Google Groups is a Massive Information Network

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Google groups screenWith the popularization of online communities, Google Groups has taken the internet by storm. Whether you are searching for information on recreation, business or a support group, Google Groups can connect you with the resources you are looking for to answer your questions and address your concerns.

What is Google Groups?

Google Groups is a concept built by Google to help to put Google users in touch with information and other Google Groups users. By creating a community where users can interact through e-mail and over the web this free Google-based service has proven to be a valuable resource for users worldwide. It’s much like a forum. Whether looking to search for information in current Google Groups or create new Google Groups to bring together friends, family, alumni associations or simply strangers with common interests, the ease of this service is one of its most appealing features.

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The Basics of Google Groups

Google Groups is a free service which offers a variety of features to users including the ability to manage and archive existing mailing lists as well as an archive of Usenet newsgroup postings dating back to 1981. As a free service, Google Groups features only related Google Ads; however, unlike many other mailing management services, there are no inconvenient pop-ups and banners to take away from the professional appearance of mailings. In addition to having a more professional appearance, Google Groups also offers a number of management options that are not made available through other services as well as large amounts of storage space for free accounts.

How You Can Use Google Groups

There are many ways that Google Groups can be implemented, these include:

  • Keeping in touch with friends or coworkers.
  • Creating reunion groups to keep old classmates in touch.
  • Organizing meeting or conferences for groups of employees or contracted workers.
  • Organizing social events with other members of the group such as PTA associations.
  • Bring together individuals with similar interests to share information and current projects.
  • Creating resource groups to learn and teach more about topics of interest.

The Importance of Joining Google Groups

While Google Groups are free to create and join, there are benefits that come with joining groups set up through Google Groups that would not otherwise be available. One example of this is that many groups limit who can read the information posted to the group, making it available only to members. Other groups allow for anyone to read their groups but limit posting within a group to members only. This means that you would not be able to create a new topic within a Google Group or post a reply to a current topic in a Google Group without becoming a member of that group. An additional benefit of becoming a member of a specific group is that it allows for you to access specific groups quickly and easily directly through the “My Groups” area of the Google Groups dashboard.

How Is Google Groups Different to Usenet Newsgroups?

Many people have become so used to using Usenet groups that they are reluctant to give Google Groups a try. There are a number of differences between Usenet Newsgroups and Google Groups however, including:

  • Google Groups does not require a newsreader to read postings like Usenet newsgroups do.
  • Google Groups allows for the search of archived postings utilizing a search that is just like any other online search function.
  • Google Groups can be used to directly post comments to an existing Usenet newsgroup where Usenet newsgroups are not able to do this to Google Groups.
  • Google Groups offer many more management functions that are not available with most Usenet newsgroups. Some of these unique features include: allowing for multiple managers of groups, allowing for the removal of offensive posts, restricting access to the Google Group and banning members that are creating disruption within the group.

Frequently Asked Questions of Google Groups Users

How Do I Move My Mailing List in to Google Groups?

Moving an existing mailing list in to Google Groups is easy and of course, free. Begin by heading over to the Google Groups homepage and clicking the “Create Group” button. This will prompt you to sign in to your Google account is you are not already. After signing in you will be prompted to name your group and fill in any other required information pertaining to your new Google Group. After setting up the group the next step is to enter the email information of those you would like to invite to your Google Group and write an invitation or welcome message to tell them about your group. Send your invitations by clicking the “Invite” button and Google will send e-mail invitations for you! Keep in mind that groups that have large numbers of invited members must be reviewed by Google in order to limit groups that abuse the system.

How Can I Find a Google Group?

The best way to find a Google Group that has what you are looking for is to utilize the search function that can be found at the top of most pages within the Google Groups interface. Not only will using this search function return search results on groups that pertain to your needs, but it will also return specific posts on your designated topic as well. If you prefer only to search for groups you can do so by using the “Explore Groups” section of Google Groups or you can use the Advanced Groups Search page.

How Do I Join a Google Group?

One of the most commonly asked questions in reference to Google Groups is how to join a specific group. Joining a particular group is easy, all you have to do is visit the Google Groups page that you wish to join and on the right side of the page you will notice a link that says “apply for membership.” Clicking that link will take you to a customization of preferences option that allows you to select how you want to read the content posted by group members. Next, you will be asked to enter your nickname so other group members can identify you. Finally you will select the “Apply to this group” link.

It is also possible to join a Google Group via e-mail rather than utilizing the Google Groups interface. To subscribe to a group via e-mail you simply need to send an e-mail to that group. Sending e-mails to groups is easy and requires you to send an e-mail directly to [Groupname]+subscribe@googlegroups.com, replacing the “[Groupname]” with the name of the group that you want to join. For example, if the group that you want to join is called “dog-owners” then you would send your email to dog-owners+subscribe@googlegroups.com.

A note on subscribing to Google Groups: Not all groups allow open membership. In these cases the administrator of a Google Group will need to review your request to join their group prior to allowing or disallowing you to join the group. If you are disallowed membership to a group it could be because the members of a group are already acquainted with one another and do not wish to open their group to strangers.

How Do I Submit a Post to a Group?

There are a numerous methods to submit a post to a Google Group:

  • You can visit the Google Group page that you wish to post to and select the “+ new post” button on the right side of the page. If you wish instead to reply to an existing topic simply scroll to the bottom of the post and click “reply.”
  • You can also submit a new post using e-mail. Use the subject line of your e-mail as the title of your new post and the body area of your e-mail should contain the information you want to post. Once you have composed your e-mail simply mail it to the e-mail address of the entire group.
  • If you are the owner or administrator of a Google Group, you also have the option to utilize the Google Groups web interface to compose a post as the group itself rather than simply as a group member.
  • You can also reply to a post that has already been created in the Google Group by replying directly to an e-mail from the group. When replying to a thread it is crucial that the title field of the e-mail remains the same so that the message is posted to the correct group.

How Can I read a Group Message in a Foreign Language?

On occasion with Google Groups that are global in nature, you may find that a post in your group is posted in a foreign language. If you run across such a post and wish to read it simply locate the menu bar at the top of the message thread. It will identify the language and offer to translate it to English. You will also be able to choose to always translate the given language, which will allow you to translate entire threads.

How Do I Enable JavaScript to Use Google Groups?

Google Groups has a number of features that depend upon JavaScript in order to work but for some people this means enabling JavaScript. Enabling JavaScript in your browser is easy when you know how but the process does differ depending upon the type of browser you use.

Enabling JavaScript in Google Chrome

Locate “customize” in the upper right corner of the browser and select “Settings.” The choice you select will depend upon the platform you utilize i.e.: Windows, Linux or a Mac. Next click the “Show advanced settings” link and under “privacy” select “content settings.” Enable JavaScript here.

Enabling JavaScript in Firefox

From the main menu (located in the upper left) select “Options.” Now click the “Content” tab and check the “Enable JavaScript” checkbox. Select OK to apply these changes.

Enabling JavaScript in Internet Explorer

Select the “Tools” menu and select “Internet Options.” (You may have to first disable “SmartScreen Filter” under the “Saftey” tab.) Next you want to select the tab that says “Security” and click the button that says “Custom Level.” Scrolling down, find the section entitled “Scripting” and enable “Active Scripting.” Click the OK button to apply these changes. In some cases you may receive a confirmation window asking you to confirm the changes that you have made, if this happens, select “Yes.”

Enabling JavaScript in Safari

Select the “Safari” menu and choose “Preferences.” Next click on the “Security” tab and check the “Enable JavaScript” Checkbox.

How Do I Unsubscribe From a Google Group?

Many times you may find that a group that you have joined does not suit your needs or is no longer useful to you. On these occasions you can unsubscribe from a group. There are three methods that can unsubscribe you from a group.

The first way to unsubscribe from a Google group is to send an e-mail directly to [groupname]+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com, replacing the [groupname] with the group you are trying to unsubscribe from.

Another way that you can unsubscribe from a Google group is to go the Google Group homepage that you wish to unsubscribe from. You must be logged in to your Google account to be able to unsubscribe from a group using this option. Once at the group’s page in Google you want to click “edit my membership” and then select the “Unsubscribe” option.

Lastly, you can unsubscribe from a group by replying to an e-mail you have received from the group already. When using this method, simply put the words “REMOVE ME” in the subject of your email message.

How Can I contact the Owner of a Group?

You may find that you need to contact an owner of a Google Group. You may need to ask a specific question or you may want to contact them about a potential problem with the group. Contacting the owner of a Google Group is easy, simply go to the Google Group in question and click on the link in the upper right of the page that says “About.” You will now be taken to a page about the group in question where you will find a link option that says “Send email to the owner.” Click on this and you will be taken to a web form where you can submit your message directly to the owner of the group.

How Can I Change the Frequency of Group E-Mails?

Depending upon your preferences, you may want to change the frequency with which you receive e-mails from a Google Group that you are subscribed to. Changing your e-mail delivery process with Google Groups is easy. On each page within Google Groups there are two “settings” icons at the upper right. When on the group’s page, under “My Settings,” you’ll find “Membership and email settings.” From here there is a drop down menu where you can choose the e-mail delivery option that you prefer for your group.

How to Remove Offensive Posts on Google Groups

Monitoring every post made through Google Groups is next to impossible which is why Google leaves group monitoring to those who run and use the groups. The first method that Google advises if you run across an objectionable post is to try to contact the person who made the post directly. If someone posts objectionable content with a quotation of your post within theirs, you should still contact the author directly and request that they edit or remove their post.

What Does This Banned Content Warning Mean?

On occasion you may find yourself running across a “banned content” warning when looking through Google Groups. You have various options when coming across this type of warning. You can choose not to view “spam” which will take you back to the Google Groups homepage. You can choose to see the content regardless of the “spam” that may or may not be present. Finally you can ask that content be reviewed by Google by suggesting that “this content is not spam.” You should be aware that banned content warnings are in place for a reason, but occasionally the system can be flawed.

Things to consider When Posting on Google Groups

There are numerous things to consider when posting on Google Groups. Many of the rules and regulations set up by Google are designed not only to protect you as a user but to also make the Google Group community a more pleasant place to be.

  • Keep in mind that you are interacting with other human beings and don’t forget to treat them as such. It can be easy to get caught up in the heat of debate, but try to remain objective and professional in your comments.
  • Be careful posting information that can be considered sensitive. This type of information includes: personal addresses, phone numbers, financial information and personal schedules.
  • Write well and be brief in what you say. This reduces that amount of time required for other members to understand what you are saying.
  • Cater the content you are writing to the audience that you are writing to.
  • Understand that sarcasm and humor do not translate well through the written word so try to avoid these mechanisms when typing in Google Groups.
  • Avoid posting the same information in numerous Google Groups as this can create a lot of repetition throughout the community.
  • Don’t rely upon Google Groups to advertise your company or product. Google Groups is not intended as a place to advertise your products or services but rather to educate and provide answers to questions individuals may have on specific topics.

Google Groups Are a Group Way to Communicate with Others and Research Topics

Due to the fact that Google Groups are so expansive with members all across the world, they make one of the best resources for both communicating with experts and researching topics of interest. It should be noted that not all individuals sharing information and viewpoints on Google Groups are certified professionals in specific arenas so while it may be tempting to take everything read as fact, it is recommended that any claims be backed up with factual information.

Amy grew up in England and in the early 1990's moved to North Carolina where she completed a bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. Amy's personal interest in writing was sparked by her love of reading fiction and her creative writing hobby. Amy is currently self employed as a freelance writer and web designer. When she is not working Amy can be found curled up with a good book and her black Labrador, Jet.

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