How to search for (and export) records with empty fields

I have built an email list for the last ~20 years, well maintained, blacklist after 5 bounces etc. to which I send a product update email twice per year.
That is to say, I have not been using phplist for 20 years, so at some point in a distant past I imported from various sources, exports from my eCommerce provider(s), from older emails etc.
It was a messy process and I wasn’t as concerned about certain things as I am now. For instance I would simply send an email starting with ‘Hi’ and not with ‘Hi [FIRSTNAME%%[NAME%%there]]’, as I do today.

Anyways, now I care and I know I still have a small number of nameless records in there. Not too many, but still. I would like to do an effort to fix that.

However phplist’s Subscribers / Search subscribers doesn’t allow me to search for empty records (that I can see) ?
So I tried exporting the entire list (thinking I can sort things out with Excel after) but this process always hangs at the same stage: 128250 / 145838

It’s been ‘hanging’ here for quite some time, so I doubt it will continue.

How do you suggest I build a list of users with an empty [FIRSTNAME] and / or [NAME] field ?

I already considered (and may go this path too) of sending an email to everybody but use Duncan’s SegmentPlugin (which I assume can filter on empty fields (I did not check yet)) and ask them to edit their record. But as is so often the case many will not bother.


It’s possible your system cannot handle the request. I would try exporting a smaller number of subscribers, roughly half filtered by “when they signed up” or one of the other options where you can specify a time frame. If the process still hangs go down to exporting a third of your subscribers.

Does the phpList event log or server error log record anything? Your web hosting company may be able to help, it may be that you’re hitting some limit causing the export to fail.

Another option is to manage this directly in the database via phpMyAdmin.

I did not investigate closer anymore, I had to move on from this
But thanks for the feedback, next time I will check the log and take it from there.