Category: Help


From CUNY Academic Commons



On the Commons, you can receive a lot of notifications. And all this is good. You want to know when someone accepts your request to become a friend or when someone posts on a blog or when someone edits a wiki page that you are involved with.

Some events trigger notifications at the top right corner of the Commons screen, in the dropdown menu. Clicking on “Notifications” will display friendship and message notifications. Other events trigger email notifications.

But before going any further, you may want to ensure your email notifications are going to the right address.  Sarah Morgano has a good post describing how to change your email address.

The following sections describe how to understand and configure notifications on the Commons.

Email Notifications

Members don’t need to constantly login to the Commons to check for news. Members can receive email notifications about new messages, updates to discussions, and new topics on a group forum. The emails will contain hyperlinks that will take you directly to the related Commons page.

To configure, go to My Commons>>Settings>>Notifications

Below is a screenshot showing the variety of events that you may choose to get notified about. Please note that you may configure how you wish to be notified when group discussions occur by individual group names. Each group you belong to is listed here, and notification control is quite granular.


Group Specific Notifications

Use this section to configure how you wish to be notified of group member activity. Image:NotificationsGroups.JPG

Friendship Notifications

When you make friends with members of the Commons, the following settings determine how you are notified.  Yes = you will get an email notification.


Blog Notifications

Notifications on Blogs include comments, posts, trackbacks, and mentions. The first three events are handled by WordPress, while email notification of a mention (i.e. @username) is handled by the process described above. Also see @Mentions, below.

Here is a screenshot of the Discussion Settings in the WordPress dashboard:


You may also want to check out Spam to better understand this annoyance.

Wiki Notifications

You can watch certain wiki pages and be notified when someone else changes them.For more information about Watch Lists, go to this link.


Mentions on the Commons are similar to Twitter mentions. You may want to mention someone in a blog, group forum or profile post, and it is easily done by adding an ampersand before their Commons Id. For example, my ID is scottvoth and to mention me, type @scottvoth.

My Commons

From CUNY Academic Commons


My Commons is accessible from the dropdown bar at the very top of the page, or by clicking on your hyperlinked name in “Who’s Online.”  My Commons offers quick access to what you’ve been up to on the Commons.


The Activity Option lets you view activity in five separate tabs: (1) “Personal” – your own activity; (2) “Mentions” –  anytime someone included your @handle on the site; (3) “Favorites” – anything that you have favorited on the site; (4) “Friends” – see what your friends are up to; and (5) “Groups” – check out what’s doing in the groups you belong to. 

Once you choose one of the above five tabs, you can use filters to further pinpoint what you are looking for by clicking on the “Show” dropdown.  You can choose everything, updates, posts, comments, friendships, forum topics, forum responses, new groups, group memberships, new docs, doc edits, and doc comments. 

“Activity” is a terrific way to find out what’s going on on the Commons.  Each result item has a convenient hyperlink that will take you to its full-text page.  You can go to other members’ activity pages as well, and check out what they are up to on the Commons.


The Profile Tab lets others see your interests, background and social networking links. It can be as expansive or narrow as you want. For more information, see Managing Your Profile and Getting Started.


Every blog that you can contribute to is listed here.  These include your personal blogs and blogs which are attached to groups which grant you to be a contributor.  Click on the hyperlink to view the blog described.  


This is were you can send direct messages to members of the Commons, and read the messages which have been sent to you.


This tab lists all the friends you have made on the Commons. You may view the status of your friendship requests, as well as cancel friendships. Clicking your friends hyperlinked names takes you to their profile page, where you can view their activity, blogs, friends and group affiliations.


The Group Tab lists all the groups to which you belong.From here you may click on a group to go its main page, leave a group, and view membership details.  

Send Invites


WordPress Tutorials and Useful Links

From CUNY Academic Commons

  • WPCandy tutorials – WPCandy has many useful tutorials that provide tips on configuring your blog.
  • FLOSS – general how-to manual for WordPress (in TWIKI format)
  • – Here you will find complete documentation for WordPress, including available plug-ins and themes and free downloads. As an open source project, WordPress depends on its community to develop plug-ins and themes, and to document each of these by using its Codex, a collection of blog pages which serve up wiki pages that members of the community can collaborate on.
  • WordPress TV Screencast how-tos created by WordPress developers
  • WordCamp NYC 2010 – The folks at WordPress organize “camps” at major cities throughout the year, and they are very interesting to attend. Cheap and highly recommended, if you are interested in WP.

Navigating the Commons

From CUNY Academic Commons



This page provides useful tips for navigating the Commons.

Navigation Tabs on the Commons


The Commons Home tab is where you land when you first login to the Commons. This “splash” page provides a quick look at what’s going on: you can see which members are logged on, you can see a selection of Blogs and Groups, and you can see some of the most recently published blog posts.

Remember that you can click on “Newest”, “Active” and “Popular” hyperlinks to resort the columns, and the “More” hyperlink to get additional information.

And of course each person, blog, group and post is clickable. You’ll probably see your name first in the list of those logged on – click on your hyperlink and view and if you want, change your Commons Profile.


The Commons has over 3000 members, and is growing strong. On this tab you can search for people you know, or people with common interests. You may request to become friends on Commons here by simply clicking the “Add Friend” button. Your new friend will be notified and will need to confirm to finalize the friendship.


By clicking the Groups tab, you can see all the groups which have been formed on the Commons. You may do a keyword search to find specific groups. A sub-tab splits groups into “All Groups” and “My Groups” (i.e. groups to which you are a member). On this screen you may join and leave groups, and Create your own group. For more information on groups, see Groups on the Commons.


The Blogs tab gives you access to view all the blogs that have been created on the Commons (depending upon their privacy settings). A keyword search is available here again, and you may view blogs by clicking them, or their most recent posts. You may use this screen to create a new blog. For more information, see Blogs on the Commons.


Clicking the Wiki tab will take you to the Commons Wiki where you can create, edit and browse Commons wiki pages. Be sure to browse the tag cloud on the right sidebar for topics of interest, or just use the search function. For more information, be sure to check out The Commons Wiki


Each group has a forum attached to it where members discuss issues pertinent to the group. By clicking this tab, you can see what topics are being discussed in public groups. Even though you cannot start a topic in a forum of a group you do not belong to, you may comment on a topic. Again, keyword searching is available, as well as filtering by “Last Active,” “Most Posts” and “Unreplied.”


Want to know what going on right now at the Commons? Click on the “News” tab to access recent activity. Sarah Morgano has a good post called Highlighting the News at Commons Connect that shows how you can drill down into the Commons Activity feed to find exactly what you are looking for. Sarah also demonstrates how to save activities which you want to review at a later date by clicking on the “Favorites” button:


About provides information about the Commons. This includes our Mission Statement, Site Administration, Project Staff, and Contact Information.


The Help tab provides useful links to the Commons help sources. These include Help & Support, FAQ, the Commons Codex, Take the Tour, 10 Things To Do (when you join the Commons), Bug Tracking and Outreach.

Drop Down Navigation Bar

At the very top of the page, you can access all of these tabs as well as personalized dropdowns for your friends, groups, blogs and settings. Take a moment to familarize yourself with this shortcut option. Also be sure to see the “Notifications” tab. Roll over this to see if you are being notified of anything (friendship requests, messages, forum posts, etc.)

Managing Your Commons Profile

From CUNY Academic Commons

Your Commons profile describes who you are.


Required Fields

When you first registered with the Commons, you were required to provide only four pieces of information – your username, password, College affiliation (you can check off one or more college), role, and CUNY email address.

Username is the only field you will not be able to edit after successfully registering.

New members might want to go over to How to Update your Display Name and Email first, to configure their profile pages, and to Notifications to make sure email notifications are set up to their liking.

Optional Fields

There are many other optional fields which you may or may not have had time to provide. Adding information in Academic interests in particular helps members search for compatriots. Please note that you can use this field in a free-form manner to more completely describe yourself. Phrases are delimited by commas and are automatically turned into keyword search hyperlinks.  To find members with like interests, simply click on the hyperlink, and add friends.

Option information about yourself may help develop connections. These include:

  • Title
  • Phone
  • Website Address – have a department blog or website or personal website you want to promote?
  • Blog Address – you might have a lot of blogs – list each one, if you want

Social Networking (all these are of course optional)

  • Twitter ID
  • IM
  • Linked-in ID
  • Flickr ID
  • youTube ID
  • FaceBook Profile Link
  • Delicious ID
  • Skype ID
  • FriendFeed ID

Profile Field Visibility

The optional items on your profile page can be configured to be selectively displayed. You can choose to display them to (1) Everyone (the default); (2) to Logged-in Members of the Commons; or (3) to just to Commons members you have choosen as “Friends.” 

So, for example, if you just want your phone number information available to logged-in members of the Commons, you could click the following radio button, located next to the profile field. Image:Phone.JPG

Related pages

Sarah Morgano has a great post describing profile changes.  It describes the process of changing such important information such as display name and email address.  She also describes how to configure the way you receive notifications from the Commons. 

Adding Users to a Blog

From CUNY Academic Commons

A blog can be configured to have one or many contributors, and WordPress allows granularity in the permissions users are assigned. Listed below are roles and their permissions:

  • Administrator – has access to all the administrative duties
  • Editor – can publish posts, manage posts as well as manage other people’s posts
  • Author – can publish and manage their own posts
  • Contributor – can write and manage their posts but not publish post
  • Subscriber – can read comments, and receive comment and news letters

To add a user to an existing blog, follow these five steps…

1. Log into the Dashboard of your blog.

2. Navigate to the Users tab located in the left navigation bar of your Dashboard and select ‘Add New’. (The Users tab is located between the Plugins and Tools tabs).

3. Enter the member’s member’s email address, username, or display name(this information can be found on their profile page).

  • Please note- Only Commons members can be added to a blog.

4. Set the role of the new user to: Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor or Subscriber.

5. That person will be sent an email asking them to click a link confirming the invite.

New users will not need a new username or password to log into the blog — once they log into the Commons they will have access to the blog under ‘My Blogs’ on the top navigation bar.

Group Privacy

From CUNY Academic Commons

There are three types of groups on the Commons, and each has differing levels of privacy.


Public Groups

Public groups are open to all members of the Commons, and viewable by everyone on the internet. Members of the Commons can request to join groups and automatically are added. Group members can be notified whenever new forum posts are published.

Non-group members who are members of the Commons may also post on group forums.

Private Groups

Non-members cannot view Private groups forums. Commons members may request membership, but group admins must grant access.

Hidden Groups

Hidden groups are invisible to non-members. These are open by invitation only. Once membership is granted, the group will become invisible.

Related Pages

Privacy on the Commons

From CUNY Academic Commons

The CUNY Academic Commons can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection, but some content is purposefully hidden from sight. The sections below show how members and groups can control privacy by using the granular adjustments available on the site.

For more general information about privacy, please also consult the CUNY Academic Commons Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Privacy and Your Commons Profile/Public Portfolio

Much of the profile information you enter can be filtered out when viewed by people you don’t know. Use the radio buttons pictured on the right to control who should be able to see personal information. For more information about this and about setting up your Commons Profile, see
Managing your Commons Profile/Portfolio

Privacy Settings for Groups

There are three types of groups on the Commons, and each has differing levels of privacy.

  • Public Groups

Public groups are open to all members of the Commons, and their content can be viewed by everyone on the internet. Members of the Commons can request to join groups and are automatically added. Group members can be notified whenever new forum posts are published. 

Non-group members who are members of the Commons may may comment on group forums, but they cannot start new topics.

  • Private Groups

Non-members cannot view Private groups forums. Commons members may request membership, but group admins must grant access. All content is private.

  • Hidden Groups

Hidden groups are invisible to non-members. These are open by invitation only. Once membership is granted, the group will become visible on the new member’s profile page.  All content is private.

For further information, see How to Create, Join, and Maintain Groups and How Groups Can Use the Commons.

Silent Uploads

By default, when members upload files to a group, each member of the group is notified.  If a small change is made to the file, and then re-uploaded, again each member of the group gets a notification.  A recent change in Commons 1.5 allows for “Silent Uploads.”  Just mark the checkbox labeled “Silent Upload” and you will not clog up your colleagues’ mailbox unnecessarily. For more information, see Working with Group Files on the Commons Codex.

Privacy and Blogs

Blogs on the Commons are by default visible to everyone on the Web who knows the blog’s URL, or who can navigate to it from within the Commons, or find it through Web searches. Search engines index the Commons as they do other Web sites, but there are settings available on the WordPress dashboard which can be used to control who can read your blogs.

WordPress privacy settings are quite powerful, and can be used to filter viewers from everyone to registered and logged in Common members, to registered blog readers, or even to blog administrators.

You can also password protect certain blog posts and pages so that they are only viewable to a subset of your readers.

There are several useful posts in the Commons Codex that describe how to manage your WordPress blog’s visibility. In How to: Adjust your Blog’s Privacy Settings Sarah Morgano describes how to set levels of privacy.

If you want to keep some pages or posts viewable to a select few, you might want to use WordPress’ built in password protection feature.  Check out Password Protecting Individual WordPress Pages and Posts on the Commons Codex for more information.

Group Blogs

When you create a group on the Commons, you can optionally create a Group Blog.  The privacy settings are similar to individual blogs.  So even if you have a private or hidden group, you can  create a public blog if you want.  For more information, see Groups and Group Blogs.

The Commons Wiki and Privacy

Wikis are by their very nature open, public, and democratic. A wiki page grows as contributors collaborate and nurture its content. Users should not be scared off by this aspect of wikis, and should be aware that all versions of a wiki page are automatically saved, and it is quite easy to reverse unwanted changes.

That said, there are really no privacy settings for the Commons Wiki.  You can receive a notification email each time someone edits a page your interested in, but that’s about it.  If you are looking for a private wiki, consider Docs, described below.

BuddyPress Docs – A Private Wiki for Groups

If you are hesitant about the putting up content on the Commons Wiki, there is another option.  Group members can collaborate on content privately by using Docs, a wiki-like document handling interface with granular permissions settings. Click here for more information on BuddyPress Docs.

Only members of your group (or a designated subset of your group) will be able to edit documents.  If you want your documents invisible to the public, consider making your Commons group either private or hidden. If your group is public, your docs will be visible to everyone, even though you control who may edit them, comment on them, or read comments.

Email Notifications – Finding the Right Settings

The notification system on the Commons can be configured just the way you want.  If you find that you are getting notification emails for things you don’t care about, be sure visit My Commons>>Settings>> Notifications.  You can adjust the settings for each of your groups individually.  For more information, see Receiving Notifications.

Wiki Privacy

From CUNY Academic Commons

Wiki Basics

Wikis are by their very nature open, public, and democratic. A wiki page grows as contributors collaborate and nurture its content. Users should not be scared off by this aspect of wikis, and should be aware that all versions of a wiki page are automatically saved, and it is quite easy to reverse unwanted changes.

Private Wikis on the Commons…

Still hesitant about the putting up your content on the public wiki?  Need to collaborate on confidential content? The Commons also has BuddyPress Docs, which a wiki-like document handling interface with granular permissions settings. Click here for more information on BuddyPress Docs.

Related Pages

How Groups use the Commons

From CUNY Academic Commons

The following is based on Maura Smale’s post, originally published in Help and Support.


Groups on the Commons

The Academic Commons is a great place for CUNY groups, so we thought we’d pull together a list of some of the ways that groups can use this space to collaborate. Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything. And please feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments, too.

Type of Groups

Any member of the Academic Commons can create a group (here’s how). If you’d like to create a group, there are three types to choose from:

Public Groups

With a public group everything the group creates is visible on the Commons: the group page, member list, annoucements, and forum posts. No permission is required to join a public group. Public groups can also enable group blogs and set different roles for members.

Private Groups

In a private group certain elements of the group are not visible to those who are not members. Only members can see the member list, announcements, and forum posts. The group does appear in the list on the Commons Groups page, but non-members can only view a simplified version of the group page. You must request membership to join a private group.

Hidden Groups

A hidden group is invisible on the Commons to everyone except for group members. The group page, member list, wire, and forum posts are all hidden from the public.

Once you’ve created your group, here are some ways your group can use the Commons:

Communicating between group members

To communicate to all members of a group, administrators and moderators can post group announcements and check the box beneath the text field to email the update to all members. Members can reply to group updates. In a public group, the activity on the group’s page will also be visible to anyone; in a private or hidden group, group activity will only be visible to group members. *Please note- If a group changes from private to public, prior annoucements will no longer be accessible to group members.

The forum enables all members of a group to start and engage in conversations on any given subject. Members can attach files and subscribe to specific topics.

Groups may also wish to create a blog and use blog posts and comments for group communication. By default Commons blogs are visible to all, though you can adjust the blog’s privacy settings. Individual posts may also be so that only those who know the password can view them.

Host a blog or website to share information about the group’s work

All Commons members can create a blog on the site, and any group member can be added to the blog as a content contributor. The Commons runs on the WordPress blogging system which is easy to update and customize. Groups and members can also create static pages on their WordPress blog, just as on a standard website.

Posting meeting minutes and other documents

Groups may wish to use their Commons space to archive meeting minutes or other pertinent documents. One way to accomplish this is to use the group’s forum. Minutes can be uploaded as a forum post or attached as a file. Commons forums accept most common file types as attachments, for example, Word docs or PDFs.

To learn how to add documents to blog posts, click here.

 Collaborative editing

Group members may wish to collaborate on documents, resources, etc., and the Academic Commons wiki is a great space for that kind of collaboration. Groups can create as many pages on the wiki as they’d like.

All wiki pages are currently visible to all Commons visitors. If you’ve created a wiki page and would like to have it linked from the main wiki page, please let us know.

With the Commons 1.2 release, group admins can now enable “docs,” a powerful new tool that allows groups to collaboratively write and edit documents. Docs is a simple way for groups to work together on creating documents and store them within the group. The collaborative documents can be tagged, commented on, and and searched through by keywords. To learn more about this new feature, please click here.

The Academic Commons is designed to be flexible, so you can tailor your use of Groups to meet your members’ unique needs. If you come up with creative uses that we didn’t mention here, please let us know.