Be a Leader: A Guide to Using to Be a Leader in the Community of Practice

This guide is under development.  It will evolve as new features and functions are added to  Please return to these pages to view updates. 


Be a Leader in the Ecosystem Services Community of Practice

Create a group – If there is no group to serve your purposes you may want to create a new group.  Although the Ecosystem Commons emphasizes open information to promote collaboration, there are some situations where a small group of people want to work collaboratively to create documents, discuss, and brainstorm privately.  There are different types of groups to serve all purposes. 

  • Public Groups are unrestricted. Anyone with a user account can join the group. This type of group is recommended to maximize collaboration across sectors. 
  • Moderated Groups are somewhat restrictive.  Members must request permission to join; the group creator can approve or deny new member requests.  
  • Private Groups are the most restrictive.  Members must be added to the group by the creator.  These groups will not appear on the list of groups and only group members will know they exist. Private groups are only recommended for small, already established organizations that want to use the commons for planning or collaborative editing. 

Manage a group – If you start a new group, plan to be the most active member in order to build momentum and value of the group as is develops.  You might expect to facilitate communication among members, recruit new members, regularly add content, start discussions, maintain the group calendar, make comments on the content of others, compliment Commons activity with emails or conference calls, etc. From your group homepage you can broadcast a message to all group members to draw them to the group to particpate in a new discussion, wiki, or poll.  Once a group is well established it may take on a life of its own and require less management.  If members misuse the group you can contact them directly to remind them of the purpose and focus of a group. You can also report misuse to the site administrators.  Refer to the Terms of Use for details on site misuse.

Start a Discussion  - Discussions are the primary way to get feedback on an idea or start a group brainstorm on a focused topic.  You can start discussions within “Our Community” to reach all members of the Commons, or you can start a discussion within a group environment to reach a subset of the members.  One way to start a discussion is to select “Discussions” under the “Community” menu and click on the “Create” button near the upper right corner of the page.  Then, fill out the form. You can do some formatting and include hotlinks in your discussion body.  It is recommended that you add a relevant photo to your discussion to increase visibility.  Be sure to select your audiences in the “Groups” portion of the form.  And, don’t forget to save your discussion at the bottom of the form. 

Create a Wiki Page – Wikis are a great way to collaboratively edit text, create a group “to do” list, or develop a working document.  Wikis provide users with the ability to add to or edit your content.  Like discussions, wikis can be association with “Our Community” to include all members of the Commons, or can be associated with a specific group.  Before you create a new a wiki, look to see if there is already a wiki that serves your purpose by selecting “Wikis” under the “Community” menu to view a list of current wikis.  You may also consider starting a discussion to ask other members if they would like to participate in developing the text, list, or document draft you propose.  One way to create a wiki is to select “Wikis” under the “Community” menu and click on the “Create” button near the upper right of the page.  Then you just fill out the form.  Use the “Body” portion of the form for your initial wiki content that you would like others to edit or add to.  Be sure to include some information on why you are creating the wiki and provide some guidance for those who will be adding or editing the content (e.g. please do not delete any text in this wiki, rather strikethough {abc} text that you think should be deleted.) You can do some formatting and include hotlinks in your wiki body.  You can also add a photo.  Be sure to select your audiences in the “Groups” portion of the form.  And, don’t forget to save your wiki at the bottom of the form.  Wikis need to be saved after each edit.   

Create a poll – Polls are a great way to get quick feedback on a straightforward question or conduct a vote.  To create a poll, select “Polls” from the “Community” menu and click on the “Create” button near the upper right corner of the page.  Then just fill out the form - be sure to set the duration and to save the poll at the bottom of the form.  Polls, like discussions and wikis, can be associated with a particular group or can be posed to all members.  Note that polls allow voters to choose only one of the options provided.  You will be able to track or edit your poll to how everyone voted or get a summary of votes.  To track a poll that was available to “Our Community” select “Polls” from the Community menu.  Then find your poll on the list and click on it.  You will see tabs with options: “View”; “Edit”; “Results”; and “Votes”. 

Broadcast a Message - If you are a group manager/administrator you will have the option to broadcast email messages to your group members.  You may choose this option when you want to make sure all members are notified about new content in the group, or to request action such as response to a poll or review of a wiki.  To broadcast a message to your group, go to your group home page and make sure you are logged in.  On the right of your screen you will see a "Group menu" box.  Select "Broadcast message" and fill out the form. Note that members cannot reply to this email.  

Private vs Public Content - If you are managing a group you may want to post public content and although the Commons emphasizes public access to information there are times when it will be more approapriate to make content private.  Private content is only available to the groups you designate and it does not show up in searches.  To create private/or semi-private content, go to your group homepage, select the type of contect (document, wiki, poll, etc.) in the upper right of the page, and click the blue "create" button. A submission form will open.  Fill in the content fields desired then scroll down and expand the "groups" options. Once the group option is expanded, choose the group(s) you want to see the content and uncheck the "Public" box.  Make sure to save at the bottom of the form.  You can later edit these options by opening the content you want to chage and selecting the edit tab at the top of the page and then expanding the groups options and rechecking the "Public" box.  You must be the author to edit privacy settings and you must be in the group environment (i.e. open or create documents from your group homepage).   

Tag your Content – You may be prompted to tag your post with a series of keywords.  These tags will help sort your material by effort types (research, measurement, etc.), ecosystem services (air quality, water quality, etc.), ecosystems (wetlands, forests, grasslands, etc.), and document type (reports, peer reviewed, etc.).  

Solicit Peer Review – If you have an ecosystem services document or a tool for which you would like to solicit peer-review you may contact members of the Commons directly.  Alternatively you may post the document or link to “Our Community” and ask for their feedback online.  Eventually the Commons will facilitate a more formal process for peer review and tool piloting.  

Author a Soapbox Article – If you have an idea you would like to share with ecosystem services community through the “Soapbox” contact us.  For more information, see the author guidelines.