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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

How to Send Email to Groups Without Showing Addresses

When you’re sending an email to a group of people sometimes they all know each other and sometimes they don’t.

When you want to send a message to a group without everyone seeing each other’s email address then you can use the BCC: field to keep recipient addresses hidden.  Blind carbon copy works great but what if you want a group of people to email each other without sharing their addresses.

 

How to Keep Email Addresses Private with Group Email

When you setup an email group member’s email addresses usually stay private until someone sends to the group whereby their address is circulated to the group as the from: address of the message they sent.

Gaggle Mail has an incognito mode whereby we ensure member email address privacy – even amongst other members of the group.  With incognito mode enabled the group behaves like any other listserv email group however every member of the group has their own personal alias email address, specific to that group, which is used in place of their own address.

Gaggle Mail incognito mode switch

These alias addresses allow the group to fully converse and even send personal replies to other individuals in the group without anyone ever having to disclose their email address.

How To Send A Group Email In Gmail

If there’s a group of people you regularly email from Gmail it’s really useful to create a group contact you can use as an alias instead of entering their names each time.  It’s straight forward to do – here’s how:

 

1. Go to Google Contacts (contacts.google.com).
2. Check the box next to everyone you want to put in your group.
3. On the left hand side select “Labels” and click “Create label” below it.

Creating a label in Google Contacts

4. Give your group a name in the Create Label prompt.
5. With your contacts selected click the “Manage labels” button at the top right and select your newly created label.

Selecting a label in Google Contacts

6. You’re done!

 

Now the next time you want to contact these people through Gmail just start typing the first few letters of the group name in the To: then select your group and their names will appear – easy!

This is great when you want to send to the same set of people but it doesn’t help when other people in your group want to contact the rest of the group.

With Gaggle Mail you can create your own permanent group email address (say my-group@gaggle.email) which lets anyone in your group reach everyone else in the group all from one single email address.

Getting started with Gaggle Mail takes just seconds and with one email address for your group you don’t need to worry about people being left out when someone doesn’t click “Reply to all”.  Also when someone updates their email address there’s just one central place to change it so everyone is always kept in the loop.

Try Gaggle Mail for free and take the hassle out of group email.

 

Adding Attachments While Composing a Group Email

You’ve been able to compose new group email messages from Gaggle Mail for a while now but we’ve just made this feature even more useful. You can now add attachments directly to the messages you compose.
Previously if you want to send an attachment you’d have to send the message from your regular email client which, let’s face it, is the way most people use their group email system. However with Gaggle Mail allow people to reply directly to messages from the web interface it became more and more important that we made the online experience more powerful.

Composing group email with attachments

As with everything we do here a great deal of time and effort was spent making the feature “just right”. To add an attachment once you’re composing a message all you have to do is drag the file over the compose window and drop it. Alternatively if you’re not in a desktop environment you can tap the paper-clip icon in the footer and then choose to select a file directly from you’re device.

Writing a group email and adding an attachment

Any attachments you add to your message are shown on the message along with their size so you can make sure you don’t go over the total message size limit.

Added attachment to group email

We’re continually striving the make Gaggle Mail the most powerful and user friendly group email system available and feedback from our users is a big help with this so if you have any suggestions about this feature or anything else on Gaggle Mail then we’d love to hear it.

Going Passwordless

TL;DR; How we used passwordless authentication to give users a low friction way of accessing private data.


A popular feature on Gaggle Mail is the searchable message archive, this has always been available to group administrators but we wanted to make it available to group members.

Group administrators already have an account with us which they used to create their group but all we know about members is their email address. Requiring members to create an account to view the message archive seemed a little too heavy weight for something they probably wouldn’t do often. However making the full message archive available to anyone who had acquired a ’secret’ member link was far too open.

Giving It a Try

Passwordless authentication seemed like a great fit for what we needed and since we already had the standard ‘forgot password’ workflow adding it was quite straight forward. I won’t go into how passwordless authentication works here since there’s already some great articles out there explaining it. Now when a member goes to the message archive they see a note asking them to click a button to receive a link giving them access to the archive. Dialog to show message archive They immediately receive the email and on clicking the link they’re taken straight to the full message archive. After an hour the link will expire and clicking it will just redirect to the standard member page where if necessary they can request another time limited link.

View message archive email link

This feature was a real hit with our users, the convenience of having access to the message archive without creating an account is a big plus.

A concern with this sort of workflow can be the latency while waiting for the email to arrive, since email is a massive part of what we do we already have lots of infrastructure in place to get the link in their hands as quickly as possible.

Passwordless authentication was worked well for us here, it’s not going to be the best fit for all circumstances but when you want to give a level of secure access without burdening the user with creating a user account it works well – especially if you already have their email address.