The epilepsy.com Groups section compliments the larger Community by creating the spaces for users to meet new people with shared interests and join with them in smaller groups of the whole population. Groups can be formed around any topic or category the users wish – by location, interests/hobbies, age, epilepsy therapies, etc.
Visitors, both logged-in and not logged-in, can find Groups by visiting the main Groups page, located under the “My.epilepsy.com Community” navigation item. In the main content area of this page there are a series of tabs that allow you to find Groups based on a number of criteria. The default view displayed shows the “Latest Groups,” which is a list of the 50 Groups that most recently had messages posted to them. The other tabs in this section include “Top 50 Groups” (which displays the 50 Groups with the most members), “View All Groups” (a full listing of all Groups on epilepsy.com), and “Group Tag Cloud” (a listing of all tags/keywords that have been added to Group pages, which allow you to find Groups easily). Clicking on a link in these categories/tabs will take you to the Group’s homepage, where you can see recent activity to decide if you wish to become a member yourself.
Once you have landed on a Group’s page, you can browse through their content, view members, and see events posted for the Group. Joining a Group allows you to participate in these activities – post messages in their Forums, add events to their calendar, and become listed as a Group member. To join a Group, click the orange “Join this Group” button in the right column. If the Group’s moderator has set the Group to be “public,” you will become a member immediately. If the Group’s moderator set the group to be “moderated,” an email will be sent to the moderator notifying him/her that you requested membership, which he/she will be able to approve or reject. In this case, you will be notified if the moderator has accepted your request to join.
Participating in a Group
Once you are a member of a Group, you are given certain capabilities. The epilepsy.com Groups feature contains three primary areas of interaction.
- Group Discussions: Group discussions operate in a similar fashion to the Community Forums elsewhere in the epilepsy.com Community. Here you can start a discussion on a particular topic which is shared with other Group members. These members can then join in the conversation by posting replies and continuing a thread of the discussion. To start or participate in a discussion, click the “Group Discussions” link in the left-hand, blue navigation bar.
- Viewing Members: In the right-hand column of all Group pages, you can see the members of the Group you are in. Displayed here are a list of all Group members and a list of the newest members to the Group. By clicking on a members’s username, you will see a drop-down box displaying their profile (if they have made the profile public). You can add these members to your buddy list by clicking on the green “+” symbol next to their username, and/or use this tool to learn more about the Group’s members.
- Group Event Calendar: Group calendars include any events or notices that other members have added. You can browse through the Group’s calendar by clicking on the “Calendar’ link in the left-hand, blue navigation. As a member, you also have the ability to add events to this Calendar. Simply click on the “Add Event” link in the blue navigation, and enter the date(s), time(s), and description of your event. You will also see a checkbox to “Add to the Epilepsy.com Community Calendar.” If you check this box, your event will be added to both the Group Calendar and the Calendar that all epilepsy.com members have access to. This is a great way to promote events and activities to either a smaller group of friends or a very large audience at once! When you have filled out the Calendar details, click “Submit” and your event or activity will be added to the appropriate calendar(s).
Starting a Group
If you wish to start your own group, click the “Start a New Group” link in the left-hand, blue navigation. As the originator of this group, you will be set as the moderator which carries several responsibilities and requires several tasks. First, you will be asked to enter some important details:
- Name of the Group: this should be a short yet descriptive summary of the Group, quickly recognizable for other users browsing the website. Group names like “Parents in New York,” “Considering Brain Surgery,” or “Active Seniors” are good descriptors.
- Brief Description of the Group: enter a short, 2-3 sentence description for your Group. This will help other users get a quick idea of what the Group is about and if they might want to join themselves.
- Group Story: a longer story about the group, background information, topics that are or will be discussed, etc. This can be as long as you wish.
- Group Photo: optional – a photo you wish to display on the Group’s homepage.
- Group Membership: there are three settings for a Group’s membership style: public, moderated, or private. Public Groups can be seen by all epilepsy.com members, who can join your group if they wish. Moderated Groups can be viewed by other epilepsy.com members, but they must request to become a member of your Group (in this case, as Moderator, you will receive these requests and must decide to accept or reject these requests). Finally, Private Groups are hidden from epilepsy.com members; invitations to become a Group member must be sent by the Moderator which includes a link to this Group that would otherwise not appear for other members on the website.