Get Started

Get Started

 

New to the Commons?

 
Here are the top 10 things you can do to get started and make the most of your experience:

 

  1. Take the tour
  2. Update your personal profile
  3. Connect with colleagues
  4. Join or create interest groups
  5. Participate in discussion forums
  6. Find useful resources
  7. Access learning opportunities
  8. Manage your updates and notifications
  9. Give feedback and support the Commons
  10. Get help when you need it

 


 

1. Take the tour

 


 
Go through the tour to learn more about the purpose of the Commons, the different areas of the site, and all the things you can do as a member.

 
[ Back to top ]

 


 

2. Update your personal profile

 


 
[ Back to top ]

 

How to update your personal profile

 

  First, update your profile picture

 
One of the first things to do when you join the Commons is to add a profile picture, also called an avatar.

Your avatar does not have to be an actual photo of yourself. You can upload any image you want for your personal profile.

To change your photo or avatar, look at the top right of the web page, where you should see your username. You will find a drop-down menu with profile quick-links.

From the drop-down menu, select: Profile > Change Profile Photo

This will take you to a page where you can upload an image:

  1. Click the Choose File button
  2. Select a picture to upload
  3. Click the Upload Image button

After your picture has been uploaded:

  1. Choose how much to crop your picture (if you want the whole picture to show, maximize the selection)
  2. Click the Crop Image button

Your new profile picture is now set.

 

  Next, update your profile interests and other details

 
Adding interests and other details to your personal profile will help you find and connect with other members of the Commons.

To edit your profile, go to the drop-down menu of profile quick-links.

From the drop-down menu, select: Profile > Edit

This will take you to a page where you can edit all the information in your personal profile.

You can control the visibility of the fields in your profile. You can make parts of your profile visible to everyone, members only, friends only, or completely private. To change visibility, click the Change link under any field and choose the visibility setting.

When you are describing your areas of interest, any words or phrases you put in brackets [like this] will become automatic search terms in the member database. This helps members of the Commons find each other according to their own particular areas of interest.

When you have finished adding interests and other details to your profile, click the Save Changes button.

To view your own profile, go to the drop-down menu of profile quick-links and select: Profile > View. Or, just click on your name or profile picture anywhere you see it on the site.

As you will see, clicking on an interest area in your own profile or another member’s profile will perform an automatic search to find other members who share the same interest.

 

  Finally, explore the different things you can do from your personal profile page

 
From your personal profile page, you will see a sidebar with multiple tabs. These tabs will allow you to manage different aspects of your membership on the site.

[Activity] From the Activity tab, you can post status updates, see your own activity on the site, follow your friends’ activities, and follow the activities of your interest groups and forums.

[Profile] From the Profile tab, you can modify your personal profile.

[Notifications] From the Notifications tab, you can see notifications that relate to you.

[Messages] From the Messages tab, you can send private messages to other members and reply to messages you receive.

[Friends] From the Friends tab, you can see and manage your friendship connections with other members.

[Groups] From the Groups tab, you can see and manage your group memberships.

[Forums] From the Forums tab, you can see your forum posts and replies, and track your forum favorites and subscriptions.

[Invites] From the Invites tab, you can send invitations for others to join the Commons.

[Settings] From the Settings tab, you can change your account email and password, modify your notification settings, and manage the visibility of your profile.

To learn more about the different functions on your profile page, visit the FAQ section of the site.

 
[ Back to top ]

 


 

3. Connect with colleagues

 

 
[ Back to top ]

 

How to connect with colleagues

There are many different ways to connect with other members of the Commons.

 

  You can find members you know or other members who share similar interests

 
To find members, go the Members directory.

From the main site menu, select: Community > Members

Then enter any search term.

Click on a member’s avatar or username to go their profile page.

 

  You can make friend connections with other members in order to more easily follow each other’s activities

 
You can request to add a member as a friend directly from the Member directory by clicking the Add Friend button.

Or can go to their profile page and request to add them as a friend by clicking the Add Friend link under their profile picture.

 

  You can send private and public messages to other members

 
A private message is similar to an email.

You can send a private message to another member from their profile page or from your own profile page.

From their profile page, click the Private Message link under their profile picture.

From your own profile page, click on the Messages tab in the sidebar, or just go to the profile quick-links from the drop-down menu at the top of the page. Then select: Messages > Compose

Type in the other member’s name or username. Then type in your message and click the Send button.

 
A public message is different from a private message.

A public message is similar to an @mention on Twitter or other social network systems.

A public message is posted to the Activity Stream of the site. You can choose to post an @mention or public message to the general Activity Stream or to the Activity Stream of a group you are member of. Depending on the privacy settings of the group, your public message may not be visible in the general Activity Stream, but will be visible in the group’s Activity Stream.

You can post a public message or mention another member from their profile page, your own profile page, or from the site Activity Stream page.

From their profile page, click the Public Message link under their profile picture.

From your own profile page, go the Activity tab and type the @sign followed by the other member’s username. Then type your update or message.

You can do the same thing from the site-wide Activity Stream page.

You can also mention more than one user in a single post.

Any time you post an update, comment, or reply and mention another member by using the @sign followed by their username, they will be notified that they were mentioned.

 

  You can invite other people you know to become members of the Commons

 
To invite other people to join the Commons, go to your personal profile page.

Then click the Invites tab in the sidebar.

Enter the email addresses of the people you want to invite. Then customize the text of the message.

You can also automatically invite these same people to join your groups. Check any of the groups you want. After the people you have invited join the Commons, they will then receive automatic invitations to join any groups you checked.

Anyone you invite to join the Commons will also receive an automatic Friend request from you.

When you’re ready, click the Send Invites button.

 
[ Back to top ]

 


 

4. Join or create interest groups

 

 
[ Back to top ]

 

How to join or create interest groups

Interest groups are the heart of the Commons. Any member of the Commons can join or create groups around their own areas of interest.

 

  To join an interest group:

 
Go to the Groups Directory. From the main menu, select: Community > Groups

There are three types of groups: Public groups, Private groups, and Hidden groups.

Public and Private groups are listed in the Groups Directory.

Any member can join a public group. You must request to join a private group. But you must be invited to join a hidden group since they are not listed in the directory.

To join a public group, click the Join Group button.

To join a private group, click the Request Membership button. You will be notified when you are approved to join the group.

You can also join a specific group from that group’s home page. Click on any group avatar or name wherever you see it. Then click the Join Group or Request Membership button on the group home page.

 

  To create an interest group:

 
Go to the Groups directory. From the main menu, select: Community > Groups

Next to the Groups Directory title, click the button to Create a Group

There are five steps to create a group:
1. Details: Make a name for the group and a brief description
2. Settings: Choose the privacy and email settings for the group.
3. Forum: Check the box that says “Yes, I want this group to have a forum”
4. Photo: Upload a picture or avatar for the group.
5. Invites: If you want, you can send invites now, or do this later.

Your group is now created.

As a group admin, you can change all these settings at any time by clicking the Manage tab on the group home page.

If you create an interest group, be sure to also join The Group for Group Admins. This is a public group for all group admins to learn how to manage and grow their interest groups.

 
[ Back to top ]

 


 

5. Participate in discussion forums

 


 
[ Back to top ]

 

How to participate in discussion forums

 
There are two types of forums in the Commons: Community forums and Group forums.

All forums are listed in the Forums Directory. From the main menu, select: Community > Forums

Community forums are general discussion forums for any member of the Commons.

Group forums are connected to specific interest groups. Group forums may be public, private, or hidden – depending on the privacy settings of the group.

To participate in a forum discussion, click on a forum link to go to the home page for that forum.

 

  Create discussion topics

 
A single discussion Forum can contain multiple Topics. Any member can create new topics for discussion.

The home page of a forum will list all the discussion topics in that forum. At the end of the topic list is a section where you can create a new topic.

You can add tags to your topic and attach files you want to share.

Click the Submit button to create the discussion topic in the forum.

 

  Reply to discussion topics

 
A single Forum can contain multiple Topics. Each Topic can contain multiple Replies. A topic discussion can go on as long there is interest. Each new reply is added to the end of the list of the replies.

The topic page will list all the replies in the discussion. At the end of the list of replies is a section where you can post your own reply.

You can add tags and attachments to your reply.

Click the Submit button to create your reply.

 

  Subscribe and Favorite

 
You can subscribe to forums or specific topics of interest. You will notified by email of new posts and replies. To subscribe to a forum or topic, click the Subscribe link at the top of the forum or topic that interests you.

You can also favorite specific topics. To favorite a topic, click the Favorite link at the top of the topic that interests you. This will enable you to track your favorites from your own profile page.

To learn more about how Forums work in the Commons, visit the FAQ section of the site.

 
[ Back to top ]

 


 

6. Find useful resources

 


 
[ Back to top ]

 
The Resource Center provides collaborative leaders with access to a curated collection of articles, books, research, tools, videos, and webinars.

The area is organized by media type (format) and by topic (category) to help you find the resources quicker.

These resources give leaders and their teams access to the latest and best practices, case studies, skills, strategies and tools available.

Leaders are free to use these resources to help troubleshoot issues, equip and grow their teams, educate their networks and sponsors and strengthen their ministry. This area of the site will be expanding rapidly so check back frequently.

We’d love your ideas and suggestions for additional resources in multiple languages. If there any resources focused on collaboration, partnership, network leadership and related themes written, published or available in your country or different languages we’d love to know about them. Feel free to let us know using the contact form.

 
[ Back to top ]

 


 

7. Access learning opportunities

 


 
[ Back to top ]

 
The Learning Center holds a growing collection of learning and development resources.

Leaders and their teams will find webinars, self-paced online courses, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities focused on network leadership, partnership, and collaboration topics.

These resources are free unless it is offered by a third party organization for a specific fee. If you use them within your network, we simply ask that you give credit to visionSynergy or the third-party owner.

In the future, this section will expand to include additional trainings, workshops, online courses, peer-based learning groups, webinars, and third-party ministry programs.

If you know of any training materials or programs focused on collaboration, network leadership, partnership, etc. we would love to hear about it..

 
[ Back to top ]

 


 

8. Manage your updates and notifications

 


 
[ Back to top ]

 

How to manage your updates and notifications

There are many different ways to get updates and notifications from the Commons.

 

  Monthly newsletter

 
Every member of the Commons receives a monthly email newsletter highlighting new resources, learning opportunities, and community activity of interest.

To unsubscribe from the monthly newsletter, click the Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.

 

  Interest groups

 
Interest groups are designed to send email notifications to group members whenever there is new activity in the group, such as group announcements, new posts and replies, etc. Group admins can change the default email settings for their groups.

Regardless of the default email settings for a particular group, you may change your own email settings for any of your groups.

You can do this from the group home page, from the groups directory, or from your personal profile page under the Groups tab.

Click the Change link and select the personal email setting you want for that group.

 

  Personal notifications

 
The Commons will send you email notifications when there is activity on the site that relates to you. Examples of notifications include group invitations, friendship requests, replies to your forum posts, mentions of you, and so on.

You can change these email notification settings from your personal profile page under the Settings tab.

Or you can just go to the drop-down menu of profile quick-links and select: Settings > Email

You can change individual settings for various types of notifications.

 

  Forum subscriptions

 
When you subscribe to a Forum or Topic of interest, you will receive email notifications of new posts.

You can change your subscriptions from your personal profile page under the Forums tab.

Or you can just go to the drop-down menu of profile quick-links and select: Forums > Subscriptions

Choose the forum or topic subscription you want to change. Then click the Unsubscribe link.

 

  Feeds

If you prefer to use an RSS reader to get updates from the web, there are many different RSS feeds generated by the Commons.

Most areas of the site generate a unique feed, so it is easy to subscribe to a specific feed. Just add /feed to the main URL.

You can follow the feeds for specific members, groups, topics, and forums, or any of the general feeds for different sections of the site.

 
Here are some examples:

General – Activity Stream
https://synergycommons.net/activity/feed

Members – @tweedledee and @tweedledum
https://synergycommons.net/members/tweedledee/activity/feed/
https://synergycommons.net/members/tweedledum/activity/feed/

Groups – The Group for Group Admins
https://synergycommons.net/groups/the-group-for-group-admins/feed
Note: private and hidden group feeds are protected

Forums – Commons Support Forum
https://synergycommons.net/forums/forum/general/commons-support-forum/feed

 
[ Back to top ]

 


 

9. Give feedback and support the Commons

 


 
[ Back to top ]

 

How to give feedback and support the Commons

There are several things you can do to keep the Commons continually growing and improving.

 

  First, you can provide feedback in the Commons Support Forum

 
The Support Forum is the place to go whenever you want to report a bug or other problem, request a new feature, provide suggestions and feedback, or ask any other question about the Commons.

You can find the Commons Support Forum from the main menu by selecting: Community > Forums

https://synergycommons.net/support

 

  In addition, you can respond to periodic member surveys and polls

 
From time to time, we will send out surveys and post polls on the site for all members of the Commons.

Let your voice be heard by responding to these surveys and polls.

 

  To take a more active role in shaping the future of the Commons, you can join the Commons Advisory Group

 
The Advisory Group is a self-selected team of Commons members who provide guidance for the Commons curators about the site’s overall direction, features, design, etc.

For more details, go to the Advisory Group info page. From the main menu, select: About > Advisory Group

You must agree to fulfill certain requirements to join the Advisory Group.

If you are ready to join, find the Commons Advisory Group in the Groups Directory or go to the group home page and click the Request Membership button.

 
[ Back to top ]

 


 

10. Get help when you need it

 


 
[ Back to top ]

 

How to get help when you need it

 

  First, check out the Help section of the site and the Frequently Asked Questions

 
There are dozens of frequently asked questions that are covered in the Help section of the site.

From the main menu, select: Help > Frequently Asked Questions

 

  If you can’t find the answer you need, go to the Commons Support Forum

 
The Support Forum is the place to go whenever you want to report a bug or other problem, request a new feature, provide suggestions and feedback, or ask any other question about the Commons.

From the main menu, select: Community > Forums

You will see the Commons Support Forum listed at the top of the Forums Directory.

 

  If you want to contact us directly, you can always send an email to the Commons curators

 
Our email address is [email protected]

We will reply to your email as soon as possible.

 

  If you are an interest group admin, there is a special support group just for you

 
The Group for Group Admins is a public group for any group admin who wants to learn how to better grow and manage their interest groups on the Commons.

You can find the Group for Group Admins in the Groups Directory.

From the main menu, select: Community > Groups

Or you can go to: https://synergycommons.net/gfga

 
[ Back to top ]