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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 organization’s own web site.

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 https://npogroups.org or https://groups.electricembers.net, while others are found under their own custom domain names like https://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, file sharing area, and subscriber list. Some of these things may be disallowed by the group owners.

Interaction with email apps

Some email apps (Apple Mail, Office 365, GMail, etc) make assumptions in handling and displaying email that will interfere with your use of email lists, so here are some tips for configuring your email app:

  1. Contacts/address books: You should not create a contact or address book entry for any list address; if you do, it may result in your email app hiding the author’s name for all list messages (see this FAQ). Don’t worry about having to type the whole list address every time you post a message, as most email apps will still auto-complete the address for you after the first time.
  2. “Smart Addresses”: In Apple Mail, ensure that the Smart Addresses feature is disabled (see these instructions), so that you can see the actual recipient email address in the To: line when composing a message. This will help you avoid accidentally mailing a reply to the list that was meant to be private.
  3. Reply All: Some mail apps may not give a Reply All option when viewing list messages, because the list is actually a single email address, and your mail app therefore sees it as a conversation between just you and one other person. This is an unfortunate shortcoming, and we know of no fix, but you can simply add the list address manually as another recipient for your reply. And again, most email apps will still auto-complete the address for you after the first time, so you don’t actually have to type more than the first few characters.
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: 25 MB
  • 101-500 subscribers: 15 MB
  • 501-1500 subscribers: 10 MB
  • 1501-5000 subscribers: 5 MB
  • 5001-10000 subscribers: 2 MB
  • 10001-15000 subscribers: 1 MB
  • 15001+ subscribers: 500 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 domain administrator, 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.

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.
Another possibility is that the group is a newsletter style group that does not allow posting.

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

You must be subscribed with a different address than the one you’re sending from – this happens with alias addresses and forwarders, or when your email software is set up to check multiple accounts. On standard-delivery messages, it’s very simple to find your actual subscribed address: just look for the "Sent to you at: " line at the bottom. But on daily digests, it’s a bit trickier.

To find your subscribed address from a digest message, view the full message headers (or your email software may call it something like “view original” or “view raw message”), and look for the first line that begins with Received:. There will be a lot of cryptic information in that line, but towards the end will be a phrase like "for <yourname@yourdomain.com>" – that email address is the one that is actually subscribed.

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.
Why can't I see who any Groups messages are from?

Short answer:

The sender’s name is still present in the From: line, but your email app is hiding it from you. The best fix we know of is to delete the entry for this Group from your address book or contacts, as the full From: line will be displayed if no contact info exists for the Group address. (Or if you don’t want to delete the contact entirely, you could try just editing it and deleting whatever is in the Name fields, leaving them blank.)

More detail:

This issue arises out of a flawed assumption made by some email apps, an assumption that is broken by the rewriting of list sender email addresses that we must do to comply with modern sender authentication systems.

The assumption they make is that each email address maps to one unique individual, and that they could rely on that one-to-one mapping to override From: header info with whatever name or label you’ve assigned to someone in your address book. But the sender address on a list message is the email address of the list itself, not the original sender, something we must do in order to comply with DMARC. That means 10 or 100 or 1000 different people posting to a group will appear to your email program to share the same email address, and it will display a useless generic “sender name” for all of them if it finds one in your address book.

Why do Groups messages all come From: the Group address, not the original sender's address?

You may have noticed that instead of Groups messages just coming from the original sender, the From: name and address are rewritten to something like this:

  From: "Sender Name via groupname list" <groupname@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 remove the original sender’s email from the From: line, while preserving it in other places such as the Reply-To: and X-Original-From: lines.

The name for the new authentication scheme is DMARC, and you can get more information from DMARC.org and from a more detailed explanation of rewriting the From: line for mailing lists.

In theory, the actual functional impact on users should be minimal. We add a correct Reply-to: header to every message, which is supposed to tell any user’s email program to send replies to the original sender, not back to the group (unless the group’s settings are configured to do the latter). And although the original sender’s address is no longer visible in the From: line, their real name is still there, and their real email is in the X-Original-From: header and possibly the Reply-to: header. It may take a little searching around and a few extra clicks in your email program to see these headers, but the information is in fact still there if needed.

Unfortunately, in practice some email programs do not always respect the Reply-to: header, and will still send replies back to the address contained in the From: line instead. Since that address is now the group address, there is a risk of replies that were meant to be private going back to the full group. The only way to avoid that mistake is for the user to remain vigilant, carefully inspecting the To: line on any reply message before hitting Send. (Apple Mail users: If you see only a name in the To: field and not the actual email address when composing a message, you need to turn off Smart Addresses.)