Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Can the Eastern Star spam!

I got added to a new email directory as part of my statewide appointment this year. Sure enough, it didn't take but a few weeks for the junk mail to start trickling (not, I will grant, flooding) in. Jokes, "inspirational" poems, bogus health and safety warnings, and general glurge, often with some politically- or ideologically-motivated "moral".

Before I even consented to publish my email in the new directory, I asked our group's leader to impress upon all of our co-appointees that the list was to be used for official and informative messages only, not junk. It isn't a moderated list, just a directory, so once the email addresses are out there, we don't have any enforcement mechanism or anything. And so, over time, voluntary compliance breaks down. Let's just say glurge practitioners aren't known for their thoughtful construction of opt-in (or opt-out) programs, or even any brain engagement whatsoever between themselves and their "Fwd:" buttons and the entire contents of their personal address books.

It's disheartening. It's embarrassing! We're ruining email as a means of communication within our Order, and that isn't good.

As a Chapter Secretary, I now have several members who won't consent to publish their email addresses in our Roster for this exact reason. I'm walking a fine line trying to keep said emails for my personal and official use... it only takes one slip with "Cc:" instead of "Bcc:" to release them into the wild.

How can we solve this problem?

If you have suggestions for aliasing my Chapter's outgoing email in a way that doesn't expose member addresses and can be 100% set up and moderated at my end without my members' involvement, please comment. I haven't figured it out yet.

Most of the groups I receive messages from aren't (and aren't gonna be) operated with the level of technical sophistication necessary to keep my address safe from glurgers, unfortunately.

I'm also working on a "Think Before You Fwd:" program: a delicately worded, intentionally friendly, personal appeal from me to cease and desist. I make it as clear as possible that I want to receive messages the senders have personally composed, but that I am not interested in anything forwarded. This seems to be helping! But only in a Wac-a-Mole sort of way. It usually works if I send it directly to an individual, but is almost never heeded when I broadcast it to a list. I also encourage everyone to get permission from their intended recipients before they open the Fwd:gates. That hasn't worked yet, and I'm not holding my breath.

Since our members do surely love being ordered around by Grand Authority Figures, I'm debating whether I should approach some of our Grand Chapter leadership, but since many of them are offenders themselves, I can't say I'm optimistic.

Is there any way to take back email and make it useful for communication within OES? Or is it a lost cause?

(Lest ye snark, Brethren, about the credulous old ladies, I must point out that my first offender of the year on my latest list was one of you. I would hazard a guess that this is yet another problem we all share.)

If we can get a handle on responsible use of email, maybe that'll help with membership....


Mary and the Widow's Son said...

I hear you! I set up an email list for my lodge a few years ago, and like you, it wasn't long before I was receiving tons of forwarded emails, almost all of it representing either a political view I don't share or worse, something crude and definitely unMasonic. I've asked one brother at least half a dozen times to take me off his list of forwarded "America Love it Leave It" type emails, but they still come in regularly.

Nothing much you can do but set up filters sending all email from offenders straight to the trash can.

Widow's Son

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cmh said...

You have got to be fucking kidding me.