First a recap for those who don’t know what a Mailing List is: ‘Mailing List’ is a confusing name for a great Internet institution. There are Mailing Lists for every topic under the sun. And there’s one for Family Historian users called, appropriately enough, the Family Historian Users Mailing List (or ‘FHU list’ for short). The way it works is this: you subscribe to the list, and thereafter you get every email that anyone sends to the list. That way, you can have (or, if you prefer, just listen in to) a multi-way conversation between all other subscribers to the list. If you don’t want to get every email, you can opt to get a once-a-day digest instead. Personally, I prefer to get them all, but set up a rule in my email program, to automatically copy FHU list emails to a special folder when they arrive. That way, they don’t clutter up my inbox, and are still easy to browse and read.
The FHU list is a great way for FH users to communicate with one another and share advice and tips. Any FHU list user will tell you that the list has a number of heroes, like Mike Tate, Jane Taubman and others, who seem to be able to answer almost every question, however simple or complex. And best of all, it’s a very friendly and helpful environment where people really can ask those very basic questions, without being made to feel stupid.
Last week, after years of reliable and uneventful functioning, the list hit some snags. First, there was a spate of garbage emails containing dodgy links. These emails must all have come from subscribers’ email addresses, or they wouldn’t have made it onto the list. But they were clearly sent by some ‘malware’ without the knowledge of the actual subscribers. The garbage emails all had “Fw: new message” as their subject, so clearly all such list emails should be ignored and deleted. But more generally, the rule is: don’t click on a link in an email, even if you recognise the person it apparently came from, if there isn’t enough text in the email for you to be confident that that person actually wrote it.
Then, probably as a side-effect of the first problem, some email providers started to reject emails coming from the list. The list, which is managed by Rootsweb, is designed so that after a while, if emails ‘bounce’ back, eventually the subscriber will be automatically unsubscribed. Suddenly we had hundreds of automatic unsubscriptions! And shortly after that we had hundreds of emails from subscribers saying that they didn’t want to be unsubscribed and could we please fix it – too many for us to be able to reply individually. Hence this post.
We have now re-subscribed everyone who was unsubscribed. And we hope and believe that emails sent from the list are no longer being routinely ‘bounced’ by email providers. But please bear with us if problems recur. It may take a while before things settle down completely again. For future reference, if you do get unsubscribed unexpectedly and you did not want to unsubscribe, please just re-subscribe. If you continue to be unsubscribed automatically, please just wait a day or so and then try again. If nothing seems to be working, feel free to email the list adminstrators at firstname.lastname@example.org; but please be understanding if we don’t reply individually. In these situations, we may just be getting too many emails to be able to do that.
To learn more about how to subscribe to the FHU list, please see www.family-historian.co.uk/community/fhu.