Google Groups Feature Request



(Editor's Note: GAFYD = Google Apps For Your Domain)


Feature Request Summary

Allow GAFYD users to subscribe to GAFYD groups with an external email address.
 

Context

The domain is for a volunteer group. Many of the users are not particularly technical, and will resist having and checking another email account. Therefore most users will have the Gmail service turned off in the administrator's control panel, and will use their personal external email accounts for communicating with other domain members. 


Requirements

There will be an "all users" group for email distribution. This will be the primary mechanism for organizational communication, so it is really important to get it right.
The group will be configured as follows:
  • Only domain members may join the group
    • Raw external addresses are not acceptable.
      • Users must be able to edit their membership settings (ie digest email or individual emails). Raw external addresses cannot do this. 
      • Users must be able to login and view the group message archives. Raw external addresses cannot do this
      • The administrators must be able to track and identify who is receiving group email. Raw externals addresses are not reliably identifiable. (For example, who is qwerty42@example.com?)
  • Only group members may post messages to the group
  • Group members must be able to send and receive group email through an external address (including Gmail addresses).
    • The user must be able to configure this option without administrator intervention.

Current Features, Part 1

In some cases, a user may select an alternate email addresses for a Group. This appears to be exactly what we are looking for. However, there are two problems.

 

 













A domain user with nicknames.
 
 








A non-domain user with an alternate email address.
 
 











A domain user without any alternate email addresses.
The email address selection box is missing.





Problem #1

The "Edit" link described in the instructions for adding alternate addresses is missing for GAFYD accounts. It is not clear if this is a bug or an intentional limitation of GAFYD. Regardless of the reasons why, GAFYD users cannot create their own external addresses.

Update 2012-02-17: The "Edit" link appears! Unfortunately it gives a message saying that only the domain administrator may edit personal information. Nevertheless, that feels like a big step forward. The next step is to allow domain administrators the option to allow this feature.

 

 








A non-domain user, with the "Edit" below the list the email addresses.
This user has created an alternate email address in the berkeley.edu domain.
  







A domain user, with the "Edit" link missing.
The alternate email addresses listed are merely nicknames.


Problem #2

According to the instructions for adding alternate addresses, Gmail addresses are not permissible alternate addresses. That completely nullifies this solution for users whose primary/preferred personal address is a Gmail address.


Current Features, Part 2 (A brief digression)

Gmail allows users to forward their email to another address for which they can verify ownership.



The verification process is similar to verifying alternate email addresses, however they are separate lists of addresses. For example, to use an email address as an alternate and for forwarding in Gmail, you must verify the address twice, once for both services.

For Gmail forwarding, any address (for which the user can verify ownership) is acceptable. Even another Gmail or GAFYD address.


Proposal

First, some nomenclature.
  • The alternate email addresses created at the Accounts page will be called Alternate Account Email Addresses (AAEA).
  • The email addresses that may be used for forwarding in Gmail will be called Potential Gmail Forwarding Addresses (PGFA).

Now, on to the proposal...    
  • Google Groups shall maintain a list of Potential Subscription Email Addresses (PSEA) for each user.
    • PSEA shall be separate from the user's AAEA.
    • Optional: PSEA shall be separate from the user's PGFA.
  • At the "Edit my membership" group page, a group member may select which address to use for the group using a "combo box" list of email addresses populated with the user's domain address, PSEA and AAEA.
    • Optional: The user's domain email address may be excluded if the Gmail service is not enabled for this user.
  • At the "Edit my membership" group page, a group member may add additional PSEA using an appropriately labeled button (for example "Add a subscription address").  
    • The user interface for adding and verifying the new email address may be (should be?) similar to the Gmail interface for adding forwarding addresses. 
  • Email to the group is delivered to the group member at the selected address.
  • Posts from the selected address are delivered to the group, provided the group member has posting privileges. In other words, messages from the selected address shall be posted even if the group is set to "Members only" posting in the group access settings page.

Feature may be optional

Some domain administrators may not want their users to use alternate or external email address, especially in a different context. Therefore, this feature should be optional. One possibility is for this feature to be sensitive to the "Group owners can allow members from outside this domain" setting in the domain administrator's control panel, and the "Allow email addresses outside of the domain to be added to this group and receive emails sent to this group" setting in the Group's setup page.


 







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