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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Intro to MyRWA Part One by Elizabeth Schechter

       I bet I can say one word that will have the majority of readers screaming in either terror or fury. Ready?


See, there you go. The new social networking/website system that is slowly being implemented by RWA National has probably engendered more debate than Coke vs. Pepsi, Star Wars vs. Star Trek, and Batman vs. Superman combined. People either hate it, are afraid of it, or just don't get it, and even the most tech-savvy among us are left scratching our heads and wondering just what RWA was thinking. 

According to Judy Scott, from RWA National, "RWA had been looking for a way to offer online forums, file libraries, blogs, classes and communities for quite some time.  Most of the systems we found did not integrate with our existing database which meant that the staff would be responsible for subscribing and unsubscribing members to all the benefits listed above.  When we came across Socious - we found a vehicle that would A) Integrate with our database, which meant that we didn't have to subscribe/unsubscribe anyone ever again and B)offer us the ability to provide customizable private communities (PAN, PRO, Boards, Task Groups, etc.) C) Offer a better user interface for our events - the old system was unwieldy and not at all user-friendly.)" 

So, what does it mean? It means that most RWA chapters will be moving over to MyRWA based websites and mailing lists in the very near future. FF&P will be making this transition shortly, and this blog is first in a series to help people make the switch in as painless a manner as possible. This entry will be to get you set up in the mailing lists for the chapters. 

We'll start with an explanation -- despite the fact that everything Nationals has sent out about MyRWA refers to the new lists as 'forums,' they are NOT forums. You do not need to go to the website to read or to answer emails. Everything will come into your inbox, and you can respond to those messages the way you would to any email. The email address for FF&P's general discussion mailing list through MyRWA is ffp@lists.rwa.org, and once you are subscribed to that list, you just need to send an email to that address to have it post to all the members. Easy, right?   

Great! Let's get everyone subscribed! 

To start out with, go to the RWAnational website. Go ahead, I'll wait. The URL is http://www.rwa.org/ . Once you're there, log in. If you are already signed up for MyRWA, it will bring you to the MyRWA splash page (this is my personal definition for splash page. Usually it refers to comic books, and pages with single images. In my brain? The splash page is where you land when you go to a website. In other words, SPLASH!) If you're not signed up for MyRWA, there will be a box on the home page where you can. Then you'll find yourself on this page: 
        You can find your chapters one of two ways. The simple way is to pick My Chapters off the menu on the right side of the screen. Or you can pick Connect off the drop down menu across the top, and pick Communities there. If you go that way, then on the next screen, click on the button on the left that says Chapters (we'll cover the rest of those buttons later).Then you'll see a list of all of your chapters that have MyRWA websites. Click on  the chapter you want to visit. If you are signed up for MyRWA, are a member of a chapter that has a presence on MyRWA, and you don't see that chapter on your list, email the webmaster -- you may not be listed in the membership rolls yet (we had to do this individually and by hand, so some people may have been missed.) 
Now, once you are on your chapter website (the one pictured here is Central Florida Romance Writers), you'll see a series of gray boxes on the right side. Pick one to subscribe to and click it. It'sthat easy! 

       Clicking that button will take you to another screen, where you can set your mail preferences. If you want your mail to come into your inbox as it happens, do nothing -- the default is immediate email. You can opt to change that to any of the following:

  • Immediate Email with links -- you will be provided with a link to download any attachments associated with that message.
  • Summary Digest -- will provide you with the SUBJECT LINE ONLY. You will have to go to the MyRWA website to read the messages. I don't recommend this one, unless you are comfortable with the new system.
  • Full Digest with Attachments -- this is the one that is closest to Yahoo. You will get the digest of full messages, as well as any attachments that were sent.
  • Full Digest with Links -- You will get the digest of full messages, with links provided to download any attachments.
  • Vacation settings -- you can set all of your mail to Vacation by clicking the button under your name. That will put a hold on all of your email until you turn it off. You will not get any RWA emails at all while you are set to vacation.
Once you have your mail setting done for that list, go back to the chapter page and pick the next one. Repeat until you are subscribed to all the lists to which you wish to be subscribed.

That's it! You're now subscribed to your chapter mailing lists, and all the chapter emails that you have opted to see will be sent to your inbox, and you can respond to them as you would to any other email. You never have to go back to the MyRWA site again... unless you want to explore the new chapter File Library. 
       In the next blog entry, we'll take a look at those other buttons on the Community page. For now, explore the chapter site, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask! 

Elizabeth Schechter is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Central Florida with her husband and son. Her first novel, Princes of Air, was published in 2011 by Circlet Press, and her second, a steampunk novel entitled House of the Sable Locks,  is forthcoming.

Elizabeth can be found online at http://easchechter.wordpress.com/

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