GAP Messages or How to Look Like an Idiot Without Really Trying

Well, there’s nothing like embarrassing yourself, and publicly at that.  This past weekend, I sent a bulk message as a Family Tree DNA group project administrator (GAP) and it was a mess when it arrived.  Let’s look at what happened and how you can avoid having this happen to you.  Or conversely, if you receive one that looks like this – you’ll know it’s not that your volunteer administrator is an idiot, and you can send them this link.

I use MS Word – every day – and I’m pretty proficient with it.

I don’t use the GAP bulk message tool very often to communicate with my projects.  Some projects are just too big (think Cumberland Gap) and I’ve told all of them to subscribe to my blog to get up-to-date general information.  Therefore, when I send a GAP bulk message to project members, it’s about the project specifically, generally a surname project.  I do this about once a year kind of as a round-up for everyone.

But this year, my message came out as an embarrassing mess.

I typed it in Word with minimal formatting – nothing special.  Then I just copy/pasted it into the bulk mail tool.  It looked good, and I was done.  I pressed send and it was on its way to project members.  However, how it looked when it arrived was not what it looked like when I pressed send, and was embarrassing, to say the least.

Here’s just the first couple sentences.  I can’t bear to look at any more.  The red I’ve added so you don’t have to suffer through reading it.

Hello EstesProject Members and Happy New Year,

Once a year Itake an overall look at our project, do any cleanup I need to do, group orregroup people if they had taken additional tests, and do general maintenance.

You can seethe updated grouping at this link, and if you see anything that you think isincorrect, or amiss, please let me know.

Note the words that are all run together.  As administrators, we give advice and ask people to do things like upgrade their tests.  We need to be credible, and in this case, the tool we have makes us look anything but.  We don’t have to shoot ourselves in the foot – it’s already taken care of for us.

However, I discovered that, hidden away, is a fix.  The problem is that you have to KNOW to utilize it and how many people would know that?  I clearly didn’t.

Here’s what the body of the bulk e-mail tool looks like.  Your message goes below the toolbar.GAP bulk screen

On the toolbar, there is a little W button.  Turns out it’s the magic “Word Behave” button.Gap Word toolbar

Here it is even closer.GAP Word Toolbar closeup

When you’re ready to paste from a Word document, instead of doing “paste,” click on this little W button and follow the instructions to then press Ctl+V.  That tells the GAP tools that this is a Word document and apparently, not to “fix anything.”

And just so you know, this isn’t the only place this little gotcha is lurking.  This same editor tool is utilized in the Public Website page and in the Welcome E-mail as well, so if you’re going to copy/paste from Word, utilize the magic “Word Behave” button instead of using copy/paste.  Can’t remember what you did?  Maybe it’s time to go and check to see what your page looks like and what your automated welcome message looks like when it arrives.



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17 thoughts on “GAP Messages or How to Look Like an Idiot Without Really Trying

  1. Roberta, should those of us active in administering different tests for our relatives be members of the FTDNA group project? Is there other information we might get from it that will help us to help our testees?? Does one join it just like we join our surname projects or the CG project?

    • Not all admins welcome people who aren’t in the direct line being tested. I welcome others in surname projects for autosomal reasons. You’ll need to contact the admin of the project to see.

  2. Roberta, thank you for bringing attention to this pitfall. I’m not sure that FTDNA’s CSRs are aware of it. Seems they weren’t when I started a surname project in December 2012 and asked FTDNA to forward a message to existing customers with that surname. The resultant bulk email was garbled in the manner you describe. Additionally, the links to my project website were all missing. I reported this to the FTDNA helpdesk, but it was never resolved.

    To make matters worse, instead of the bulk email being marked as being sent from a account, it was spoofed to make it look like it was sent from my email account. The problem is, my personal email domain has a strict SPF record in place, and this exposes address spoofing attempts. I was cc’ed on the bulk email, and it ended up in my spam folder.

    I imagine most of the intended recipients never received my message, and those that did receive it saw a message which didn’t make a very good first impression. I reckon the response rate was about 10%.

  3. oh my…our mighty leader doesn’t know everything! I guess you are only human after all! May this be the worse thing that happens to you this year!

  4. I am not an admin, just a newbie who is trying to get up to speed on genetic genealogy. Your blog is educational and funny too! I love that you don’t take yourself too seriously and that you turn everything into a teachable moment. From you fan…
    Roberta Hutchins

  5. This has happened to me also! Thank you for taking the time to show us how to fix it! I love reading your blog, both informative & humorous! Happy New Year!

  6. But wait! There’s more!! Microsoft fixed the problem. Now just use Word’s “Save As *.htm” and save text as a web page. As a test, I copy / pasted 8 lines of text from a website into MS Word and selected the Save As *.htm option. Word added 530 lines of unnecessary markup code.
    MS Word continues to “improve.” In Word ’97 I had to click Help/About to see what version. Now in Word 2007, all I have to do is click the Office Button / Word Options / Resources / About. If my cynicism hasn’t shown through yet, let me state emphatically, I AVOID MS PRODUCTS WHEN CREATING, ADDING TO, AND EDITING WEB PAGES. I’ve often wondered why it’s too much to ask for Microsoft to correct this since so many who blog use their products.

  7. I feel your pain, Roberta! I ran into this when updating GAP pages. Yes, it was embarrassing, but as others have pointed out, I’ve seen a lot worse things happen! I don’t think your project members will think you’re an idiot! 😉
    I had no idea there was a special button to fix that — I suspect it hasn’t been there forever. Thanks so much for sharing that knowledge.

  8. I’ve done the same thing and sent out an email to thousands of people in a large project. It looked just fine on the screen in the GAP tool before I sent it and I received a couple of complaints. I think they thought I was an idiot. Anyway, the next bulk message I typed it directly and painfully into the GAP tool and avoided MS Word. I’ll try this button next time around on a limited bulk email. Thanks for the info.

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