Week Two: Online Communities

Welcome to Week Two! We hope all of you enjoyed creating your blogs as much as we have reading them.

If you still haven’t completed the first lesson and set up your blog yet, you’re not too late! Follow the lesson from week 1, set up your blog, register the website address of it, and you’re still going to be fine. We’re all busy, and the great part about 23 Things Kansas is that the “deadlines” are very loose. Don’t forget to check out the blog listing to discover more people’s blogs to read and comment on.

This week you will be led by two mentors, Janelle Mercer and Heather Braum. Janelle is the Assistant Technology Consultant/Trainer at SWKLS and Heather is the Technology Librarian at NEKLS. If you get stuck please leave a comment at the end of this post by pressing the “comment” link at the top of this post.  Please don’t be shy! One of us, another participant, or a mentor will come to your aid as soon as we can.


This week we will focus on Online Communities which have revolutionized how people communicate with one another. Instead of calling all of your friends one-by-one to share some news (remember Telephone Hour in Bye Bye Birdie?) or emailing colleagues one-by-one or on a listserv to ask for help, you can now post a status update and update or ask all of your friends at once. You can share all kinds of information, including links, polls, quizzes, farms, pictures, and videos. There are lots of different Online Communities out there, including Facebook, WebJunction, LinkedIn, Ning, and Classroom 2.0.

The folks at Common Craft have provided a great introduction video to Online Communities and Social Networking, displayed below. It is hosted on YouTube; if you have problems accessing it, please view it directly at the Common Craft Social Networking page.

Helpful Terminology

Facebook Terms List

  • Friending/Connecting/Adding: finding people you want to connect with on your network. You ask to be someone’s friend and that person chooses to accept the request or not.
  • Status Updates: Where you describe what you’re doing, thinking, reading, feeling, or anything else you want to share with your network.
  • Applications: These are from websites outside online communities and add richer experiences to online communities.
  • Networks: different groups you join (towns, interests, schools, employers)
  • Pages: On Facebook, businesses and organizations create a profile & share events and information.
  • News Feed: A listing of your friends information, displayed in a running list. As people update their statuses, play a new game, share new pictures or videos you’ll see that information displayed in your news feed. The information comes to you. You don’t have to go to it.
  • Privacy Settings: The settings and preferences that you configure to determine how much information gets shared with others.
  • Chat/Messages/Comments: The power of online communities comes in the interaction your friends can have with you and your other friends through chatting, messages (like e-mail), and commenting.
  • Wall: The Wall is the center of your profile for adding new things, like photos, videos, notes and other application content. The Publisher at the top of your Wall allows you to update your status and share content through many different kinds of Wall posts. You can also add content to your friends’ Walls by using the Publisher box that appears at the top of their profiles.

Online communities are not without their risks and problems. Privacy is a very real concern to many people as they decide whether or not to join an online community. Facebook, especially, has been in the news lately because of changes in their privacy settings. One of the steps in this week’s lesson is to check out your privacy settings and become aware of what they mean.

Sharing – Productivity – Community

Online Communities help you connect and share with the people in your life, whether they are family, coworkers, or colleagues. Online communities are generally open to everyone and are used for both personal and professional networking. Retired from your library or move away? Through online communities, you can continue to be connected to your colleagues. Also, conference or workshop connections are no longer renewed once or twice a year; locate your conference friends on Facebook and stay in touch throughout the year, even if you’re on opposite sides of the state, the country, or the world.

Online communities also can increase productivity, as people share information, links, and resources. Information is quickly disseminated to you as people connect their online community accounts to their blogs, social bookmarking accounts, and RSS feeds. No longer do you have to search for useful resources. It comes directly to you. You can also ask questions of your online community, and people will respond back with helpful answers. You no longer are an island of one.

As Facebook is one of the largest online communities, we’ll be focusing most of this lesson on Facebook. If you are new to Online Communities, Facebook as a great place to start since it’s so popular and customizable.

Janelle and Heather have provided quick posts about how we each use Facebook. You are welcome to read them if you’d like more ideas/reasons for why we use Facebook. For a little bit more “visual” information on why Facebook, the great folks at Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library have developed a video on Why do Librarians Use Facebook? Thanks David Lee King! Check it out below (it is only hosted on YouTube; let us know in the comments if you can’t view it, and we’ll get creative to help you see it).

Online Communities Choices

What kinds of online community choices are available? Don’t worry, like we have said, you don’t have to belong to all of the Online Communities listed below. It’s all about what is comfortable for you and what you can get out of the communities. Here’s the list of different online communities we recommend you at least be aware of:


  1. Sign up for your Online Community of choice or just use one you already have joined. For those of you new to Online Communities, we again recommend you try Facebook. Here’s a helpful step-by-step guide to setting up your Facebook account the first time. There are more beginning Facebook guides, including instructions for where to update your settings and a brief overview of Friends and Groups. Complete your profile by adding a picture and filling in your profile information. Update February 4: The Facebook Homepage has been redesigned. Here’s an image that is a helpful guide to the changes. Click on the image again to increase the size after bringing it up.
  2. Review the privacy settings on your chosen Online Community and make sure the settings meet what you prefer. Check out this guide to privacy on Facebook.
  3. Find at least two other participants from the 23ThingsKansas community to connect to on your social network who you have not already “friended” on an Online Community. If you don’t know anyone yet, try finding people’s names that are on the Blog Listing.
  4. Explore your online community: write on friends’ walls, share links, update your status, etc.
  5. Write a new blog post on your blog reflecting on what you have learned this week, answering these questions:

    • What Online Community did you choose? What do you like most about it?
    • How have you used this Community? How do you see yourself using it in the future?
    • Can you see your library using this Online Community? How?
    • Add a link to your blog to your Online Community profile so others can find you.

Bonus Activities (not required)

  • Explore Mashable’s Facebook Guide to find out more about Facebook.
  • Find a Kansas library (public, school, academic, special) page on Facebook and become a fan. This is a great way to see how libraries are using Facebook to help promote their library.
  • Become a fan of 23ThingsKansas on Facebook and/or join the 23ThingsKansas Ning.
  • Join a Group on Facebook. Kansas Library Association is one group you should be able to find. See this resource for the difference between a Group and a Page.

Additional Resources

39 thoughts on “Week Two: Online Communities

  1. You have soooo very much information in this lesson (way too much)!!! I got to the end and was going to post on my blog about my FB page….but I have no idea what I enter for the link to my FB page.

    Also FYI, the links in this lesson are great but one cannot see the pictures on the pages as they are too small and dim. I am referring specifically to the FB information. I did not have trouble looking at the Classroom 2.0 or WebJunction pages.

  2. Mary,

    Thank you so much for your feedback. We struggled with the amount of this information quite a bit. Believe it or not, we had quite a bit more information and cut some of it out. Scary, isn’t it? We wanted to reach out to all of the participants. I will work on getting some clearer screenshots with directions up on the site.

    You can also create a username on Facebook which will make the link much easier. For example my username on Facebook is j.nellie. So my url is: http://www.facebook.com/j.nellie . Below is a link to a video that helps the username process and talks about adding the link to your profile. http://www.screencast.com/users/Create-A-Book/folders/Default/media/1b498bd2-cdaf-406e-b83d-f6db83b5c07d

    If you don’t want to watch the video here are some instructions for linking to your facebook profile.
    1. Log in to Facebook.
    2. Set up a username for your Facebook profile (if you are interested. Not required).
    2. Go to your profile by clicking on the “Profile” link.
    3. Scroll down and you should see a link on the left hand side for “Create a profile badge”. Click on that.
    4. If you are using Blogger or Typepad click on the correct icon. If you are using another blog platform click Other. I saw you are using Blogspot so you will want to click on Other. Blogspot uses the Blogger platform, so if you are using Blogspot you will want to click on Blogger.
    5. A box will appear below with some code. You can copy and paste that code and put it in your blog or just copy the link to the your facebook profile and use that. Your link should look something like this: http://www.facebook.com/people/Ladybug-Mercer/100000624147317 (without a username) or http://facebook.com/j.nellie (with a username)

    I hope this helps some. I am so sorry for the information overload and your frustration. The last thing we want is for participants to be frustrated. If you are still frustrated please comment here again or email Heather or me. My email address is (jjarboe at swkls.org).

  3. I have set up my Facebook page, but how do I get rid of the bar at the bottom tellin gme where I am and what I can do? Nancy

  4. Leave it to Heather to find a way to include a reference to a musical (Bye Bye Birdie) in a post about social networking :-)

    Instead of creating a text link to my Facebook profile, I created a badge. “Create a profile badge” was an option I saw in the lower left corner when looking at my Facebook profile page. Clicking that link gave me code to copy and paste into my blog post.

    Thanks for including so many great resources with this lesson!

  5. Janelle, last week when I put a link on my fb page to my blog page it showed up in my news feeds & wall but not in the lower left corner of my profile page under “links”. I don’t seem to have a spot that says “links” under my “photo’s” & can’t seem to add it, what am I doing wrong?

  6. @Nancy – Do you remember if you added the link as a status update or as a link? If you add a link as a status update it will show up on your wall, but not in your links. To post it as an actual link, make sure you click the link button and then enter your link.

    You can also enter a link by going clicking on links on the left hand side and clicking on Post a Link. If you think you entered it as a link instead of your status let me know. This information from the Facebook help page might help, too. http://www.facebook.com/help/#/help/?page=416

  7. Janelle, I added it straight from my blog page, just one click & it was there. When I go to my “links” page from the Url you listed above it’s there but it’s just not showing up under my photo box on my profile page like it does on everybody elses. When I went to edit applications there is an option to put it in a box or tab which puts it at the top of my page if you click on it (not where it want it) I want it down below under photo’s so it can easily be seen without clicking to find it.

  8. Janelle I just added another one & it’s still not there, it just looks to me like I have “removed” the Link box and I don’t know how to reinstall it.

  9. @nancy – I just saw that. I think I may have figured it out. (maybe, hopefully…)

    Try this:
    1. Go to Facebook.
    2. Click on Applications at the bottom left hand corner of the screen.
    3. Click on Edit Applications. This will open a page that displays the Applications.
    4. Next to Links click on Edit Settings.
    5. Under the Profile Tab look for Box:, It looks like you can toggle it off and on from there. You also might want to check your other settings while you are in there.

    @Lee. Thank you for the suggestion. I will talk with Heather and we will see if that’s something we want to change or not.

  10. Wow! What a day, and what an adventure! Thanks for all the help! And it really works! It just makes you work for that facebook page!!!!!!!!! Good luck!

  11. I have a comment about Social Networking sites regarding professional relationships and wondered what others thought.
    I have been a Facebook user for quite a while and use it to communicate with my family and friends from college and high school. I have always avoided opening my page to my professional colleagues. (I only have 3 Library friends on my page, one of which lives out of state and the other two are friends outside of the Library world.) Although my status updates don’t contain more than what movie I went to see or what music I am listening to, I have always avoided friending fellow staff or community members who know me as Miss Patty the Storylady.
    What are your thoughts????

  12. @Patty Collins –

    I use LinkedIn for my professional contacts and Facebook for my personal friends. Sometimes I have the same person both places, but that’s because colleagues sometimes become friends. I have no hesitation in ignoring requests to friend someone I don’t personally know on Facebook just because we share a friend. I think a lot of people view it as a status symbol : “see how many friends I have!” rather than a way to genuinely connect with the people they care about.

    I struggled with that for this assignment, and have decided to continue separating the two. I’m still constructing both my Facebook and my LinkedIn profiles, but will see who I can find on LinkedIn to add to my network.

    Hope this helps ~

  13. Lynne – what a great way to keep them seperate. I also know of a few people who have two Facebook accounts. They use one for personal use and one for professional use. I personally, have enough trouble keeping up with one account! I also know a few of my friends use the Facebook Friend Lists to seperate their friends, family, and colleagues. http://www.facebook.com/help/?ref=pf#/help.php?page=768 They then use these lists to help control privacy and control who can see what.

    Personally my library friends and other friends have somewhat started to merge. I probably now have more library friends than I do other friends.

    I am interested to see how others manage their Online Communities.

  14. Is “creating avatars” on the schedule at some point? I kept hoping we would go over it last week as part of the Blogging section but I didn’t notice any references to avatars.

    If we’re not covering it here, can someone please point me to good tutorials? I’m especially interested in where to find non-human avatars (I saw a really cute one the other day with a sheep, knitting, that sparked my interest).

    I did check out Minnesota’s 23 Things on a Stick last week and went to http://avatars.yahoo.com/ as they recommend, but they only have human representations.


  15. Oops. @Patty Collins – I am an extrovert and that extends to my online life and FaceBook. I have not found this to be problematic. In fact, I think that getting to know about my library friends and colleagues through social networking builds stronger work relationships.

  16. Update: For those of you following along. I made a mistake referring to blogger and blogspot on some directions I posted in comment 3. I will correct my mistakes in the comment above. Thank you very much to Mary Knapp for noticing my mistake! :)

  17. Lynne,

    I am doing some research to see what I can find. As far as I know we are not going to be covering avatars. :( That would have been really fun!! Wouldn’t you love to see what avatars everyone would create?

    For those of you who may not know what an avatar is, (other than a popular movie)this link might help. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar_(computing)

    This article from WebJunction might help, too. http://oh.webjunction.org/technology/web-tools/articles/content/2844338

    @Lynne – I have been looking around for some good tutorials. I have found a few, but want to find some better ones. I will let you know what I find. Anyone else out there have some recommendations? Or suggestions?

  18. I’m really glad to hear that I’m not the only one hesitant to add my coworkers on Facebook. I’m opening a LinkedIn account for that purpose. :)

  19. I tried to set up a Ning account yesterday so I could join some Ning groups. Can you join several groups from that one account? I joined 23thingskansas ning but couldn’t find any other groups from it. Then I tried to join Teacher Librarian ning. Are they all separate? I can’t seem to find out how to find the groups from the original ning account. Help!

  20. Another Ning question – how can I search for 23 Things and other specific groups I’d like to join? I tried selecting the “Education” category and got stuck. So far I’ve set up a profile but don’t belong to any groups. Thanks!

  21. I want to sign on as a follower to some of the blogs but there is not a button or link to do that. How do I set that up on my page and how do I find it on someone else’s page?

  22. Thanks for the Ning questions. Ning is a lot different than other Online Communities, especially if you are used to using Facebook or something similar.

    @Charlene – Yes you can join several Networks from that same account. In Ning they are actually called Nings or Ning Networks. Inside each network there are also Groups to break up the network even more. This Ning, http://bookblogs.ning.com/, might help illustrate that a little better. I will also add some groups to our Ning Network. I will add some links to our 23ThingsKansas Ning to make it easier to find other Networks. Think of a Ning Network as a whole school or library and the groups inside of the that Ning Network as each grade level or department in the library.

    There is visual Network searching on Ning at http://www.ning.com/discover, but it’s not so great if you’re looking for something specific. If you are looking for better searches I would try just googling a specific ning you’re looking for like “Library 2.0 Ning” or “School Library Ning”.

    To see what Networks you are already signed up for click on your name at the very top of the Ning screen or click on Ning Networks at the top of the screen.

  23. @Judy I am guessing you are talking about the Google Connect buttons, like on this blog, http://sjm23things.blogspot.com? Some of the sites you are visiting may not have it enabled on their site. If they don’t have it on their site you won’t be able to follow them that way.

    Here is a little bit more information about it: http://www.google.com/friendconnect/

    Google Connect is built into Blogger/Blogspot Blogs. Depending on what blog platform you have you should be able to add it to your own profile.

    You can also follow blog posts by using a Feed Reader like Blogger or Google Reader. We will be covering RSS feeds in Week 5.

  24. For those of you having trouble deciding who to add on Facebook, or finding people on Facebook a great way to find people to add is to become a fan of 23ThingsKansas on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/23thingskansas and look at the other fans there. You don’t have to add a total stranger. You might want to look for a name you know or someone who is in the same area of the state as you.

  25. I started to make a new Facebook page, thinking it would be a library one (and totally different from my personal page). It would not accept the name of my library, so I put in my real name, thinking I would just change the user name. Then Facebook wanted a cell number to confirm, which I do not want to provide. Now I can’t seem to delete the account or proceed without giving a cell number. Any advice? How do you delete an account? Thanks.

  26. Hey Melissa,

    Setting up a library page can be a bit confusing. When you were setting up your library page did you set it up using a regular Facebook account or click on the link at the bottom of the main Facebook page, “Create a Page for a celebrity, band, or business”. That’s the link you will want to click on. Check out this post from Bobbi Newman to learn a bit more: http://librarianbyday.net/2009/09/libraries-and-facebook-pages-update/

    You can deactivate a page or account by going to Settings and then clicking on “deactivate” at the bottom.

    Bobbi Arnold also posted something great to the Google list about her experience signing up for a Facebook page for her library. Here’s a link to her post: http://groups.google.com/group/23thingsks/browse_thread/thread/8159d15806c1d7d7

    Let us know if you still need help!

Comments are closed.