Nathaniel Ward

Use group chat wisely

Group chat is a useful tool for work, Jason Fried writes:

I just don’t think it’s the go-to tool. I think it’s the exception tool. It’s far more useful for special cases than general cases. When used appropriately, sparingly, and in the right context at the right time, it’s great. You just really have to contain it, know when not to use it, and watch behavior and mood otherwise it can take over and mess up a really good thing.

The goal is productivity, not communication for its own sake.

By Nathaniel Ward on

Don’t be afraid to fail

Ed Catmull:

If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it. And, for leaders especially, this strategy—trying to avoid failure by out-thinking it—dooms you to fail.

By Nathaniel Ward on

The purpose of a fundraising email

Quick quiz: When you send out a fundraising email, do you measure its success based on:

  1. The open rate of the email;
  2. The click rate of the email; or
  3. The revenue the email generates?

If you answered anything but 3, try again.

The actual goal of a fundraising email isn’t widely understood, even among fundraisers. Roger Craver has a great rant at The Agitator about this problem:

Sure, there’s plenty of stupid, phony measurements that lead nowhere. Measurements I call ‘vanity metrics’ like ‘open rates’, ‘page views’ and other such nonsense.

Sadly, there’s little or no measurement of the difficulty, frustration – or, hallelujah – moments when donors attempt to engage with nonprofit websites.

Yet we continue to honor — and pay — the consultants, staff and others who bring us lots of ‘Likes’ on Facebook, lots of open rates and views on our websites. Most of it is absolute bullshit!

Opens and clicks and likes are inputs to, not the output of, your fundraising machine. These vanity metrics are useful only insofar as they contribute to revenue. They can be a proxy for success, but as often as not they aren’t.

Opens and clicks are necessary but not sufficient for email fundraising success. Without opens and clicks, your email appeal won’t succeed. But don’t gauge your success based on those alone.

Repeat after me: the purpose of a fundraising email is to raise funds. Period.

By Nathaniel Ward on

Why forcing password resets worsens security

Britain’s CESG explains why they no longer recommend forcing users to reset their passwords:

The majority of password policies force us to use passwords that we find hard to remember. Our passwords have to be as long as possible and as ‘random’ as possible. And while we can manage this for a handful of passwords, we can’t do this for the dozens of passwords we now use in our online lives.

To make matters worse, most password policies insist that we have to keep changing them. And when forced to change one, the chances are that the new password will be similar to the old one.

Attackers can exploit this weakness.

The new password may have been used elsewhere, and attackers can exploit this too. The new password is also more likely to be written down, which represents another vulnerability. New passwords are also more likely to be forgotten, and this carries the productivity costs of users being locked out of their accounts, and service desks having to reset passwords.

Another solution is to use a password manager like 1Password that generates random, unique passwords for each site you use—and then secures them all behind a password only you know. You won’t have to worry about reusing passwords or remembering all of them, and dealing with periodic password resets is a cinch.

By Nathaniel Ward on