Features

OnlineGroups.net makes it easy to start groups on your own a site that you can customize for your organization. Everyone one of your groups on OnlineGroups.net will be given an email address, just like a listserv. When a group member emails the group it the message is added to the excellent archive, and the message is then emailed to all the group members. Learn more about how groups work.

Your group members will find it easy to follow the conversations in your group ― even when there are several conversations going on at one time ― because of the online archive. Use the archive to search for posts, share links to a post or an entire conversation, and even post new messages and files via the web.

With OnlineGroups.net, the your groups are on a site for just your organization. Your group members will collaborate using email and the web, and have profiles that reflect their identity and respect their privacy.



A site for your organization

With OnlineGroups.net, your groups and only your groups, are on a site customized for your organization.

A diagram of a site with two groups: Development and marketing.
A site with two groups. The Development group has six members, while Marketing has four. Two people are members both groups, so the total number of site members is only eight.

Unlimited groups

Your OnlineGroups.net reflects the nuances of your organisation because you can start as many groups as you like. A person can be of any number of groups, as shown in the diagram to the right, and you only pay for the site members, not the groups.

Groups are listed on the site homepage, depending on their privacy setting.

No ads

Your site is about your organization. We do not display ads on your site.

Customizable site page content

Add your own content to the homepage of your site. The Welcome text is a short message that appears at the top of your site home page. The About text is a longer message that appears in the side bar on your site home page. Add your own text, headings, links, and images to these areas.

Mobile ready

Your site is will be responsive to the needs of your members, working on everything from tiny phones to large-screen desktops. We work hard to ensure that the pages are small and responsive so you can access the excellent archive of posts whenever and wherever you are.

Custom domain

With a custom domain, your OnlineGroups.net site will use a domain that you own. For example, with a custom domain of groups.example.com:

  • Your site Example site will appear at the web address http://groups.example.com.
  • Your groups will also have customised addresses.
    • Development will appear at http://groups.example.com/groups/development and use the email address development@groups.example.com.
    • Marketing will appear at http://groups.example.com/groups/marketing and use the email address marketing@groups.example.com.

A custom domain is available on 40 member or larger sites.

Selectable theme

Chose from three attractive themes for your OnlineGroups.net site.

  • The Green theme that you can see on this site.
  • The Blue theme that you can see in the Tour. This is the default for new sites.
  • The Monochrome theme that you can see at GroupServer.org.

A selectable theme is available on 40 member or larger sites.

Custom theme

Use your own CSS (cascading style sheet) on your site with a custom theme. We can also design a custom theme for your site. Get in touch to discuss a theme for your site.

A custom theme is available on 160 member or larger sites.

Configurable site timezone

Deal with the complexities of a global organisation thanks to the configurable timezone.

  • The site time zone determines the timezone that is shown by default in public groups, and the time zone that is set for new group members joining the site.
  • Individual members can set their own timezone, so they see dates that are relevant to them.


Groups for your teams and communities

You have the flexibility to create the groups you need thanks to the customisation options with OnlineGroups.net.

Every group gets its own unique email address. When a group member posts to that address an email is sent out to all the group members.

Groups for your needs

Your OnlineGroups.net site has four different types of group to suit the needs of your organisation.

Discussion groups

Discussion groups are a great place to collaborate online. Any member can post to a discussion group, and replies are addressed to the group by default. This is very much like a traditional listserv ― except you get all the other great features of OnlineGroups.net.

Discussion groups are the default group type.

Announcement groups

An announcement group gives you an authoritative voice. With an announcement group, only special posting members may post, and replies are automatically addressed to the sender, rather than the group. This allows you to control what people see in the group.

Support groups

Life can be difficult, and support groups make it easy for people to get help. With a support group, anyone may post but only group members may read the posts. Use support groups this to provide a single support email-address that is monitored by a group of people.

Closed groups

Sometimes a group is not ready to start, or the group has finished. These tasks are supported by the closed group, where no-one may post, but the excellent archive is there for everyone to use.

Learn more about the different types of group, and how they meet your needs.

Change group privacy

With OnlineGroups.net you have control over the privacy of the groups on your site. The groups can be public, private, restricted or secret.

Public groups

Public groups are great for large community organisations. In public groups, the anyone can:

  • See the existence of the group
  • View posts and files
  • Join the group

Private groups

Private groups are the most common type of group at OnlineGroups.net, balancing ease-of-use with security.

  • The public can:
  • Only group members can:
    • View posts and files
    • See the membership list

Restricted groups

Restricted groups are great if you have many communities within your organisation that are interested in what is going on overall, but everything should only be seen by members of your organisation. In a restricted group only members of your site can see the group, and the posts in it. The group is hidden from everyone who is not a member of your site. Learn more about restricted groups, and how they facilitate knowledge-sharing.

Secret groups

Sometimes people knowing about the very existence of a group will cause you problems. For this OnlineGroups.net provides the secret group, where only group members can see the group, and the posts in the archive.

Customizable group page content

Your groups each get their own page that you can customise to let people know more about the group. You can add your own content to the group page, such as the About text that appears at the top of the page. Learn more about the group page, and how the features it has for members and administrators.

Join or request to join groups

You control who joins your groups with OnlineGroups.net.

  • Anyone join a public group. They are even able to sign up using only email, just like a listserv.
  • With a private group anyone can request membership, stating the reason that they should be allowed to join the group. When someone requests membership of a group, an email is sent to the Group Administrators showing the reason stated and allowing the Administrator to approve or decline the membership request.

Invite and add members to a group

Invite someone to join a group on your site, or simply add them. You can do this individually, or in bulk using a CSV file. Read about the pros and cons of inviting vs directly adding group members and about how to launch an online group.

The ability to add members in bulk is available on 10 member or larger sites.

Join and leave log

Keep track of the membership of your groups using the join and leave log. It shows the date and time that each group member joined or left the group, and summarises the size of the group over time As well as this log you will get email notification when the membership of the group changes.



Collaborate using email and the web

Work with familiar tools with OnlineGroups.net. Conversations work just as well using email or the web.

Share messages and files using email

A diagram of a site with two groups: Development and marketing.
Each group has its own email address, just like a listserv, which allows people to hold conversations using the tools the already know.

Each group gets its own email address, just like a listserv. When a group member sends an email to the group the message is then sent on to all the other members. You can be confident that your group members will only see useful messages because OnlineGroups.net prevents email loops, Out of office messages, and messages from compromised addresses getting through.

The messages are automatically organised into topics (messages with a similar subject), and the footer of every email contains a link to the topic that contains the post. (See Share messages and files using the web.)

The messages sent from your groups are tailored to suit group discussions.

  • Your group members will easily spot the messages from the group because its name is added to the Subject of the email sent from the group.
  • Each message is styled so people can easily identify the group that the message is for.
  • Each message includes the profile photo of the author, and links to their profile page.
  • The archive for the group is linked, so people can quickly catch up with what has been discussed earlier.
  • The email remains light because the files attached to an email are replaced with a link to where the files are archived on the web.
  • Signatures and bottom-quoting is hidden.
  • We make it easy to reply to the group, start a new topic, or switch to the topic digest.

Find out more about the design of the email messages.

Email commands

Control your membership using email commands, just like a listserv. There are commands that allow members to

There are handy links to all the commands form everywhere you would expect, making the groups easy to use from just email.

Find out more about email commands.

Topic digest

The topic digest shows the daily activity.

Chose the amount of email you receive. Group members who prefer to receive less email can choose to receive a daily topic digest. With a digest at most one email per day is sent to the group member. It contains a summary of recent activity with links to the latest topics.

Learn more about the daily digest of topics.

Monthly summary

Know what groups you are in, and get helpful hints, from the monthly summary. Like many listserv systems you and your members will get an email once a month, reminding everyone that what groups they are in.

The summary from OnlineGroups.net is much better:

  • The summary is customised ― so everyone gets their own tailored message.
  • There is only one single email that contains information about all your groups.
  • The summary has useful information about how many topics, posts, and authors there were in the last month.
  • There are helpful hints customised for each person ― such as switching to the topic digest if there are many posts in a month.
  • Your password remains a secret, and we never ever email your password out.
  • People can turn off the summary using an email command.

Share messages and files using the web

A diagram of a site with two groups: Development and marketing.
When someone posts to the group, using email or the web, the message is stored in the excellent archive.

Every one of your groups can also be used entirely using the web. Members can search, view post, add to conversations, and add files.

Easily find and catch up on conversations, as the messages in the archive are automatically organised into topics (messages with a similar subject). This also makes it easy to follow several conversations at the same time, as the topics keep different discussions separated from each other. Each topic has its own unique page that can be shared, so it is easy to point people at earlier conversations.

Learn more about topics, and how they different from listserv threads.

The messages are enhanced for the web:

  • Images are shown in an image gallery, scaled by default so even large images are manageable when you are on a mobile connection.
  • Signatures and quoted messages at the bottom of a post are hidden, so the do not distract the reader.
  • Links to YouTube and Vimeo movies are replaced with embedded videos, so they can be watched more easily.
  • Email addresses are masked on the web, to limit email harvesting.
  • Share a link to an individual post, or an entire topic.

Members can use the web to add to the conversation. They can start new topics, add to existing topics. When making a post they can also add files

Manage conversations

You can manage the conversations by using moderation, limiting the posting rate, changing who gets the replies by default, and hiding posts.

  • If you moderate posts from specified members the moderator receives an email with links to approve or decline the post.
  • OnlineGroups.net allows you to restrict the number of posts that a group member can make each day. This encourages longer and more thoughtful posts, and reduces the number of Me, too! posts.
  • You also control who gets replies by default. Normally when someone replies to an email the message is sent to the group. You can change this so the author gets the reply, moving the conversation away from the group and reducing the amount of email the group members receive. Learn more about replying to email.
  • If something untoward is posted then either you, or the author can hide a post. Learn more about hiding posts.


Profiles for identity and privacy

With OnlineGroups.net your group members have a profile that they can customize to reflect their identity in their groups.

Multiple email addresses

A diagram of people collaborating using multiple email addresses.
People can have multiple email addresses. Each person can have multiple email addresses, such as for work and home. Group members can post from any address. When receiving email from they group they choose the address or addresses they prefer.

People often have multiple email addresses ― such as one for work, and one for home. OnlineGroups.net allows everyone to have multiple email addresses on their profile. It does not matter what address they use to make a post: the message will be recorded as being made by them, and the right profile information will be shown in the archive.

Each person can choose the address they prefer to receive email, or use a specific address just for one group. Read more about multiple email addresses.

Request contact

Email addresses on a profile are not visible to other site members. Instead people can request contact with another site member, protecting confidentiality.

Profile image

A site member can upload a profile image that is displayed next to their posts in the archive, on the group page, and on the members page.

Biography

A site member can personalise their profile page by adding a biography that is visible to other site members.



Freedom to choose

With OnlineGroups.net, we want you to stay because you want to stay. We make it easy for you to leave, if you want to.

Export your data

You can export the information about the group-members and the posts so you can switch to an alternate listserv or other system.

Information about the members of a group are provided as a CSV file. This can be easily loaded into any spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel.

The messages are available in the standard mbox format. An archive is available for every month, so you can quickly and easily create your own backup of the posts made to a group, if you so chose. (We also keep a backup.)

Learn more about exporting posts.

Open source option

OnlineGroups.net is based on the open source software GroupServer. GroupServer is free to download and install so that you can run your own online groups site.