Emails come from BSA, not the unit

I just got a calendar alert for the Pack I’ve bridged from and the sender showed the sender was Boy Scouts of America noreply@scouting.org

The calendar alerts should be sent from the UNIT that the calendar is attached to, and the Unit should be able to customize it. It’s ok to have “Pack 0225 FP Event: Thank You BBQ and Potluck” in the subject line, but the sender is misleading, and could lead to emails being ignored. Also, Units should be able to customize how their unit is listed. Having the leading 0 and FP makes this email look spammy. We have always just referred to ourselves as Pack 225.

@JoyEricson - a few things to consider…the email appears to have been an ASAP reminder. The domain sender is the BSA or soon to be Scouting America so it is unlikely that you will be able to insert your unit or any unit in as the sender. The best solution if you want fully customized domain and email sending is to have your own domain and email system in that domain.

@JoyEricson

This will not be implemented. As Stephen said, the e-mail is sent via BSA servers and will always come from a scouting.org address. Changing the from: address from the actual sender is a technique used by spamers and is one of the things that triggers spam filters.

Your official unit number is 0255 and the BSA uses official numbers in the subject because there are cases where that leading digit is important, even if it is a zero. The FP indicates Family Pack. We may be able to get the P dropped but the F will remain.

By keeping the subject format consistent for all units reduces the load on the database and improves performance for everyone. It may seem like a trivial thing but every query to the database to obtain custom information requires additional time and places additional load on the DB. The BSA is trying to balance performance vs. cost so keeping things like the subject line consistent is a tradeoff they made for the benefit of all users.

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For transparency, I’m @JoyEricson’s husband. She asked me to weigh in on this since I’m a programmer by trade. :wink:

I got a calendar reminder recently and it really was confusing. I don’t think the problem is the scouting.org address per se, but the display name in the from field:

From: Boy Scouts of America <noreply@scouting.org>

It does look like the SPF and DMARC records[1] allow providers like Yahoo and Gmail to authenticate the domain. So everything is fine from a mail delivery perspective.

What’s not so great is that people who are new to scouting are looking for emails from their local troop or pack, not from national. Maybe it’s not practical to use per-unit email addresses, but it would help to use a separate email for calendar reminders. To copy Google Calendar’s example:

From: Scouting Calendar <calendar-notification@scouting.org>

That way it would be clear what the purpose of the email is.[2] It would be great if the unit were included, but it’s a lot less necessary if the subject line were clear. Speaking of which. :wink:

That totally makes sense, but, I think, misses the point. The typical person doesn’t care whether or not their pack is designated as a “Family Pack” on the calendar notification email. I can see how it might possibly be useful if you are getting emails from many units. But the typical person will only have one or two. FP is just confusing.[3]

I think what Joy is suggesting isn’t to have separate formats for each unit, but to make the standard format less confusing for the bulk of the people getting these notifications. I gotta believe that needing a leading 0 and the “FP” designation are the edge cases. Most everyone getting these notifications just need a quick way to distinguish these email notifications from notifications they get from PTA, church, soccer, etc.


Kinda a meta point, but one of the most useful articles I’ve ever read is “Listening to users considered harmful?” The whole thing is worth reading, but I love the conclusion:

So maybe the key is to listen not only to what users say, but more importantly to what is motivating what they say. The rest is up to us. If we really care about our users, they’ll just have to trust us… but more crucially–we have to trust ourselves.

I’ve given a couple of suggestions (use a separate email for calendar notifications and remove superfluous details from the subject template), but I have no idea if they make sense for your systems. Maybe they are simple configuration changes. But maybe you’d need to change fragile code to get it working. I’m not in a position to know.

On the other hand, developers aren’t in the position to know what barriers most users are facing. Even developers who happen to be parents of scouts will be biased by knowing technical details such as what FP stands for. That’s ok! Having a forum such as this one means users can communicate with the people working on the product. It’s a great way to build trust, if we make the effort to understand each other.


  1. But not DKIM for some reason. ↩︎

  2. It also avoids “Boy Scouts”, which is handy for parents of girls. :wink: ↩︎

  3. I honestly don’t know what other sort of pack there might be. In our pack all events were family events. What’s the alternative? ↩︎

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