Create Group Email Distribution Lists

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Email distribution lists make it easy to send a message to a group of people without typing in all the individual email addresses. After creating integrations with a couple of existing distribution list systems (Mailman and WP Mailster), we’re now recommending Toastmasters clubs use a integrated Group Email feature of RSVPMaker (the event management component of WordPress for Toastmasters).

You can configure a member email list, an officer email list, and one additional custom email list on the Group Email tab of RSVPMaker’s settings screen.

Users whose websites are hosted on toastmost.org must first send the webmaster a request for mailing list email addresses associated with these lists. These email addresses act as message queues that relay messages to other members of the list.

The members email list allows any sender with an email address that matches an email from a member account (or the optional whitelist) to send a message that will go to all other members. The officers list does the same for officers (based on the listing from the Toastmasters settings screen).

An email forwarded to a Group Email list.
Email footer, with instructions on how to reply to the list and download links for attachments included in the original message.

The footer of a message sent through the list informs the recipient that clicking Reply will send a reply to just the sender. That notice is accompanied by a link they can use to reply to the list instead.

Attachments included in the original message will be represented as links in the message footer. This works for common image and document file formats. Alternatively, you can share files using a cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Options on the Group Email Settings Page

For each email list, you must supply the list email address (which also functions as the user name) and a password.

The other fields associated with each list are:

  • Whitelist – additional email addresses allowed to send to the list. Example: a member who is a district officer and sometimes sends messages from district email address rather than the personal address on their member profile.
  • Blacklist – If a member abuses their access to the email list, you can block them from sending.messages.
  • Additional recipients – A manually entered list of recipients. For example, former members who still want to receive news from the club, or advisors to the officer team who you want included on the officers email list even though they are not officially officers.

In each case, the email addresses can be entered separated by commas or spaces or one per line.

The default value for the server field at the top of the form should work for email accounts hosted on the same server as the website and accessible with the POP3 protocol. Alternate parameters for the configuration string are documented here.

Bounced Messages

If a sender’s email is not associated with an authorized sender account, it will bounce with a message like this:

If you want to allow sending to from this email address, you can add them to the whitelist.

A member who has a user account but whose sending to the list has been blocked by an administrator will receive this message.

Tradeoffs

You may occasionally see IMAGE OMITTED where an image was supposed to appear in the body of a message. In most cases, embedded images will be preserved.

Attachments such as PDFs will be listed as links at the end of the message. Recipients have the option of downloading them. For security reasons, unrecognized file types will not be forwarded.

Comparison with other solutions:

  • WP Mailster is a sophisticated general purpose email list tool, but the free version is limited to 50 recipients per message. The integration with WordPress for Toastmasters sets the reply-to heading to the list address, which can result in more members sending a public broadcast when they intended to privately message the sender.
  • The Mailman utility is not supported by all web hosts and is no longer available on toastmost.org.

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