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Reply by email to private messages

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WS Member Imagen de Warmshowers Administrator
Reply by email to private messages

In response to many, many requests we're phasing in the capability to simply reply to private message notifications.

How it works

  • When you get an email notification of a private message from another member, you can simply reply to the message by email. Please do not change the subject line when replying.
  • The message goes to the site, gets posted in the message thread, and results in an email notification to the person you were replying to.
  • They also get an email that they can just reply to.

The advantages:

  • You can use email from any device to communicate.
  • All your Warmshowers communications are available on the site.
  • Less email communications should be lost into the spam folder because they'll always come from Warmshowers (not from an email correspondent you've never contacted before.)
  • Your email address is not disclosed to correspondents unless you choose to give it to them.

What you need to do

  • Please keep a careful eye on your mail and let us know about any problems either by posting a comment here or by using the contact form.

Please let us know how this works for you!


WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Thank you so much for

Thank you so much for implementing this. I've just enabled it and look forward to replying this way as it's so much easier for me on my Kindle.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
This is so cool. Great work!

This is so cool. Great work!

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
This feature doesn't appear

This feature doesn't appear to be working for me. I have replied to several messages by email but they don't appear in the message thread. You could try sending me a message so I can reply by email to see what is going wrong.


WS Member Imagen de @wsadmin@
Thanks Peter - You actually

Thanks Peter - You actually pointed out a problem that incoming mail was broken for more than 12 hours. All the batched up mail has now been delivered (thanks to your report) and we've contacted the mail service provider (mandrill) to try to figure out how to prevent this in the future.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
I partially appreciate this

I partially appreciate this feature, but not so much.
The worst thing is that it does not allow to change the subject line.
I rely most on the first word of subject so always i reply with private messages, using as a sybject a string " - "
this way i can see easily all request ans osrt accordingly.
[i am in a place where i receive lots of request, i can host up to 4 groups at a time, so imagine the number of messages - in july just 1847]

So i would see much better putting the code in the reply-to field, not in the header, so the header remain available for important things.
(no MUA rely on reply to for sorting, so this would remain transparent)

also, very bad, i have seen that also messages from people that did not opted in for private messages arriving with ne new feature.

WS Member Imagen de @wsadmin@
Hi Leonardo - I will be

Hi Leonardo -

I will be trying to move the routing code into the reply-to. The reason it was not there from the beginning is that some clients (notoriously Yahoo) do not respect reply-to, which has given us fits for some time.

However, you'll still see the subject carrying the original message title, because in our private messaging system the title is set once for the entire conversation.

Also, note that we have deployed this for all, so there is no use for the "opt in" any more, and I will shortly remove that option.

I do hope you'll be able find a new way to organize messages (or use tagging on the site). Most email systems allow tagging of email as well, so you may be able to organize in that fasion.


WS Member Imagen de WS Member
I have checked again and

I have checked again and after a few days i can confirm that it is a mess, and was MUCH better when replies went to private e-mail.
When people send a new message from the mobile app there is no possibility to join a message to previous one [or at least no one of people that sent me did]; so you end in having different threads, so voiding the original intent.
tagging on the site is very cumbersome and extremly limited, and normally i do not access the site to reply.
Actually for me the best way could be to rely on reply-to to thread into the site, and leave the subject line free to be modified [for example I, when replying, change te subject in a way to contain the date of arrival, so i can sort e/mail by date].

WS Member Imagen de @wsadmin@
Use mail :-)

Hi Leonardo - You may have missed the original reason we switched to private messaging, In this day of ever-more-aggressive spam filters, many replies to notifications went into spam, and people never got their responses, and thought that the prospective host was a deadbeat. (Most mail systems are very suspicious of mail from a correspondent not in your addressbook or that you have never corresponded with). This may never have happened to you, but we'll never know, will we?

The problems you note with the apps are unchanged - you have never been able to continue a thread from the iOS app; the Android app can only tell you how many unread you have. Please note that all three of our apps are maintained by kind member-volunteers who are taking time out of their own lives and careers to keep them up. (For that matter, the site is also maintained by a couple of member-volunteers who are taking nights and weekends to add these features.)

The idea here is that you don't need an app to interact with messages any more, you can do it with any device that can handle email. The messages are assigned to the correct thread on the site, and when you reply, the thread is marked as read. We're hoping that you can get used to it.

But the basic idea is that all correspondence can now be continued by email, but a record will be kept on the site and mail will come only from the site, decreasing the problem of emails going into the spam bucket.

With a few more nights and weekends, I'll get the routing into the reply-to. However that won't change the thread title, so won't make you very happy. There is only one thread title in this private messaging system.


WS Member Imagen de WS Member
My idea was slightly

My idea was slightly different: to have the message on the thread on site keeping original subject, while the one sent via e/mail the modified one.
Maybe it would not work always, and for sure need some work, but could be nice.
I have to point you one factor: the number of messages i receive, bot for WS, CS and all the rest for work and not.
For reading message i look just at the part of the subject that is displayed.
About the problem of filtering: it is a problem of the people that use bad filtering.
I always have spam-filtering at an extremely soft level, so i never lost a message, and my filter NEVER rely on from/sender/reply-to (except for blacklisting those that arrive with my address as a from), so one thing that i do not undesrtand is why a lot of people is worried with some spam message getting out once a while. (with my level of filtering maybe 10 spam messages a day)
Deleting 50 spam messages need less keypress-equivalents than having to log on site.
anyway have you read the change i did in my profile ?

WS Member Imagen de @wsadmin@
I'm sure if you were the

I'm sure if you were the volunteer doing the development it would look different, of course, and you're welcome here.

Note that although *you* control your spam filter and understand how mail works, you must understand that vast majority of members do not have either the control of their email provider or the sophistication to use it. Many key services do not actually give you much control, some give none. But we've given up trying to explain it to people, because the ones that really need to know can't do it. So if you come up with an idea to solve the problem of false positives (incoming mails being lost into spam filters) for all mail providers (while making sure that spam filtering still works correctly), you can make quite a lot of money with that. Even if you can teach all email users how to manage all email providers, you can be quite a success with that.

Note that WS exists on a budget of about US$3000/year, all from donations. It has no paid staff, just a couple of volunteers. The apps are developed by volunteers completely independently.

Because of the minimal budget we do our best to use off-the-shelf free solutions, so the site is built on Drupal, a free and open source content management system. And we use many modules, also free, and try not to do any custom work on them. In this case, we use the privatemsg module. It's definitely not perfect, and in no way compares to something like gmail. But we didn't have to write it from scratch (or maintain it).

In the case of replying by email to message notifications, though, there was no feature to do that, so I had to develop that feature from scratch using Mandrill to handle the incoming mail. So that means that is another part of our codebase that we have to maintain instead of counting on the Drupal community to maintain.

Hope those explanations make some sense.


WS Member Imagen de WS Member

it's just another great job.

WS Member Imagen de WonkyWheel
A possible source of confusion

... is that the return address on email I receive via WS is "" <>, strongly implies the sender is unreceptive to return messages. I read through the included instructions and figured it out, but changing the NoReply- part to something like PrivateMsg- could make it a bit clearer.

Thanks for adding the message-to-mail gateway.

WS Member Imagen de @wsadmin@

Thanks! You definitely caught a bug.

I manually reconfigured it and now messages have "Warmshowers Messages" as the From address.

Also filed an issue to fix the code,


WS Member Imagen de WS Member

Just so you know I have missed at least 6 requests because I did not receive an email notification... ?

Thank you for your help... ;-)

WS Member Imagen de @wsadmin@
Hi Mario - It looks like you

Hi Mario - It looks like you used to have your mail at hotmail, where messages often go into the 'junk' folder unless the recipient goes ahead and marks the sender as legitimate. (I checked and see that emails were delivered to you at your hotmail address on August 6 and 7.)

We sent an email out for *every* private message. With your current gmail account this should work fine, although some gmail users are losing messages as they arrive in the new 'updates' tab (not very useful IMO). However, if gmail *does* mark something as spam once, you'll need to find it and mark it as not spam.

-Randy webmaster

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Thanks very much for

Thanks very much for implementing this!

But... Any particular reason to force top-posting?
> --------------------- Please reply above this line -------------------+

A: Because we read from top to bottom, left to right.
Q: Why should I start my reply below the quoted text?

A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?

A: The lost context.
Q: What makes top-posted replies harder to read than bottom-posted?

A: Yes.
Q: Should I trim down the quoted part of an email to which I'm replying?

Can I move that line so I can reply in a way that makes sense?

WS Member Imagen de @wsadmin@
The problem is that the

The problem is that the entire email body, not just the response, gets posted as a private message and then as an email (with more fluff around it) if you don't do something to segregate the desired content.

You can move the line if you want, and everything above it will be retained. We use the "line" to determine where the new content ends, as many, many reply-by-email systems do.

The very best thing to do is to delete everything except your response. Remember that on the site all the private messages are there with context.


WS Member Imagen de WS Member
> You can move the line if

> You can move the line if you want, and everything above it will be removed.

I think you mean "kept" instead of "removed".

Ah! So I can quote exactly the way I like, deleting everything I don't want in the reply. That works! Thanks!

WS Member Imagen de @wsadmin@
Updated - thanks.

Updated - thanks.

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