Pinoy Techie Yahoogroups
What Are Ygroups?
Better Than Your Average Mailing List
Notable Pinoy Ygroups
Ygroup-iquette plus Some Tips
Other Notable Pinoy Techie Ygroups
What Are Ygroups?
So you’re gonna get into Open Source, eh? Or maybe you want to learn more about Windows Networking? How about programming? Or are you into Personal Digital Assistants maybe? Or do you just like to keep in touch and discuss IT issues?
Whether it be standard hardware stuff to the latest and greatest gadgetry, from obscure Linux files to searching for Microsoft NT backup techniques. If you want to ask opinions about upgrading your PC or you just want to discuss your opinions on the latest telco issue of the day, there’s a Pinoy Yahoogroup out there for you, speaking your language, and ready to discuss.
Yahoogroups or Ygroups is not a new Internet thing, lest I be accused of unleashing yet another internet byword. It is not a new technology developed by some upstart company waiting for an IPO. Far from it, Ygroups is based on one of the oldest technologies on the internet: email, and its natural evolution: mailing lists, two of the most reliable technologies that are known workhorses of the internet. They have been available to the public for a long time yet continue to be in the same shape and form as they were decades ago.
Yahoogroups, or Yahoo’s version of mailing lists, started from its purchase of Egroups.com in the late 1990s, when big internet buyouts where in vogue. The use of Egroups was getting more and more popular by the minute, and even then its use among Pinoys was spreading like wildfire, which accounts for the fact that until today, people occasionally call Yahoogroups and mailing lists in general as “Egroups”.
Egroups introduced the concept of allowing any group of people to create mailing lists based on any topic they like, and added a few features like calendars, databases and downloadable files, making the whole idea of mailing lists more interesting. This of course, taking place while advertisements were bombarded to the hapless users, who generally deem this as an acceptable tradeoff.
Better Than Your Average Mailing List.
When Egroups became Ygroups, many improvements were put in place, namely the addition of Yahoo’s voluminous other services as part if not complimentary to the basic mailing list function. Ygroups working with Yahoo Calendar, for example allows you to schedule activities for your group with respect to time zones and such. Ygroup’s Polls feature lets you host elections and votes with members and Ygroup’s Files and Photos lets you upload up to 30mb. of pictures and other items. Database can be used among other things as a member index. If you are already a Yahoo member, most probably care of its most famous service, free email, you also get to access its services without further signup.
But the best improvements have to do with security. As spammers have become a bigger and bigger problem, it has also become much harder to send unsolicited email to a list. A list-owner’s easy to use administrative panel lets you check who accessed what and when, plus who has pending messages or membership applications, which you can edit or moderate as you please. List administrators, not necessarily but usually the owners, basically have God-like powers over the list. Messages are allowed, disallowed or edited at their leisure, as with the privileges of their members. They basically control a member’s “presence” on the list, to the blessing or, occasionally, bane of its members (more on that later).
All this is absolutely free from internet behemoth Yahoo, which of course worked to improve the advertisements as well. If you described your profession as having to do with Personal Computers, trust Yahoo’s adservers to never display an ad for home recipes or baby care, unless of course, you mentioned that you were interested in such when signing up. You will most likely be shown ads about “Accessing Your Files Remotely” or a helpdesk website for PC owners instead. This basically means that you and your group members wouldn’t just be ignoring any advertisement, they are ignoring well thought of, specifically-targetted advertisements, which brings the art of ignoring ads to a level unlike any before. That’s technology for you.
It’s natural evolution in practice therefore that us Filipinos, notably one of the most active users of the service, use Ygroups for PC related (and sometimes not-so related) discussion and activities. Here are some notable ones:
• Moderator: Janette Toral
• Email: Janette@digitalfilipino.com
• Main Website: http://www.digitalfilipino.com
• Founded: September 17, 1999
• Members: 1897
• Main Purpose accdg. to Moderator:
• Moderator’s Preferred Topics: Postings that are related to Internet, e-commerce, IT, outsourcing, wireless, and e-government.
Janette Toral notes Veteran list members’ 1st hand experience with computers when computers started going mainstream and Buying Online Issues as two of the many interesting threads on her Ygroup, an indication of how widespread Digitalfilipino – the mailing list – has become. Of course the main indication of which is not only the different kinds of interesting threads but especially the number of members – totalling a litle less than 1900 as of this writing – far and away the most number of members of any Pinoy Ygroup.
The group is so popular that she has had to set some rules on her anyone-can-join list, most notable of which is that every post is personally checked and moderated by herself or a few of her chosen co-moderators – a tedious but important setup for such a large Ygroup. “There’s one who made this posting using the calendar feature to promote this money making site as I didn’t allow it through regular posting.”, Toral recalls. “That person got removed. I banned that person. All postings in the site are moderated. With more than 1900 members at this point, quality is very important.” she continues.
Janette has a few important tips to share for those who are interested in setting up a good Ygroup.
1. Do it because your initiative will be relevant to your member’s interest.
2. Quality is key. Not only in postings but membership as well.
3. Let the members get to know each other more and get together through events.
4. Respect other people’s opinion.
Philippine Wireless Application User’s Group (PhilWAPP)
• Moderator: Art Gimenez
• Email: email@example.com
• Founded: September 7, 2000
• Members: 323
• Main Purpose accdg. to Moderator: PhilWAPP, or Philippine Wireless Application users group’s yahoogroup’s primary purpose is to allow students, professionals, developers, and enthusiasts exchange ideas and comments on wireless gadgets, applications and related technologies such as SMS, Bluetooth, MMS, and J2ME. This is the discussion group to bring up questions on present and upcoming wireless technologies, anything from the simplest questions to the most technical.
• Moderator’s Preferred Topics: Queries on wireless gizmo’s and technologies, and updates on the latest wireless applications.
An example of a group developed for a specific technical purpose is where Philwapp’s Ygroup would fit the bill. PhilWAPP is self-explanatory – their intention is to further the development of the Philippine’s Wireless Application community by way of open discussion and activities. Its moderator, Art Gimenez sums it up: “The Philippines is the SMS Capital of the world, and will be for many years to come. This makes the Philippines an ideal testbed for wireless applications, as the plethora of SMS Value added services hosted on the local telcos show. The PhilWAPP yahoogroup can be used to announce these new services, and at the same time allow the users of these services to express their reactions toward them.”
Gimenez though, agrees there’s a lot needed to be done, “Currently, the PhilWAPP yahoogroup does have a lot of activity, but it could always be better. We wish for more developers and users of wireless applications and technologies to use this yahoogroup to share their knowledge and reactions for the betterment of the Philippines’ wireless offerings.”
PhilWAPP is also only one of two SEC-Registered non-stock, non-profit organization interviewed for this article (the other is PinoyJUG).
Pinoy Pocket PC
• Main Website: http://www.pinoypocketpc.com
• Moderator: Carlos Ma. Guerrero
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Founded: April 18, 2001
• Members: 353
• Main Purpose accdg. to Moderator: At that time (of inception), there were no local groups that really catered to the Pocket PC community… actually, at that time, there was no Pocket PC community to talk about. It was obvious that Mapalad (another local Ygroup for Palm Pilot users) was not going to support the Pocket PC platform, the Pocket PC being the direct competitor of Palm in the handheld market. This prompted me to put up the group and recruit members, basically friends and other people who are Pocket PC users. It was a lop-sided competition between the Palm camp and the almost non-existent Pocket PC camp… so I thought that I could create the group and at the same time help people out discover the true power of the Pocket PC.
Moderator’s Preferred Topics: Queries on wireless gizmo’s and technologies, and updates on the latest wireless applications. We encourage newbies to be more open about their problems about Pocket PCs. This is the only way we can help them. We also encourage those who possess adequate knowledge on Pcoket PCs to share what they know for the benefit of the members.
While PhilWAPP has a more formal, corporate air, the Pinoy Pocket PC Ygroup serves as an example of a successful “for the user, by the user” Ygroup. Moderator Carlo Ma. Guerrero, a photographer by profession, claims that the Ygroup hasn’t adversely affected his main profession. “Well, luckily it hasn’t really affected my profession as a photographer.”, he says.
This inspite of the fact that PinoyPocket PC has one of the most regular and actively participated in activities, which are usually sponsored and has even been used by telcos to launch its products or services. Guerrero adds: “We hold official monthly meetings and informal get togethers for the members. The official meetings are usually sponsored events which highlight new devices or services related to Pocket PCs. We hold mini-EBs or informal get togethers for small groups with specific agendas. We plan to continue with this practice which gives the members something different to look forward to everytime. Normally the official meetings which are sponsored turn out like product launchings with food and all. While the informal get togethers are more of small tutorial classes where we troubleshoot members’ problems with Pocket PCs etc.”
The group has a clearly defined role, that of a place where Pinoy Pocket PC owners can congregate and discuss their PDAs amongst themselves. Whilst simple, it is probably that which makes it succeed, plus the fact that Guerrero and many of the prominent list members are truly avid fans of Pocket PCs and really want to help. “I think the group has achieved it’s initial purpose which was to create a community and for the group to be a venue for learning. But, I would like to add, our mission is an on going mission. Our mission is to keep the community growing and instilling camaraderie among the members. Encouraging those who possess adequate knowledge about the Pocket PC to share them and to help newbies learn about their devices’ true potential.”
• Website: http://pldt.com
• Moderator: Gerry Kaimo
• Email: Gerry@kaimo.com
• Founded: March 1, 1999
• Members: 244
• Main Purpose accdg. to Moderator: (Initially) to keep people abreast of the ongoings at the pldt.com vs pldt hearings.
• Moderator’s Preferred Topics: “Those who are consistent and masipag. Posts from Civil Society Groups are
also given importance, of course.”
If groups like Pinoy Pocket PC are heavy with activities, there are those Ygroups that are purely mailing lists and are used to spread news and information only. Ygroups reverts to a newsletter-like setting for purposes such as this, and for people like Gerry Kaimo whose only purpose is to disseminate information about a decidedly IT issue such as the ongoing PLDT vs. PLDT.com hearings, this suits him just fine.
From humble beginnings in 1999, the PLDT Ygroup has also become an important source of information as well, mostly featuring articles from noted and even not-so-noted writers and columnists and the occasionaly forwarded articles pertaining to important social and political issues of the day, with or without IT as the subject. Kaimo reiterates: “(We try to give) the public an alternative source of information. We try to offer two sides of the coin, if offered. Short of ridiculous, of course.”, he adds with some irony. “(We’ll) keep it going by posting material and information that they may not normally find through regular media.”
Whilst non-IT, the PLDT Ygroup is one of the more interesting mailing lists out there. Kaimo sums up what he feels to be important elements to running a good Ygroup, “Be relevant, current and informative.”
(Important Note. Just previous to this writing, Philweavers had “transferred” to a new mailing list at http://www.philweavers.net/mailman/listinfo/list . The Ygroups version is still available for archives).
• Website: http://philweavers.net
• Moderator: Jose Illenberger
• Email: email@example.com
• Founded: October 15, 1999
• Members: 303
• Main Purpose accdg. to Moderator: A email list for Filipinos who share a common vision of designing for the online medium – thus, to be the premier Filipino web design community. There were a growing number of Filipino web designers with no community. Drew (Europeo, webdesigner, winner of several Webby Awards and another moderator) and I saw the need to create a venue where everyone could help each other out. We formed Philweavers.
• Moderator’s Preferred Topics: “We appreciate and encourage on-topic posts – posts that have relations with web design and development.”
If the Philippines is an internationally recognized hotbed of groundbreaking digital design, then the Philweavers Ygroup must be the virtual home for the rich network of talents that make it so. Past present and future – no holds barred.
Moderator Jose Illenberger of “Redberger.com” states that the job isn’t so easy, though: “In my day to day work, it takes away 15 minutes of useful time just checking the list, wading through the useless and insane messages, to read a few intelligent ones.” Maintaining a vibrant Ygroup such as Philweavers also requires a fine balance, he adds: “Whether you like it or not, you have to keep a blind eye with regards to one liner posts or to totally useless posts like “amen!” or “galeng mo!”. Otherwise, people would think your too strict and leave. On the other hand, if you’re too lax, people will start complaining as well. “Why is the list being flooded with spam?”
These might be expected given that most of its members, or at least the more vocal ones that like to post messages a lot, are college students or even younger. Thus, there is a need for tolerance when the occasional inane, silly or totally out-of-topic post comes around. This inspite of the fact that Philweavers stands out as one of the most discriminating Ygroup in terms of membership. In order to join, one must be Filipino, a webdesigner, and present a “decent portfolio” of work to show for it.
However, if the way the list has improved Illenberger’s skills and ability is any gauge, then the benefits to the Philippine web-designer community makes the occasional irritant worth forgiving. He says, “PW’s mailing list also serves as a lobby. More often than not, there are posts about career advice, possible networking opportunities and potential projects. These posts, and posts like them, directly affect my profession as they are the elements that form how professional you are in your field. You also get to know who you are competing with, and who you can collaborate with for complementary sectors.” With respect to his profession, he adds, “The mailing list has affected my profession in the sense that I was and am able to promote the stature of a web designer. I am able to uplift my own profession with and through the mailing list. Moreover, being in a creative venture, ideas are important. The mailing list is an overflowing reservoir of ideas from various people from all walks of life.”
Pinoy Java User’s Group (PinoyJUG)
• Website: http://pinoyjug.ph
• Moderator: Melvin Dave P. Divas
• Founded: November 26, 2001
• Members: 291
• Main Purpose accdg. to Moderator: The list was created to provide an online venue for Filipino Java Developers where they can interact by sharing ideas and application code. It serves as a complement to the offline activities of the Association of Filipino Java Developers(PinoyJUG) organization.
The lack of offline activity in other mailing lists is one of the main reasons we created the PinoyJUG mailing list. We created the list so other Java developers would know of our SEC-registered non-profit organization. This way, we utilized the list to recruit members who are willing to participate in our offline activities. However, we didn’t restrict the list only for that purpose. Another motivation was the need for advocacy of Java technology in our country.
• Moderator’s Preferred Topics: “PinoyJUG is a developer’s mailing list so we appreciate posts that would help other members gain more information. We also encourage technical questions from newbies and advanced developers. Oftentimes, we learn from these.”
While Philweavers concentrate on web-design as a whole, Ygroups such as PinoyJUG concentrate on specific internet technologies, in this case JAVA. Moderator Melvin Divas adds: “Since February of 2002, we have organized regular Wednesday technical sessions for mailing list members. Members of the mailing list are free to attend. Several topics are discussed by volunteer speakers on every session. Interesting topics already tackled were EJB, JSP/Servlets, JDBC,CVS, JUnit, Refactoring, Threading, Design Patterns, Java I/O.”
The benefits to such a concentrated group has directly benefitted Melvin as well: “If I encounter some problems during coding, I could turn to the mailing list for help. It’s like having free technical support. So in a way, the mailing list helped me grow as a Java Developer.”
Philippine Borland Users Group(PhilBUG)
• Moderator: Eric Tipon
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Founded: June 22, 2001
• Members: 112
• Main Purpose accdg. to Moderator: “The no. 1 factor is “belonginess”..we feel that there are still and would be die-hard borlanders.”
• Moderator’s Preferred Topics: “Anything that pertains to any of the Borland products …any news, events on the IT industry…”
Borland Corporation is one of the few remaining application tool developer companies in the US that the powerhouse Microsoft has not either bought out or reduced to rubble due to competition. Through the years it had still been quietly making money producing quality products and as a result there is a large loyal user base hungry for its own community. Companies such as Borland provide a non-Microsoft yet non-open source alternative to programmers and developers who are looking for just that – an independent solution that doesn’t necessarily adhere to the latest trends. And in this age of cookie-cutter development tools where most applications share the same code – being different from the rest has become a “feature” worth looking for all its own.
This factor has not been overlooked even here in the Philippines. Moderator Eric Tipon adds that “Not only (does the list provide) “technical helps” … but i gain a lot of confidence knowing that i belong to an elite group. Even though we are so M$ (sic) centric country, ..those people who know Borland, look at us (PhilBUG) as an “elite” group specially companies from Europe.
Not only is PhilBUG a venue for Borland enthusiasts, Eric adds that among the important things to do is to enjoy it, “(The purpose is) to have a venue for FUN, interactions, faq, tech. questions for all Borland product users here in the phils. We are glad that we are serving not only the local users but also foreigners and Filipino community abroad.”
Ygroup-Iquette plus Some Tips
Ready to participate in a Ygroup you like? Well just like any group of people who congregate for a specific purpose, it’s important that you follow rules lest you isolate yourself, get moderated, get kicked out or banned, or worst of all, feel silly about yourself afterwards. Here’s a few choice tips shared by the several moderators of above Ygroups:
• Digressing or Out of Topic (aka OT) Posts
If you feel that you’ve really got to say something that’s got to do with, say, real estate in a Ygroup about computer hardware, then you’re treading on shaky ground indeed. Some of the factors that will decide whether you get disciplined by the moderator are:
a.) How often you do it.
b.) The number of OT posts as compared to the number of relevant posts you make.
c.) The actual content (maybe you can fix it in such a way that it’s not so OT).
d.) The moderator’s patience with you.
• Differing From Other’s Opinion
The fact that we will find other’s opinions to be either slightly or significantly different from our own is a fact of life. What we do about it in mailing lists shouldn’t be different from life, which is to accept and/or just ignore it. It is seldom to anyone’s benefit to carry on an argument via email, much less on a Ygroup, where others not concerned are privy to it.
If you really have to say something, its best to email privately to the person involved. Hopefully the feeling of writing to a person directly would also have the calming equivalent of counting a slow one to ten and make you think otherwise.
• How You Type
You can type in English, Tagalog, “Textspeak” (lyk dis) or a mixture of any. There really are no hard and fast rules to Ygroups. The most important thing is that you get your point across clearly and concisely, with full consideration of how it would appear to your intended audience, which of course you always keep in mind is the whole mailing list which may contain hundreds of people. An absolute no-no for almost every moderator I spoke with is vulgarity or objectionable behaviour. Again, Ygroups acceptable behaviour is no different from acceptable behaviour in any gathering of people anywhere in the world. Those who don’t want to follow the rules get removed.
• When The Inevitable Happens.
If there is anything common about mailing lists, regardless of topic, its that fights inevitably break out (called “flames”). Email while quick, useful and informative is also a very limited form of medium, lacking the little nuances, touches and tones that a personal meeting has. It is therefore so easy to misinterpret well-meaning criticisms as rudeness or a moderator’s attempt to calm people down as high-handedness.
Knowing that this is a common occurence by itself helps a great deal when the inevitable argument happens. A moderator is put to task and the whole Ygroup and the purpose it stands for suffers. I have seen people go so far as to actually meeting with one another to settle issues “once and for all”. It’s a testament to how unproductive the whole exercise of mailing list arguments and flames is when you consider that all the resultant “meetings” that I know off have resulted in back-slapping, friendly affairs with everyone deciding how silly they all were.
If you’re email software is getting full (aka flooded) by the numerous posts in a Ygroup, learn more about the “No Mail” and “Digest Mode”. Use them. Alternatively you can use your email software to create a folder and filter ygroup emails into them automatically when downloading. Any of these solutions will greatly improve your use and appreciation of Ygroups and mailing lists. Several people are members of up to 70 Ygroups (such as myself) and manage quite effectively.
Other Notable Pinoy Techie Ygroups
The Ygroups mentioned above are by far not the only ones worth mentioning. Here are more!:
Handspring PDA Phone
Open Source Jobs listing
Visual Basic Development