Small House Society Yahoo Groups Introduction and Usage Guide

26 March 2009

Housing, Technology

Effective Living > Housing > Small House Society

Summary. This is the Small House Society Online Yahoo Group Users Guide. It describes some of the basic structure of how to make best use of Yahoo Groups and offers a centralized and organized repository of the basic information you’ll need to participate effectively. The topics are organized in order of what you are most likely to need being at the top.

Video. The following video shows most of what is described further down this page.

Choosing Your Level of Involvement. One of the biggest challenges to an organization and its members is allowing everyone to choose a personalized level of involvement that fits each member’s level of interest and availability. Some people will want immediate and responsive interaction with the group. Others will want to remain on the periphery, receiving a monthly update, or simply visiting the site from time to time. The Yahoo Groups System provides for many levels of involvement that are determined by your subscription settings that are accessed by clicking on the Edit Membership link that is in the upper left area of the screen about two inches from the top of the page. These are the available levels of involvement found on the Edit Membership page under “Step 2. Message Delivery”

  • Individual Email (Very Involved). You can choose to receive every single comment and message as they are posted. This is the highest level of involvement.
  • Daily Digest (Moderately Involved). You can choose to receive a single daily email that contains up to 25 messages from the day.
  • Special Notices (Somewhat Involved). You can choose to receive only the messages sent by the group moderator.
  • Web Only (Interested). You can choose not to receive any e-mails, but still have membership in the group and have access to the discussion list.
  • Monthly Newsletter. A fifth option, that isn’t listed, but is a great alternative to the above is signing up for the Small House Society Monthly Newsletter.

By choosing the appropriate level of involvement from the above list, you’ll be sure not to get overwhelmed with too much information. Your level of interest may change depending on what’s going on in your life. Feel free to increase or decrease your level of involvement as needed. Making members aware of the above settings, allows everyone to freely write to the group without worrying about overwhelming some people with too much email.

Writing to the List. The Small House Society Online Yahoo Group is a consolidation of writings and discussions among hundreds of people. The system works fine as long as we all follow some basic guidelines. For best results, it’s a good idea (when convenient) to write separate messages on separate topics to make them easy to follow and find. Remember to always check the subject line and be sure it accurately reflects the topic you are writing about. If you are replying to a posting, and writing about the same subject, you can probably leave it alone.

Understanding the Power of Yahoo Groups. When configured as a newsletter subscription list (with all other features turned off), Yahoo Groups is simply an effective mechanism for automatically managing a large mailing list. An example is the Small House Society Newsletter subscription page. When configured as an online community forum, like the Small House Society Online forum, Yahoo Groups becomes a powerful system that equips groups to have collaborative and cooperative online interactions. Yahoo Groups is, essentially, a free website content management system easy enough that anyone can use it. Yahoo Groups with all features turned on offers a streaming discussion via e-mail with additional options such as:

  • Aggregate Shared Blog. The main page of the Yahoo Group becomes a multi-authored aggregate shared blog that also offers access to media rich content as well as a listing of the latest postings.
  • Messages. Users can send a message to everyone in the group.
  • Files. Users can upload documents and other files.
  • Photos. Users can upload photos and create albums.
  • Links. Users can collaboratively build a list of links.
  • Database. Users can create small databases of information.
  • Polls. Users can create polls for voting on topics.
  • Calendar. Users can post events to a shared calendar.

Managing Messages With Email Rules. Yahoo Groups provides a single unified streaming flow of information in the form of messages. You can simply read these individually, skimming the subject line to choose those that interest you. Or, to manage the messages automatically, you can setup email rules on your local computer to sort the single flow of streaming information into separate folders. An email rule could put messages into folders based on the subject of the message. For example, all messages with the words “solar power” in the subject line could go into an email folder called alternative energy. The end result is a folder structure similar to an online discussion forum system — except you are the one who determines the folder structure. Instead of reading through many messages, you can simply go to the folder for the topic that interests you.

View Messages Online by Topic. A Yahoo Group becomes a collective database of knowledge that can be searched for answers. The archive of current and past messages serves as an excellent organizational tool by linking messages of the same subject line. To view the messages grouped by topic, simply click on the Messages link, and then click on the (Group by Topic) link at the top of the listing. Messages will be listed based on the subject line of the original message and replies to the original message.

About Gregory Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer in Iowa City and also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. He also manages IowaCityWebDesignArtist.com and many other topic specific websites.

View all posts by Gregory Johnson
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