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Flaw in the Classmate Message system - PLEASE READ and consider a change

Forums: General Discussion
Created on: 04/03/22 04:45 PM Views: 929 Replies: 24
Sunday, April 3, 2022 at 4:45 PM

Hello, All:

We've been using ClassCreator for about 15 years, and we love it. Recently a situation came up that isn't good.

The classmate-to-classmate messaging system is important. It allows a classmate to start or engage in communication without either one divulging their real e-mail address.

What I did not realize is that a classmate can send a message to many classmates, all at one time. It's easy -- just click on the names from the list. As an experiment, I tried adding multiple names. It's a little cumbersome -- search, scroll, click; search, scroll, click. I figured in an hour I could click on perhaps 300 names.

The trouble is a classmate could send messages to hundreds of classmates, without any control by the administrator. Further, if the admin was not also selected, he or she wouldn't even know that this was happening -- until a classmate to whom the offending message was sent complained.

And this is what happened last week. A politically-oriented rant was sent out to about 20 classmates. The Admin has no control over this. A classmate who happens to be on our Executive Committee received the message and told me. And as a private message, the Admin cannot even delete the thread. Using my Exec Committee friend's password, I logged on as her to delete the message thread.

My suggestion: Get rid of the ability to send out a message to more than one person at a time.
Yes, a person could still send out a political or profanity-laced message to another classmate, but to do it multiple times would require a lot more effort.

From my point of view, there's no need to be able to send the same message to multiple people. What about if someone is organizing a mini-reunion get-together? In that case all of the people are friends and should be willing to share e-mail addresses.

There are perhaps instances where a classmate would legitimately want to send a message to multiple people. For me, the benefit of that is small compared to the potential of a classmate sending a message to hundreds of classmates.

Brad, Scott, Jessica, and everyone -- What do you think?
Thanks !
-- Fred

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Sunday, April 3, 2022 at 7:12 PM - Response #1

I tend to agree but don't think CC will do anything since you posted this in 12/2016

You said back then

Quote:

that it's a time-bomb waiting to blow up.

Discussion back then

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Sunday, April 3, 2022 at 9:42 PM - Response #2

Fred, I'm not positive how your classmate was able to post a message to other classmates, unless under Admin Functions > Preferences > Profile Preferences > Post Message to Classmates, you have the first box checked: "Allow Classmates to post a message for all classmates to read on their Profile." That gives a classmate the option, under Member Functions, to select multiple classmates to receive a message by clicking on Message Center > Compose Message and then clicking on the "Display All Classmates" and selecting which classmates will receive the message.

If you check the second box, "Do not allow Classmates to post messages to other classmates on their Profile," perhaps that will solve the problem.

Or, is there something else going on?

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Edited 04/04/22 3:31 AM
Monday, April 4, 2022 at 1:12 PM - Response #3

Scott, you're referring to the ability for anyone to post a message in their own profile (or on the What's New page) that anyone can read. The good news is that admins can edit or delete any such message or comment just about anywhere a member can post one - on profile pages, What's New Page, in the Message Forum or User Form threads or even for In Memory comments.

But with the private message system, it's a catch-22. We can't monitor private messages, let alone edit or delete them. They are indeed private, and all we can see is a count of the number of private messages sent.

If we do learn about an offending private message, the only recourse we have is to 1) ask the sender to delete it, 2) ask CC to delete it for us, or 3) reset the password of the sender and then do the delete for them.

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Monday, April 4, 2022 at 1:33 PM - Response #4

Hi, Jack, Scott, John --
Good to hear from you. I'm not on the forum so much, as you probably know.
Jack, Scott: Actually this is a different issue. The issue back in 2016 was solved, as pointed out by Debbie from Toledo and by Scott here. Under "Preferences" we have the option of allowing or not for classmates to post to the entire class.

Quote:

On your Preferences page, under PROFILE PREFERENCES (about 3/4 way down the page)
You can make an adjustment to your setting for the following: Post Message to Classmates... Option 1. Allow Classmates to post a message for all classmates to read on their Profile. or Option 2. Do not allow Classmates to post messages to other classmates on their Profile.

This issue is in the "Message Center" area. It's clear that a classmate can send a message to another classmate. What I hadn't known until last week is that a classmate can send a single message to as many classmates as the sender wants to click on. That is, he or she can send a message to EVERYONE in the class that way. And if the sender avoids sending that message to me, then I wouldn't even know about it, and I couldn't delete it.

In this case, I logged on with my friend's password and "deleted" the message -- but that is AFTER it had been sent out to multiple classmates.

John wrote:

Quote:

If we do learn about an offending private message, the only recourse we have is to 1) ask the sender to delete it, 2) ask CC to delete it for us, or 3) reset the password of the sender and then do the delete for them.

The message can be deleted, but after it's been sent out. A concern, of course, is that if classmates receive a bunch of offensive messages then they will just turn off receiving messages in their personal preferences... and that's not good.

I want to discuss and ascertain: Why would we want a classmate to be able to send the same message to multiple classmates?
If it's an invitation of some kind, then just invite one at a time. If the classmate wants to send a message to a large group, then he/she can contact me, and I'll do it. If the classmate wants to send a message to people he/she knows and is actually friends with, then he/she would have those people's e-mail addresses.

In my view, there is no reason why a classmate should be able to send the same message to multiple classmates. While I can appreciate the idea behind this feature, in real-life terms it has the potential for a lot of unpleasantness.

I'd like to hear from Jessica, Scott, Brad, etc on this.
Thanks !

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Monday, April 4, 2022 at 2:06 PM - Response #5

Same problem as in original topic. I didn't read prior carefully enough though, just the issue. Shocked

In original there was already a "solution" in the options. This needs a tweak in the Message Center to disable multiple recipients. Pretty simple since it's just disabling a part of the code, not adding to it.

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Thursday, April 7, 2022 at 10:02 PM - Response #6

This is extremely rare. As an admin, all you really need to do is tell the classmate, "Don't do that again, or risk being banned." A warning usually would solve an issue like this one.


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Thursday, April 7, 2022 at 11:22 PM - Response #7

Scott, that's true, but what is so hard about adding an option here? As I said, it's just removing an option.

That option should have been included just like it was in the original discussion that I confused with this one.

This is spending more time on a discussion vs just DOING it.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2022 at 11:22 PM - Response #8

Scott Mastenbrook wrote:

This is extremely rare. As an admin, all you really need to do is tell the classmate, "Don't do that again, or risk being banned." A warning usually would solve an issue like this one.

Hi, Scott. Yes, it is rare. In 15 years, it has happened on my site just two times, and each time it was a message was sent out to only about 20 people. We're fortunate that it was only 20. The potential is there for a "nut" to send out a political rant to hundreds of classmates.

I'm the administrator. I feel responsible for all 380 of my classmates. I don't want them getting a mass e-mail from anyone else but me.

Yes, I feel strongly about this. You wrote that if a person does it then I can write to him after the fact. I again point out that unless a classmate who received the message contacts me, I would not even know that the rant message was sent out. Also to re-emphasize: Even ONE time is too much. I do not want it to happen -- ever.

Please please look into just taking out that ability to send the same message to more than one person. As Jack has said, it should not be difficult to bypass some code to remove the function.

Thanks always for a great program that helps keep our class's spirit high ! We're having our 52nd reunion this year. (Our 50th was supposed to be in 2020, but Covid ate it.) My classmates love ClassCreator. Just not this one piece of it, smiles.

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Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 1:12 PM - Response #9

I am VERY solidly with Fred on this one. Fred helped me recently with the process for inhibiting the ability for classmates to post a “Message to all” (which, thank goodness happened only once), and we have locked down everything we can as Admins on our site to defend against any one classmate having the ability to have a ‘platform of their choosing’, and change the narrative, agenda and message of our purpose for creating the site.

When I chose ClassCreator, I discussed at length that very aspect of the format as THE most important. I wanted to have a solution that created the ‘warm fuzzies’ when my classmates joined. The resistance we have met from people that do not want to join our site boils down to two things: Privacy & controlling what they receive. Our encouragement to join has been; “1. We won’t share your info, and, 2. We won’t inundate your inbox with ANYTHING unrelated to our class or class events.”

Unfortunately, in the times we live, people have become accustomed to hijacking platforms to promote their own agenda (e.g. Twitter and FB). When I started, it was to create a place where we have one thing in common – we graduated together – and the topics and discussion should be limited to that. What I DIDN’T want to do (as a volunteer donating my time and efforts to the site) is to become a ‘hall monitor’, constantly reviewing what people post and send, becoming the ‘class censor’. We have assured the people that were reticent to join that this would be a place safe from flaming, harassment and the errant hijacker(s) that want to use our ‘contact list’ for spouting their political or religious views, or selling timeshares, or whatever. We created an unspoken contract with those that have joined, and I give a Standing Ovation of One to Fred’s comment that “Even ONE time is too much.” I am certain that if someone was able to reach out to even ½ our class, JUST ONCE, with something inflammatory or unrelated to our class or class events, we’d see a dramatic drop in participation, and I DO NOT want to test that.

The locking down as Fred describes should absolutely be available. Just think of the “Why” – Why would one classmate want the ability to unilaterally address the whole class? I can think of dozens of nefarious reasons, but not one that’s positive and productive that couldn’t be sent/posted by an Admin. Please remember, if someone wants a message to be sent to the whole membership, that ability still exists ‘through proper channels’, it just shouldn’t be available to one classmate unilaterally at 2:00 am after a couple of cocktails. If they’re so convinced their message needs to get out to the entire Email list, they simply have to ask an Admin to send it. I’d rather say ‘no’ to one request to send/post to all and deal with it *before* it reaches our members, but I don’t want to find out after the fact and then be forced into doing days or weeks of damage control to try to explain why our ‘contract of privacy’ was broken. THAT I didn’t sign up for. We’re all volunteers here . . .and if there's a way to avoid being put on the defensive before it happens, I'm all for it.

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Edited 04/14/22 1:41 PM
Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 2:27 PM - Response #10

Here's the strange part, there's already code in there to limit sending a message to only 20 at a time [hence the number noted in OP = 20]

You are limited to a maximum of 20 on multi-person messages

So all that has to be done is change that number to 1 or at least less than 20 making it a bit harder. Couldn't be simpler Confused

Technically a person could send that message one at a time to as many as desired. You could put a Caution message to not do that in the "Rules".

I forgot that we had a similar (political) problem in the very beginning. I told him to stop abusing the message system.

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Edited 04/14/22 2:28 PM
Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 4:06 PM - Response #11

Based on Scott Mastenbrook's response #6, it appears Class Creator will continue to allow classmates to send messages through the Message Center to as many classmates as they wish.

Therefore, if an administrator feels a political rant or other inappropriate message may be sent to multiple classmates via the Message Center, the admin must try to discourage this through a warning statement, perhaps on the home page, about what types of dialogue are not allowed, or take appropriate action like deleting the offender if it occurs.

Personally, I'm not concerned about an inappropriate message happening on our site and will not post a warning statement. I agree with Scott Mastenbrook: "This is extremely rare."

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Edited 04/14/22 4:27 PM
Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 5:02 PM - Response #12

But this is SO EASY TO DO since there's already code that limits the number of recipients. As I said already, whether one thinks it's "rare" or not, that's not the point or issue at all. Heck, a lot of the "options" wouldn't exist using that sort of rationale - "it's rare" Shocked

The easy option is just to limit it to 1? recipient at a time. Super Simple Change. Could have been done 10 times over already. How do you think I found out the iimit?

P.S. It's not "as many classmates as they wish" - it's TWENTY (20) maximum.

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Edited 04/14/22 5:04 PM
Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 5:21 PM - Response #13

Jack, regarding your P.S. in Response #12: In the Message Center, I just clicked on "Compose Message" and was able to add 22 Classmates to receive a message. I didn't click Send Message, but am wondering how I could select 22 classmates if the limit is 20?

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Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 5:29 PM - Response #14

Thank you, Jack. It was my assumption that it was "as many as they wish." My error. You did the testing, very good. That gives an explanation of why, with the two instances in my class, both were sent to 20.

And the 20 figure reinforces this aspect of it, to repeat what I've said: A classmate could send out 20 "nutty" messages at a time, and unless my name was one of those 20 then I would not even know that it happened, unless one of the recipients told me. And the poster could do a second group of 20, and a third, and so on.

As Mark (Southwest Class of '72) wrote above:

Quote:

I am certain that if someone was able to reach out to even ½ our class, JUST ONCE, with something inflammatory or unrelated to our class or class events, we’d see a dramatic drop in participation, and I DO NOT want to test that.

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Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 6:18 PM - Response #15

Like Jack said above, I went to my personal logon and tried to send a message by adding people one at a time and a popup limited me to 20. That’s a good thing. But I restate what I said previously; Why would someone want to send a message to 20?

But now my question is; “Why was the code written to limit it to 20?” Obviously, that would pre-suppose that there was some discussion by CC when setting up the parameter that limits it to 20. Why was the number 20 the final result? Why not 2? 5? 60? 100? (If a Classmate tries to send to more than 1 and encounters a popup saying 'No Multiples', then they'll come to the Admin and say, "Hey, I want to reach out to 30 people for "x". How do I do that?")

Which brings me back to my original premise – Why not simply ONE?

All I need to understand are a couple of valid EXAMPLES of content that one individual has actually sent (or would want to send) a message to 20 that they wouldn’t want an Admin to assist them and send the message on their behalf? And the obvious answer is that the only real reason would be that they wanted to send a message that would have sudden impact in ‘not a nice way’ or ‘isn’t nice’, for lack of pigeonholing it to sales, religion, politics or bullying. We already have examples in this string of how it has actually been used to ‘make a statement’, shock and/or evade the narrative of the reason for the site’s existence, but *no* examples of where member initiated messages to multiple individuals outside of Admin purview have been employed to be positive and constructive to our goal of running a site for a graduating class.

Mark

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Edited 04/14/22 6:20 PM
Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 6:51 PM - Response #16

Scott Moore wrote:

Jack, regarding your P.S. in Response #12: In the Message Center, I just clicked on "Compose Message" and was able to add 22 Classmates to receive a message. I didn't click Send Message, but am wondering how I could select 22 classmates if the limit is 20?

Admins I am deducing are allowed to send more. This is the message I found in the code - leading me to conclude that there is a limit (it's not something I made up). Or there's a BUG - lol.

You are limited to a maximum of 20 on multi-person messages

That popup appears as Southwest Class of '72 Admin verified with his personal account that I'm assuming does not have admin rights.

It's not something one can test to completion. It all makes sense for an admin since we can emai the class, so why restrict admins? There was thought given to this, just not far enough.

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Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 6:52 PM - Response #17

Mark, here's a valid example of content that one individual has actually sent that they didn't want an Admin to assist them:

One of our classmates recently wished to invite several classmates in her section of Florida to a mini-reunion at a restaurant. She messaged the classmates using the Message Center.

If you want to limit the Message Center to one message, then Class Creator might as well get rid of it and force classmates to send private messages, one at a time to classmates at their profile.

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Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 7:03 PM - Response #18

Scott, they can still send a message to each person using the message center. In our group we always use private emails for this sort of thing. Way easier vs CC.

Digging up odd situations is going in circles here. It's EASIER to do your example with private emails. And arguably more reliable seeing how CC emails tend to not show bounces Embarassed I suspect the private emails of these people are known.

I imagine by the term "several classmates" it was way less than 20. Easily done either method explained above.

Applying the "rare" argument also works Very Happy

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Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 7:06 PM - Response #19

Scott - two excellent points in one;

1. I certainly wouldn't mind leaving it at "send private message" on the profile and not having the Message Center.

2. We, as a committee, have already discussed the potential for 'mini-reunions' - we have several 'pockets' of graduates (CA,WI and Montana of all places), and we're going to do semi-annual emails to see if people want to do mini or regional reunions and use CC for that, which would necessarily require some additional Admins to make that happen.

So, regional or 'mini reunions' don't really move my position that the message center negatives for sending one message to multiple classmates (and the perceived reputational damage that it could potentially cause) far outweigh the positives.

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Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 7:30 PM - Response #20

Jack, yes, the classmate sent her invitation to about 10 classmates using Compose Message in the Message Center. She knew she could send classmates individual private messages at their profile, but wanted an easier way to do it, so she could just send one message rather than ten.

I goofed when I said Class Creator could get rid of the Message Center. It could only get rid of or modify the Message Center's Compose Message function. We need the Message Center to see the Inbox and Outbox for private messages sent through profiles.

Oh well, I'm sure this debate will go on for awhile. Thankfully, the overall theme of our sites is friendship, reunions, and memories, not divisive current events and political issues. I think that greatly diminishes the chance of problem messages.

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Edited 04/14/22 7:31 PM
Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 9:10 PM - Response #21

Scott wrote:

Quote:

Thankfully, the overall theme of our sites is friendship, reunions, and memories, not divisive current events and political issues.

Well put, and that is exactly how it is for all of us here who are writing about this. Our sites are friendship, reunions, memories. And the potential to have a single classmate disturb that is what concerns me.


Quote:

I think that greatly diminishes the chance of problem messages
.
Yes, agreed, that diminishes the chances. And makes it all the more upsetting (to me and to my fellow classmates) when it has occurred. Only two times in 15 years for me, and only 20 classmates each time. But still I don't want to ever happen again. I didn't even know about the first time, and a classmate wrote to me after the 2nd time.

Mini-reunions: I agree, that is a good use for sending out a message a bunch of identical messages. We have two mini-reunion groups. I work with them on sending out a message to the classmates in their target area.

I really really really want this "feature" changed. Thank you.

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Edited 04/16/22 12:23 AM
Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 9:26 PM - Response #22

Even when the message is innocuous a problem is created when a lot of people are on distribution. Whenever anyone responds to it everyone gets a copy. I had this happen many years ago before there was any limit at all and some classmates threatened to leave the site because their inbox got flooded. My recollection is that I had to call on CC to go in and delete the message. Thankfully that only occurred once.

However, having said that I think an ability to copy in the 3 to 5 range would be ok and I find myself using that number when several classmates share the same birthday.

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Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 11:03 PM - Response #23

Scott Mastenbrook wrote:

This is extremely rare. As an admin, all you really need to do is tell the classmate, "Don't do that again, or risk being banned." A warning usually would solve an issue like this one.

Hi Scott!

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Sunday, April 24, 2022 at 3:12 PM - Response #24

Hey Fred - Interested in hearing if you may have heard something regarding this subject outside of the Forums? I think it important enough that it needs to be addressed in some fashion, pro or con.

Mark

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