Email Digests - Important change to Email Alerts

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Neil Fitzgerald
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Email Digests - Important change to Email Alerts

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Sun May 15, 2016 3:12 pm

Email Alerts (from the Bird Sightings and Alerts forum) have been an important feature of BirdingNZ.net for nearly seven years now. Problem is, as hard as it might be to believe, email is actually an old technology and it can be hard to find support for it in this sort of platform. A relatively small proportion of our members consider this feature important or essential though, so I've been trying to find a compromise solution so the site can move forward without seriously disadvantaging too many members.

The upshot of all this is that Email Alerts as you knew them are gone.

Enter Email Digests
We now have Email Digests. The beauty of this system is that you, the user, have much more control. To access the Digests settings, go to your User Control Panel (UCP), which is now via the person icon at the top right of the page:
ucp-digests.jpg
To access your User Control Panel to change your Digests (and any other personal settings), click the silhouette icon then the User Control Panel link.
ucp-digests.jpg (36.87 KiB) Viewed 3540 times


In your UCP you'll see a Digests tab, and there you'll find a lot of options. Must importantly, now you can select which forums you would like to get digests from, and whether you'd like to get all posts or just the first post of a new topic. You can also choose plain text email, or a nicer looking html formatted option.
Digests are only sent daily, weekly or monthly (you can choose), and you can select what time of the day you'd like them.
There aer many more options, so if email digests are of interest to you, have a look.

I have already set everyone who was previously getting Email Alerts to now receive daily plain text Digests for the first post of new topics in the Bird Sightings and Alerts forum, i.e. as close to the old Email Alerts as possible. I encourage you to check and modify your settings as you prefer.

If you notice any unusual behaviour in your emails, please let me know ASAP.
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Michael Szabo
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Re: Important change to Email Alerts

Postby Michael Szabo » Sun May 15, 2016 8:07 pm

Neil,

Could you please explain why you have done this.

Saying "it can be hard to find support for it [email] in this sort of platform" doesn't explain to me *why* you made the decision to discontinue the email alerts at this point.

For example, was there some specific functionality that was deleted from the entire system when you did the upgrade which now prevents the email alerts from continuing for those of us who stated that we wanted them when you asked us for our views?

If not, is it possible to reinstate them? If so, how can I do this?

Regards,
Michael
'New Zealand Birders' Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/857726274293085/
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Neil Fitzgerald
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Re: Important change to Email Alerts

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Sun May 15, 2016 8:42 pm

Hi Michael,
The email alerts that we previously had required modifications to core code. This meant that updates were difficult, and potentially risky.
The new version does not allow code hacks in the same way. So this left persisting with nearly 10 year old software which is no longer supported, leaving us lacking other important features, and with potential security issues, or moving forward with a compromise.
I've been looking for a long time, because I understand it is important to some members, and the solution I've gone with has only just become available. It is rather a niche requirement. It's not the same as before, but it no longer seemed fair or sensible to persist with the old for a relatively small number of members when we have Digests as an alternative.
It is not possible to reinstate the old alerts.
In addition to email Digests and Smart Feeds, I hope to be able to install some new functionality before too long which will make it even easier to get posts straight to your smart phone.
Thanks,
Neil
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Michael Szabo
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Re: Important change to Email Alerts

Postby Michael Szabo » Sun May 15, 2016 9:17 pm

Thanks for your explanation, Neil, that's much appreciated.
Two comments:
1. Daily digest. This is not as as immediate as an email alert. If a rare bird is reported early in the day it will be some time later that day that the Digest goes out, by which time the bird may be gone. So there is still a need for an immediate 'alert'.
2. Digital divide. If you are able to install new functionality please can you find something that works with email as well as 'smart' mobile phones.
Regards,
Michael
Last edited by Michael Szabo on Mon May 16, 2016 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
'New Zealand Birders' Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/857726274293085/
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Neil Fitzgerald
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Re: Important change to Email Alerts

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Sun May 15, 2016 9:33 pm

Hi Michael,
You are correct that the Digests are not as immediate as the old alerts. Apart from that they offer much more. I thought about this for a long time, and in the end decided that the group of people who are likely to be able to respond to an email that rapidly is probably a subset of the already small number receiving them.
If you can get emails straight away, you can probably get feeds.
As for mobile devices, it's almost sad how pervasive so-called smart devices are now. You can get a very capable phone for under $100. No need to fork out for top shelf phone bling. I pay $16 a month for unlimited texts, more minutes than I'd ever use, and a couple of hundred MB of "roll-over" data. The divide isn't as wide as it once was.
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Michael Szabo
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Re: Important change to Email Alerts

Postby Michael Szabo » Sun May 15, 2016 10:06 pm

That's a spare $250 I don't have (c$100 mobile plus annual plan @ $16 per month), Neil. At least Facebook is free to use and there's now a "New Zealand Birders" group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/8577262 ... 5/?fref=nf
Last edited by Michael Szabo on Mon May 16, 2016 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
'New Zealand Birders' Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/857726274293085/
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Neil Fitzgerald
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Re: Important change to Email Alerts

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Sun May 15, 2016 10:19 pm

I'm sorry, I'm not sure where $250 came from.
If you want immediate, you can get feeds for free. Straight to your email. viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5738
Just like email, but you have more options.
If you are on facebook, you can even get the priority alerts that way too! Just 'like' us at https://www.facebook.com/birdingnz/
(viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5620&p=27576&hilit=facebook#p27576)
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Michael Szabo
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Re: Important change to Email Alerts

Postby Michael Szabo » Mon May 16, 2016 9:01 am

I didn't see your March 2016 post saying that BirdingNZ now had set up a Facebook page so I've now joined. It would have been useful if you'd pointed this out in yesterday's post announcing that there would be no more email alerts.
'New Zealand Birders' Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/857726274293085/
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David Riddell
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Re: Important change to Email Alerts

Postby David Riddell » Mon May 16, 2016 3:06 pm

Michael Szabo wrote:That's a spare $250 I don't have (c$100 mobile plus annual plan @ $16 per month), Neil.

Michael, they're just about giving away second-hand phones on Trademe - you can pick a perfectly serviceable one up for five bucks. And you don't need a monthly plan - if you mostly just want texts, you can go the pre-pay route. $20 could last you a year if you're careful. So that's $25, not $250.
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Michael Szabo
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Re: Email Digests - Important change to Email Alerts

Postby Michael Szabo » Mon May 16, 2016 3:10 pm

Thanks for your concern David, that's much appreciated. Facebook is free so I'll will be using that instead now.
'New Zealand Birders' Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/857726274293085/

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