Internet “groups” are online social communities that allow you to tap the power of the Web to connect with family, friends, business associates, professional contacts or people around the world who share similar interests or hobbies.
Tens of thousands of groups already exist, covering every subject imaginable, from art to UFOs and everything in between. Many people use Internet groups to help them organize their sports teams, clubs, church organizations or charity activities. It is also a great way to stay connected with far-flung family members.
Although all three of the major search engine companies (MSN, Yahoo, and Google) offer free Internet group services, Yahoo Groups is one of the oldest and most comprehensive.
The home page for Yahoo Groups is http://groups.yahoo.com. From there you can search through a directory of existing groups, use a keyword search to find a group, or create your own group. [Note: you will need to sign up for a free Yahoo ID before you can create or join a group.] Each group has its own Web site and group e-mail address.
Creating a new group is easy. For example, to set up a Yahoo Group, you work your way through several screens that prompt you for the necessary information. You’ll give your group a name and provide a description. Then you’ll set the membership policy (you can choose to open the group to anyone or limited to those you invite) and the message moderation policy (you decide if messages are posted immediately or if they must first be approved by the group owner). When finished, you’ll be able to send others an e-mail invitation to join the group.
Each Yahoo Group Web site includes a number of useful features to help your group communicate and stay organized. In addition to having a group e-mail address, members can post messages to a Web bulletin board, chat online, upload files to share with group members, post photos to a photo album, share links to other Web sites, and post events to a shared group calendar. The Yahoo calendar feature allows you to create tasks on a to-do list, which is great for organizing an event or meeting. There’s even a polling feature that lets you pose a multiple-choice question to the group members.
Internet groups are a terrific way to host a virtual family reunion or to plan a large gathering. I’m setting up a group right now to organize our family vacation. Why don’t you give it a try, too?
Until next time, enjoy this wonderful summer weather and have fun computing!
Questions and comments on this article can be directed to Jim’s e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. All of Jim’s technology columns are available online at his blog: http://jec1230.blogspot.com.