Important changes for email account holders

We are making breaking changes to non-staff email addresses.

Hello. Now that I have grabbed your attention, please read on for what is happening and why.

At Open Knowledge International, we run a lot of infrastructure that supports the whole network and a wider circle of friends. This is great, and something we will continue to do.

However, over the last 5+ years, we’ve built up an incredible amount of infrastructure overhead that means we spend more time and money in this area than we would like. This, in turn, has a direct impact on our core mission execution.

Email is one area where we need to make changes. We have a very unusual email setup, and over 100 non-staff email accounts in use.

We’ve taken the decision to discontinue all non-staff email addresses.

These are the necessary steps that will happen.

Step 1

We will make a configuration change to the email server on Wednesday 30th November 2016 at 12:00 GMT.

This change should be completely transparent to holders of forwarding accounts (your forwarding account is moving from FastMail to Gmail). However, if you encounter any difficulties with receiving mail from this time onwards, please contact me directly at

Step 2

We will discontinue all email addresses that are not held by staff of Open Knowledge International on February 1st, 2017.

This change is significant, and means that if you use an email address actively, you need to communicate this change to the people you correspond with. We do know that this is a significant change, but this decision has been well thought out and is final. Again, please contact me directly at if you have any questions or comments.

Hi @pwalsh

Too bad. I have been using my address for the past 5 years with much pride. I sincerely believe it is a step in the wrong direction to disable this address for people within Open Knowledge Belgium, who use this address for all their Open Knowledge related communication.

Disabling this address now is not only an inconvenience, the fact that it is a decision made without consulting who these people actually are hurts our pride to be part of the Open Knowledge movement.

Hope you understand our frustrated reaction to this announcement.


Hi @pietercolpaert

I’m sorry this is frustrating for you.

There has never been a policy of giving out email addresses as part of the Open Knowledge Network.

However, some have been handed out on a mostly case-by-case basis over the last many years, and that has created real issues that incur costs in sysadmin time and money. For example, we have a very nasty hack in our entire email setup to account for these email addresses, and not incur heavy costs on our Google Apps account. This in turn impacts the configuration of our email security and deliverability.

We are very committed to using our resources more efficiently to serve our mission - many years of cruft in our infrastructure do lead to significant costs that are better spent on our projects, and on other core Network services such as the blog farm infrastructure. I urge you to see changes like this in that light - cleaning up to better serve our mission.

In the case of Open Knowledge Belgium, is there a reason why you use email addresses and not the domain of your website, ?

Is there a way in which we could still use this address by e.g., taking over the management or pay OKI for keeping certain addresses up and running?

When we started as a chapter, all our board of directors got an address. The board members that are still active today, still use this address. The more recent board members now have an address indeed.

Hi @pietercolpaert

No, you can’t take over management or pay OKI to keep certain addresses running, that can’t work in a sustainable or accountable manner.

As you have already started using addresses anyway, I recommend you roll this out to the board members that still also hold addresses.

@claudiaschwegmann asked a great question, and I’ll answer here for general info:

“Will we lose access to old email messages?”

The answer is no, you will not. That is because current non-staff holders of email addresses only get email by way of a “forwarding” service. That means that the emails live wherever you have them forwarded to, and nowhere else. So, if you have kept all your forwarded emails, they will still be there when the address is actually shut down in February 2017.

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