Addressing Mailchimp and Newsletter service privacy concerns

A few weeks back, @hlashbrooke and I jointly-published a post that announced Mailchimp as the chosen newsletter service for the Community Team. In the following days, members of the community shared concerns about the lack of transparency in the newsletter service selection process and the privacy implications of using a newsletter service. I had published a follow-up post last week, to shed more light on the process behind the MeetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. newsletter service selection. The current post is a second follow-up that will hopefully address the concerns that were raised by community members about community organizer and meetup group member privacy.

I have privacy law concerns about using a third-party service such as Mailchimp for contacting Meetup organizers. Is this move legal and GDPR-compliant?

WordPress chapter meetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. are part of’s “Meetup Pro” network. When people join a WordPress meetup via, they agree to their privacy policy which states that, “Members who administer a Meetup Pro network, known as ‘network administrators’ have access to the content within their groups, including information about group participants.” (see 3.2 Group Networks). also makes it possible for WordPress chapter group members to share their email address with the network administrators of the Meetup Pro account.

The Community Team has been sending monthly newsletters to WordPress chapter group organizers since 2018. The reasons behind the suggestion that the quality of those newsletters could be improved if they were sent via a dedicated email newsletter platform are outlined in this blog post.

According to privacy consultants (in this case, people who oversee Automattic’s various privacy policies) who gave pro bono advice on this question, GDPR and other privacy laws do not require an organization to seek data subject consent (consent from subscribers) to change email platforms. It is not a legal or GDPR requirement to obtain consent for which platform is used to send emails, just as an individual is not required to obtain permission for which email platform they use to send emails to their friends, family, and other contacts.

Thus, it was clear to us that there are no privacy issues with changing the newsletter vendor. Hence, the list of meetup organizers, who had already given permission for to share their email addresses with WordPress chapter network administrators, was exported to Mailchimp. Ongoing email newsletter preferences will be managed there.  

What is the privacy policy of Mailchimp?

One of the concerns raised was that Mailchimp could potentially use the contacts we upload for their marketing purposes. As mentioned in the Privacy for contacts section, Mailchimp support confirms that contacts will not be used for marketing purposes. Their usage is restricted to the following cases:

  • To enforce their terms
  • To protect the rights and safety of Members
  • To do anything required to protect itself legally and to fulfill its legal obligations
  • To provide support and improve the service
  • For internal data analysis purposes
  • To fulfill other business obligations

However, as mentioned in the privacy policy, Mailchimp may use data collected from those community deputiesDeputy Community Deputies are a team of people all over the world who review WordCamp and Meetup applications, interview lead organizers, and generally keep things moving at WordCamp Central. Find more about deputies in our Community Deputy Handbook., who use the community Mailchimp account to send newsletters to the community, for marketing purposes. This is common with many third party services and it does not pose privacy risks to the larger community.

Furthermore, if any community member does not want to have their contact information being used for the internal data analysis purposes of Mailchimp or wants to get their personal information erased, they can get this done by submitting a Data Subject Access Request.

How does someone know that an email from WordPress Community SupportWordPress Community Support WordPress Community Support PBC is a subsidiary of WordPress Foundation. It is created specifically to be the financial and legal support for WordCamps, WordPress Meetup groups, and any additional “official” events organized within the WordPress Community Events program. is being sent through Mailchimp?

All newsletters sent through Mailchimp will have a notification included in the footer of the email. The footer for all future Mailchimp emails will contain the following information: 

This email was sent to you via Mailchimp. You are receiving this email because you opted in at our website: or through

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit the following URLs:

What emails will be sent using Mailchimp?

The WordPress Community Team sends email newsletters to meetup organizers every month. The newsletter contains news, updates, and essential information for WordPress community organizers all over the world. As outlined in an earlier post, was being used to send these emails previously, so there is no change in the number and types of emails that will be sent now that Mailchimp is being used. Each month, Mailchimp will be used to send the meetup organizer newsletter to approximately 1,600 meetup organizers (out of 2,000+ organizers) who have subscribed to emails from Please note: only people who have subscribed to emails will be contacted via Mailchimp. That’s a total of one email per month (typically sent on every second Friday of the month), which amounts to 12 emails per year.

It would also be ideal to use Mailchimp to send the annual meetup organizer and member surveys (aimed at meetup organizers and meetup group members respectively), as well as any critical announcements that are relevant to the entire community.

What is the benefit of using a different platform, such as Mailchimp, for sending newsletters? has been an unreliable platform for sending newsletters with several pain-points like non-delivery of emails, lack of formatting options, inability to reach out to specific meetup groups, lack of data on engagement, and lack of separate email lists, to name a few. Many organizers complained to us about missing the newsletter emails. During the recent meetup group inventory, many organizers did not receive the emails that were sent to them via Using a dedicated email newsletter vendor, we can communicate with meetup group members more reliably about the program and convey any urgent and time-sensitive information without worrying about organizers missing our emails. We can also make those messages easier and more enjoyable to read. 

Can I unsubscribe to emails from Mailchimp?
Yes, you can always unsubscribe by following this link, or by clicking the “unsubscribe” link in the footer of any email received via Mailchimp. The team will be implementing a widgetWidget A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page. WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress theme to the user. on that will make it easier for community members to subscribe  and unsubscribe from emails. 

Additionally, community members can also submit a Data Subject Access Request if they wish to prevent their data from being used for internal data analysis or if they want their personal data to be erased from MailChimp servers.

Will Mailchimp be used for marketing emails to organizers?

No. This list will only be used for emails that support the legitimate interests of the global community teamGlobal Community Team A group of community organizers and contributors who collaborate on local events about WordPress — monthly WordPress meetups and/or annual conferences called WordCamps.: to help people learn to use and contribute to WordPress. Community organizers and meetup members will only receive messages that support this mission. 

What if I want to revisit the email newsletter vendor discussion, and suggest a different approach? 

One of the reasons why Mailchimp was chosen as a newsletter service was because it offered a Pay as you go plan that allows us to effectively ‘test’ the service without lock-ins. We have only spent $150 with them for 5000 emails. We can always choose to cancel our plans of using Mailchimp and move to a different service, if there are better options. 

If you feel that there is a different newsletter service that the team can use, please feel free to share more about them in the comments on this post. Feel free to refer to the past discussion in the Make/Community blog on newsletter services, and the list of shortlisted services for reference.

The Community team remains committed to protecting the privacy of our event attendees and group members, and it’s great that the members of the WordPress community  help hold us accountable on this. 

Are there any concerns about this project that you would like to see addressed? Do you have any feedback on the project to share? Share your thoughts and concerns in the comments. 

This post was prepared jointly by @hlashbrooke and I.

The following people contributed to this post: @adityakane @andreamiddleton @bph @camikaos @courtneypk @francina @kcristiano @rmarks and @sippis

#newsletter #newsletter-service #newsletter-service-selection

Mistakes were made: Clarifying the Meetup Newsletter selection process

Some weeks back, I posted a public announcement about selecting Mailchimp as the email platform for communicating with meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. organizers and members. Unfortunately, the selection process lacked transparency and was not communicated properly. I’m extremely sorry about this mistake. In a bid to implement efficient connections with the WordPress organizer community during the COVID-19 pandemic, I made the call to pick Mailchimp as the selected newsletter service without finalizing the decision in an open, public discussion with other community members. This was an oversight from my end, and I apologize unconditionally. 

The idea of using a third-party newsletter service was initially proposed and accepted as a solution to address the limitations of emails (such as non-delivery of emails and lack of formatting options). Based on further feedback from community members, potential newsletter service features were discussed, and an initial list of 15 services was prepared. After researching these services, @hlashbrooke (who supported me on this project) and I shortlisted Mailchimp, MailJet, and MailPoet for their competitive features and pricing. Mailchimp was the final choice because it met almost the requirements, offered a native integration, and was affordably-priced (Mailchimp offers Pay as you go pricing, which allows us to test it out without long-term commitment). Then the decision was announced to the broader community.

Looking back, it is clear that this decision-making process (that led to the selection of Mailchimp) and the privacy implications of newsletter services should have been discussed in the open before a decision was made. Thank you and kudos to all those community members who brought this to the attention of the team. @andreamiddleton @bph @camikaos @courtneypk @francina @kcristiano @ryanmarks @sippis and anyone else who was affected by this oversight: I hope you will accept my apology. 

Maintaining transparency and openness in the community

The Community team is committed to being transparent and open in all communications. Personally, I’m taking this as an opportunity to double down on the commitment to stay transparent and open.

I’ve learned a lot by re-reading the “How decisions are made in the WordPress open-source project” section on the WordPress Contributor Training, which shares some ways to ensure transparency in the project, such as: documenting SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at discussions, gathering specific & actionable feedback from community members on projects, and sticking to team blogs for making decisions. 

In addition to these ideas, I’d love to open a discussion about what could be done to ensure that communication and decision-making processes are transparent. Your feedback would be incredibly helpful for me personally, and possibly for other members of our community. Please comment on this post with your thoughts, by October 31, 2020. 

Once again, sincere thanks to Community team members for the time you put into mutual accountability and for your dedication to the success of WordPress community programs in these uncertain times. 

This post was written jointly by @hlashbrooke and me.

Thank you to the following people who contributed to and gave early feedback on this post: @adityakane @andreamiddleton @bph @camikaos @courtneypk @francina @kcristiano @rmarks and @sippis

#newsletter #newsletter-service #newsletter-service-selection

Email newsletter service selection: Announcement and Next steps

The Community team uses email newsletters sent through to connect with meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. organizers. However,’s newsletter service can be unreliable (with several pain points like non-delivery of emails, lack of formatting options, and other issues). Based on community feedback, we decided to start looking for a newsletter service for these emails. Upon finalizing the features and evaluating service providers, we have chosen Mailchimp as the newsletter service for Meetup newsletters going forward.

Why Mailchimp?

We picked Mailchimp from a list of 15 services that we had shortlisted, for the following reasons:

  • It met almost all of the features in our wishlist, including (and especially) a native integration, which makes it easy to send monthly meetup organizer newsletters and annual surveys.
  • Mailchimp offers Pay as you go pricing, which proved to be one of the cheapest choices from amongst the options. It will cost US$2500 for 2 million emails (valid for 12 months), which is more than sufficient for the needs of the program. We can also purchase credits for smaller amounts (starting at $100) to test things out.

Mailchimp is not without its cons. As @sippis reported after his research, it can also have email deliverability issues (with emails sometimes going to spam and the promotions/social tab in Gmail for people that use those tabs). Its user-interface can be confusing, and as users we will need to create email templates from scratch.

Nevertheless, we decided to go ahead with Mailchimp primarily due to the relatively affordable pricing and features, not to mention the native integration. If Mailchimp does not prove to be a good fit, we are open to trying out other platforms in the future. This will be especially easy considering that we are using the pay as you go pricing and not a recurring subscription.

What does this mean for Community members?

Only existing meetup organizers and community members who subscribed to emails will receive the emails. So for them, things will continue with emails as usual. We will be sending the next edition of the Meetup newsletter and other emails to the community using Mailchimp.

We typically send the following emails to Meetup groups:

  • One meetup organizer newsletter every month (12 emails per year). This email is sent only to meetup organizers (currently at ~2,000 members)
  • One annual survey sent out to all meetup group members (one email per year to all members). This email is sent out to  ~430,000 members of the meetup chapter program.
  • One annual survey sent out to all meetup group organizers (one email per year to all organizers). This email is sent out to  ~2,000 organizers in the meetup chapter program.

Additionally, we reach out to members of a particular meetup group in these exceptional cases:

  • To address a code of conductCode of Conduct “A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the norms, rules, and responsibilities or proper practices of an individual party.” - Wikipedia violation.
  • In case the group is inactive, or if the existing organizer wants to step down, we reach out to members to see if they are interested in stepping up to organize meetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook..  
  • In other circumstances where it is necessary to email a whole meetup group, or selection of groups.

Subscribers can opt-out of these emails at any point in time. If you would like to opt-out of emails (if you are either an organizer or a member), please follow the link in the emails (linked here as well) to do so. 

Addressing potential GDPR concerns

One of the most significant concerns that we heard from community members was about the legality of moving our subscribers over to a different service. We discussed this in detail with the WordPress FoundationWordPress Foundation The WordPress Foundation is a charitable organization founded by Matt Mullenweg to further the mission of the WordPress open source project: to democratize publishing through Open Source, GPL software. Find more on’s legal team, and received  feedback that switching the vendor used to deliver newsletters for email services (where the recipients have opted in for emails) is entirely within the GDPR guidelines. 

Meetup organizers and community members have already signed up to receive emails through so there is no issue there. But as noted above, if members no longer wish to receive the emails, they are welcome to opt-out.

Action items

  • If you are a meetup organizer that has already subscribed to emails, you do not need to take any other steps if you want to receive these newsletters. You will continue getting emails as a meetup group member/organizer. 
  • If you would like to sign-up for these emails (or if you would like to check if you are signed-up), you can do so through the following form
  • If you would like to opt-out of these emails, or to check if you are already subscribed, you can do so by following this link.

Do you have any questions or concerns about the Meetup newsletter project? Let us know in the comments. If you have any sensitive feedback that you’d like to provide us, feel free to email us at

#newsletter #newsletter-service #mailchimp