Email Network

Information and General Guidelines

INTRODUCTION

             The Westwood Hills email network began in June 2001, and is open to all WHPOA members and their tenants who live in the neighborhood.  It is on Yahoo Groups, which is a free service that gives groups the ability to communicate easily and also provides a basic website for each group.  In addition to the private Yahoo Groups website, WHOPA maintains a public website on WordPress.com.

Over time, we have developed some general operational guidelines, which are always subject to being revised in response to changes in circumstance, requests, suggestions and experience.

Yahoo Groups is a very flexible system, and there are many parameters with different optional settings that a group can choose to govern itself—so it is entirely possible that if you are on other Yahoo Groups, they may be run differently than the Westwood Hills group.

            Fully Moderated.  The Westwood Hills neighborhood email network is fully moderated, which means that every message and every reply that uses the network is first reviewed by the moderators, who have the sole discretion to approve, reject or modify any text before sending it out to everyone.  The moderators also troubleshoot, to the best of their ability, any problems or questions you might encounter with the email network

We currently have three neighbors who volunteer as co-moderators for the network:  Carole Magnuson, Debbie Nussbaum and Terry Tegnazian.  They also have many other obligations and commitments in their lives, so please be patient if your email to our neighborhood network is not immediately attended to.

To reach the moderators, address an email to:   westwoodhills-owner@yahoogroups.com

            Closed Network.  Ours is a closed, private network.  Our group is not listed in the Yahoo directory.  It is open only to those who live in our neighborhood.  The moderators must approve all new members, and only those who provide us with their name, street address in our neighborhood, and telephone number are added.  The list of members and their email addresses is visible only to the moderators and is never shared even with other members.

Members of the network are also expected to be or to become members of the Westwood Hills Property Owners Association.  Tenants of Association members may also be added as members of the email network, although they are not eligible to become members of the Association.   In addition, it is also possible for a tenant living in a home our neighborhood whose owner is not a member of the Association, to be added to the email network—if that is your situation, please request details from the moderators.

While the network is open only to those in our neighborhood, we do occasionally share information  or resources with surrounding neighborhood homeowner associations.

Network Identifier.  Yahoo Groups automatically attaches an identifier in brackets at the beginning of the Subject line of every message that goes out over a Yahoo Groups network.  The identifier that you will see on messages from our neighborhood email network is “[WHPOA].”

Community Newsletter.  The Westwood Hills email network functions more like a community newsletter than a chat room.  There are many messages which the moderators deal with that are never sent out over the entire network.  The reason for this evolved from the early days of the network, when we were initially unmoderated and had so much email traffic that some members unsubscribed.  As a result, we changed to a fully moderated system.

Critical Communication Tool.  Our goal is to get and keep as many neighbors as possible on the network, because it is such an important method of communication for our neighborhood—especially in the event of an emergency and other issues that impact the security, safety, property values, quality of life, and welfare of our neighborhood.

In order to encourage as many people as possible to join the email network, and forestall people from unsubscribing, we are very concerned with not overwhelming our neighbors with general commentary and opinion, repetitive requests, administrative matters that the moderators can answer, numerous individual responses to a request, etc.

In fact, the general network probably sees about one-third to one-half of all the messages that the moderators get.  We are cognizant of the fact that many of our members are busy professionals; many use their business email address for the network; others simply don’t have the time or inclination to wade through dozens of messages from various neighbors.

Website.  The address for our private neighborhood website, which is provided to us free by the Yahoo Groups system, is:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/westwoodhills/info

             This is a private, unlisted website not open to being viewed by the general public.  In order to access our website, Yahoo Groups requires that you first get a Yahoo ID—this is an email address @yahoo.com that you create, for which you will set your own password. (You should keep a record of your Yahoo ID and password, because Yahoo does occasionally require it for security purposes.)

This is required only for website access—you can receive and send emails without getting a Yahoo ID.

If you have any problems in accessing the website, please let the moderators know.  They can send you the instructions, and will do whatever else they can to help you.

GENERAL OPERATING GUIDELINES

            With experience, the moderators have developed the following general operating guidelines for our email network:

a.  Sending a Message to the Neighborhood.  Address your email to  westwoodhills@yahoogroups.com    It automatically goes first to the moderators for approval, and if okayed as is, is automatically posted to the entire group under your own email address as you wrote it.

Another alternative occurs if either you address your message to westwoodhills-owner@yahoogroups.com  (i.e., the moderators), or if your message is edited before going out to the entire group.  In these cases, the moderators have to copy and paste your message into a new email, in which case your message will be posted to the entire group but will show the moderator’s email address in the “sender” line at the top.

b.  Replies.  When you hit “reply” to a message from our email network, the reply comes only to the moderators, not to the entire network.  The moderators will handle it as seems most appropriate, e.g., forward it on to the person who requested information, answer any questions, etc.

In some cases, you will see a “Moderator’s Note” at the top of a message asking you to respond directly to the person posting.  These are situations where the moderators do not need to be in the middle of the correspondence.  There will be an email address and/or phone number of the person posting, usually at the bottom of the message.  This requires that you either call the person, or if there’s an email address given, then you must copy and paste the email address of the person posting into your response instead of hitting reply.

c. No Anonymous Messages.  We do not post anonymous messages.  Please include your first and last name, and your street (but not your street number) at the end of your messages. Also be sure to include other contact or identifying info, if relevant, in the closing of your message.  This is one important way in which we build a sense of community within our neighborhood.

d.  Subject Headings.   Please indicate a subject for every message in the “Subject” line.

e.  One Subject per Message.  In general, we ask that you discuss just one subject (or “thread”) in a message.  This practice makes it easier to deal with replies that may come in response to a message.

f.  Simple Format.  Please use plain text and basic fonts for your messages, because fancy fonts, graphics, pictures or elaborate formatting do not always come through and/or take a longer time to download.  If you have pictures or something with elaborate formatting, one alternative would be to request that the moderators upload the item to a file on our website where neighbors can go to look at it.

g.  Short, Succinct Messages.  In general, please keep your messages short and to the point.

If you have a personal situation that requires a long explanation, one technique would be to briefly outline the general issue, and ask people to contact you directly (with your email address or phone number) for more information or to discuss.

h.  Scope of Topics.  Please remember that our email network is for the benefit of the people in our neighborhood, so the moderators will generally not approve messages seeking information or referrals for people outside our area, or that otherwise do not appear to be related or of benefit to our neighbors or neighborhood issues.

This also means, for example, that we normally do not post various sorts of warnings that are going around the internet generally, or messages that deal with general news or political issues that are covered in the wider media unless they might have an immediate impact on our local area.

We also tend to restrict commercial, charity and religiously-oriented messages, but will consider events or matters if a neighbor is principally involved, or if a special offer is being extended to our neighborhood.

The moderators use their judgment and discretion in determining appropriateness of messages.  They have to balance the different needs, considerations and interests involved.  In a questionable case, they will consult among themselves, and sometimes they will request more information or suggest modifications to the person requesting the post.

i.  Attachments.  Our email network permits attachments; however, in general, attachments are not used with great frequency because they are often heavily formatted and take longer to download.  Also, with people checking emails on handheld devices like Blackberries, attachments are often difficult to read.

If possible, in lieu of an attachment, please include everything in the body of your email—copy and paste into the email whatever information you wanted to attach.

Another possibility, depending on what the attachment is, would be to send the attachment directly to the moderators at their personal email address, for uploading to the “Files” section of our website.  An internet address can then be given for people to click on to access the information.

j.  Courtesy, Please.  Remember that we are a small community.  The moderators will not allow complaints about specific neighbors, threats, flaming emails or personal insults to be sent over the entire email network.  Fortunately, we have rarely had to reject a message for these reasons.

If you are having a problem with a neighbor, it is up to you to resolve it between yourselves.  If you aren’t able to reach some amicable agreement, then please consider using mediation or arbitration services.  You can check with the L. A. County Bar Association for referrals.

k.  Referral List.  We have set up on our website a complete listing of all the referrals for various services that have come in over the email network since its inception.  These referral lists are open to all members of our email network, and can be found at

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/westwoodhills/files/Referrals/

You can access these referrals (and all the other files on our website) directly yourself.  However, as noted above, in order to access the website yourself Yahoo Groups requires that you first get a Yahoo ID.  If you need help in doing this, please contact the moderators.

l.  Requests for Referrals.  When we get a request for a referral, we first determine whether it is a service that is already on our website.  If it is already on our website and the referrals are fairly recent, we generally email the person back and ask them to check the existing referral list—and thereby save our members from repeated requests for the same service.

m.  Six-Month Rule of Thumb.  However, if it’s been more than six months since the last update for the requested service, we will generally send the request to the entire email network to see if there are any more up-to-date referrals.

n.  Responses to Referral Requests.  Referral requests are one situation in which we usually want you to hit “reply.”  When you respond to a referral request in this way, your response comes only to the moderators, who do two things:  (1) forward every response to the person who made the request; and (2) eventually add the response to the list of referrals on our website.

In this way, the person who requested the information gets it right away, the information will eventually be made available on our website for all to access at any time in the future, and our members are spared from receiving and having to sort through numerous individual responses which may come in over a period of several days to various requests.

This is why your responses to a referral request do not generally show up on the entire network.  However, you can be sure that they are very valued and needed—so please keep sharing with your neighbors!

This is also why, if your original referral request included your contact info, the moderators may have deleted the contact info before posting your request to the entire network.  In this way, all the responses will go through the moderators which enables them to capture the information so it can be uploaded to the website, instead of going only to the person who made the initial request.

We also follow this methodology of forwarding responses to the requester rather than posting to the whole network on other types of requests where appropriate.

o.  Shopping Corner.  Occasionally, neighbors have items that they would like to offer for sale or give away to others in our neighborhood, or that they are seeking to purchase.  Such messages will usually have “Shopping Corner” as the lead-in of the subject line after the network identifier.

If you are interested in any such items, you must reply directly to the seller.  Do NOT just hit the “reply” button on Shopping Corner items, because your response will come to the moderators who will not forward responses on such items.

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!!

Finally, thanks for your participation and generous good will toward your neighbors, which makes ours a very special neighborhood indeed, and is the main reason for the success of our email network!