Switching from Plusnet email subscription lists to Google Groups
Because of the challenges in supporting the ancient technology, Plusnet has made the decision to close down the existing email subscription lists service. For the sake of simplicity I’ll refer to such services as a ‘Dlist’ for the remainder of this document. This leaves Plusnet users looking for a new home for their Dlist services. ‘Google Groups’ is an alternative source of delivering Dlist functionality – this document seeks to explain how you might move an existing Plusnet Dlist to Google Groups.
Google Groups has far richer capabilities than the existing Plusnet (PN) Dlist service – this transition guide only seeks to examine those areas required to mimic your existing Dlist functionality. In outline, the following steps need to be performed:-
- If you do not already have a Google Account then you will need to get one – they are free
- For each Dlist:
- Email your Dlist members to tell them that you are moving the Dlist to Google Groups and that they will be receiving introductory / confirmation emails – this avoids nasty surprises!
- Extract the current membership list from your PN Dlist
- Create a Google Group
- Add each member to the Google Group
- Send a test message
- When you are sure that everything is working, delete your existing PN Dlist
- Create a new PN redirect email address to the Google Groups email address on your PN account with the same name as the original Dlist
- Customise your Google Group configuration to your heart’s content
- Google Groups allows you to have more than one group (Dlist) manager, who can control who can use the Dlist, how replies to messages are handled etc.
- If you choose to, you can publish the Group’s web address and members can directly view the messages received by the group
- You can also add Dlist subscription forms onto your website
- ...the list of options goes on!
To illustrate the process, the following sections assume that you are going to move ‘myDlist’ to Google Groups and your Plusnet account is ‘myAccount’. Consequently:-
- Your default Plus Net email address is postmaster@myAccount.plus.com
- Your Dlist email address is myDlist@myAccount.plus.com
- @myAccount.plus.com could alternately be your PN hosted domain name @myDomain.co.uk
Note that some of the screen shots are taken from a real set-up activity and thus the personal identities have been masked. In such places you should use your personal details as appropriate.
Google Account Sign-up
If you don't already have one then you can sign-up for a Google Account here, they are free. All you need is an email address. The sign up form says “current email address” – you can use your main email address if you wish, or you might want to use an alias on your Plusnet service to give you the option to separate email from Google / your group administration from your normal day to day email. Remember you have the choice! If you do want to do this and you have the email catch-all switched off, create this account in Manage My Mail *before* signing up to Google!! (Otherwise your confirmation email will vanish into an electronic black hole!)
For the purposes of illustration we are going to use the PN email address google@myAccount.plus.com
Fill-in your email address, choose a memorable password, select the other options as relevant - if in doubt choose the defaults – but don't set Google to be my home page unless that's what you really want! Read the legal stuff and then press the accept button. You’ll get a response that says a confirmation email has been sent to your email account.
Go to your email box, find the Google Account verification email and follow the instructions.
After clicking the link Google will confirm your account verification.
Now you can explore the many offerings of your Google Account – calendar, on line documents etc.
Convert Plus Net Dlist to a Google Group
Advise list members what is happening
It is recommended that you send your list members an email advising them that you are converting your PN Dlist to a Google Group, advising them that they should expect to receive a confirmation email from Google. You might want to offer them assistance if they have difficulty.
Extract a list of current members
If requested the PN Dlist servers will if requested send a list of subscribers in response from an email set from the main PN email account. So in our case an email should be:-
If the email is sent from any other account / addressee, the Dlist manager will send a “cannot do this” response! Note no email subject of content is required.
The PN list manager (Ezmlm) will promptly respond will a tabulated list of subscribers.
Create the Google Group
Log into Google with the account you previously had or created, and find the Google Group create a group page.
Fill in the details as appropriate – take careful note of the Access Levels – get these wrong and anyone can view the group’s messages, even if they are not members. You can fine tune this later.
Type in the characters displayed into the verification box on the verification page.
Google Groups will then confirm the group creation by email.
Add members to the new Google Group
After creating your group, you will automatically be taken to the add members page ‘Invite members by email’. To save your members the necessity to accept the invitation, switch to the ‘Add members directly’ option.
Note: Unfortunately Google removed the 'Add members directly' option in July 2011 due to spammers registering an account and abusing the facility. Hence there is now no alternative to inviting members by email.
You need to be aware that there are address profiles which *cannot* be added to Google Groups, so you might need to do something ‘special’ for some of your list members.
If for example you use webmaster@myAccount.plus.com as a member of your list, you could change this to web.master@myAccount.plus.com and add web.master@myAccount.plus.com as an alias to your existing PN webmaster mailbox.
From the list of members' email addresses you obtained earlier, highlight and copy the list of names and paste them straight into the ‘add as members’ box. Note if you have any subscriptions to @googlemail.com or @googlemail.co.uk these will be rejected and will need to be changed to @gmail.
Add a welcome message and press the create button. Congratulations your new Google Group has now been created and all your old PN Dlist members are now members of the group.
Test the Google Group
For the purpose of testing, it is really helpful if one of your own email addresses is a member of the Google Group. Prior to terminating your current PN Dlist, you can send emails to the group members by using the Google Group email address as advised in the group creation email – which in our case is firstname.lastname@example.org. As you might expect, you can use this email address in the TO: address field, however (unlike with the PN list manager) you can also use the email address in the CC: and BCC: fields. Regrettably (unlike with the PN list manager) read and delivery confirmation requests do not appear to work.
Send some emails and reply to them and ensure that the group list works as you want it to – for example try the difference between ‘reply’ and ‘reply-all’. If you want replies to go to the message author and all group members, then you should advise your memebers to use ‘reply-all’. You could put a message to that effect in the Group message footer – see below.
Say good bye to your PN Dlist
When you are happy that your new Google Group is working properly then it is time to say goodbye to your PN Dlist. Before proceeding, be sure that you have a safe copy of your original PN Dlist as once deleted it will not be possible to retrieve the membership list from the PN systems.
Log in to the PN members portal and select ‘Email Settings’, select ‘Manage My Mail’ and then choose the ‘Mailing lists’ tab. Find the myDlist entry and click delete. Then confirm that you really do want to delete the mailing list.
After deleting the Dlist entry you can now create a redirect email address with the same name, point to the Google Group. Select the ‘Redirects’ tab and click the ‘Add new redirect’ button.
Use the same name for the redirect as your old Dlist and place the Google Groups email address (as advised in the group creation confirmation email) into the destination address box and click ‘ADD’. Note: Throughout this guide ‘myDlist’ has been used as a placeholder for your Dlist name – The PN Manage My Mail interfaces does not permit capital letters in mailbox names, consequently in the above illustration ‘mydlist’ has been used instead. Email systems do not distinguish between upper and lower case characters.
Customising the Google Group
Google Groups have lots of characteristics that you can customise as you please. The list below is a brief summary of the more important ones. Go explore them and have fun!
- View and edit information about the group
- Create a subscription sign-up HTML snippet to place on your website
- Control who, how, what for the group
- Add a custom question for sign-up invitations
- Change the appearance of the Group’s pages – really useful if you want to embed the group’s postings in an IFRAME on your own website
- Control what appears and where on your group’s message web page
- Email Delivery
- Customise message subject prefix
- Customise the message footer – you can put details of your Dlist here and how to unsubscribe
- Manage who replies go to
- Manage moderator rejection action
- simply give your Dlist a Google classification
- Default language
- Archive controls
- Allow receive communications from Google
- SPAM Controls
- Self explanatory
- Management tasks
- Manage users
- Manage pending messages (moderation)
Special thanks to Kevin Johnson ('townman' on the Community Forums) for the creation of this support article.