Anyone can set up and join a group. Groups give a particular focus to a special interest or a defined area (most often a road). Here are a few pointers:
Function of groups
1. Groups at present seem mainly to talk about a shared interest like the History of Harringay or Books and Art which is great and probably their main function but there is also the possibility of using them to set up real groups that meet up like the Book Club or as action groups to plan some sort of campaign.
2. Action groups may be very short term..'Help get HOL some money' or long term 'Campaign for decent housing action group' / 'Friends of Harringay passage' etc. Aims would be agreed, targets for action set and information/opinions shared. There should be real life meetings but with an understanding that not everyone can attend.
Communications from the group are signed by all members of the group and it is understood when you join the group, it is assumed that you are happy for this to happen. You may leave if you are not happy or ask for your name to be removed from something you are not happy with. The group is easily identified and posts are stored/accessed without a long search. The same issues do not clog up the main forum.
3. I think it would be good if the residents' groups set up groups on the site to post things like agendas, minutes and general discussions which would make them much more visible and their information easily accessed but I'm working on persuading them of the value of this idea. By residents' groups I mean the ones that meet regularly in Church halls (LCSP, GRA, etc), not the ones formed on the site by street (Warham, Seymour, Hewitt) although I think those are a good idea too and it would be good if more of them were started.
Find other people who live on your street using the search members facility and start one! Invite your street neighbourhood watch co ordinator to join if you know who they are and they can post info about meetings, initiatives and freebies for your street. Or, as the friendly Hewitts are doing, arrange a social.
Using a Group
4. Members can follow group discussions by receiving notifications of new threads. They are notified when they join a group that they will receive these email notifications automatically, but can turn these off very easilyfrom the group’s homepage.
Starting a Group
5. As a group administrator, you can choose the features you want on your group page: Comments, Discussion Forum, Text Box, RSS Reader and whether to allow all members of the group to message each other. It is a good idea to select all these features, especially the message facility as this will help your members communicate more effectively
As the administrator, you also have a text box where you can post information and photos, links to outside websites and links to relevant discussions in the main forum. You can also create quick links to discussions within the group forum that you want to highlight.
If you set up a group and you want people to join, you can leave comments on the pages of people who are not your connections and message your connections.
Or you can post a discussion in the group with a title like 'An Invitation to join...' with a short reply and it will feature on the main activity. Depending on the purpose of your group, another way to draw attention to your group is to post something in the main forum with a link to your group for people to click on.
A second way is to post a discussion which will draw in a lot of interest and people will have to join your group to comment. Bear in mind that Hugh will announce your group in the weekly update with a link now, so most people will hear about it.
6. "Groups , like this site won't work on the basis of build it and they will come.", Hugh said to me. "There has to be a compelling reason for people to join and then enough content and activity for them to keep coming back. So think about what you hope to get out of a group and what other people will get out of it - and make that clear from the outset."
It takes time for groups to build up, so don't be too disappointed if you don't get loads of members straight away. Some groups seem to be very popular straight away and others build up gradually. People may look at the contents of your group regularly without joining, so keep posting and keeping it active. As the administrator, if you run a group that has a lot of new info every week, you can send out a mini update via the messaging facility to let people know what you are up to.