Groups are a way for registered users to connect in a little room off to the side of the main forum. They’re easy to start. Here’s how.
First, go to your profile by clicking your name in the top left of the site. Then, go down to Groups in the list on the left side. (If you click the Groups tab at the top of the Activity pane, you’ll see what groups you’re already in, but you won’t be able to create one from there.)
You’ll see two tabs in the Groups pane. One, “Memberships,” is where you’ll find groups you’re already in. The other, “Invitations,” is where you’ll find invitations to join groups that others have started. To start your own group, click “Create a Group.” That option is available in either tab.
The first thing you’ll see is the Details step. The entire process includes six steps: Details, Settings, Forum, Photo, Cover Image, and Invites.
Fill in your group’s name and description, and click “Create Group and Continue.”
Next, you’ll see visibility options. Select whichever one makes best sense for you. (“Public” is selected by default, but this is a screen shot i took when Pete and i were trying to figure out how groups worked, so i went with “Hidden” on that one.)
On the same screen, you’ll also see invitation options. Once you’ve selected visibility and invitation options, click “Next Step.” To go back, click “Back to previous step.”
The next step is Forum. By default, groups only have a comment thread that everyone can add to. This is fine for simple updates and limited conversation, but you can also add a forum if you’d like a more robust conversation with multiple threads and all the fun options like text formatting (bold, italics), or adding links and images. You don’t have to have a forum, but if you want one, click the box and then click “Next step.” If you’re not sure if you want a forum, or if you change your mind after setup, you can always come back and change your setting later.
Step 4 and 5, to add images, are basically the same, so i’m skipping step 4. “Photo” is like a profile picture for the group. “Cover image” is a larger image that stretches across the top of the screen when you’re looking at the group. If you’re familiar with Facebook, it works just like profile pictures and cover images do there. Drag a photo into the field, or click “Select Your File” to find a picture in your computer’s file directory, then click “Next step.” If you select a photo that isn’t big enough (see that yellow bar?), you’ll get a reminder to find a bigger photo. This is so your cover image doesn’t end up blurry. The profile picture (“Photo”) is much smaller, so you shouldn’t have any problems with that one. You can always skip photos, too. Adding them makes the group prettier, but they’re not required.
If your image file is pretty big, it’ll take a minute to load. Don’t worry; it’s just working in the background. Once it’s uploaded, you’ll see an option to crop the image. The image on the right is a preview of what you’ll get if you click “Crop Image.” The image on the left is where you select what part of the image to use. See how the square on the right matches the bright-colored square on the left, with the little square handles at the corners and the dotted-line sides? In that bright square on the left, grab the corners and pull to change what part of the image shows on the right, or click and hold on the bright square to move that bright square to another part of the larger image. When you’re satisfied, click “Crop Image.” (You shouldn’t need to crop your cover image.) Then, click “Next Step.”
The last step is inviting members. You can only invite people you’re friends with. Click the boxes next to the names of the people you want to invite, then click “Finish.” The people you invited will get invitations, and they can accept or decline.
Once your group is set up, you can find it in your profile. It’ll show up in the Groups pane, and under Activity–>Groups. If you click your group’s name you’ll see options to view members, send invites, and manage the group. If you want to change any of the settings you selected during setup, click “Manage.”
Here are the options you see when you click “Manage.” “Settings” means visibility and invitation settings; “Photo” means profile picture (i didn’t see a way to change/add a cover image after setup was complete), “Members” shows all the members of the group (clicking “Members” on the left side will also give you that view, and will also give you a way to search for specific members, which you can’t do here), “Forum” allows you to enable or disable a forum for the group, and “Delete” allows you to delete the group. If you accidentally hit “Delete,” don’t freak out. You’ll have a chance to confirm your decision. 🙂
Here’s what a group admin will see under Settings–>Members. There’s no search here, but a group admin can manage members, including removing them, promoting them, or even blocking and banning them. (Blocking and banning are pretty serious. Please do what you can to avoid this by talking privately with anyone who’s causing trouble, and if you can’t manage them on your own, see if you can get help from a site admin—Pete is a great one to ask—before taking this drastic step. Nevertheless, it is an option group admins have.) Group moderators cannot manage members, nor can regular members. Only admins can do that. But as you see, you can have more than one admin; just click “Promote to admin.”
Enjoy your group! Have fun together! 🙂
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