As a Play-By-Email role playing game, our email lists are a critical part of our game. For more than 15 years, we’ve been using Yahoo Groups, but now the time has come to move our community to Google Groups.
As most of you know, the last few weeks have been very trying as Yahoo launches a new design for their Groups pages. Unfortunately, this launch has been less than graceful on their part, and has been fraught with troublesome deliverability problems. Many of you have said that emails are showing up hours or days late, if at all. And it also seems to have made the product more difficult to work with.
As a result, simming volume has fallen due to concern about whether sims are being delivered in a timely fashion, or delivered out of order.
While it’s possible that Yahoo could sort all this out in the next few weeks, the fact is that we have experienced these problems in a more limited way for years now — this is just the culmination of a long history of bad times with Yahoo.
For the record, although it’s been hard some times, Yahoo was a pioneer in this space and gave us the power to communicate effectively for many years. If you can believe it, our first ships that simmed via email (before that we simmed live in AOL chat rooms) simply had everyone’s email address in the “TO:” field of the emails — can you imagine how often that got messed up? Then along came eGroups — the precursor to Yahoo Groups — which was the first hosted email list solution on the web, and changed forever the way our simming happened.
The primary reason we have stayed for so long with Yahoo is that we have a significant, embedded history of sims on its site. And because it do not allow posts to be exported, we’ve effectively been locked in. But that’s a problem we’ve just solved.
Just this weekend, member Nemitor Atimen completed user interface for a database of our sims, going all the way back to the first sims on Yahoo Groups. The interface integrates directly with our website, and updates with new sims every few minutes.
Now that we have a central archive of our sims, we’re no longer locked in to Yahoo Groups — if you’re looking for a sim after your ship has moved to Google Groups, simply head to the archive and search, instead of trying to figure out whether the sim is on Yahoo or Google.
Please check out the archive at your earliest convenience: http://sims.starbase118.net
Since the USS Avandar launched, it has been simming on Google Groups, giving our staff a good understanding of how the service works. And in all cases, the crew has found it more reliable than Yahoo. As of yesterday, we’ve started moving lists to Google Groups. The Apollo was first up, and Vigilant is happening today. The rest of the ships will move on a daily basis this week. Team lists will move over the course of the next month.
There’s a few important differences you should be aware of when your ship moves to Google Groups:
1. On your sims lists, do not push “Reply” to post a sim. Always open a NEW email and put the sim list’s address into your “To:” field — otherwise, your email will be grouped together with the previous email in the Google Groups archive, making it hard to find there.
2. On your OOC lists, you can DEFINITELY “reply”/”reply to all” to threads, so that they will be grouped together in the archive.
3. On your OOC lists, pushing “Reply” or “Reply to All” will respond to EVERYONE. Don’t worry about the sender receiving a duplicate, though — you can keep both the sender and list in your To: field.
4. Unlike Yahoo Groups, you will NOT receive a copy of your own sims/emails back to you from Google Groups. This is a feature, not a bug. The good news is that Google Groups is far more reliable than Yahoo, and you can rest assured that your sim was received by others on the list. Of course, you can also check the list’s page itself — which your CO will send to you once the transition begins — if you want reassurance.
Just like with Yahoo, you do NOT have to have a Gmail address to use Google Groups. You can still use your current email address, whatever service that may be with.
Our goal is to make this transition as simple and clean for everyone as possible. And we hope that, after it’s over, you’ll be less stressed by deliverability issues and Yahoo frustration.
Thank you for your continued participation in our community. I look forward to 15 years of simming on our new home at Google Groups!
(Image source: Trekcore.)