Yahoo Groups is a great tool for any organization, club or family that needs a centralized home in cyberspace. Once set up, members can post messages, chat, share files and photos, add and view events in the shared calendar and create polls and databases.
Setting up and moderating a Yahoo Groups page is easy. From the Yahoo home page, click on groups then find the “Start a Group Now” link. Choose a category and a subcategory. Assign a name, an email address alias and a description of the group.
The email address alias is neat because it allows all group members to send and receive group messages using just one email address. For example, suppose the group address is [email protected] Simply send one email to [email protected] and all members will receive a copy depending on the mail preferences they have set up. Some may prefer a daily digest of emails which is one email per day containing all messages. Others may want their emails as they are sent while other members may not want to receive any email at all. When a new member joins the Yahoo group or an old member leaves, the mailing list is automatically updated.
The next step involves choosing a member profile. If you do not have a Yahoo Profile, you will be prompted to do so during this step. Go ahead and choose your existing profile or create a new one. Enter the word verification step and the basic Yahoo Groups page has been created.
But wait, you’re not quite done yet. Click on “Customize Your Group”. This is an important step, especially if you want a private group. From here you will decide whether you want to list the group in Yahoo’s directory, who can join your group, who can post messages to your group, whether you want an archive of messages and what web features you will take advantage of. Click the “Get Started Button” and answer the questions.
• List the Group in the Yahoo Groups Directory? Yes or no.
• How can people join? Immediately or with your approval.
• Who can you post messages? Group members (private discussion), anyone (public discussion) or group owner (newsletter).
• Do you want to approve messages before delivery? Yes, no or new members only.
• Message replies go to: All members or message sender only
• Do you want to use web features such as chat, calendar, polls, photos and files? Yes or no – mailing list only.
• Who can view archives? Anyone, members, moderators or no archives
The final question lets you choose who can access the various web features if you enable them. Make your preferences now with the understanding that you can change them later in the management section of your group page. Click the finish button.
Now it’s time to invite members. What good is a group page if no one knows it exists? Click the “Invite people” link. You can either invite people by entering their email address or import an existing mailing list. The first choice is an invitation and the members must act to join while the second choice automatically adds them to the group. Importing an existing address list has its limits. You can only import ten members a day. This works fine for smaller groups or for groups that have a few days to spare before everyone is online. Issuing invitations also have drawbacks, the member may not receive the email invitation as it may go into his junk mail folder and the member must follow links confirming his intention to join.
If this group is meant to be private, the following step must be followed. Open your group page and click on the “Management” link on the left side of the screen. Find the Group Settings section and click on “membership”. Click the edit link found next to “Membership Type and Welcome Message”. There are three types of membership: open (anyone can join), restricted (you approve all membership requests) and private (only invited members can join). If you choose private, you can not revert to open or restricted later.
Anyone who joins your group must have a Yahoo ID. Yahoo IDs are free and easy to sign up for. If they follow the links in your invitations, they will be prompted to sign up for one.
Once the Yahoo Group is up and running, be sure to take advantage of the many features available. You can set up reminders in the shared calendar and send files automatically at set intervals. For example, you can set up a welcome document and specify that it should be sent to all new members upon joining the group.
That’s it; you have a fully functional Yahoo Groups webpage and mailing list. Invite your friends and colleagues and let the communication begin.