Improved Member Security

The main aim we live by at Gaggle Mail is simplicity. For every new feature, change or enhancement the thing we consider most is how to make it easy to use for our customers.

As we built Gaggle Mail this focus on simplicity lead us to make certain choices. Once enabled by group administrators, members of a group could see the entire message archive and/or member list all without having to create an account. Members using the daily digest feature could view messages just by clicking a link, with no need to log in.

Data security is equally a large focus for us and with each new piece of legislation, we have to consider whether we’re making the correct trade-offs.

And so in this post-GDPR world, we’ve revisited decisions previously made and now require members to be logged in to:

  • View the messages either via the archive or in their daily digest
  • Send messages to the group via their member details page
  • View the member list for their group

Of course, we’ve tried to make the process of creating an account and getting logged in as simple as possible. If a member tries to access something that requires them to be logged in they will see a prompt asking them to enter a password to create an account.

Once a suitable password has been entered we will send an email to confirm the creation of their account. After clicking the confirmation button they will be redirected to their member page but this time logged in and able to access whatever they need.

Once a member has an account we will just ask them to re-enter their password to log in.

A great deal of thought has gone into this change and we hope we’re hitting the right balance between convenience and security. If you do have any feedback or questions on any of this we’d love to hear them.

You can see out official GDPR statement here.

 

 

Email as a Social Network

At Gaggle Mail we see a wide variety of groups of all sizes discussing a wide variety of topics. Each group is comprised of a set of people who share a common interest and choose to use email to facilitate their discussion. They send messages, share pictures and make plans – just like on a social network.

Comparisons between email and social networks are nothing new. It’s obvious really – the parallels between refreshing your email and checking your Facebook news feed are pretty clear.

The thing with Facebook is that it was designed to BE a social network. Over many years of use by billions of people it’s been honed to optimise for “socialness”. Every interaction has been optimised to achieve a certain goal; improve engagement, encourage ‘likes’, make friends, be more social.

You are socialising within their system, by their measures. All their tricks and nudges to optimise for their metrics change your behaviour. Maybe they change you for the better; making you more social, connecting with more people but it’s not you, it’s you + them.

By comparison email is just message passing – it’s a post office. It won’t encourage you to post a message or pester a friend who hasn’t replied to your message. It won’t go looking for people like you to connect with.

As a result of this, socialising over email is much more organic, nobody is going to hold your hand and show you how to socialise. With email your group has to survive by it’s own merits alone – email isn’t going to step in and help.

Alternative To EmailDoDo

EmailDoDo has been around for years. Founded in 2007 they have been the cheap and cheerful group email option small group often turn too. With bright colours and 90’s bulletin board style interface their whimsical style appeals to many.

EmailDoDo logo

And they’re cheap too, prices start from a very low $5 per year. For a long time EmailDoDo had a completely free option too, they still do, but now they put adverts in the footer of all messages you send to generate revenue and cover their costs. In a time of privacy concerns and GDPR this seems a strange choice.

While EmailDoDo does offer polls and SMS as well as email their group email function is quite bare bones. There’s no message archive, no delivery tracking, limited multi-group support and no daily digest option.

For small groups which don’t need much from their group email system and can get over the privacy concerns this could be enough but if you need to be sure your messages get delivered and want a fully functional email discussion system you may want to look elsewhere.

Groups start on Gaggle Mail from just $2 per month and come with a complete set of group email discussion tools. Your privacy is assured also with no-ads and complete GDPR compliance. If you need to be sure your messages get delivered and want a beautifully simple and modern interface the try Gaggle Mail free for 14-days.

Sub-Groups and Linked Groups

We’ve been really busy over the last few months adding what has been our most requested feature. I’m delighted to let you know that we now support sub-groups on Gaggle Mail.

This was a big undertaking for us since we were deteremined to add this much-requested feature without adding any complexity to our users. We’re really happy with how it’s turned out and hope you will be too.

You can read more add this feature here but essentially if you already have a group and you create another one we will ask you if you want to link your groups together.

Groups which have been linked share a common pool of members which can be managed across all groups from a single place. You can add members to multiple groups, edit members across multiple groups and remove members from all their groups all with ease.

We hope you find this useful and as ever if you have any feedback please let us know.

What is GDPR?

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a new EU directive coming in to force on 25th May 2018, it replaces the existing 1998 Data Protection act.

Much of GDPR could be considered just good ‘data hygiene’ which most companies should already be doing:

  • Only store what is required
  • Always ask for permission to store personal data
  • Remove data you no-longer have a reason to keep or are told to remove
  • Keep everything secure

However there’s a few points that need that warrant further discussion.  Here’s what you need to know.

 

Global Reach

Even though this is an EU regulation if a company is based outside the EU but has customers inside the EU then it has to comply with GDPR. This means basically everyone.

Explicit Consent

Whenever a company want to hold personal data about someone they have to explicitly request permission and not in any round-about or nefarious way.  They have to be up front and transparent about what they’ll hold and why they need it.

Right to Be Forgotten

This one is key for consumers, if you want your data deleted then if there’s not legitimate reason for a company to be holding your data then they have to delete it.  As with most of GDPR this is open to interpretation but a valid reason for someone to hold your data may be if you’ve entered into a contact with them.

Notification of a data breach

Data controllers will have to notify Data Protection Authorities within 72 hours of a breach.

Penalties and fines

It would be unusual for regulation like this to specify specific fines but the EU clearly want to show they mean business.  I quote “monetary penalties from 2% up to 4% of the total worldwide annual turnover, yet not less than 10 to 20 million Euro”.

 

Obviously this is just our take on what is a very complex issue, so it this impacts you or your business, do your own research using official sources and or qualified professionals.

 

Official EU Homepage for GDPR - https://www.eugdpr.org/
Symantec - https://www.symantec.com/en/uk/campaigns/data-privacy

New Activity Log

Just before the end of 2017 we renamed the Health tab in Gaggle Mail to Activity – this was more than just a renaming exercise though.  The all new Activity tab gives you a single place to keep track of everything that’s going on with your group.

Events list for listserv

As well as logging every message that is sent to you group it also lets you see when messages were held for moderation and whether they were rejected or accepted.  You can also see all events relating to members of your group.  For example when a member joined the group, changed their email address or unsubscribed.

You can also see if a member has been blocked due to delivery issues to their address.  All events are easily searchable so finding exactly what’s going on with a particular member is really easy.

Group email activity statistics

As well as tracking all events for your group we also show statistics of the number of messages sent in the last 30 days and who the top 5 senders have been for that month.

These change have been introduced to provide a clear picture as to what’s happening and a reliable audit of activity in your group.  If you have any feedback for this or any other feature on Gaggle Mail please let us know.

Yahoo Groups Down Again? Here’s 7 Alternatives

Yahoo Groups is going through a rough time, users were unable to post new messages for most of last week and even though the service appears to have been restored there’s still lingering problems.

Even before Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo, Yahoo Groups was in maintenance mode with no new development being done in years – but now they’re struggling to keep the lights on.

So if you’re currently running a group on Yahoo Groups and looking to move on, here’s a few suggestions:

  • Gaggle Mail – A modern take on the traditional Listserv.  You get all the benefits of your own group email address with the ability to configure and customise how your group behaves all wrapped up in an easy to use, modern web interface that anyone can use.  As well as being much cheaper that having you own hosted Listserv there’s also none of the limitations about having to have a certain account to participate.
  • Google Groups – This is an obvious choice, its Google’s equivalent of Yahoo Groups with much the same functionality.  You have to bear in mind Google’s main business is advertising and they will be scanning your group’s messages in order the show ads.  There emailing into and out of the group isn’t as good as Yahoo’s and you and your members will need Google accounts to participate.
  • Facebook Groups – Given Facebook’s ubiquity it’s a popular choice.  If you’re happy living in Facebook’s closed platform and their advertising based model then there’s lots of functionality.  Photo sharing, file storage and event planning are all mature and user friendly features.
  • OnlineGroups.net – Think of this as a paid for Yahoo Groups replacement.  It has lots of the features of the free service but it comes with a substantial cost.  If you really need everything that Yahoo Groups does and don’t mind paying then this is one to look at.
  • LSoft Listserv – If you currently take advantage of Yahoo Group’s ability to post by email and receive posts via email then a Listserv could be what you need.  It’s a group email platform with no advertising that gives you the ability it run as you see fit.  You can either use a hosted service or host your own.  Hosting your own Listserv does require some technical knowledge but it is cheaper than using a hosted service.
  • Mail-list.com – For over 20 years Mail-list.com has been providing a group email discussion solution.  It has lots of features including message moderation and a searchable archive (at a price) but it is starting to show its age and can be expensive for larger groups.
  • FreeLists – For a completely free group email option there is FreeLists.  It’s been around for over 15 years and allows completely free group email discussions.  It has quite basic functionality with quite a rudimentary interface but you can do the basics – and it’s free!

 

There you have it, lots to choose from.  Yahoo Groups has had a good run but it looks like it’s time is coming to an end.  Group email has been around for many years and is a well proven solution for electronic group discussions.

There’s many different providers of Listserv or Listserv like solutions that are a good fit if you’re moving from Yahoo Groups.

If we’ve missed anything out or you have some feedback we’d love to hear it.

Maximum Message Size Increased to 10MB

Great news!  We’ve doubled the maximum message size you can send over Gaggle Mail from 5MB to 10MB.  This is something which has been much requested and maybe it’s taken us a little longer than it should have but we’ve done it.

To achieve this we’ve had to upgrade the hardware we run Gaggle Mail on so as a fortunate side effect you might notice things being a little snappier too. Double-win!

Group Email For Large Groups

Just a quick note to say we’ve increased the maximum group size in Gaggle Mail from 2000 members to 5000 members.

Over the summer we’ve been busy preparing for this change, previously opening a group with 2000 member could take up to 10 seconds but now groups of this size and much larger open in less than a second.  Searching and editing members is also much faster and remains fast for very big groups.

Along with the performance increases the design refresh we recently made included features to help manage larger lists.  Put together we think these changes and our dedication to keeping things simple makes Gaggle Mail a very compelling choice for running your group email list.

Even though we have the 5000 limit we’ve tested Gaggle Mail on groups of up to 100,000 members and it still performs flawlessly.  If you do have a need for groups beyond 5000 members do let us know so we can discuss your needs.

Design Refresh and New Logo!

Today I’m very excited to announce the redesign of the group and member management pages within Gaggle Mail.  We’ve been working on this for a while and we’re really proud of how it’s turned out.  As ever we’ve kept simplicity at the centre of what we do and this is reflected heavily in our changes.

Redesigned member list

For desktop layouts we’ve moved search into the header bar and started taking advantage of the full width of the screen enabling us to show more information without things looking crowded.  We’ve also condensed the navigation options in the left hand panel and added a really simple dropdown chooser to allow you to switch between your groups.  The Compose button has also been moved to be always available at the bottom right of the screen.

Redesigned settings page

Member’s own details pages have also been given a friendlier makeover.

Redesigned member details page

As well as these visual changes there’s been plenty going on behind the scenes.  We’ve rebuild our “Add New Members” area to better support internalization (non-English characters) and also added some much requested helper text when enabling the Message Archive for members.

Helper text when enabling message archive

Oh and the more observant of you may have noticed we’ve updated our logo slightly, it’s but a major change but filling in the circles gave a more solid feel – we hope you agree!

Gaggle Mail logo

We really hope you like the changes we’re made and if you have any feedback for us we’d love to hear it.