Creating A BirdFellow Group: A Tutorial

One of the cornerstone features of the BirdFellow.com website is "My Groups." Thus far, many folks have created accounts, but some seem to get stuck when pondering, "what do I do now?"  Since BirdFellow is designed as a social site, we suspect that many of you have come to this site hoping to connect and network with other birders who live in your area. "My Groups" is a great way to get started. Since we are new, just a few groups have been created. The upside is that you can take the lead in shaping your local BirdFellow community. We offer this tutorial showing how to create a group and, once formed, how to recruit members.

Creating a Group Step by Step:

1. Start by logging in to your account, then click on "My Groups" in the drop-down menu. You should see the page below. Since a group may already exist for your area of interest (i.e. Lane County Birders), you may want to first conduct a search (using the box at the top of the page) before creating a new group. If you don' find a pre-existing group, creating one is easy.  Click on "Create a Group" along the left hand margin (see second image).

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2. Once the "Create a Group" dialogue box is open (see below), you will want to fill all the boxes.

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3. Naming your group -- By clicking on the little red question mark, you'll find some helpful suggestions. The most important element of naming your group is coming up with a name that folks are likely to search. If you want to form a group for people who bird Cape May N.J., then a name like "Cape May Birders" makes sense. If your group has a more specific focus (i.e. folks who hang out at the Cape May hawkwatch platform), then something like "Cape May Hawkwatchers" might make more sense. In most cases, you will probably want to have a geographical reference in your name. If your group has a colloquial name that desired members use to identify themselves, that may be used in the name.

4. Group Access -- Determining whether you want to make the group visible to everyone or just those in your network depends on how many members you hope to attract. Remember, just because lots of folks have joined your group doesn't mean that they will all show up the next time you organize a field trip. Click on the little red question mark for further guidance.

5. City, State, Zip Code -- Filling the city and state are important as they will help others find your group. If the group is centered around a smaller town or suburban area with one zip code (i.e Cape May Point, N.J.) potential members will be able to find you by entering that zip code. In larger cities with multiple zip codes (like Portland, Oregon where I live) you might want to use the original zip code for the town (usually the lowest number in the series). For example, in Portland that is "97201." Unfortunately, we have yet to code an auto-complete function for this search box, so unless you enter the exact zip code or group name, it will not pop up. 

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6. Group Description -- Offer a brief overview of the geographical area your group is associated with and the experience folks can expect by joining. Remember, this doesn't have to be perfect from the start. As the group owner/manager you can edit the the group profile anytime. All you have to do is click on "Group Profile"  in the left column of the group page and then on "manage group information" in the top right corner.  Every part of your group profile (including the name) can then be edited.

7. Add Group Managers -- As the creator of the group, you will automatically be assigned as the group "manager." If you have birding friends who can help you manage group event notifications or other group functions, you might want to add them as a group manager.

Once you've filled in all these boxes, simply click on the "Create Group" button on the bottom of the page. You did it!  Your group has been created. Below is an example of what your group page will look like when you are done. It will show a summary of the recent activities of members. If you've already posted lists, shared photos, or made connections with other members, a summary of those activities will appear immediately as soon as you are done creating the group.

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Once a group is created, you can extend invites to other birding friends. If they aren't already part of the BirdFellow community, this is a great opportunity to invite them to join. If they are, send them a message and tell them about the group you've created and invite them to join. Any message you send via the BirdFellow messaging system will generate an e-mail notification to existing BirdFellow members.

If you are having problems navigating through the group creation/management process, you are likely not alone. We encourage you to use the comments section of this article to share questions and get tips from the BirdFellow team and other users. Together, we will work through issues and your feedback will help future users. We will monitor the comments and use this as a discussion board for those who want assistance with the group-related aspects of the interface. We recognize that we have  not designed a perfect interface, but with your feedback we can make improvements towards that end.

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