Questions about Announcement Lists

Due to Dreamhost recently removing support for PHP 5.4, I have been forced to look for new ways of running my mailing lists and client panel services as the scripts I purchased for these no longer work. The alternatives I have been looking at are either lacking in features, or are too expensive, or both! I am really annoyed that support for PHP 5.4 has been removed.

My only option is to consider the use of announcement lists. Although these don’t have the same features as my autoresponder script, at least they can avoid the send quotas, as I have been using SMTP up till now. My option currently is to use a free wordpress plugin on my client sites and send using PHP as they are all small lists. My larger business lists would be better suited to the announcement lists. However, I have some queries that I couldn’t find answers for on the WIKI.

  1. If I add more fields to the subsriber list, such as “town”, could it be filtered to send only to certain towns, or would that require a different list for each town?

  2. What “tag” or “syntax” is required to include the first name in the email body to personalise the email? I can see that I can add names but there is no mention how to use them. E.G. My current autoresponder uses [[firstname]]

  3. Is there a step by step instruction on how to automate the program? I see that it can be done using an API, but it doesn’t say where to get the API code from!

  4. Can I put an unsubscribe link in the email, rather than on the web form? How?

  5. I have a B2B list of 10,000+ business contacts. Do I really have to get them all to opt-in first when I am only sending them up to 6 emails a year?

  6. I have an opt-in list of around 1200 current subscribers already that Dreamhost has already verified as complying with the mail terms. How do I import those without having to get them to re-subscribe?

Any help would be much appreciated.

You do realize this is not a dreamhost thing? Official support by the developers ended for PHP 5.4 on September 3rd, 2015. The sunset for 5.5 is coming up July 10th, 2016. Each release of PHP is supported for 3 years from it’s release date. You can’t expect dreamhost to support software that doesn’t have security and bug fix releases anymore.

As to your other questions. Dreamhost’s announcement lists do have certain benefits, as you noted they bypass dreamhost mail quota’s. On the other hand they are pretty limited in features, as you also noted.

Have you checked with the developer of the scripts that you purchased? They should have updates available, maybe they aren’t free but it might save you headaches of selecting and customizing new software or plugins.

Also keep in mind dreamhost does have some very specific opt-in and record keeping requirements in the Anti-Spam Policy. Make certain whatever scripts your using meets the requirements of that policy.

Thanks. Yes, I do realise its a PHP thing. But it is still very annoying that 2 scripts that worked perfectly well are now obsolete and there’s nothing I can do about it. Why can’t people make things backwards compatible? If they had to foot the bill maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to change things.

Yes, I have checked with the developers. The developers of the mail script sold the source code some time ago and I have been unable to trace the new owners. They have obviously not done anything with it nor continued with its development. The developers of the other script appear to have disappeared altogether. They are not answering support tickets nor responding to messages on their facebook page. It is a shame because there is nothing else on the market that has similar features. I have reluctantly had to buy a combination of 3 plugins to replace it, and even so there are still things missing that were very useful.

Yes, my mail program did comply with the Dreamhost Anti-Spam policy (as I mentioned in question 6). I do have all the necessary records in the script’s database.

I would have gladly paid for the scripts to be updated, but my developers have told me it can’t be done as they were encoded with Ioncube.

If you do actually have some useful advice, it would be much appreciated.

Unfortunately it’s a fact of life in software industry: packages get old fast (3-4 years is a very long time), too hard to keep running and eventually they have to be phased out, thrown away and start over.

Your pain is unfortunately not uncommon though, so let’s see how we can alleviate it. You need a system to segment and email your contacts, based on their interests, location and other fields you have in the addressbook? There are lots of good solutions in this space, email marketing, for different prices. Some you can run on your own on a DreamHost server, like phplist, zurmo or mautic or offer their solutions as a service.


Sadly, that’s not how software works. In reality, they aren’t “so quick to change things.” PHP 5.6 has been a known entity for many years now, it’s updates and changes have been well known.

The issue is, the people you bought your script from stopped supporting the script. They are the people you should be frustrated at.

If the script you bought is open-source, you can probably hire a developer to perform some updates on it to make it work again.

Alternately, you can look into something like Mailchimp, which would allow you to import all of your data and segment the list based on various “tags” that you have set up. Many people have moved to service like Mailchimp so they don’t have to worry about things like this and they also offer much better mail deliverability.