Monday, January 09, 2006
The Importance of Yahoogroups
In the corner of my living room, beneath my printer table, lies a pile of stuffed animals, photo albums, letters and other artifacts from my research projects. Attached to each is the name of an adoptive child, and each was given me with the urgent request that I try and locate that child and send them the gift. The gifts, photos and letters were given me by foster families, orphanage directors, and care givers who obviously cared for and remembered the child that was at one time in their care. The one thing they have in common is that they remain under my desk.
I have tried to locate each of these children, sending e-mails to the city newsgroup asking the family to contact me. Most inquiries go unanswered. In the age of digital information, many adoptive parents don't take advantage of the single most important asset they have for obtaining information about their child's life in China: the Yahoogroup dedicated to their child's orphanage.
Most city newsgroups are not very active. My own newsgroups for DianBai and guangzhou average a few messages a week. Yahoogroups allows subscribers to receive individual e-mails (best for less active groups), a daily digest (for busier groups) , "Special Notices" when only important messages sent by the list moderator are sent out, and "no mail," which is for those subscribers that only want to read the postings from the Yahoogroup webpage.
When it comes to "specific interest" newsgroups such as an orphanage newsgroup, I strongly discourage families from choosing "no mail." A week turns into a month, and soon important information is lost in the archives, missed by the adoptive family. More suitable would be selecting the "Special Notices" option, which is essentially the same as "no mail," but allows you to receive important notices.
I would also recommend list moderators maintain the usefulness of their group lists by periodically switching those set at "no mail" to "special notices". Of course, "Special notices" should be sent out only when it is of specific importance, something Yahoo explicitely states in their instructions. Reunion information, research information, searching for specific children qualifies, none-specific advertisements and such do not.
In an age when many families are visiting the cities and orphanages where our children are from, it is impossible to predict what information might suddenly become available. In several cases I have located newspaper articles, birth families, and other vitally important information, only to be frustrated in my inability to locate the adoptive family.
If you are not a member of your child's newsgroup, join today. A list of city newsgroups can be located at the following website:
If you are already a member, and have your setting at "no mail," revisit your decision and reset it to "Special Notices" or "Daily Digest". One day you may be very glad you did.
P.S. Please forward this posting, or a similar message to your locate FCC newsgroup, travel groups, and other audiences. Perhaps one day I will be successful in locating the homes for all of my gifts.