Tag Archives: domains

Project Reclaim and the email dilemma

One of the main 2011 goals for Project Reclaim is to get my email out of Gmail. Heavy reliance on Gmail raises a number of red flags. For one thing, email is central to my business and personal life online, and provides the best archive of my online past (get the important stuff first). For another, Gmail is ad-supported, in a way that has rankled since Gmail went public: it “reads” your email and serves ads based on what it finds. No one really talks about it anymore, but it still kind of bugs me – so I want to move to a non-free system (paying is better than getting something for free).

It’s taken me a while to make the move, though, for two main reasons.

  1. Email is tricky. Good, free mail server software is easy to find. But it’s not necessarily easy to set up and maintain. If the outgoing server isn’t configured correctly, your messages will get marked as spam. If you haven’t got constantly monitored spam filters on your incoming mail, you’ll be inundated with garbage. And the issues of backups and reliability, while certainly important in the case of (say) self-hosted websites, are many times more important with email: if the server goes down, emails may get altogether lost in the ether.

    I’ve set up and configured email servers before, and it hasn’t been very fun. When deciding how to solve the Gmail conundrum, I needed to take this fact into consideration. I started to do a bit of research on paid email hosting, and found good reviews of Rackspace’s hosted email service. The service is pretty affordable, and I knew from years of Slicehost use (now owned by Rackspace) that customer service and support would be good.

  2. I needed a good address. I own a lot of domain names, but most of them are lame, and none lent themselves very neatly to an email address. For instance, when your domain name is boonebgorges.com, what’s the email account name? ‘boone’? The cool factor there is pretty low. And I am a cool guy, so that’s important.

    Some of the obvious domains are taken. boone.com is wasted on dry-erase boards. gorges.com could never be wrested from the clutches of “one of the oldest family owned Volvo franchises in the United States”. But there was hope – or should I say habĂ­a esperanza – that I might get the fairly unused gorg.es. In fact, my brother and I had been working on that project for a couple of years, but it was only a few months ago that the owner finally relented, and the domain name was transferred to the Gorges boys.

So, about two months ago, I made the switch. For now, I just set it up as another account in Thunderbird (more on my Thunderbird setup). I created a generic “Archive” directory on my gorg.es account (to mimic Gmail’s All Mail) and pointed my ‘Y’ shortcut to that directory. I’m using K-9 Mail on my Android phone, which I set up to save the entire Archive directory, so I’d have good local email search on my phone. Little by little, I’m moving over my email correspondence to the new, awesome address. Bye bye, Gmail!

Wildcard email whitelists in WordPress and BuddyPress

Cross-posted on the CUNY Academic Commons Development Blog

WordPress (and before that WPMU) has long had a feature that allows admins to set a whitelist of email domains for registration (Limited Email Registration). On the Commons, we need to account for a lot of different domains, some of which are actually dynamic – but they are all of the form *.cuny.edu. WP doesn’t support this kind of wildcards, but we’ve got it working through a series of customizations.

These first two functions form the heart of the process. The first one hooks to the end of the BP registration process, looks for email domain errors, and then sends the request to the second function, which does some regex to check against the wildcard domains you’ve specified. This is BP-specific, but I think you could make it work with WPMS just by changing the hook name.

function cac_signup_email_filter( $result ) {
	global $limited_email_domains;

if ( !is_array( $limited_email_domains ) )
		$limited_email_domains = get_site_option( 'limited_email_domains' );

$valid_email_domain_check = cac_wildcard_email_domain_check( $result['user_email'] );

if( $valid_email_domain_check ) {
		if ( isset( $result['errors']->errors['user_email'] ) )
			unset( $result['errors']->errors['user_email'] );

return $result;
add_filter( 'bp_core_validate_user_signup', 'cac_signup_email_filter', 8 );

function cac_wildcard_email_domain_check( $user_email ) {
	global $limited_email_domains;

if ( !is_array( $limited_email_domains ) )
		$limited_email_domains = get_site_option( 'limited_email_domains' );

if ( is_array( $limited_email_domains ) && empty( $limited_email_domains ) == false ) { 
		$valid_email_domain_check = false;
		$emaildomain = substr( $user_email, 1 + strpos( $user_email, '@' ) );
		foreach ($limited_email_domains as $limited_email_domain) {
			$limited_email_domain = str_replace( '.', '.', $limited_email_domain);        // Escape your .s
			$limited_email_domain = str_replace('*', '[-_.a-zA-Z0-9]+', $limited_email_domain);     // replace * with REGEX for 1+ occurrence of anything
			$limited_email_domain = "/^" . $limited_email_domain . "/";   // bracket the email with the necessary pattern markings
			$valid_email_domain_check = ( $valid_email_domain_check or preg_match( $limited_email_domain, $emaildomain ) );

return $valid_email_domain_check;

Before WP 3.0, this was enough to make it work. The latest WP does increased sanitization on the input of the limited_email_domains field, however, which makes it reject lines like *.cuny.edu. The following functions add an additional field to the ms-options.php panel that saves the limited domains without doing WP’s core checks. (Beware: bypassing WP’s checks like this means that there are no safeguards in place for well-formedness. Be careful about what you type in the field, or strange things may happen.)

function cac_save_limited_email_domains() {
	if ( $_POST['cac_limited_email_domains'] != '' ) {
		$limited_email_domains = str_replace( ' ', "n", $_POST['cac_limited_email_domains'] );
		$limited_email_domains = split( "n", stripslashes( $limited_email_domains ) );

$limited_email = array();
		foreach ( (array) $limited_email_domains as $domain ) {
				$domain = trim( $domain );
			//if ( ! preg_match( '/(--|..)/', $domain ) && preg_match( '|^([a-zA-Z0-9-.])+$|', $domain ) )
				$limited_email[] = trim( $domain );
		update_site_option( 'limited_email_domains', $limited_email );
	} else {
		update_site_option( 'limited_email_domains', '' );
add_action( 'update_wpmu_options', 'cac_save_limited_email_domains' );

function cac_limited_email_domains_markup() {

<h3><?php _e( 'Limited Email Domains That Actually Work' ); ?></h3>

<table class="form-table">
	<tr valign="top">
		<th scope="row"><label for="cac_limited_email_domains"><?php _e( 'Limited Email Registrations' ) ?></label></th>
			<?php $limited_email_domains = get_site_option( 'limited_email_domains' );
			$limited_email_domains = str_replace( ' ', "n", $limited_email_domains ); ?>
			<textarea name="cac_limited_email_domains" id="limited_email_domains" cols="45" rows="5">
			<br />
			<?php _e( 'If you want to limit site registrations to certain domains. One domain per line.' ) ?>

add_action( 'wpmu_options', 'cac_limited_email_domains_markup' );