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.
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.
Member’s own details pages have also been given a friendlier makeover.
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.
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!
We really hope you like the changes we’re made and if you have any feedback for us we’d love to hear it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Email got its start in the late 1970’s but it wasn’t until the mid-1980’s and the personal computer revolution that things really took off. Software to manage email lists first appeared in 1986 when Eric Thomas created LISTSERV the first group email software. At this time it ran on wardrobe size mainframe computers. Eric developed LISTERV at CERN where Tim Berners-Lee was creating the world wide web. Over the years LISTSERV was ported over to other operating systems eventually hitting Unix in 1994 and Windows in 1995.
As personal computers became more common place in homes and offices programs like Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office emerged with email and the ability to group email addresses together. Even though this type of group email was limited to only grouping people within the same corporate email system its ease of use made it a huge boon to companies who created group email addresses for everything. This was the first exposure to group email for many people.
In 1999 the GNU project created its own mailing list manager MailMan. Developed by John Viega and Ken Manheimer this was a free software, open source alternative to LISTSERV matching many features which people came to expected from their group email system; searchable archives, moderators, privacy features, a web Interface, spam filters.
As the dot-com bubble grew and burst in the early 2000’s the number of email users and people exposed to group email grew exponentially from 10 million email users in 1995 to 500 million in 2000 and 1 billion in 2007. By this time email was a part of everyone’s on-line life and using group email was just part of that.
Gmail arrived in 2007 and even though Blackberry had been putting email in people hands since 1999 it wasn’t until the iPhone and the smartphone revolution that made email truly mobile for huge numbers of people. Indeed, the mobile revolution made email user number sky rocket even more hitting 2 billion by 2010 and 3 billion only one year later.
During all this time LISTSERV is still going strong being actively developed at L-Soft and running most the biggest and busiest email lists in the world. Within offices and corporations emailing groups of people is second nature; a department, project or team doesn’t exist until it has its own email address!
With the ubiquity of cloud computing and the rise of SaaS (software as a service) businesses it was inevitable that group email would move with the times and reap the benefits of everything that widely distributed computing can offer.
So it is today that Gaggle Mail is further pushing the popularity of group email by not only allowing anyone to be part of a group email list but allowing anyone to setup and run their own group with the most easy to use group email system available.
We’ve just rolled out a new pricing structure which we think is simpler and fairer than what we had before. Instead of fixed tiers for certain amounts of members we now have one price based solely on the number of members in your groups. It seemed unfair that previously if you went from 500 members to 501 members your costs would double from $80 to $160 per year!
So now you pay just $0.40 per member/per year whether you have 50 or 1000 members. You can still pay per month at $0.04 per member/per month but paying annually you effectively get two months free for a saving of %15! All features are always included whatever you’re paying so there’s no need to worry about Standard vs. Mega Deluxe Gold plans.
We do have a minimum paid group size of 25 members simply because with transaction fees it’s really not worth us charging less than $1 per month or $10 per year. If you have any questions about billing or anything else then please get in touch.
After introducing the ability to compose new messages last month we’re pleased to announce that you can now reply to messages directly from within Gaggle Mail. We’ve rearranged the layout of the message popup to now show ‘Reply to Group’ and ‘Reply’ buttons.
As you can imagine clicking ‘Reply to Group’ will open the message for editing and pre-select your group address as the recipient. Likewise the ‘Reply’ button will open a reply going to the original sender of the message.
The ability to reply to messages from within Gaggle Mail gives us the opportunity to fulfil a long term user request and that is the ability to reply to messages send in a daily digest. We now include a ‘Reply to Message’ button at the bottom of every message listed in digest emails. This now makes the Daily Digest feature a much more viable option when you want to remain part of the conversation but not get overwhelmed.
As with many features we build this came about from a user suggestion so if you have any ideas of how we can improve Gaggle Mail or make it work better for you then we’d love to hear them.