When is a Google group not a Google group?

Okay, change is hard. And “software as a service” leaves you open to change at the whim of the service provider. I suppose I’ll get used to it one of these days.

As background, I spend a lot of my time setting up support for virtual offices. This usually means crafting e-mail alias lists for addresses like “info@something.org” where it’s a really good idea to have more than one person monitoring the e-mail. [You then do need a protocol for who answers the mail, but that’s another discussion.]

As more background, most of the sites I work on are hosted at Dreamhost, a very large, but still quirky, hosting company. As an ex UNIX sysadmin, I love the way they offer a select group of software installs that often give me just what I need without the effort of sorting through the myriad of options that are available. They do, however, have a less than stellar reputation for hosting e-mail. So when they started offering Google Apps for Domains hosted with them, I jumped at the chance to move my domain’s mail service to Google.

Anyway, for the first few sites, I was merrily creating my “info@xxx.org” addresses using the “e-mail address” function.

Sometime last month, that just “went away”. It wasn’t possible to set up an address that pointed to more than one external address.

But wait! There’s a new option “group”.  Oh, I guess that’s good — having a Google Group “attached” to the domain. But the overhead of setting up a whole Google group just to get quick alias list?  [Yes, I’ve been known to use Mailman for a 3-person list when there was no other easy way to edit the alias. But I’m reformed.]

So today I finally tried it, and it turns out their “group” really is just a list of addresses — with minimal Google group functionality. [You can limit who can post to the address, but there’s no footer, no subscription page, no files attached to the thing.]

So… What looked like a change really wasn’t much of one. Probably would have been obvious to most of you…

Any lessons here?

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