Messaging: distribution lists?

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The Purple Panzer
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Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by The Purple Panzer » Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:42 am

I often have messages I'd like to send to a group of people - sometimes these are coincident with the groups I've had set up (e.g., PPANZER.ADMINS), though it might be better if I could set up a list of active admins and just message them. I've probably got 25+ active admins (out of maybe twice that number total) or dedicated players on my servers that I'd like to be in touch with on a regular basis. Basically I'd like to be able to send PMs to these people without going through the trouble of selecting their names every time.

The messages may relate to problems people have seen, players who might have been cheating, known map issues that will be fixed, or, conversely, it'd be useful to enable an exchange of ideas among this group, so that members could easily raise issues without going through me every time. While I could set up a special group (say PPANZER.ACTIVEADMINS), I'd like anyone on it to be able to send messages to everyone else in the group as easily as possible, ideally by just using that group name as the outgoing PM address. Is this possible (well, it isn't now, but might it be something that could easily be turned on)? If not, does anyone have any ideas how to accomplish this - ideally within the BZFlag forums? I suppose I could set up a parallel forum thing entirely outside of the BZ forums, but that seems less than optimal - I can't imagine I'm the only one who might want to do this, and the user names, etc. track well with the fora.

The IRC mechanism *might* be an answer, but that assumes a level of focus and interest that this group might not (at least initially) have, so I don't think it would work quite as I'd like. I'd be willing to try it, but it seems somewhat impractical to me - and I'm not familiar enough with IRC to know if it would allow one to see, for instance, every message since they last read any messages. Most groups I've joined are basically real-time channels.

In summary, I'd like to be able to establish a sub-community that may have a free-wheeling discussion of issues, but that isn't readable by the uninvited (mainly meaning the average player; if the discussions are even marginally useful, I'd have no objection to them being at least readable by a bigger part of the community). One reason not to have complete openness is the sort of response one might get to posts along the lines of "Is player X cheating? This is what I saw", and similar such comments. (If I were to imagine an ultimate solution, the messages would be globally readable, but the names of specific players ("X" in the above example) would be redacted - but that's probably a bit silly to suggest. The value of the list discussions would have to offset the effort required to do this, and I doubt that'd be the case.)

Any ideas would be most welcome.

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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by Gerbil » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:12 am

I think the BB works good with the auto email feature (overall). My primary reason for being admin is to stop the cheaters and blatant griefers that prey on servers when admins aren't around and drive off their populations. I can log on at odd hours and random times and help do this. My personal issue with irc approaches is the, "We're having a meeting--be here at this time". I can't always do that.

If it's an informal regular thing for brainstorming and "come if you can" that's great. You could talk about server functions, changes, etc. and send a note out about what you'll be going over.

Real life is your biggest competition and I have to work around it. I love coming on and "saving" a server from a jerk who's been hounding it for seven hours straight with no resistance and can do that day or night.

We've started having some servers who are "over admining" now--not that they have to many--they are too indiscriminate on who they are letting admin. I wish ALL the server operators would look through the long time admins (I've been at it close to eight years now) and pool tap them for use.

It's the admins who are on multiple groups who make the problem players log off as soon as they arrive.
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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by blast » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:49 am

My suggestion: https://groups.google.com

With that, you could have a private group where only members can post/view messages, and they don't have to sit around in a channel to see them. By default, it's email based, with the option of viewing the messages from the web UI.
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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by The Purple Panzer » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:08 am

Gerbil - what is the "auto email feature"? Do you mean just getting an email that tells you that you have a new message? One bboard problem is just getting all the admin names in the outgoing message, without missing anyone.

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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by JeffM » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:08 pm

I would think that you would have some kind of contact info for your admins, since you should know a bit about who they really are.

We aren't really in a position to provide social media and contact management services on these forums.

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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by The Purple Panzer » Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:20 pm

I don't think my request falls into either of those two categories, nor that it is unreasonable. The groups, usernames, etc., are all tied to the bboard, and the fora are intended for discussing BZFlag issues. In the simplest form, my suggestion would be to allow group names as the outgoing address for PM's; that has nothing to do with 'social media' or 'contact management'. I suppose another method might be to set up a hidden forum for admins.

All in all it may be simplest and quickest to do something with google groups, but in any event I do think you've completely missed my point.

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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by JeffM » Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:56 pm

oh no I have not missed your point, I know EXACTLY what you want and why. I'm just saying that there are a few things about how our groups work that you may not be taking into account.

1) We are limited in what we can do since we use a third party forum software. Every mod we make to the forums has to be hand applied every time we upgrade it for security fixes.
2) Our use of forum groups for in game authentication is not optimal. Every forum upgrade risks breaking the link to the list server. Our overriding goal is to move groups into it's own system that is NOT tied to the forums. This would ether break, or make incredibly difficult, any messaging functions we add.

These factors make it so a feature like this is not something we want to add and support. There have been many requests in the past for all kinds of "social networking" type features to both bzflag and bzbb, and we just have to draw the line somewhere on what we are going to provide as a service. It all has to fit into something we can continue to maintain. There are all kinds of neat things we can do with forum groups but we have chosen not to.

So basically the best way for you to get what you are asking for is to convince phpbb to add it as a base feature, then it'll work up to the point where we decouple groups from the forums.

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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by The Purple Panzer » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:09 pm

That answer makes complete sense - thanks.

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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by FiringSquad » Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:42 pm

Check out Post Notices to groups.
It looks like it will do what you want, by informing everyone within a specified group that you have something for them to read.
It could be a valuable facility for other groups too.
Just a thought.

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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by blast » Sat Aug 25, 2012 4:27 am

No, we are not going to mod phpBB to allow this.
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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by FiringSquad » Tue Aug 28, 2012 2:11 pm

OK, understandable.

As a solution then, you can add several users in one go to a PM.
Just keep copy of your group members, 1 per line, in a text file on your computer and then copy and paste it into the "Add" text field.
Clicking on the "Add" button will then add all of them.

The good thing about this is that they will be notified of a new PM waiting for them when they log in to play, which would not be the case with Google-Groups etc.

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Re: Messaging: distribution lists?

Post by The Purple Panzer » Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:08 pm

That's a simple and reasonably elegant solution; didn't know it was doable. I mistakenly just assumed that the PM machinery verified each address as it was entered!

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