U3A Oversights

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Hiding a personal email address

By using the “Contact" facility in Site Builder, the email address of the U3A contact is hidden from view behind the web page. But any reply to a message received via the website will reveal the contact's own address anyway. Some people are understandably reluctant for that to happen, since they wish to reserve their email address for family and friends.

There are two main solutions, the first of which requires the U3A to have its own domain name. (See the Oversights article Making your own site URL.) This will allow you to publish an associated email address of the form enquiries@youru3a.org.uk, for example, and arrange automatic forwarding to the contact's own address. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) where the domain name is registered should have facilities for setting this up which are simple to use and normally explained clearly on its website. But replies to an enquiry received in this way will once again reveal the personal email address.

The alternative approach, which we use in the support team, is to create an email account dedicated to U3A “business” with one of the major free email suppliers, e.g. Microsoft (Hotmail), Yahoo, or Google, (Gmail). Such addresses have the advantage that they are not tied in to any broadband supplier (unlike accounts ending in bt.com, aol.com, talktalk.net etc.) so can be kept indefinitely and accessed from anywhere via a web browser. Access details can be shared between two or more responsible members, spreading the workload and enabling coverage of necessary absences.

It is possible to combine the above two ideas, so that an address such as enquiries@youru3a.org.uk actually forwards email to a dedicated shared email account such as youru3acommittee@gmail.com. This scheme has an added advantage: if there are problems with the shared account (e.g. it gets bombarded with SPAM), it can be closed down and replaced with another one such as youru3acom2@gmail.com. The published address can be redirected behind the scenes, but no changes will be needed in printed material or in the contact details held on the Site Builder.