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Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to follow?

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Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to follow?

Postby justin » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:39 am

Hello everyone,

I'm getting a lot of flack for insisting on closed-loop opt-in stuff for Dada Mail. If you don't know what that means, it means that only a subscriber can subscribe themselves to a mailing list, once they go through a confirmation process. This is similar to a lot of other social network systems - Facebook, Twitter, etc work like this. You or I cannot just make someone follow us, or be our friend because you or I want them to - they need to, somehow confirm that this is what they want to do. It's 2011, it makes sense that public mailing lists work this way, as well - with permission.

What list owners of Dada Mail also want to do is mass-subscribe email addresses via the list control panel en-mass, without this verification step. If you follow the closed-loop opt-in system closely (there's really no other way, except, "closely"), this is a big huge no no. I go through a lot of detail on why I think (and other organizations as well) following a closed-loop opt-in system is not only a good idea, but a really great, wonderful, incredible idea - the only way you should run a public mailing list - read all about it:

http://dadamailproject.com/installation ... _mail.html

I don't think I'm going to stop insisting on this system for public mailing lists - as much as people are not appreciating the contemporary nature of the idea.

But, notice I keep using the word, "public" - meaning in this case, "available to everyone". There is an honest, legitimate use of a mailing list for private use. Be it a private club, organization, company, group of close friends, etc. Dada Mail doesn't really cater well to this group of users, since people see it a hassle for users to have to confirm their email address, for something, perhaps they've already agreed to in some way shape or form.

I can and always have seen this point of view. The question I always ask to users that want to use Dada Mail like this is, How do I cater to the first use of Dada Mail (legitimate public mailing lists), but still allow the second (legitimate private mailing lists)?

I haven't gotten a really good answer. Mostly, people are just frustrated with the changes in the default policy of Dada Mail and give back... less than constructive feedback. That's frustrating for me to deal with - and it seems that there's an impassé.

Here's an idea:

Why not have two sets of super-options?


First option is for public mailing lists. It goes something like this:

* Closed-Loop Opt-in stuff is required

That means, there's no option to mass-subscribe people via the list control panel at all.
This also means that any feature of Dada Mail that doesn't jive with the closed-loop opt-in system is disabled.
(This is the default setting currently in Dada Mail v4.3.2)

* You can't have this list be hidden

* You can have it closed to future subscribers

Added Bonus to running Public Mailing List!: There's lots of cool services, like Amazon SES and Postmark that allow you to use their services to send email at much faster speeds that don't count in any way towards your hosting account's limitations. That means, you can use an inexpensive hosting account and still have a large mailing list - could potentially save you lots of money! You can't use them without having a closed-loop opt-in mailing list. It's against their terms of services, for obvious reasons.

The second option is for private mailing lists. It goes something like this:

* Closed-Loop Opt-in stuff is optional

That means, you can mass-subscribe people in the list control panel. You have total control over your mailing list.
With this great power comes great responsibility. This mode should not be used just because you disagree on how what should be a public mailing list is set up, but rather, because you have a legitimate private mailing list and (a big and) you're willing to accept the responsibility that you have to deal with all problems, complaints, etc. if they come up! .

If you abuse the power, prepare to feel the wrath of your users, who will send complaints to you, your hosting company, 3rd party spam reporting services (like http://spamcop.net).

If you have a legitimate, private mailing list, those types of things should be a problem - but, at the very least, your intents are stated. That makes me feel pretty good about making it easy to setup Dada Mail this way.


What do people think? Good idea? Bad idea? Got a better idea?

I'd rather not make any more changes to what types of policy Dada Mail follows, without user feedback. You all are the users I'm looking for, for feedback. This is a big request for comments and your voice matters a lot on where we're all going to go, in the future. If you're annoyed at changed in Dada Mail - speak up! Users have always had the power to communicate what it is they want from Dada Mail. This is no different, but I want to know what works the best for everyone.

Thanks!

Justin

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Re: Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to foll

Postby pacifico » Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:22 am

hey justin,

i read your post with great interest.

i am indeed one of the users that would be very happy with the new policy regarding public/private lists. i am running dada-mail for myself and for clients and in both cases i regularly run into the question of using dada-mail for some kind of private list. so we are changing the prefs and mass-subscribe addresses. works, but feels like sneaking around the fence.

i would really appreciate a step to such thing as "super-options" - an option that would make a list private or public.

best,
etienne
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Re: Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to foll

Postby kohenkatz » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:15 am

I use Dada primarily for private lists.

My main client is a Day Camp where the Counselors and the Parents of the campers have to get our email. When they apply for a job or register their kids, they agree to be on our mailing list because we send out important information that they need to know about camp.

Another list I run for a school group is a public list. However, I STILL NEED the capability to add people because we collect sign-ups for our list on paper at meetings as well as on our web site.
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Re: Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to foll

Postby justin » Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:16 pm

Another list I run for a school group is a public list. However, I STILL NEED the capability to add people because we collect sign-ups for our list on paper at meetings as well as on our web site.


The current scenario is that would take those paper sign ups and just invite the subscribers - does that not work for you? If not, why not?
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Re: Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to foll

Postby shait » Fri Jan 28, 2011 6:38 am

justin wrote:
Another list I run for a school group is a public list. However, I STILL NEED the capability to add people because we collect sign-ups for our list on paper at meetings as well as on our web site.


The current scenario is that would take those paper sign ups and just invite the subscribers - does that not work for you? If not, why not?


We have a similar situation. The reason we'd prefer not to invite the subscribers is that we feel they've already "subscribed" using a paper sign up. Requiring invitations in this case entails all subscribers go through an extra step. If they want to be removed from the list later, they always have that option.
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Re: Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to foll

Postby justin » Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:42 pm

We have a similar situation. The reason we'd prefer not to invite the subscribers is that we feel they've already "subscribed" using a paper sign up. Requiring invitations in this case entails all subscribers go through an extra step. If they want to be removed from the list later, they always have that option.


From the perspective of the closed-loop opt-in system, that first sign-up on paper is the first step towards signing up to subscribe. It's similar to someone just filling out a, "subscribe me!" form on a website.

The second step would be the confirmation the addressee has to do. So, there's no extra step, it's just that first step is a little different. Personally, I'd stick with sending an invitation - it would stop wrongly-written (or copied over, when typing in) email addresses from entering the list and, although this is a long shot, it would stop people from signing up someone who isn't them. This validation is similar to the first step in filling out a "subscribe me!" form on a website, really. I'd hate to simply have the inertia of, "This is how we've always done it", perhaps get in the way of seeing the benefits of using a list invite.


But, I can understand your situation fairly well - if anything, you have physical *proof* that someone wants to sign up - I'm much more concerned over people just mass-subscribing email addresses without ANY interest from the addressee who gets added (ie: SPAM).

And what you want to do is still a public mailing list - where you'd want any one of your customers to sign up. Saying that you have a, "private" mailing list wouldn't be correct. Maybe, "private" versus, "public" is the wrong way to see things, but I'm not sure what concept would be best.
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Re: Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to foll

Postby justin » Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:09 pm

One idea, to help with accountability, would be to provide some meta-data about the current subscription. Something like:

[*] confirmed - the subscriber has personally confirmed/verified the subscription
[*] unconfirmed - (although subscribed,) the subscriber has NOT personally confirmed/verified the subscription
[*] unknown - it's not known if the subscriber has personally verified the subscription - this would basically be for anyone upgrading.

There could also be extra functionality added to Dada Mail to allow a subscriber to verify their subscription, I guess - or, a feature to allow a list owner to re-invite *only* those subscribers that are not verified (leaving the verified subscribers to still be subscribed)

A better logging system or a smarter search in the current logging system could then pull up the details on when/who/where a subscription took place, if there was ever a dispute.
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Re: Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to foll

Postby Judder » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:56 am

Hi Justin

Now the Meta Data idea is a potentially good way of processing/storing this information.

For us the problem with the double opt-in loop is that our clients' customers may have signed up for the news letter in-store (quite a few do) or through the e-commerce website (which is not directly linked in realtime to the email sending systems of Dada) so we tend to receive new valid opted-in subscribers all together in one file.

As mentioned earlier in the thread, these subscribers already believe they have subscribed, so receiving [in their eyes] a second 'do you really want to subscribe?' we feel would have a negative impact and almost make them feel ... whoah is this a dangerous list I'm subscribing to as it keep sending me scary emails etc.!

So - we always disabled the Verify function be default and use the 'Subscribe Anyway' option each time.

We might not be the typical user of Dada, but I'd prefer it stayed 'open' to us more non-private list users if possible :->

Alex
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Re: Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to foll

Postby Paperless » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:38 am

I am very interested in the new option under discussion since we actually run Dada Mail in that way right now.
We have a membership of 800 or so growing all the time. Each month we receive a list of emails from the Membership Secretary which we use to populate the email list. We actually erase the stored emails prior to uploading the new list. In this way we handle both new and departing members with little or no problems.
Currently access to the Dada Mail is via a place on the Website which is not available to ordinary members (it is password protected) and only two people have access to it.

However, a new requirement is coming up with another site that I am involved in which will require the full opt-in facility. So to have both available, via tick-boxes, would be really good.

Thanks for allowing me to have my three-penny worth.

Martyn Davison
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Re: Public Lists vs. Private Lists - different rules to foll

Postby maryannk » Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:10 am

Justin, another consideration is when a user is just, to put it politely, not technically adept. I have a big list (20K+) that ranges from very technical to probably shouldn't be online. It's not often, but I do get requests from people who just don't understand or can't seem to get the double opt-in link to work. Sometimes these are people who don't read instructions and reply to the confirmation email (usually I can just click the link for them, but not everyone includes the original email in replies) and sometimes they are just inept. I think it's important for admins to have the option to manually add email addresses to public lists even if it's limited to one at a time rather than mass subscribes.

I agree with Alex regarding people other situations. I consider it good customer service to take care of as many back-end tasks for my subscribers as possible if they have already indicated that they wish to be subscribed. I understand your concerns about the list, however. I'm curious, did you have major issues before you changed the default? I thought your prominent warnings in pre-v4.3.2 were adequate. I think one of the biggest advantages of running a mailing list on my own server is more control (used responsibly). Not only would my reputation suffer if I were spamming people, I am accountable to my host for appropriate use of the mailing list. Do you feel that the host accountability is not enough to prevent spamming?
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