Thursday 30 May 2013

For Google Apps users: Cross-Domain Email Address References

Image credit: Beau Giles
Recently I reconfigured my primary email address setup to get over some specific issues I was having with inbound email from one particular client. I run one domain in Google Apps, which includes this address. The work consisted of deleting the current address, which was actually a group set up on the domain (which redirected to multiple email addresses) and creating a new Google Apps user with the same email address to replace it. After the change, I retrieved all my email from that Google Apps user.

To summarise with an example:

BEFORE: was a Google Apps group on domain, containing the external email addresses and allowing incoming email to be forwarded to those two other email addresses

AFTER: was a Google Apps user on domain

From an outside viewpoint, remained a valid email address, apart from perhaps a very brief period when I was doing the actual work. I expected that after the work, all email would continue to be delivered. This proved to be incorrect.

Following the changes, I noticed that I was no longer receiving emails from a couple of distribution groups, which fortunately I run, using another, entirely separate, domain which is also managed on Google Apps. In other words: contains a number of external addresses to distribute incoming mail to, including

Realising that I was no longer receiving email via this route, I logged in to the Google Apps control panel for and checked members of the group "mygroup", only to find that was no longer present.

So where had it gone? I am the only administrator for on Google Apps, and I hadn't removed it. It seems that Google Apps very cleverly checks email addresses to see if their domains are administered by Google Apps, and creates some kind of a link if they are. That way, if an email address is removed from a domain, that removal is propagated across Google Apps to other domains even if they are entirely separate.

I can see why this is a good thing to do, as it will reduce bounces. However, if you don't know about it, it can be difficult to track down if you're performing any operations which involve the temporary deletion of an email address, such as in this case.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Did you Mean to Mention me on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn recently added the new Mentions feature with the usual blaze of publicity, but like a lot of recent changes it's taken a while to propagate to all users, and in this case, to all browsers.

This is a great way to increase social interaction with those within and outside your immediate network. However, there have been some interesting side effects, and it's worth spending a moment looking at how Mentions work in LinkedIn.

You can try it for yourself by starting to type a status update. If at any point  you enter an "@" symbol, Mentions will kick in:

It also triggers if you enter the name of a person or company, but only if you've started it with a capital letter:

You can autocomplete the typing of a name at any time by pressing the Enter key. A Mention will be shown with the text against a grey background.

So what's the catch? Well, I've seen a few LinkedIn status updates inadvertently Mentioning companies because their names are based on words used in everyday language which could start a sentence, and hence be capitalised when typed. I took a screenshot of this great example which I saw soon after Mentions was rolled out:

This was a comment on a piece of good news announced by a company, and my connection simply wanted to say "Congratulations" - but inadvertently interacted with a French company of the same name.

As always, you should check anything you say on LinkedIn, and other social networks, as carefully as you can, whether it's a status update or your profile text.

Thursday 9 May 2013

How to Banish those Reply-All Email Explosions

Photo by Gregg O'Connell on flickr
In a previous blog post Keeping Control of your Inbox I mentioned that using the Reply-All button can actually add to your own inbox jam. It's the easy option to select, and indeed the laziest - why think about who the email needs to go to, when you can reach everyone with one click? Besides, who cares if the others aren't interested?

Of course this backfires when others then use the Reply-All button after you do, and it's not long before you get the "explosion".

So here's a great way to limit the Reply-All Email Explosions, but like all things you do have to do a bit of work yourself. The trick is to use a targeted recipient list and then subsequently forward a separate copy of your message to a secondary list of people who "also need to know". If a member of either list uses Reply-All, they'll only hit other members of their own list, and not the other one.

As an example, suppose your report has to go to Alice, Bob and Claire for review and update, but you also need to copy in Dave, Ella and Frank so that they know that the report has been submitted. You could email all 6, but in the event of a Reply-All button hit by any of them, others will be spammed. Also, it might be better for Dave, Ella and Frank to not see the report until after the update phase, and comments at this time might be unhelpful.

Instead, you email Alice, Bob and Claire, attaching the report. Next, you go to your Sent Items folder, and forward a copy of the email you've just sent, to Dave, Ella and Frank, optionally removing the report if appropriate. Both groups now have the information they need, and any use of the Reply-All button will be limited to the groups themselves.

Of course, there's nothing to stop, for example, Ella emailing Alice, Bob and Claire and copying you in, but that's a process which requires a deliberate thought process rather than an automatic response to click a button.

Try it for yourself and see how well it works for you.