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Electronic Communications

1. Email Clients and Web Mail

Web Mail

  • Web mail readers allow you to read your email online in a web browser. Examples include Hotmail and Yahoo

Email Clients

  • Email clients download email from the mail server to your hard-drive. Examples include Outlook Express, Thunderbird, and Eudora.

2. Email lists – Electronic distribution of information

Ezines and newsletter lists

  • An ezine is an electronically distributed newsletter. Only the list owner may post.
  • Developing a good ezine is time-consuming and can be difficult.
  • Loyalty can be built by sending out the ezine on a regular interval.
  • A good ezine can be used to educate the masses.

Open discussion lists

  • Anyone subscribed to an open discussion list may post. All emails posted to the list will be sent to everyone who is subscribed to the list.
  • Many people tend to “lurk” when they first join a discussion list; they just read messages and refrain from posting or replying to messages. This practice is often referred to as lurking.
  • The address subscribed to the list must be used to post to the list.
  • The default of some open lists is to reply to the list while the default of other lists is to reply to the person who posted.
  • Email targeted to one person should be sent “off list” and not to the entire list.

Moderated lists

  • Moderated lists work just like open lists except that emails to the list first go to a “moderator.” The moderator then decides which posts should be released to the list.
  • Some lists can be configured to moderate “problem posters” while allowing others to post without moderation.

Keeping the list focused

  • This is most easily accomplished via a moderated list. However it is important to keep open lists such as SoLR's discussion list on topic. If the list allows too much spam or off topic postings subscribers will unsubscribe to the list thus reducing its reach. Many bikers are subscribed to multiple lists and often receive a hundred or more emails in a single day.

How to use and maintain the list

  • The recommended way to maintain a list is using the list-server service provided free with most web site hosting packages; these provide both a professional appearance and ease of maintenance.
  • Yahoo Groups provides a free service that is adequate for smaller lists.
  • However sending emails to many subscribers via your local email client or web mail without a list server or Yahoo Group should be avoided for several reasons including bandwidth issues, privacy of subscribers, and maintenance issues.

Opt-in and removal on request

  • It is important to quickly remove any subscriber from the list upon request.
  • All subscribers should opt-in voluntary. Do not pharm web sites for email addresses.
  • Failure to follow the two above guidelines may result in your email address and list-server being blacklisted as a spam sources.
  • All list messages should include a link to allow users to remove themselves from the list; providing a link to subscribe for those who receive your list via a third party is also recommended.

What is RSS?

  • RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary and you'll need either an RSS reader or web-based RSS reader to view this information.
  • RSS was originally designed for news information dissemination applications.
  • It guarantees that every subscriber to your RSS feed that asks for your information is guaranteed to get it.
  • RSS avoids email deliverability and spam filtering problems.
  • The National Rifle Association (NRA) is using RSS effectively.

3. Web Browsers and Web Servers

What they are and how they work

  • The World Wide Web contains a vast amount of information; all of that information resides on web servers.
  • URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator; the address identifies the location of a Web page on the World Wide Web.
  • You may select a URL by typing it into the browser or clicking a link in an email or web page. An example of an URL is
    • The first part of the URL is the protocol. HyperText Transport Protocol (http) is used to transfer HTML documents of the World Wide Web
    • The second part of the URL is the server address such as
    • The third part of the URL is the file name such as index.html

4. Web Sites

Why your organization needs a web site

  • Are your supporters, members, potential members, or friends asking for your Web address? Do you get a lot of information calls from people who probably have Internet access at work or at home?
  • For a relatively modest investment, you can reach bikers who would never come across your office, your direct mail, even your PSAs. You can strengthen relations with people you already know and meet new people, too. Fundraising on the Internet is growing fast.

What can the Web do well?

  • Deliver easy-to-update information to people anywhere anytime without requiring your staff to answer the phone or open the mail.
  • Solicit online contributions and automatic e-mail newsletter subscriptions.
  • Launch an interactive relationship with first-time visitors or existing members.

Web site design decisions your organization will need to make

  • Determine Your web site's Chief Purpose
  • Decide Whether to Outsource or Do It Yourself
  • Divide Your web site into Logical Sections
  • Develop a Site Navigation System
  • Give Your web site an Attractive 'Look and Feel'
  • Build Basic web page Templates
  • Construct Your Site to Be Search Engine Friendly
    • Be sure to pay attention and include:
      • Title - provocative and descriptive, containing the most important keywords from that web page, no more than 80 characters. This is what shows up hyperlinked in search engine results, so make people want to click on it.
      • Meta tags - The description meta tag should include one or two sentences (up to about 250 characters) describing the contents of this particular web page. Work into the sentence the most important keywords and key phrases that occur on this page. Some search engines will display your description. I still include a meta keywords tag, since Yahoo currently uses it for indexing, though Google doesn't.
      • Headlines - H1, H2, H3 in HTML parlance. Your headline and subheadings should include your important keyword at least once.
      • Body text - The first paragraph of the content of your web page article or text should contain the main keywords for that page.
      • Hyperlink text and filenames - Search engines believe that the words contained in hyperlinks on your web page are important, and thus rank them higher. If the filenames contained in the hyperlink URLs contain important keywords (such as widget.html for the filename of your widget order page), so much the better.
    • Avoid these pitfalls
      • Frames produce a navigation system where the menu on the left scrolls independently of the page content on the right. Unfortunately, frames can wreak havoc with search engines. (a) Unless you are careful to include <NOFRAMES> tags, search engines may not be able to find the content pages. (b) Even if search engines do find your content pages, these pages can show up in response to a search engine query all by themselves, without the navigation system and links necessary for a visitor to find the rest of your web site.
      • JavaScript and Flash are programming languages that can make very classy, animated menu systems. For example, a menu item might have a drop-down sub-menu. The problem is that if JavaScript and Flash systems replace plain hyperlinks, the search engine may not be able to find the underlying pages. Most search engines don't do Flash. One solution: retain your fancy menus, but include hypertext links at the bottom of the page to your sectional pages, with links on your sectional pages to all the subpages in that section. You can also submit a site map web page to the search engines that contains a link to every page on your site.
      • Dynamically generated web pages created "on the fly" from a database, are more difficult for search engines to index, since these web pages don't exist in real time. They appear when a visitor clicks on a link. Then the database produces a transient web page for that visitor and that visitor alone. Database-driven content management systems are the only way to keep your sanity if your site contains thousands of web pages, but they cause search engine problems.
  • Write and Fine-tune Focused Content Pages
  • Incorporate Customer Communication Systems
    • Web sites are two-way, interactive communication systems. You communicate your organization's marketing message to potential customers and make it easy for them to reciprocate by communicating with you. The better the communication, the more trust increases, and customers feel comfortable to do business with you.
  • Create and Test Effective Sales Pages to generate contact information for a future lead or follow-up. For organizations, success may be measured in memberships or subscriptions.
  • Conduct Usability Trials and Incorporate Changes
    • You need to test your site thoroughly. All newly constructed Web sites contain unseen glitches -- especially those created by inexperienced developers.
  • Plan to Maintain Your Site for the Long Haul

Why do you need a domain name?

  • On the World Wide Web your domain name is your own unique identity. No two organizations can own the same domain name at the same time.
  • An example of a domain is
  • Your domain name gives your web site, e-mail addresses, and your organization a professional appearance.
  • Often the importance of maintaining a domain name is not realized until it is lost.

How to choose a domain name?

  • You can use a word or phrase as a domain name.
  • Try to use a domain name that is relevant to your organization and web site.
  • Try to keep your domain name as short as possible. Short domain names are easier to remember.
  • Avoid names that might cause spelling problems for users.
  • Avoid symbols and numbers in your domain name unless there is a number in the name of your organization such as TMRA2.
  • Your chosen domain name should be easy to transmit verbally over the telephone or radio.

How do I get a domain name?

  • There are two main ways you can get a domain name. You can either register your domain name yourself or you can get your hosting service or ISP (Internet Service Provider) to register it for you.
  • To register a domain name yourself you will need to choose a Registrar. A Registrar is an accredited domain registration company. An example would be The market is competitive, which means that you can purchase domains names for a low yearly fee.
  • Most web hosting companies will offer domain registration services to their clients. When you register a domain name through a web host they will register your domain name for you through their own approved registrar.

Why should I keep my domain name registered?

  • If you lose your organization's domain name you can lose your organization's online identity.
  • Because you can only register a domain name for a year or a small number of years, you will need to make sure that you renew it before the expiration date. If your domain name expires you will no longer own that domain name. You should renew your domain name at least a month before expiration.
  • Make sure your contact information is correct and remains current. Your organizations information should be displayed as the registrant, administrative and billing contacts; make sure that the email addresses for these contacts remain current; email will be sent to these addresses concerning your domain registration. You may check this information at
  • Maintaining your domain name is critical to having and keeping your organization's identity on the World Wide Web.

What is web hosting?

  • Web hosting allows anyone with a computer and internet connection to own space on a web server. Your web server space provides these possibilities:
    • A web site for news, bulletins, documents, data, and files
    • A mail server for organizational email addresses and access to web mail for members and officers.
    • List servers for ezines and discussion lists.
  • To obtain space in a web hosting environment you enter into a contract and agree to terms and conditions of renting the space.
  • After you obtain a hosting package you will be given an user-id and password to access your web server space. You will use your login information to upload files, configure email accounts and email lists.
  • Web-hosting environments vary by services offered and the disk space and bandwidth provided. The amount of each of these resources will determine the cost of your hosting package.
    • Disk space is measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). A Megabyte is roughly 1,024,000 characters. The amount of disk space will determine how many files, documents, and data your web site can contain.
    • Bandwidth/Network Transfer is also measured in megabytes or gigabytes that determines how much data can be downloaded by people accessing your web site. When someone visits your site using a web browser the pages they view will be downloaded; the number of visitors and pages they view will determine the amount of bandwidth used.
    • The number of email accounts or lists will also vary by package and impact the cost of your site

Which web host should I choose to host my organization?

  • There are thousands of hosting companies to choose from. Each of them offers some features you may or may not need.
  • Knowing the needs of your organization's web site is crucial in determining the proper hosting package to purchase.
    • Web Hosting comes in many varieties and prices.
    • What services do you need?
    • How much disk space do you need?
    • How much traffic do you expect?
  • A site can range in price anywhere from the low end of $100 a year up into the thousands of dollars per month. Most SMROs should find a suitable hosting package between $100/year and $300/year.
  • Choosing the right web host for your organization is important. If your site suffers downtime it will negatively impact the professional appearance of your organization and the services provided from the web server such as email, ezine, and discussion lists.
  • Below is a list of some important questions to ask prior to purchase:
    • Do they offer a money back no questions asked guarantee?
    • Do they offer an uptime guarantee?
    • What types of backups do they offer?
    • Do they have redundant backbone connections to the internet?
    • Do they offer 24-7 technical support; including phone support, or is it only via email?
    • How long have they been in business for and can they provide some business references of other sites that they currently host?
    • Can you pay month to month or do they require an annual contract?
    • How easy is it to upgrade and downgrade services over time as needed?

Is Your Web site. Ready For Prime Time?

  • Make sure your web site is error free before making it available for everyone to see.
  • One of the biggest problems facing Web sites today is trying to attract and maintaining recurring traffic. The key to most successful sites is not only to attract people to your web site but to keep them coming back.
  • Complete and test your site before you go live. Most users will not return to sites that are not completed or are Under Construction. Never post Under Construction notices on your site; under construction messages are unprofessional and will result in lost visitors.
  • Check for spelling errors. Spelling errors are viewed as unprofessional.
  • Another common mistake is HTML errors. Not everyone uses the same web browser; check your HTML code and make sure it works across popular web browsers like Internet Explorer and Netscape.
  • Broken links are another problem. It is easy to make mistakes with the links on web pages. Broken links typically result with the “HTTP 404 Page Not Found” error message.
    • Code a custom page not found. A good example is may be found at
    • Include a file named ".htaccess" in the root directory of your site; the contents of this file direct web browsers to you custom page when an error is detected. The contents of the .htaccess file used by ABATE of SC are below:

ErrorDocument 400
ErrorDocument 401
ErrorDocument 402
ErrorDocument 403
ErrorDocument 404
ErrorDocument 500
ErrorDocument 501
ErrorDocument 502
ErrorDocument 503

  • Do not link to unprofessional or unrelated sites
  • All web pages should have meaningful and descriptive titles. META tags should be properly formatted. This will improve your site's chances of getting hits from search engines.
  • Promote your site by getting links from related sites and submit your URL to search engines.
  • Make sure that your web pages load quickly; your home page should download in less than 10 seconds on a 28K connection. Do not use large graphics that download slowly. Users generally do not wait for slowly loading pages and likely will not come back.

5. Common Terms and Definitions

Web Server: The web server is a piece of software that accepts requests over HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and delivers HTML pages and Image files.

FTP Server: FTP is the means by which a web master can transfer files to and from the server. To put your HTML and image files on a server you will generally use FTP to upload (transfer to) your files to the server running the web server.

Mail Server: The mail server consists of two parts POP (Post Office Protocol) and SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). POP is where email is received into your mailbox and SMTP is what is used to send and receive email between mail servers.

Web Browser: When viewing the web you use a web browser like Internet Explorer. Many web hosting companies provide a Control Panel to administer your web host account, which you use with your web browser. Most allow you to configure your web site using a simple web browser.

Web site/page editor: Used to create your web site. After it is created, use FTP (file transfer protocol) to copy your site to your hosting company. Some web editors such as Dreamweaver and FrontPage can update pages online using FTP imbedded in the program.

FTP Client: This is a very simple piece of software that allows you to transfer files and folders between your computer and the web hosting company computer.

Email Client: If you are on the internet you would already be using an email client to send and receive your email. The most common are Outlook Express, Eudora and Web based mail clients like Yahoo and MSN.

6. Resources

This workshop online

  • Electronic Communications
  • Contact FastFred 843-345-5926 or fred@mrf.orf

Software to develop and edit web sites

  • Dreamweaver

Biker Discussion Lists and Ezines

  • MRF Alerts
  • Sons of Liberty Riders lists
  • ABATE of SC open discussion list
  • FastFred's Motorcycle Rights Ezine

How to configure your own email lists using SmartList

  • SmartList mailinglist management manual
  • SmartList Frequently Asked Questions

Contact FastFred

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