Electric Embers: Handcrafted hosting, powering the fires of change

Groups Subscribers

The following information is for all users of our Groups service. If you are an administrator looking to manage your Groups, further information is available in the Groups Administrators Guide.

Joining or leaving a group

Depending on the group, there might be different ways to get subscribed, but instructions for unsubscribing should be included as a footer on all list messages automatically.

To use the Web interface, you can connect to the group’s page (as described below) and click Subscribe or Unsubscribe. Some groups may not allow you to subscribe yourself, and others might have a way to subscribe via the group owner’s own Website.

You can also subscribe by email, by sending a blank message to the address groupname-subscribe@domain. You need to substitute the group’s name for “groupname”, and its domain for “domain”, which may be npogroups.org, groups.electricembers.net, or a custom domain like lists.your-domain.org. To unsubscribe, send instead to groupname-unsubscribe@domain, with the group’s name and domain substituted.

Logging in

You can log in to a group’s website using your subscribed email address. Many groups are under http://npogroups.org or http://groups.electricembers.net, while others are found under their own custom domain names like http://lists.your-domain.org. Click “First login?” to have an initial password assigned. Once logged in you will be able to modify details about the way you are subscribed, view archives of list traffic, calendar, file share area, and subscriber list. Some of these things may be disallowed by the group owners.

Posting messages to a group

If you are subscribed to a group that allows posting, you can simply email the group address to have your message distributed to all subscribers. You can use HTML formatting and it will be distributed as-is, and preserved in the archives. If you use Outlook, be sure the formatting is set to HTML and not to “Microsoft Rich text”, which is a Microsoft-only format that will be stripped from list messages. You can also log in to the group’s Web page and click Post to create your list message.

Sending attachments

You can send attachments to a Groups list, subject to the following limits on total message size:

  • 1-100 subscribers: 20 MB
  • 101-500 subscribers: 7.5 MB
  • 501-1500 subscribers: 2.5 MB
  • 1501-5000 subscribers: 1 MB
  • 5001-10000 subscribers: 512 KB
  • 10001-15000 subscribers: 200 KB
  • 15001+ subscribers: 100 KB

Note: Because all binary files have to be encoded in the less-efficient ASCII form before being sent over email, the final size of an attachment is often significantly larger than the original file.

If you are sending HTML messages that are too large because of in-line images (not file attachments), then we strongly recommend switching the image links to load remotely from the Web, which should end up working seamlessly for most or all recipients. Doing so will require just a slightly more complex procedure for you in message composition, but it’s really only two steps:

  1. Upload the image to a web server somewhere, presumably the same place where you host your own Web site. It doesn’t need to actually be shown on that site or be linked from anywhere; it just needs to be a file sitting on that server and accessible as a public URL, and you need to know the direct URL that will load it from whatever location you used.
  2. Then, when composing an HTML message, from the insert-image dialog, tell it to include the image remotely from the Web. In GMail, you would click the image button and then select the “From the Web” tab; in Thunderbird, you would click the image button and then select the “Link” tab; in other programs it should be similar. Now paste in the URL for the image you uploaded above, and it will get included as a remote resource in the message, which will display (at least for the vast majority of users) just as it would have with a local file.
Daily digests and other subscription modes

You can change your subscription mode in various ways, including receiving daily digests instead of every message as it is sent, either by email commands or most easily from the Web interface. Connect to the list’s Web page and login with your subscribed address, and you will see the Subscriber Options link in the left menu. Click on that to see your subscriber settings, including delivery mode. You can choose Rich Digest (all messages are added as in their original form as attachments), which is recommended if your email client can handle it, or else regular Digest, which strips out all HTML and images and builds a text-only version of each message.

If you wish to use email commands instead of the Web, you can send an email to sympa@domain, with the group’s domain (npogroups.org, groups.electricembers.net, or a custom lists.your-domain.org) substituted for “domain”. The subject should contain a command of the form “set listname digest”, “set listname digest-rich”, etc., with the group’s name substituted for “listname”.

Changing your subscribed address

Log in using the currently subscribed address. (If you don’t know the password and can no longer access email at that address, you will need to contact the group owners.) Click Preferences, enter the new email address, then click Submit. If you are a group owner or moderator, this will also update your owner/moderator address; however, if you are a listmaster, you will need to contact us to update that address separately.

Subscriber options

Log in and click Subscriber Options to change: the name associated with your subscribed address; whether your address is hidden in the subscriber list; or your subscription mode (whether you want to receive a digest of list messages rather than each message individually, or if you want to receive no list messages while remaining subscribed).

Moderation and message rejection

Some groups are moderated: when you post a message to the group, it must be approved by the moderator before being distributed. Some groups are like newsletters: only the moderators can post. Discussion groups allow any subscriber to post. A message you send might be rejected by the moderator for content reasons, or it might get be rejected automatically if it is too large or if the address you sent it from is not allowed to post. In the case of most automatic rejections, the rejection message itself should tell you the specific reason for this response.

Contacting the list owner

You can email list owners directly by sending an email to groupname-request@domain, with the group’s domain (npogroups.org, groups.electricembers.net, or a custom lists.your-domain.org) substituted for “domain”. You can also just click the Contact Owners link on the group’s Web page.

Message archives

All list messages are archived and searchable. You can view messages by month, either chronologically or by thread. From an archived message, you can resend it to yourself, reply to the sender, or reply to the whole list. Log in and click Archive.


To use your group’s calendar, log in and click Calendar.

File sharing

There may by a Share Documents area depending on how the owners have configured the group. Uploading files here is often a better way to share them than attaching larger files to list messages.

Frequently Asked Questions:

I lost my password. How can I retrieve it?

On the Groups site, click Lost password? in the upper left corner.

Why can't I post to my Group?

The most common reason is because you’re attempting to post from an address that is not subscribed to the list. Find your true subscribed address.

Why does Groups say I'm not subscribed when I know I am?

You are probably using a different address than the one that’s subscribed to the list — this tends to happen especially when forwarding mail from one address to another, or else when your email software is set up to check multiple accounts. To find your subscribed address, view the Full Headers (described here) of a message you’ve received from the list, and look for the one called Return-Path, usually among the first listed. It will look like this:

Return-Path: <groupname-owner+name=domain.org@groups.electricembers.net>

Groups encodes the subscriber’s address within the return address, beginning after the + sign and with the @ sign replaced by =. So in the above, +name=domain.org translates to name@domain.org, which is the actual subscribed address. It is from that address that any list subscription change requests must come, in order for Groups to know who you are.

Why don't I receive a copy of my message when I post to a Group from Gmail?

This is a somewhat obstructionist feature of Gmail, not Groups, but it is designed to reduce duplication of messages in your account and to prevent spoofing or infinite mail loops. Any email you’ve sent out from Gmail and then received back again from an outside server (in this case our list server) is hidden from your inbox, apparently because a copy of the email already exists in your Sent Mail and All Mail labels/folders. You should be able to find more information on this behavior in the Gmail help section, or by contacting their tech support.

Why aren't the message links in the Table of Contents clickable in my daily digest? Why does my daily rich digest sometimes display garbled in Apple Mail?

There appears to be a bug in Apple Mail that is triggered under obscure conditions when trying to display the MIME digest format, which the Groups “rich digest” delivery mode uses. If you are subscribed in rich digest mode (not the simpler digest mode), and you sometimes see only some of the message text content mixed in with lines of formatting markup or computer code, we can offer these two suggestions:

  • You may be able to kick Apple Mail into recognizing the digest format by temporarily activating its “view all headers” option: While viewing the garbled digest message, select View -> Message -> All Headers from the menu. If the digest doesn’t immediately display correctly, try exiting Apple Mail and then opening it again. You can restore this setting to its default afterward, and the digest in question should continue being displayed properly – but you will need to repeat this process for any future garbled digests.
  • For a more permanent workaround, you can switch to the simpler plain digest reception mode instead of rich digest. Login to the Groups service (there should be a link to the correct URL in the footer on any list message you have received), go to Subscriber Options, and change your Reception Mode to just “digest”. This will simplify the content you receive, removing all original formatting, images, and attachments, but with the benefit of universal compatibility.
What is that weirdly altered From: address on Groups messages?

You may have noticed that instead of Groups messages just coming from the original sender, the From: address is now altered to something like this:

  From: "Sender Name (via groupname list)" <groupname+sender=email.com@npogroups.org>

We know that this change makes certain things a bit more difficult for our users, but it has become necessary in response to the overwhelming problem of spam and phishing emails – or rather, it is in response to the new ways that email providers are themselves fighting that problem.

Namely, other email providers (eg. Yahoo, Office 365) are now requiring authentication of the true sender of any incoming message, and when our Groups service sends out messages with their original From: info left intact, that authentication fails. So, we must now hide the original sender’s email in the From: line, while preserving it only in other places such as the Reply-To: and X-Original-From: lines.

The name for this new authentication scheme is DMARC, and you can get more information from the DMARC FAQ and from a more detailed explanation of rewriting the From: line for mailing lists. We’ve actually been rewriting the From: lines for a small percentage of messages since mid-2014, specifically those coming from sender domains that publish a strict DMARC policy, but recent developments have required us to start doing the same for all messages.

But the actual functional impact on users should be minimal. Any replies to list messages should work exactly as before in most cases, due to the addition of a correct Reply-To: header on all messages. And although the original sender’s email address is no longer in the From: line (or rather, is present only in an obfuscated form), their real name is still there, and their real email is in the X-Original-From: header and possibly the Reply-To: header. Different email programs will handle these other headers in different ways; some will display them easily and automatically, while others will let you view them with a few extra clicks. But the information is still there if needed.