The Virtual Area Group
What's the VAG about ?
There is a "Virtual Area Group", known by the abbrieviation "VAG", for members of the Association. It operates in a similar manner to other Area Groups, except that instead of meeting in a physical place, it conducts its business via the Internet. ( The "About 2mm" section of our site describes the benefits of membership, and it contains a link to the apply for membership ).
The Virtual Area Group communicates via email or a website on a Yahoo! system. Members send a message to the group address, and this is distributed to the other members of the Group. Members of the Group can discuss topics of interest to 2mm Modelling, covering any area and expertise. Members can elect to receive messages either individually, or as a daily digest of messages, or just read them on the Yahoo! website. We maintain an archive of messages posted so that material can be searched if required.
The Virtual Area Group has organised tutorial events for members where people have held day-long sessions covering topics such as "getting started with track and wagon kits", "converting Farish steam locos with the Association conversion pack", "locomotive gearbox design", "airbrushing", "painting and scale colour". All of these have been arranged by those who lacked the knowledge asking for help, then organising events where those with the expertise came to share their information.
The Virtual Area Group has organised products, such as the Association Backnumber CDs. A project which was only possibly because more than a dozen people worked on it actively via email.
The Virtual Area Group also maintains electronic files of interest to the group members, and photographs of assembly of components and models under construction. In addition, there is a calendar which can send out reminders about forthcoming events, exhibitions, etc.
Whilst we encourage members to engage in conversations with others through the email components, it is perfectly acceptable to just use the files area of the Virtual Area Group. To do this, initially join the group, then use the Yahoo website controls to set your access to "no email".
Membership of the virtual area group is restricted to paid up members of the association.
How to join the VAG
There are two ways to join the Virtual Area Group:
- Join via the Yahoo Groups website. If you've not used Yahoo Groups before, you can go this way, but you have to register with Yahoo, confirm registration by email, then go back to the website and apply to join the 2mm Virtual Area Group, then get some more email..... This can get a bit convoluted, but at the end you have full access to the VAG files area and can read things either by your email or online.
- For those who are a not going to use Yahoo Group's site, send email to (click this link) firstname.lastname@example.org You will get a mail message back (usually within minutes), which asks you to confirm your intention by replying to it. A little later, you will get some automatic messages from the Virtual Area Group which says that your membership is awaiting approval.... This is fairly quick, but if you want to get to the files area, or change settings, you still have to go through most of the first method later.
The convoluted steps are part of the measures to prevent abuse and spam - essentially you are showing that you really want to sign up to Yahoo (not somebody doing it malliciously on your behalf), and then the VAG organisers (moderators) check that you really are a 2mm member before letting you access the VAG itself. That way we protect everyone from those who might otherwise abuse the systems.
Whichever route you take, we recommend that you give the minimum information to Yahoo during registration. Please remember the basic security answers you give (such as data of birth) as these are used to gain access to Yahoo's account management features - without them you cannot change certain settings.
Myths about Too Many Messages, Spam and Viruses
Various stories do the rounds about the VAG and how its "dangerous". Perhaps we can slay a few ghosts here:
Whilst there can be a lot of messages, you do not have to have them
flooding your email in-box.
You have the option to sign up for "no emails or special notices only" not just because you have no interested in the VAG emails, but also if you intend to read all the messages using the Yahoo online interface (using your web browser). And there is the "Daily Digest" option if you only want one (or so) email a day from the group containing all the messages in one wrapper.
The fact that is restricted to paid up members means the VAG messages are free from spam. There is no leak of the membership list on Yahoo to spammers, and its near enough impossible to leak the membership details. Nobody gets spam because of registering on Yahoo. If you run local spam filters on your machine, spotting VAG emails is easy because they all have a unique reply address and [2mm] component to the subject line.
The VAG is specifically set up prevent any attachments to be sent. This stops any accidental spreading of viruses to VAG members through the VAG mechanisms. There is a files area where attachments can be uploaded for sharing if required.