Re: JewishGen Discussion Group Update

Mike Posnick


It seems to me that there is an easy way to determine whether the decision to tell us users what we need was the correct one:  run two lists side by side for a period of time, one in the old format and one in the new.  I am not suggesting that they duplicate one another.  Rather, I am suggesting that you let users pick which list they prefer to use and not duplicate the content.  I assume some users will stay with the old, some will choose the new, and some will choose both.  After three months or a year, you should be able to determine which is the most popular choice for existing users and how many new users join each list (the list format may not be the reason new members are not joining the list).  Once you have this information, you can determine which way to go in the long-term and give everyone a lengthy advance notice of the decision.

Mike Posnick
Minneapolis, Minnesota

On Oct 16, 2019, at 12:35 AM, Avraham Groll <agroll@...> wrote:

Dear JewishGen Community,

Thank you for everyone's feedback (both positive and constructive). We want the JewishGen Discussion Group to be a place of open dialogue and for everyone's voices to be heard, and I am extremely grateful to everyone who has taken the time to share their thoughts, perspectives, and suggestions. I would like to address a few points tonight:

(1) The Process

Our sole motivation has been to address some of the challenges that we previously articulated (lack of security, plain-text requirements, no accented characters, not mobile-friendly, etc). This new platform was in response to frequent complaints that our previous system was antiquated and nearly unusable for many people. 

The stats bear this out. Last year, more than 40,000 people joined JewishGen as Members. Yet nearly none of them joined the Discussion Groups. This is not a typo - nearly none. We believe this was due to the very unfriendly interface of the old system, along with many of the rules/guidelines which were woefully outdated. As such, one of our goals of 2019 was to identify a replacement and to implement it. 

We tested a number of systems and eventually settled on the current platform. Our beta testing took place throughout the summer and early Fall and was performed by a group of ~150 people. The beta-testing was opened to anyone who wished to participate since the end of July. 

(2) Daily Digests/Including Previous Messages

Many have expressed displeasure with the fact that they have received multiple digests per day. Let me explain: the system is set up whereby each time 12 messages are submitted, a digest is automatically distributed. We are unable to change this. 

A possible solution to this will be to select the “Daily Summary” option. This feature will produce a once-daily list of the messages posted that day, but would not (unlike a Digest) contain the full message content. It would include just the subject lines, each being a link to the complete topic/list of messages. In this way, you will receive only one email per day. 

An additional advantage: when you click on the subject(s) that are of interest, you will be able to view all messages associated with that particular topic (including all messages/replies) - thus resolving the confusion about looking at posts with no previous messages included.

(3) Reply to Sender

We have enabled a feature whereby Members (who receive either individual emails, and/or full-featured digests) can reply directly to the message sender (and not respond to the entire group). That said, we encourage group discussions, as others might value the information. 

(4) Login and Member Guide

Many have asked about the login process to the new groups. This is to confirm that access to the Discussion Group requires a new registration ((i.e. your JewishGen ID# will NOT work on Anyone who was previously subscribed to the discussion group, has been automatically assigned a password. Please enter your email at the following link, and a password link will be sent to you:

For additional information about this, please read through our Member Guide:

(5) Next Steps

We are going to continue researching how to make this platform as great as possible. To this end, either myself or Nancy Siegel (our Communications Coordinator ) will continue to post updates on this group and via email. In addition, we will be scheduling a series of webinars after the Holiday of Sukkot is completed. During these webinars, we will demo the entire platform, and allow participants to ask questions. These sessions will be recorded and made available for viewing on our YouTube channel as well. 

In the meantime, in order to allow the groups to focus on Jewish Genealogy, we kindly ask that you keep posting on this group for Jewish Genealogy or current happenings that affect Jewish genealogy or genealogical research. If you have any suggestions/ideas, etc., we kindly ask that you not use this forum, but please send it to support@.... This should also cut down significantly the number of messages that the discussion group will receive.

I thank you all for your participation, support of our important work, and for being part of the JewishGen family.


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