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SeattlePioneer

Using MSN or Yahoo for Unit Websites

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It looks like services such as MSN and Yahoo make it easy to set up "group" websites with calendars, e-mail services, photo albums, the ability to display documents and other amenities that would be useful to Cub Packs or Scout Troops.

 

And the cost is right --- free!

 

 

Does anyone use these services or have arguments as to why they are good or not good for Scouting purposes?

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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I can only speak to the Yahoo Groups, but from what I hear MSN is very similar.

It can be a very useful tool. It serves as an e-mail list, calendar, database, file storage, and chat room. Assuming everyone in your troop has a Yahoo! Account (or is willing to get one for free) it can be very useful.

Two words of warning:

1. If you don't have a Yahoo Account you only have access to the e-mail list. You can't access the calander or database (or any of the other features)

2. It will occassionaly get delayed by up to a couple of hours. You get what you pay for in terms of customer service.

 

Still, I recomend that you give it a try.

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Are you considering a public web site, or would this be an e-mail loop type of set up? For a public site with unit info, the big drawback is pop-up ads and news on the site. In other words, the content is not just made up of what the webmaster puts on the site, and there is no control over what else is there. For an e-mail loop type set up, this might work well. It is easy to use, but I've set these up, and there are people who just can't seem to "get it" when it comes to signing up on these. The key is to identify why you want this site, who the audience will be, and does it protect it the unit while providing the kind of info you want to share.

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I have set up both a Yahoo group and a MSN group for our Lodge's Dance Team. Both are member only sites so anyone wanting access to either must first be approved by me.

Yahoo is good. A little easier to access and offers 20 mb of storage. I like some of the features, management control, and look of the msn site better, but it only offers 3 mb of storage without purchasing additional storage. The cost is minimal though. A lot of our members are having problems getting access. A lot of computers see the messages sent as junk or bulk mail, so folks need to be aware to look in those folders and make the necessary adjustments.

Another warning - Tell those that sign up to be sure to uncheck the boxes that ask for your interests or else they will soon be unindated with ad type emails.

Also, at least with msn, even though you might already have a net.passport account you may still have to re-register because they want their registration info to be the most current.

If you pm me I could possibly give you a look at my site for a couple of days.

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One problem to be aware of with 250free.com is the fact that they will not allow you to sign up for an account there using a Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail email account. Some people wont have that problem, but I sure do;) I have one of each and that's it.

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Hi SeattlePioneer,

 

I have several Yahoo group accounts that I've started. They work very well for most people. Free, no need to HTML, FTP, etc. Just plain old typing skills for plain old data entry.

 

The one feature I really like is being able to make the site completely private. Meaning the only way you could join is if I send you and invitation. Otherwise the general public has virtually no access. As the owner I can set up polls, allow chats (although we have never actually used this feature to date), develop databases or lists, post photos, upload files, flyers, notices, etc., enter calendar data and calendar reminders, and of course send messages (emails to the whole group can be done in most email programs). I was Webmaster for a council web site for about 5 years and managed the 7 district sites in the council included in the web site. A Yahoo group makes much more sense if the main purpose of the web presence is to communicate with the group members.

 

I am in the process of setting up a new Yahoo group focused on youth leadership training: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/YLTBSA/ It is linked to and part of a project I am working on for our council dealing with youth leadership training. I just changed the membership so anyone can join if you want to go in and look around.

 

One of the private groups I have is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TresRobles/ this was used for our staff communications for this years National Youth Leadership Training. Doing the polls was a big draw once the youth staff figured out that they could do their own polls.

 

The big problem with unit, district and council web sites is babysitting them to keep the information current. Not everyone can do the HTML coding and upload their sites. Finding people with the desire, knowledge and willingness to handle a unit web site can be a problem. In a Yahoo group you can give that ability to many people in the group. You can even set up youth members with moderator privileges if you want. Giving access for your web site to a youth can become a problem. In fact features like the chat, files/photos, links, calendar, polls, links, and promote can be given as complete access to create, modify and delete items for all your group members.

 

I plan on investigating 250free.com and MSN groups because I have not experience with either. But the Yahoo features work fine for me so I will probably stay a Yahooligan.

 

Yours Truly in Scouting,

Rick Pushies

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