Earlier this month Yahoo announced the imminent end of Yahoo!Groups. If you’re an old fart like me, that’s bad news. Either you don’t want to join data krakens like Google and Facebook or you don’t want everybody in your book club, dog fancying association or society for creative role-playing to get your social media handle. Yahoo!Groups was a simple service that did what you needed if all you wanted was pass around important messages and organise some meetings – or even share the occasional photo. Yes, it got progressively worse like the rest of Yahoo, but it wasn’t quite so bad yet.
Now it’ll be gone by December and ther are a lot of lists of possible alternatives going round. Google Groups and Facebook lead the list and very restricted freemium options like GaggleMail, MailList.com or OnlineGroups.net share the rest of the list with completely public options like FreeLists.org and extreme nerdery like running your own Listserv or implementing a forum you don’t want or need.
I needed to send e-mails to a group without disclosing its members, but still let everybody who wants reply. And I felt I was stuck to restrict myself to 20 members (not an option), pay through the nose for an over-engineered system even though I only need to send a couple of e-mails a month or delve deep enough into webhosting that the Balrog would certainly come and get me.
Groups.io is freemium too, but instead of restricting its free option to twenty members, it just offers more features for its premium versions – things like 20 GB storage space instead of 1 GB, calendar, polls, wiki etc. In short things a small business might consider paying $20 / month for, but nothing like the essentials other sites want you to pay for.
Administration is a tiny bit more complicated than Yahoo!Groups, but not much – definitely not on the level of setting up your own forum. You get a couple more options, but the only important ones are how to moderate new users and how to set up your privacy. I suggest setting messages to private for practically all groups and either moderate new user posts or restrict membership to moderator approval. If you’re a semi-public group, you might want to be listed in the directory, but it’s probably better to just put a button on your website.
If you’re interested, but want to know more, check out the Lifehacker article linked above. I just got to say kudos to the Groups.io team for providing such a hands-on, no-nonsense tool for free. That’s something you don’t see often enough anymore.