Email Users Plugin
Several faculty participating in the OER Fellows program to run their courses on the Commons did not want to setup a group and therefore wanted to send students emails through their course site. They attempted to use the email users plugin but it appears the plugin is not sending emails correctly.
The plugin has two methods of sending email, to individuals or to groups. Through the Individual send area an Admin can select multiple individuals. Through the Group send area, an Admin can choose a group to send to based on user roles on the site (i.e. Author, Editor, etc). Several issues have been reported from faculty using this plugin.
In the individual area, when several users are selected (using crtl key) only some students receive the email. The faculty members confirm this because once the email is "sent" the plugin reports that the email has been sent to 23 of 25 users. This has happened on the following sites:
https://bmccsoc124.commons.gc.cuny.edu/ -- 23 of 25 student Authors receive email
https://bmccsoc144.commons.gc.cuny.edu/ -- 16 of 25 student Authors received email.
https://soc100munshi.commons.gc.cuny.edu/ -- Students are subscribers, only half received emails
In the group send area, often user role types are missing from the list of groups to send emails to. This has happened on the following sites:
https://bmccsoc091.commons.gc.cuny.edu/ -- Author Role missing from Group area
https://bmccasnmunshi.commons.gc.cuny.edu --Author role missing from group area
https://freequeercuny.commons.gc.cuny.edu/ -- Author role missing from group area
#1 Updated by Boone Gorges over 3 years ago
- File Screenshot_2018-02-26_13-51-54.png Screenshot_2018-02-26_13-51-54.png added
- File Screenshot_2018-02-26_13-51-34.png Screenshot_2018-02-26_13-51-34.png added
Hi Laurie - Thanks for opening the ticket. It may be helpful to split some of these items into different tickets, but first let me see if I can eliminate some of them.
In the group send area, often user role types are missing from the list of groups to send emails to.
Without more details about just what the users are seeing, I have to guess a little bit at what's happening. I've attached two screenshots that show what I see on bmccsoc091.commons.gc.cuny.edu: the list of user roles on Dashboard > Users, and the roles available on Dashboard > Email Users > Send to Group(s). The roles on Dashboard > Users are Administrator, Author, Keymaster, Participant. On the EU page I see Administrator and Author. These latter roles are WP roles, while Keymaster and Participant are bbPress roles. So, the "groups" feature of Email Users only works for WP roles. It might be possible (though not easy, based on what I see in the Email Users code) to include bbPress roles, but for the time being, I'd suggest that administrators rely on the WP roles.
only some students receive the email
Unfortunately, it's hard to see exactly what's happening here without more detail. The plugin works by sending a single email to the author, which is then BCCed to each recipient. The "count" displayed in the success message - "Email sent to 45 users" etc - is based on the BCC count. It's not clear to me, from looking at the code, how only some of the BCCs would fail (unless they're not well-formed email addresses). It could be the fact that the GC is limiting the number of BCC entries on outgoing email - this is fairly common, as a spam-prevention measure - but this wouldn't explain the inconsistent results that your users are seeing.
If you could provide some specific information about a failed instance, it would be helpful. In particular, for a specific instance:
- The site where the email was created
- The date and time the email was created
- The email address of at least one user to whom the email appears to have been sent
- The email address of at least one user to whom the email appears not to have been sent
Before/after screenshots may be enough, as I'd be able to glean the email addresses from the Recipients area of the screenshot.
#2 Updated by Luke Waltzer over 3 years ago
Thanks for this, Boone. I'm reluctant to ask Laurie to go back to the faculty fellow to help with troubleshooting, as she's already spread pretty thin.
@Laurie, how about setting up a test site using accounts from TLC staff to see if we can recreate some of the problems Soniya was experiencing?
#4 Updated by Laurie Hurson over 3 years ago
- File 4 GRP email results.png 4 GRP email results.png added
- File 2 GRP email.png 2 GRP email.png added
- File 1 -IND email .png 1 -IND email .png added
- File 3 IND email results.png 3 IND email results.png added
An update on this plugin:
I trail ran it on https://coursetest.commons.gc.cuny.edu/
Today 3/1 attempted to send to multiple Individuals (11:30am) and the "authors" group (11:32am). Screenshots 1 and 2.
It looks like the email only went to 1 user (Luke) in both sending methods. Screenshots 3 and 4.
The only person who received the email was Luke. Of note, he was the only user (author) added to the site before email users plugin was installed.
#5 Updated by Boone Gorges over 3 years ago
I spent a few minutes looking at how Email Users works. It appears that it only allows emails to be sent to users who have opted into "mass emails". See https://coursetest.commons.gc.cuny.edu/wp-admin/admin.php?page=mailusers-user-settings. Of the people you emailed to, only Luke has the setting turned on. This is true for both "individual" and "group" emails.
Looking into this, it is becoming clear that this plugin is not appropriate for use on Multisite:
- The "mass email" user setting is networkwide. If it's changed on https://coursetest.commons.gc.cuny.edu/wp-admin/admin.php?page=mailusers-user-settings, it'll be changed for every other site on which the user is a member. There's no finer-grained controls.
- The plugin attempts to set a default "mass email" setting for new users, but the way it's done doesn't mesh cleanly with Multisite at all. It uses the 'profile_update' and 'user_register' hooks, which fire in much different sequence in a multisite environment than in non-MS WordPress.
Based on the above, I'd suggest we look for a better solution for mass-emailing from the WordPress side than Email Users. Indeed, given the above, I'd almost suggest disabling it for anyone who doesn't already have it activated, as it's likely to cause more headache than not. Matt, Luke, Laurie, do you have thoughts about how to proceed?
#6 Updated by Matt Gold over 3 years ago
I'm fine with disabling it for anyone who doesn't already have it enabled, and I do think we should look into (or perhaps create) an alternative. This is very much related to OER work so we can draw from those funds if we need to write something new.
#7 Updated by Boone Gorges over 3 years ago
Thanks, Matt. I'm going to put a fix in place immediately that disables Email Users on sites where it's not already active. https://github.com/cuny-academic-commons/cac/commit/0084fea54a7b0b4848e772160ec3e83af58bda3c
It may turn out in the medium- to long-term that we need to build something custom, especially if we want to avoid the overhead of maintaining two separate email systems in perpetuity. More specifically, it would be ideal if a tool was available for use on the WP Dashboard that shared its internals with the email tools we use on the BP side of the site.
However, in the meantime, I think it's worth looking at a few existing solutions that'd be better than nothing while we work toward an ideal solution for the Commons. Based on some very brief research, here are some possibilities:
- We already have the Newsletters plugin on the Commons, and it seems to work fairly well for sending mass emails. The concept of a Newsletter is a bit different from emailing site users (the concept of "subscription" doesn't quite fit) but it could likely be used without too much trouble.
- https://wordpress.org/support/plugin/wp-email-users At a very quick glance at the code, it appears that this one should work properly on multisite. No idea whether it has the feature set we are looking for.
- https://wordpress.org/plugins/send-email-from-admin/ looks much more barebones but at least compatible with multisite
#9 Updated by Luke Waltzer over 3 years ago
Mass Email Sender looks like it's built for whole network emails (may have site specific functions, too, but we don't want the former). WP-Email-Users looks great. Happy to take it for a spin Boone if you want to deploy either to dev or on https://coursetest.commons.gc.cuny.edu/.
#10 Updated by Boone Gorges over 3 years ago
- Status changed from New to Testing Required
Sure thing, Luke. I've added it to the dev environment. Please play carefully there - it will send emails to anyone. Let me know what you think after you've had a chance to play around. https://github.com/cuny-academic-commons/cac/commit/70312df0cacb311786463a778bc24f15b0fbf727
#11 Updated by Luke Waltzer over 3 years ago
It works, but it's not ideal, and seems not to be multisite aware... all emails come from firstname.lastname@example.org, and there's no site-specific indicator in the emails (though you could create one via a template). I worry about a bunch of responses coming into that account should that be the from address...
#12 Updated by Boone Gorges over 3 years ago
- Status changed from Testing Required to Reporter Feedback
- Target version set to 1.12.11
Luke, is the From address the only issue? This might be something we can fairly easily override.
I haven't spent any time with the "template" feature to see how it works. Do you see this (and the related manual intervention) as a dealbreaker for the plugin? Do you have thoughts about how the process might be automated?