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.

How To Run a Successful Group Email List

Group email lists are used for everything from small family groups to keep everyone up to date with what’s happening to thousands of members spanning multiple time zones and countries.  At Gaggle Mail we see all of them and there’s a few things the successful ones all have in common.

Here’s our guide to what makes a successful group email list.


Know What You’re Talking About

The most important thing about running a group email list knowing what should and should not be discussed by the group.  If the list is just for a free-for-all chat about anything that’s fine, as along as everyone know that.  But if there’s a set topic or topics the group should be discussing you should make that clear.

It can be useful to use your group email list software to add message footer that reminds people what the purpose of the group is.


Take Time to Setup Your List

There can be lots of settings when creating your listserv but it’s worth taking the time to get everything setup correctly from the start.  As well as giving your group a suitable name deciding whether replies should go to the group by default or to the original sender is a key decision, this will affect how freely conversation flows but all how much email your members get.


Moderate in Moderation

Ideally all messages will be on topic and appropriate for your group but sometimes you need to step in as the list owner and moderate messages sent to the list.  This is great to maintain a high quality of messages on your group but can stifle discussions especially if messages take a while to moderate.

If you do need to enable moderation on your group consider adding a few trusted moderators so that there’s always someone do the needful.


Lead By Example

One of the very best ways to ensure good on-topic discussion on your group is to show people how it’s done.  Ask the sort of questions you want other people to ask and reply to others in the way you’d like others reply to you.


Running a group email list can be a rewarding and effective way to encourage high quality discussion amongst any amount of people on a topic.  Give Gaggle Mail a try to see if it will work for your group and if you have any suggestions to make running your group easier just let us know.


Group Email Moderation

Gaggle Mail has supported message moderation for a while but we’ve just made some enchantments to make it more flexible and powerful.  The first thing you will notice is that we’ve moved all moderation options into their own tab.




In the new Moderation tab the first option is to switch moderation on or off.  Below that is a new section where you can specify who should the moderators for your group.  Previously the group moderators were just the administrators but now you can nominate people to be moderators without being an administrator.  However administrators are still moderators.


Group email select who should be subject to moderation

Next is a section where you can specify whose messages get moderated.  There are two options; “Everyone expect these people” and “Just these people”.  If you select “Everyone except these people” then everyone sending to the group will have their messages moderated apart from and names you add below.  Alternatively selecting “Just these people” will only moderate messages from the names listed below.  As was previously the case administrators (and now moderators) don’t have their messages moderated.

Finally at the bottom of the moderation tab is a new option “Notify sender when message held for moderation”. When enabled this option will send an email to anyone who’s message has been held for moderation to let them it has been held an will be sent to the group once someone has approved it.


Group email moderation notification option

How messages are handled once they’ve been held for moderation hasn’t changed and you can read about it here.  If you have any comments or thoughts on these changes we’ve made please don’t hesitate to let us know.