Wednesday, December 14, 2005

GENEALOGAHOLIC - Newsletter mailing issues

GENEALOGAHOLIC – A person addicted to researching their family tree. There is a twelve step program however no one has ever wanted to take it yet.

(I think I just invented a word. - Dick Hillenbrand - 12/13/05.)

Here is an explanation of what is going on with the Newsletter.
This is the very first issue of what we hope will be many more to come.

Our website was built with a very sophisticated software program named JOOMLA! Well, JOOMLA! has some very nice Newsletter components that record the subscriptions and sends out an automated “Welcome” message that should have a link in it to click on in order to confirm your subscription. This “confirm” detail does some good things. It makes sure you typed in the correct e-mail address, and it makes sure the subscriber does indeed want to receive the Newsletter. We can not get around that confirm link situation, it is part of JOOMLA!
(Update, we "might" be able to get around it and are still looking into it.)

Now our first problem occurred when I did not use the “Editor” Component that comes with JOOMLA! to build the Newsletter. I used WORD and then tried to copy and paste it all over into JOOMLA!’s editor. Everything worked fine until we got to the formatted table “Index of the 1846 Town of Vernon Tax List.” We just could not get it to format properly in HTML. So in an effort to get the Newsletter out on the promised date, I said, No Problem, I’ll send it in WORD and copy and paste the subscriber’s addresses into my email program. Do a batch mail and figure out how to use JOOMLA!’s editor for the next issue. What the hey, there are only going to be about 40 or 50 subscribers, possibly a couple of hundred at the most!

Well here is the current situation; we now have several THOUSAND subscribers! Who knew? Over one thousand more signed up in one day this past week-end. So what we have to do is figure out the best way to get an issue of our First Edition out to the many new subscribers and it might not be pretty. We are going to ask all of you nice people to bear with us, as we may have to do another total mailing list bulk mail in order to get a clear starting point from which to manage the subscriber data base better.

Many of you reported that you never received the Welcome letter, or that there was no link to click, so we did a lot of manual confirmation. It seems likely that if all of that is true then the only reason that seems credible is that the traffic on the website which has been enormous in the past few days just caused a server overload. Our web-host provides us with “unlimited” server space, but there are certainly events that might exceed the maximum usage at any one given point in time. I noticed that at 5:45 pm last Saturday there were 680 visitors on the site at the same time!

None of this will be an issue on the Second Issue of the Newsletter, because we will build the whole thing with JOOMLA! and let the automated mailing feature be our fingers that do the walking.

These are little growing pains that develop when doing a project such as this and it causes some discussion, to say the least, but there is really no problem. We do not have to any more “programming” as some suggested. We know exactly what to do for the future, but it is the current mailing that might get a little confusing.

All we can hope for is if you do get a multiple mailing this time, please bear with us. Just delete it and it will not happen again.

Hey, the price is right!

I wrote all of the above before we just did this last mass mailing, and all in all things went pretty smooth. We did have a few unusual occurrences but nothing major. See, things will work out!

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