How many times have you wished you could email a politician or a journalist, or forward to them a piece posted on The Political Sword, but found it too difficult because you didn’t have the correct email address, or perhaps didn’t know who it might be best to contact? Over the end-of-year break, our Webmaster, Web Monkey, and I have been creating TPS M@IL. He has developed the design and the backend code to support the system, and has added several innovative features to what was originally intended to be a simple facility to enable you to send emails to politicians and journalists from your own email system.
TPS M@IL works differently from the usual mail applications as it uses your OWN email system to do the heavy lifting. Why you may ask? Well, firstly mailing politicians and their staff is a serious matter and we don't wish to provide a mechanism to spam them. So any email you wish to send will be guaranteed to be your OWN and not from our email system, or from our server's IP address. While TPS M@IL is a safe and convenient way of contacting politicians and journalists, it provides no link to The Political Sword so that spammers can't cause us to be blacklisted.
TPS M@IL was initially designed to make it easy for you to quickly find the email addresses you want by selecting them from a database of Federal politicians or political journalists. But Web Monkey has added a feature you will find handy – a series of custom lists already compiled for you. For example, if the subject of your communication is Federal finance, instead of you having to recall the names of politicians whose portfolio responsibilities lie within finance, they have already been identified in the first of the eighteen portfolio lists that are available for your selection. To prepare your email, you would simply select ‘Finance spokespersons’, and the email addresses of the relevant politicians from all sides of Federal politics would be automatically loaded into the ‘To’ line in YOUR OWN email system. All you then have to do is type in your message, ‘sign’ it, and send it. More of this later.
The Political Sword – now established as a hub for the Fifth Estate – is already influencing opinion in the arena of Federal politics. To extend that influence, Web Monkey has added a further feature to TPS M@IL to enable you to bring pieces on The Political Sword, and the comments it evoked, directly to the attention of politicians and journalists. Let us explain these features in more detail.
TPS M@IL explained
First, to enable TPS M@IL, click the title of the piece.
When you use TPS M@IL, you will find two facilities:
- one that enables you to disseminate pieces that are posted on The Political Sword,
- and another that enables you to create your own email to politicians or journalists.
From now on, at the top and foot of each new piece on TPS, you will find a shaded panel with four TPS M@IL options: Disseminate this post; Create your own email; FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions); and Identify local member.
Go first to the last option: Identify local member which enables you to select your current representative in the Federal House of Representatives. You should use this option on your initial use of TPS M@IL. You will not need to return to this option.
When you click: ‘Identify local member’, a window displaying a database will appear, from which you can select your local member. The index at the foot of the table guides you to the page (1-17) where your member is situated. Find your member, then click ‘Select’ and the name of your local member will appear near the top of the window. If you make a mistake, simply select the correct name. Subsequently, any email you send will include your local member's email address copied into your Cc: line. If you don’t wish this to be so, do not select your local member.
The first option in the shaded panel: Disseminate this post
enables you to send the title and URL of the current post to pre-selected politicians and political journalists. The author of the piece on TPS
will select the recipients depending on the subject of the post. In all instances, the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader, and the Greens Leader will be included, and for example if the subject was finance, the recipients would also include Wayne Swan, Penny Wong, David Bradbury, Bernie Ripoll and Bill Shorten for the Government; Joe Hockey, Andrew Robb, Mathias Cormann, Tony Smith and Arthur Sinodinos for the Coalition; Adam Bandt for the Greens; and some Independents.
The author will also create some text for your email message.
When you click: ‘Disseminate this post
YOUR email system will open with all the pre-selected email addresses in your email’s ‘To’ line, the subject matter in the ‘Subject’ line, and some explanatory text in the body of the email. All you have to do is ‘sign’ the email, and ‘send’ it. We trust this will make the dissemination of posts on TPS to selected politicians and journalists very quick and easy. We invite you to use it.
The second option in the shaded panel: ‘Create your own email
’ enables you to send an email to selected politicians or journalists.
When you click: ‘Create your own email
’, drop down text appears. The first line gives you the opportunity to learn a little more about TPS M@IL when you click: ‘click here
to read about TPS M@IL…’
Under that, you will find a series of headings:
Ad Astra’s custom lists,
Email a politician,
Email a journalist, and
Create your own mixed list. Ad Astra’s custom lists
This feature is designed to make it easy for you to select a group of politicians to whom you may wish you send an email.
The list begins:
Top ALP heavyweights
Top Coalition heavyweights
Power brokers in the parliament
The country’s top political journalists
People of influence in the media
After that, there are eighteen portfolio lists where those involved in these portfolios have already been selected. They are drawn from the three major parties and the Independents. An example of one portfolio area: ‘Finance spokespersons’ has been given above.
For each of the options listed there is a ‘load/modify
’ link that enables you to load into your email system the email addresses that have been pre-selected. The names of those that have been pre-selected are displayed near the top of the window in alphabetical order. You can modify that list by adding to it or deleting from it, using the Add
options on the right side of the window. If you add, the name added will be displayed near the top of the window in red and the name will appear in the list in alphabetical order; if you delete, 'Name removed from the list' will appear in red, and you will see that the name has been removed from the list. Email a politician
The first heading here is: Email individual politicians
. If you need help, click ‘Click here
Under that is ‘Click here
to create a politician list’. When you do, a window appears that displays a database of Federal politicians from which you can select as many as you wish. As you do so, each newly selected name will appear in red near the top of the window indicating it has been added, and under that you will see the name has been added to the list you are compiling, which is in alphabetical order.
When your list is complete, click ‘click here to send your email
’, and the email addresses will be added to the address line of YOUR EMAIL system. All you have to do then is to type in your message, ‘sign’ it and ‘send’ it. The recipients will see that the email has come from YOU through your email system, NOT from The Political Sword
The next heading is: Email a Party
. Under that you can select ‘All Parties’ or an individual Party, and you can then filter your selection by selecting ‘All States’ or an individual State.
Do realize though that a character limit is imposed. This is a browser based limitation and not that of TPS M@IL. Thus you may not be able to email all parties in all states at the one time. A notice in red will appear if you have exceeded the character limit, with instructions about how to proceed.
When you have made your selection, you click the ‘Submit’ button, whereupon ‘Click here to open your email
appears in red. Click this, and the email addresses of your selection will be loaded into YOUR email system, ready for you to add your message, your signature and ‘send’. Email a journalist
Under that heading is: ‘Click here
to create a journalist list’. When you do, a window appears that displays a database of political journalists from which you can select as many as you wish. The list is limited at present, because it is quite difficult to ascertain journalists’ email addresses. Please let us have any that are not on the list and we will add them in.
In the same way that applies to selecting individual politicians, as you select journalists, the newly added one will be displayed near the top of the window, and the name will be added to the list you are creating. Once you have finalised your list, click ‘click here to send your email
’ and the email addresses will be added to the address line of YOUR email system. All you have to do then is to type in your message, ‘sign’ it and ‘send’ it. As with emails to politicians, the journalist recipients will see that the email has come from YOU through your email system, NOT from The Political Sword
. Create your own mixed list
This option enables you to create your own mixed list of politicians and journalists, and any other category we might add later. This option works the same as if you were selecting just politicians or just journalists.
When you click: ‘Click here
to create your own mixed list’, a window appears that displays a database of both politicians and political journalists from which you can select. You can identify which is which: all politicians have 'gov' in their email address. Once selected, click ‘click here to send your email
’, and proceed as described above with the individual politicians’ and journalists’ lists.
The third option in the shaded panel: Frequently Asked Questions
takes you to a page where FAQ’s are addressed and answered. We trust that you will find the system that we have designed easy to understand and easy to use, and that, with just a few simple mouse clicks, it enables you to make your voice more easily heard by those in power, and those who contribute in the media. We feel you will find Ad Astra's lists particularly useful. If you have a list of your own that you feel would be a useful addition, please send it to us.
We will welcome any feedback you can give us on the use of the system. Please let us know of any problems you encounter, any confusion you might experience, and of course any ways in which we might improve TPS M@IL.
We hope you enjoy the experience of using TPS M@IL. The previous piece The Gillard-Abbott gap widens is offered to enable you to try out TPS M@IL and in particular the Disseminate this post option. You may also use it to send an email to one or more politicians or journalists. Click the above link to go to the piece to see how TPS M@IL works.
Web Monkey and Ad Astra