This site is provided and sponsored by OnlineGroups.net where groups can collaborate easily using email.

Democracies Online User Manual

Introduction

This manual is a guide to the system that runs Democracies Online. It covers getting help, logging in to Democracies Online and managing profiles, managing groups, and participating online.

Getting Help

There are four ways of getting help at Democracies Online: from the user manual, and from context-sensitive help. from the participation coach in a group, and from Democracies Online Support.

Getting Help from the User Manual

You can access The Democracies Online User Manual from any page on Democracies Online. To access help, carry out the following.

  1. Click on Help, in the main menu-bar at the top of every page. The Help page will open.
  2. Click on User Manual. The Democracies Online User Manual will open.

Getting Context-Sensitive Help

Help that relates to a particular situation — or context — is avaliable on many pages. To access the context-sensitve help, carry out the following.

  1. Locate the link to the context-sensitive help, which looks like [?]. The link will be next to the item that the help applies to.
  2. Click on the help-link. The context-sensitive help will appear on the right of the page. The help may be closed when no longer needed.

To view the section of The Democracies Online User Manual that the context-sensitive help comes from, click on Read more at the bottom of the help-window.

Getting Help from the Participation Coach

The participation coach is the person responsible for assisting group members with the interaction with each other and Democracies Online. To contact the participation coach, carry out the following tasks.

  1. View the group (see Viewing a Group).
  2. View the profile of the participation coach, by clicking on the name of the participation coach, listed in the Members section of the group homepage.
  3. Contact the participation coach, by clicking on the link listed in the Email addresses section of the coache's profile.

Getting Help from Democracies Online Support

You can get help from Democracies Online Support by sending an email message, detailing your problem, to . Your message should contain a description of exactly what you are doing, what is not happening, and what you think should happen. If possible, supplying the email addresses you use, and your user ID, would be helpful to Democracies Online Support.

Logging In to Democracies Online

Registered users must log in to Democracies Online to use all the facilities. To log in to Democracies Online, carry out the following.

  1. Click on Log In, on the Democracies Online homepage. The Log In page will open.
  2. Type your email address and password into the respective fields.
  3. Click the Log In button. The homepage will be shown, with your display name at the top-right of the page.

Remembering Your Identity

If you select Remember me, your identity will be remembered by Democracies Online, so you will not have to log in next time you visit. However, you should not select this if you are using a shared or public computer, such as a computer in an e-cafe or library, as your privacy may be compromised.

Reset your password

To reset your password, carry out the following.

  1. 1. Click Reset Password on the login page. The Reset Password page will be shown.
  2. 2. Enter the email address that you wish to use, with your online groups on GroupServer, in the Email Address entry box. If you have more than one address registered with GroupServer, enter your preferred address into the Email Address entry box.
  3. 3. Click the Reset button. An email message, containing a link to the password reset page will be sent to you.
  4. 4. Click the link in the password-reset email message that has been sent to you. The Set Password page will be shown.
  5. 5. Enter your new password in the first entry, and repeat the password in the second entry.
  6. 6. Click the Set Password button. Your profile page will be shown.

Note: Administrator Password-Reset Some administrators can reset passwords for group members. If this occurs, you will receive an email message informing you that your password has been reset. From this message, you can carry out the tasks 4–6 above.

Managing Profiles

A profile is information kept by Democracies Online about all users, including you. You can view your profile, change the information stored in your profile and view the profiles of other registered users.

Viewing Your Profile

To view your profile, carry out the following.

  1. Log in to Democracies Online (see Logging In to Democracies Online).
  2. Click on your user-name, which is displayed at the top-right of every page on Democracies Online .

Your profile will show the groups that you belong to, the most recent messages that you have posted, and the profile data listed in Profile Information.

Profile Information
Name Description
Name The name you wish to be known by.
City The city or town where you live.
Country The country where you live.
Biography A short biography about you.
Email Addresses The email addresses that you will use with Democracies Online.
Skype User ID The ID that you use on the Skype network
Image A small image (thumbnail) that others will see next to messages that you post and on your profile page.
Group Memberships A list of the online groups that you belong to.
Organisations The organisations you belong to.
Organisation Website The Website for the organisation that you belong to.
Personal URL The address of a Web page about you.
Primary Language The language you speak most often.

Changing Your Profile Information

Information listed in your profile (see Profile Information) can be changed. How the information is changed depends on the type of data it is: password, text or image. You can also add email addresses to your profile.

Changing Your Password

To change your password, carry out the following.

  1. View your profile (see Viewing Your Profile).
  2. Click Change Password. The Change Password page will appear.
  3. Type the new password in the first entry of the New Password field. (For security reasons, asterisk characters * will appear rather than the characters you type.)
  4. Type the same password in the Repeat New Password field.
  5. Click the Change Password button.

If the passwords that you typed in do not match, an error message will appear and the password will not be changed.

Changing a Text Field

All fields in your profile, except for the password and image fields, are text fields. Carry out the following, to change a text-field.

  1. View your profile (see Viewing Your Profile).
  2. Click Change Profile. The Change Profile page will appear.
  3. Edit the text field, so it reflects the new value.
  4. Click the Change button at the bottom of the page.

Changing Your Image

Carry out the following, to change the image that is shown on your profile and placed next to messages you post.

  1. View your profile (see Viewing Your Profile).
  2. Click Change Image. The Change Image page will appear.
  3. Click the Browse button, which is next to your image.
  4. Select an image in the file-selector dialog.
  5. Click the Change button at the bottom of the page.

Images should be 125 pixels wide by 156 pixels high.

Managing Your Email Addresses

You can use your existing email addresses to post messages, and receive messages and summaries of group activities. In addition, a monthly account summary will be sent to your email addresses (see Changing Your Message Notification Settings).

To use your existing email address, you must add it to the system. You can also remove an address, and change the list of default email address.

To change an existing email address, you must remove the existing email address first, then add a new email address.

Add an email address to your profile

To send messages to a group, from a particular email address — and receive messages at a particular email address — the email address must be added to your profile. To add an address to your profile, carry out the following steps.

  1. 1. Click Add an Email Address, on your profile page. The Add an Address page will be shown.
  2. 2. Enter your new email address in the Email Address entry.
  3. 3. Click Verify Address. You will be sent an Email Address Verification message, to ensure that you control the address you entered.
  4. 4. Carry out one of the two options below, when you receive the Email Address Verification message. * Click on the link in the Email Address Verification message. The Address Verification page will be shown. Click on the Verify button to verify your address. * Reply to the message, making no alterations to the message — other than those automatically carried out by your email client. You will receive an email message, confirming the verified address.

Note: Administrator Adding an Email Address Some administrators can add an email address to your profile. If this occurs you will receive an email message that will allow you to carry out one of the two tasks in Step 4 above. In addition, you will receive an email message on *all* your other addresses informing you that an administrator has added a new address to your profile.

Removing an Email Address

To remove an email address from the list of addresses in your profile, carry out the following.

  1. View your profile (see Viewing Your Profile).
  2. Click Change Email Settings. The Change Email Settings page will appear.
  3. Select the addresses you wish to remove from the list of email addresses.
  4. Click the Remove Address button. The address will be removed from the Email Addresses list.

The last address cannot be removed, as you must have at least one email address.

Changing the Default Email Address or Addresses

To change where message notifications are sent by default, you can add a default email address or remove a default email address from the Default Email Addresses list.

Adding a Default Email Address

To add an address to the list of default addresses, carry out the following tasks. (You cannot add an email address to the list of default addresses if all your email addresses are in the list of default addresses.)

  1. View your profile (see Viewing Your Profile).
  2. Click Change Email Settings. The Change Email Settings page will appear.
  3. Select an email address, or email addresses, from the Add Default Address list.
  4. Click Add to Default.
Removing a Default Email Address

To remove an email address from the default list of addresses that are used to notify you of posts, carry out the following. (You cannot reduce the list of default email addresses to fewer than one.)

  1. View your profile (see Viewing Your Profile).
  2. Click Change Email Settings. The Change Email Settings page will appear.
  3. Select the address from the Default Email Addresses list.
  4. Click Remove from Default.

Viewing the Profile of Another User

To view the profile on another user on Democracies Online, carry out the following.

  1. Click on Members, on the homepage of a group (see Viewing a Group). The Members page, which lists all members of the selected group, will be shown.
  2. Click on the name of the user whose profile you wish to view. The profile of that user will be shown.

Alternatively, click on a user's name in a message, and the profile for that person will be shown.

Managing Groups

Groups are online areas where people collaborate on Democracies Online. As a registered user, you can join a group, leave a group, view a group or change your message settings for the group.

Join a group using email

To join a group using email, carry out the following tasks.

  1. 1. Send a message to the group, with Subscribe in the subject line. You will receive a verification message in reply. If you do not have a GroupServer profile, one will be created.
  2. 2. Reply to the verification message, making no alterations to the message — other than those automatically carried out by your email client. You will receive an email message, confirming that you have joined the group.

Join a group using the web

To post to a group, and receive email messages from a group, you must register an account with GroupServer. To use the Web to register an account with GroupServer, carry out the following tasks.

  1. 1. Click Register and Join in the group you wish to join. The Register and Join page will be shown.
  2. 2. Enter your email address in the Email Address entry.
  3. 3. Click Next. Two things will happen: * A email address verification message will be sent to you (see Adding an Email Address, Step 4) http://groupserver.org/r/post/6b5rm4OsiHJ4kWpZ37jUOl and * You will be shown the Edit Profile page.
  4. 4. Edit your profile. Your profile will allow other users of GroupServer to get to know you better. At this stage you can also join other groups, by selecting them in the Groups section of your profile. Tip: Nickname Your nickname is a single word that is used to identify you and your profile. Its primary purpose is to create the link to your profile. By default, your nickname is created out of your display name, with the spaces removed.
  5. 5. Click Next. You will be shown one of two pages. * If you have not verified your email address (see Adding an Email Address, Step 4) you will be shown the Waiting for Verification page; once you verified click Next to see the Set Password page (see Resetting Your Password step 6). http://groupserver.org/r/post/3JJvi3M6zykWP5SCogRZK * If you have verified your email address, you will be shown the Set Password page (see Resetting Your Password, Step 6). http://groupserver.org/r/post/3JJvi3M6zykWP5SCogRZK
  6. 6. Set your new password. You will be shown your profile page after the password has been set.

Note: Administrator Registration If you do not have an account with GroupServer, an administrator can create one for you. If this happens, you will receive an email message informing you that this has occurred. Clicking on the link in the email message will take you to the Edit Profile page (Step 4 above) and verify your email address.

Joining a Group

You will need to join a group to post messages to it. To join a group, carry out the following.

  1. Log in to Democracies Online (see Logging In to Democracies Online).
  2. Click on Groups in the main navigation bar. The Groups page will be shown.
  3. Click on the name of the group that you wish to join. The Join page for the selected group will be shown.
  4. Select the delivery setting you want from the Message Delivery Settings list. There are three settings possible.
    One email per post.
    Every time a person posts to the group, you will receive an email message.
    Daily digest of topics.
    Once a day you will receive an email that contains a summary of all the topics that have been discussed in the group. If no topics have been discussed you will not receive a digest.
    Web only.
    You will not receive any email when someone posts to the group. You can view the posts using the Web only.
  5. Click on the Join button. A message will be sent to your email account, informing you that you have joined the group.

The Groups page and your profile will list all the groups that you belong to (see Viewing a Group and Viewing Your Profile).

Leaving a Group

To leave a group, carry out the following.

  1. View the group (see Viewing a Group).
  2. Click Leave. You will receive a email message informing confirming that you have left the group.

Alternatively, follow the instructions that is placed in the footer of all email messages sent from that group.

Viewing a Group

Viewing a group allows you to see information about the group, including who belongs to the group and the messages that have been sent to the group. (The exact information that is visible can differ from group to group, and will depend on your group membership.) To view a group, carry out the following.

  1. Click Groups, in the main navigation bar, to show the Online Groups page.
  2. Select a group from the My Groups or Other Groups lists. The page for the selected group will be shown.

Your profile also displays the My Groups list, which can be used to access groups.

Changing the Message Settings for a Group

You can change how you are notified of messages posted to a group and change which email address notifications are sent to.

Changing Your Message Notification Settings

Carry out the following, to change how you are informed of messages posted to a group.

  1. Join the group (see Joining a Group).
  2. View the group (see Viewing a Group).
  3. Click Change your email settings, which is found in the Members section of the group homepage, or Email settings in the context-menu for the group. The Email Delivery Settings page for the group will be shown.
  4. Select the desired notification option from the Message Notification list (see Message Notification Preferences).
  5. Click the Change button.
Message Notification Preferences
Name Description
One email per post You will receive an email every time there is a post to the group.
Digest of Topics You will receive an email that summarises the daily-activity in the group; if there is no activity for a week, then you will only receive a message at the end of the week.
Delivery disabled You will not receive any email related to the group.

On the first day of each month, regardless of your message settings, you will be sent an email-reminder by Democracies Online that lists the groups you belong to, the message settings for each group, and how to leave the groups.

Choose Your Delivery Address

If you have multiple email addresses registered with Democracies Online (see Adding an Email Address), then you can change where email messages from a group are sent. To do this, carry out the following.

  1. Join the group (see Joining a Group).
  2. View the group (see Viewing a Group).
  3. Click Change your email settings, which is found in the Members section of the group homepage, or Email settings in the side-menu for the group. The Email Delivery Settings page for the group will be shown.
  4. Select either of the following options.
    Default
    Messages are sent to the default email addresses or addresses (see Setting the Default Email Address).
    Specific Address or Addresses
    Messages are sent to the selected addresses that are listed below the Specific Address or Addresses option.
    (If there is only one email address registered with Democracies Online, then the Email Addresses Used list will not be shown.)
  5. Click the Change button.

Participating Online Using Democracies Online

You can participate online using Democracies Online by contacting other users, by working with messages, or by working with files.

Contacting Other Democracies Online Users

Carry out the following tasks to contact other Democracies Online users.

  1. View the profile of the user that you wish to contact.
  2. View the Email Addresses field.
  3. Contact the user.
    • If the email addresses of the user are visible, click on an email address of the user and write the user a message in your normal email client.
    • If the email addresses of the user are not visible, click Request contact, which is also listed in the Email Address field of the user's profile. A message will be sent to the user that contains your email address and a statement that you wish to contact the user.

Working with Messages

Messages form the basis of participation on Democracies Online. You can read messages that others have posted, create messages and link to messages.

Reading Messages

You can read messages that are posted to groups by using the Web, by using email, or by using Web feeds.

Reading Messages using the Web

To read a message that someone else has posted to a group, carry out the following.

  1. View the group (see Viewing a Group).
  2. Either
    • Click on the name of a topic in the Latest Topics list, which lists the six most active topics on the main page for the group, or
    • Click on Topics and click the name of a topic that is listed on the Topics page.

    The page for the selected topic will be displayed. (If you are not a member of a group, you may not be able to see any topics.)

  3. Scroll to view the messages, which are displayed from oldest (at the top) to newest. Alternatively, click on Latest post to view the most recent post.
Reading Messages using Email

Depending on your message settings for a group (see Changing Your Message Notification Settings ) you will either be sent an email whenever a message is posted to the group, a digest of posts, or no email notification.

Reading Email Posts

If configured, you will receive an email for each individual message that is posted to a group. Messages from Democracies Online can be identified by the subject that starts with the name of the group in square brackets, followed by the name of the topic. In addition, the message will be sent from an email account that is named after the group, such as example_group@onlinegroups.net.

The email message will contain the text of the post, and a link to the relevant group and topic. You can reply to the email to add a post to the group (see Posting a Message).

Reading Topic Digests

If configured, you will receive a message digest once a day. The message will be sent shortly after midnight, and can be identified by the subject line that will read [Example Group] Topic Digest, where Example Group will be replaced with the name of the group.

The message will summarise the postings in each of your groups, and provide links that can be followed to view the postings on Democracies Online. If you reply to a message digest you will be sent a summary of your profile; you cannot create a post from a message digest (see Creating Messages).

Reading Messages using Web Feeds

On Democracies Online, Web Feeds (often known as RSS Feeds and Live Bookmarks) provide summaries of the messages that are posted to groups. They can be viewed in an aggregator, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. Links to three feeds are provided, which summarise the notices, files and topics that have been posted, are linked of the homepage for the site. Consult the documentation for your aggregator on how to view a feed.

Creating Messages

Messages can be created by either posting a message to an existing topic or by starting a new topic.

Posting a Message to an Existing Topic

You can post a message to an existing topic using the Web or using email.

Posting a Message using the Web

Carry out the following, to post a message to a topic using the Web.

  1. Log in to Democracies Online (see Logging In to Democracies Online).
  2. View the topic (see Reading Messages Using the Web).
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page, where the Add to the topic section is located.
  4. Create your message.
    • Edit the text of your message in the Message entry.
    • Optionally, add tags to your message by writing them into the Tags entry. (See Tags.)
  5. In addition, you may add a file along with your post (see Posting Files using the Web).
  6. Click the Add button. Your message will be shown on the topic page, and will be sent to all group members who receive one email notification of posts.

(If you do not belong to the group, you cannot post messages to the group.)

Tags

A tag is a keyword, or category, that is associated with a post. You can associate multiple tags with a post when it is created; this should make the file easier for others to find (see Reading Messages, and Viewing Files).

Currently, tags can only be entered via the Web (see Posting Messages and Posting Files). When entering a tag, they can be formatted in one of two ways.

Comma separated
The tags are separated by commas, which also allow words to be grouped together, such as the following four tags: tags, example post, email, message
Posting a Message using Email

To post a message to an existing topic using email, open a message that was posted to the topic (see Reading Email Posts) and reply; do not change the subject of the email message, as this will cause Democracies Online to create a new topic (see Starting a New Topic Using Email). Once sent, the message will be added to the Topics page for the group, and be sent to all group members who receive email notification of posts.

Email Attachments

Email attachments will be uploaded to the site. See the Posting Files Using Email section.

Starting a New Topic

You can create a new topic for discussion, in any group that you are a member of, by using the Web or using email.

Starting a New Topic using the Web

To create a new topic using the Web, carry out the following.

  1. View the group (see Viewing a Group).
  2. Click Start a new topic at the top of the Current Topics list, or at the top of the Topics page. The Start a New Topic page will be shown. (If you are not a member of a group you will not be able to create a new topic.)
  3. Create your message.
    • Edit the text of your message in the Message entry.
    • Optionally, add tags to your message by writing them into the Tags entry. (See Tags.)
    • In addition, you may add a file along with your post (see Posting Files using the Web).
  4. Click Start. The topic page will be created, and messages will be sent to all group members who wish to receive email notification of posts.
Starting a New Topic using Email

To create a topic using email, send a message to the email address for the group (such as ) with the message subject set to the name of topic; do not use the name of an existing topic as this will cause the message to be added to the existing topic, rather than creating a new topic. If you are not a member of a group you cannot create a new topic, and you will be sent an error message informing you why you cannot post to the group. However, people who are not Democracies Online users will not receive error messages.

Linking to Messages

Sometimes it is useful to send someone a link to a post. To create a link, view the message you wish to link to (see Reading Messages Using the Web) and click short link, at the top of the message; the post will be shown on a single Web page. You can copy the address of the message from the location bar of your Web browser and paste it into any message you wish to send. If the recipient cannot view the post, because of inadequate permissions, then an error message will be shown when he or she tries and follow the link.

Working with Files

All documents, which are not messages, that are stored on Democracies Online are files. You can view files that others have posted, and post files to groups that you belong to.

Viewing Files on Democracies Online

Files can be viewed using the Web, and linked to using email.

Viewing Files using the Web

To view a file using the Web, either

  • View the topic that contains the file, or
  • Go to the Files area for the group by carrying out the following.
    1. View the group (see Viewing a Group).
    2. Click on Files. The Files Area for the group will be shown.
    3. The ten most recently posted files will be listed. If the file you want is not listed, use the Items to Show, Age of File, Topic, and Tags fields to limit what files are shown.

Using either technique, when you have found the file, click the link to the file and your Web browser will allow you to view the file.

See also Reading Messages Using the Web.

Viewing Files from Email Notifications

If you have configured Democracies Online to send you an email whenever someone posts a message, you will also receive an email when a file is posted. The file is not attached to the email. Instead, you will receive a link to the file and a short description (see Viewing File Information). To view a file from an email, click on the link to the file that is contained in the email message, and your Web browser will allow you to view the file.

Viewing File Information
Name Description
URI The location of the file on Democracies Online. When viewed on the Web this becomes the link, which your browser follows when you click on the filename.
Filename The name of the file that is posted.
Topic The topic to which the file was posted.
User The user name of the person who posted the file.
Size The size of the file.
Type The MIME type of file.
Tags The tags associated with the file by the user who uploaded the file (see Tags).
Date The date the file was posted, in year-month-day format. (See G. Klyne and C. Newman, Date and Time on the Internet: Timestamps, IETF, July 2002.)

Posting Files on Democracies Online

Files can be posted on Democracies Online using the Web or using email.

Posting Files using the Web

To post files using the Web, carry out the following:

  1. Either
  2. Click the Browse button and select a file in the file dialog, instead of (or in addition to) writing a message.
  3. Click the Post button.

The file will be uploaded to Democracies Online and displayed under the relevant topic, and messages will be sent to all group members who wish to receive email notification of posts. Any tags that are set (see Tags) will be associated with the file, as well as the message that is sent.

Posting Files using Email

To post files using email:

  1. Either
  2. Attach one or more files to your email message.
  3. Send your email message.

The file/s will be uploaded to Democracies Online and displayed under the relevant topic. A link to each file will be included at the end of your email along with a short description.

Managing Pages

You can manage some pages on Democracies Online. The pages you can manage will have some of the following tabs at the top.

 

Depending on the privacy settings you can change the page, change the privacy of the page, and work with the history of the page.

Change the Contents of a Page

To change a page, carry out the following tasks.

  1. Navigate to the page that you want to change.
  2. Click Change. The Change page will be shown. (Only people with the correct permissions will see the Change link.)
  3. Change the contents of the page, which is shown in the Content entry. You can also change the Title and Publish fields.
    • The Title is shown in the title-bar of your browser, in the navigation bar at the side of the page, and at the top of the page.
    • Select the Publish to show your new changes to the groups of people listed at the bottom of the Change page (which is the default). Unselect Publish if you want the currently published version of the page to continue to be shown to others; the new version will only be visble to those that can change the page.
  4. Click the Change button. Your change will be saved to a new version of the page.

Change the Privacy of the Page

To change a page, carry out the following tasks.

  1. Navigate to the page you are interested in.
  2. Click Privacy. The Privacy page will be shown.
  3. Select the privacy setting for the field View the page. The three settings are as follows.
    Anyone
    Any person can view the page, including those that have not loged in. The person does not have to be a member any site or group. Any computer service, such as a search engine, can access the page.
    Logged in members
    The page can only be viewed by members of the group, if the page is part of a group, or members of the site. The person must be logged in to view the page, and computer services cannot access the page.
    Administrators
    The page can only be viewed by administrators of the group and site, if the page is part of a group, or administrators of the site. The person must be logged in to view the page, and computer services cannot access the page.
  4. Select the privacy setting for the field Change the page. The two settings are Members and Administrators.
  5. Click the Change button. The privacy for the page will be changed.

The permissions for administering the page cannot be be more lax than for viewing the page.

History

Democracies Online keeps a record of all changes made to a page. You can view a particular version of a page. While only one version is published (shown by default), you can publish a particular version.

View a Version of a Page

You can view any version of a page by carrying out the following tasks.

  1. Navigate to the page you are interested in.
  2. Click History. The Version History page will be shown. (Only people with the correct permissions will see the History link.) Each version lists
    • If the version was published or just created,
    • Who created the version.
    • When the version was created, and
    • How large the version is.
  3. Click View in the entry of the version you want to view. The selected version of the page will be shown.

Publish a Version of a Page

Only one version of a page can be published (shown to people by default). You can publish an older version of the page to correct an error, or publish a draft that has not been widely shown to people. To publish a version carry out the following tasks.

  1. Navigate to the page you want to change.
  2. Click Change. The Change page will show the most recent version.
  3. Select the version you want to publish from the Version History list and click Change. The Change page will show the selected version.
    1. Click View more if the version you want to change to is not shown. The History page will be shown.
    2. Select the version you want to publish from the Version History list and click Change. The Change page will show the selected version.
  4. Click the Publish button. The version of the page will be published.
    • If the version is already published the Publish button will be unavailable.
    • The published version will be visible to the groups of people listed at the bottom of the Change page.