Announcing: Improvements to OAC Groups - launching new Group index

As part of the admin team's ongoing plans to enhance member experiences in the OAC at the start of what promises to be another productive year, we plan to address some lingering content management issues. In response to feedback about how Ning Groups are displayed on the OAC, the admin team have arrived at a solution to improve the visibility of group discussions, comments and replies. This post is to announce the launch of a new Group page which consolidates all group activity into an easy-to-navigate index.

Ning’s default structure presents some barriers to engaging with Group content alongside the more visible site components like Discussion Forums and Blogs, which are conveniently displayed on the front page. Conversely, the Groups and their discussions are relatively hidden away. In order to find a new group to join, members currently have to browse through 140 groups across 7 pages. Notifications of new group activity are, by default, only sent via email to members who request it, meaning that if you are not a member of a certain group, you may be missing out on interesting discussions and debates at the group level across the entire site. The conversations happening in groups are interesting, diverse and an integral aspect the OAC. Let’s not hide them away!

The new group index for all group activity can be found at:
(a link is also available under the Groups tab at the top of this page).

It works by collecting feeds from the many groups of the OAC and displaying them in the following, more useful, ways:

1. It shows all the latest discussions, comments and replies in all groups with the most recent at the top, making it much easier to keep up with where discussions are happening.

2. Toggling to the alternative view presents a modular map of latest discussions in each group sorted alphabetically (each group has its own block). This provides a quick glance across all 140 groups at once, so that you can scroll through the latest group discussions at your leisure without having to navigate through the cumbersome Ning pages to visit groups one at a time.

The following screenshot shows how to toggle between views:

In summary, on the main page, you will find a recent group activity feed which is updated in real time when comments, replies and discussions are added on groups throughout the site (and when new groups are added to the OAC). Clicking on the second "view" icon at the top will take you to all existing discussions across each group in a convenient, easily digestible, block-style layout that you can peruse at a glance. Follow the links from the discussion titles to be redirected to the group discussion where you can then leave replies or comments.

Links to the discussions will always redirect you to the appropriate group page on Ning. Collected is simply a new index. However, the traditional groups pages provided by Ning (organized by most active, most recently created, etc.) are still available to all members also via the Groups tab on the toolbar on the top of this page.

You may also notice that groups with titles written in other scripts tend to gather at the bottom of the list. Group owners can modify their group names to begin with a translated version (standard Roman alphabet) to improve organization. If your group is not appearing in the list, it is because you have set it to "private" and the RSS feed is disabled. To rectify this, follow these instructions.

Members have spent a lot of time designing their groups, moderating discussions and leaving comments. It is hoped that the new group index will provide an easier - and much needed - way for us to browse group content and share in the latest activity happening across the OAC.

As always, feedback is welcome.

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