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How to Use AFS Group Tools

Group Capabilities
Members of this group may:

  • Customize the content of the group home page
  • Send email and messages to group members
  • View, post and collaborate within group forums
  • Collaborate with other members via private group content, wikis, forums, blogs and file libraries
  • View, post, tag and subscribe to group blogs
  • View, post and tag photos in group galleries
  • Browse group member profiles

What everyone should know:

1) For a list of group members, see "Group Directory" under Directory & Features above. Individual members control their profile settings; most include email addresses if you would like to contact individuals directly. Alternatively, conveners or AFS staff can download a spreadsheet of group members with contact information to create a current email distribution list.

2) Use "email all group members" for announcements to all current members. Find the button under the Options above. The email will be sent from the website, not your personal email program; you won't be able to access the sent message directly, though you will be one of the recipients of your message. Recipients can reply only to the sender, not the entire list. For discussion, use the Forum.

3) The Forum is the place for online discussion. The Forum will allow group members to reply and to post new topics, and it will preserve the entire discussion for future reference. You can "subscribe" to receive email notification of new postings -- see below for more information.

4) Avoid "messages." Messages do not go to the recipients' mail; they go to an inbox associated with the recipients' profile. Users can control whether or not they get notifications of new messages, which means that many members may never know that they have received a message. (To check your own settings, go to the My Profile menu and click on Manage Profile/Preferences.)

Advanced tips:

The group email tool does not allow attachments. Alternatives:

  • An alternative is to create a custom web page or share a file (see below), and provide the url for the page in your email. This requires the assistance of a convener or AFS staff.
  • Any group member can post a message to the forum, which does allow file uploads, then send an email with a link to the post to all other group members.

Share Files
Only conveners or other members with administrative access can upload files (Word docs, spreadsheets, pdfs, etc.).

Conveners: Use "file library" under your "Group Admin Options." Start by "adding a new collection." A collection is essentially a file folder; you can name it with any category you like. Once the collection exists, you can add individual files. However, users won't see the contents of the collection until you link it to a custom page (see below): create (or edit) a custom page; tick the appropriate box to link the page to the collection that you have you have created. Note: you have to do it in this order: create the collection, then the page. If you add no other content, the new custom page will display the contents of the collection; you may also add additional text to the custom page.

Custom Pages
Custom pages are web pages that only group members can access; only conveners or other members with administrative access can create them, but if the page is set to wiki mode, any group member can edit it. Once custom pages have been created, they will appear in a drop down menu from an icon at the top of the group home page.

Conveners: Use "Custom Page" under your "Group Admin Options." You must enter a title for the page, but otherwise you can generally accept the defaults; set "Collaboration (Wiki) Mode" to "enabled" if you want group members to be able to edit the page. Enter the text for the page in "Custom Page Content." You can type directly, or copy from a Word doc (recommended); in that case, click on the clipboard icon to "paste from Word" to avoid formatting hassles. See FAQ/Folklore Commons/Custom Pages for more tips.

You must "subscribe" if you want to receive an email notification of any new topic or reply in the Forum:

Click on the "Subscribe to Instant Updates" in the "Forum Actions" drop-down menu to receive email notifications of all new posts. This can be done topic by topic, or for the Forum as a whole. So, if you click on Forum-->General Discussion, then click on "Subscribe" on that page, you will be notified of new topics under General Discussion. Subscribe to each topic if you want to be notified of replies.


See FAQ/Folklore Commons/Forums for more tips about the site's communications tools.

Use your browser's "back" button to return to your group page, or find your groups by clicking on "Groups" in your Profile menu.

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American Folklore SocietySister Society: SIEF
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