messages) are important to a mailing lists, such as those on OnlineGroups.net. They include the emails that invite people to join a group, welcome the new group members, and inform the administrator that the invitations have been accepted. Notifications are harder to design than a typical Web page because they arrive in an inbox out of context, and must work with a far wider collection of email clients. In this post I will mostly discuss the context problem, because it is the more difficult problem to solve. I will also discuss how I tackled the technical issue of constructing the email message at OnlineGroups.net.

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Reflections on the OnlineGroups.net Design

In this post I discuss the development of the “new” user-interface for OnlineGroups.net, and how it has shaped up. Now is a good time for a review because it has been a bit over a year since I released the new interface for the open-source GroupServer mailing-list manger (11 June, 2013) and a bit under a year since I deployed the interface for OnlineGroups.net (5 November, 2013).

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Six ways a listserv provider can improve email delivery

At OnlineGroups.net, we help people to collaborate using email. That makes it pretty important that people actually receive email that is sent by their groups. Unfortunately, a lot of spam and phishing email is sent to those same people. Their email providers have to sort out the helpful collaborative email from the unhelpful email. Sometimes they get it wrong and people do not receive email from their online groups.

Listserv (aka email discussion list or mailing list) providers like ourselves send a lot of email. It is not surprising that email providers like Gmail and Outlook.com treat us with caution. It is therefore a good idea to take steps to demonstrate that our email is legitimate.

Here are six important steps that a listserv provider should take to demonstrate that it is legitimately sending email to group members.

  1. Make sure people opt in
  2. Make it easy to opt out
  3. Be easy to contact
  4. Support Reverse DNS
  5. Support SPF
  6. Support DKIM

The first three are fairly simple. The last three are a bit technical. I’ll explain each of them in turn. Continue reading


Tuning email discussion list privacy for internal knowledge-sharing

Email discussion lists (aka listservs) are a simple and versatile tool for sharing knowledge and holding discussions using email. You can do a lot with the usual privacy settings: public or private. But unless you host your online groups site behind your firewall, neither of these are ideal for knowledge-sharing inside your organisation. OnlineGroups.net have just released a new privacy setting, the Public to site member group, that makes it easy to share knowledge inside your organisation, even though our service is hosted outside your firewall. It is a bit like a cloud-based extranet.

I’ll explain why we created this new privacy setting, how it works and how you can use it to find the information you are interested in, at the time you are interested in it.

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DMARC will expand the role of mailing list moderation

As Laura points out, calling an email spam is not a moral judgement. It’s just a statement of what a particular recipient thinks of an email. I have pretty negative thoughts about some email. And many people enjoy the precooked meat product that has been around since 1937. Spam is a construct that is used in the negotiations around sending and receiving email. For mailing list managers, moderation performs a similar function. In the new DMARC era, Mailing List Managers may expand the role of moderation as they exercise their responsibility for sending group email. Continue reading