The Groups and Events addon enables you to create Groups to enable users to form and manage their own discussion groups. These Groups are designed to give a smaller subset of your community a (public or private) space to have discussions about a particular topic that doesn't necessarily fit in an existing Category.
📝 NOTE: You must have the Groups and Events addon enabled to create events. See Groups and Events to learn how to enable it.
In this article, you'll learn how to create and manage groups.
Are Groups right for your community?
🛑 IMPORTANT: Inappropriate use of Groups can lead to discussion segregation, which may draw attention away from your main community Categories and hurt your community's cohesion and growth. Because of this, it's better suited for larger communities. We strongly recommend against using Groups if your community has fewer than several thousand currently active users (users that participate once a month or more).
If you're unsure whether Groups is right for your community, we recommend talking with your CSM.
- Groups are designed to give a smaller subset of your community a self-contained public or private space to have discussions outside the existing Category structure (typically to discuss a more specialized or focused topic).
- A set of Group-specific permissions are included, allowing you to decide who can create and manage Groups (e.g., restricting group creation to only trusted members or moderators).
- Typical discussion features are available in Group posts, like the Rich Editor, Reactions, and comments.
- Groups include announcements, all discussions types (questions, polls, etc.), an events list, and leaders who manage the Group. You can control not only who can see the Group but also how users can join: freely, by application, or by invitation.
- All Administrators and Moderations with the permission
Garden > Moderation > Manage can moderate Groups as well.
The Groups page
The main Groups page has three sections:
- My Groups: Lists the Groups you've created or joined.
- New Groups: Lists all recently created Groups.
- Popular Groups: Lists the Groups that have the most members, from newest to oldest.
Only a few Groups will show in each section; click their associated "see all" link to view all Groups in each section.
✔️ TIP: Keep an eye on this page over time to see what Groups are forming and growing the most.
If the Groups and Events addon is enabled, the GROUPS section is added to a Role's available permissions, with the following three permissions:
- Users with the
Groups > Group > Add permission can create Groups.
✔️ TIP: We strongly recommend reserving the ability to create Groups to Administrators and (possibly) Moderators. This will prevent too many Groups from being created. It's better to have a small, curated list of Groups with active participation than to allow numerous Groups to cause participation to become too spread out. If you have 100 groups and only 3 are truly active, it will make your community look like a ghost town; on the other hand, if you have five groups and all five are healthy, your community will look vibrant and alive. Richard Millington at FeverBee.com has more great advice on restricting group creation.
- Reserve the
Groups > Moderation > Manage permission to Administrators and Moderators, so only they can manage the Group's content.
Groups > Email Invitations > Add permission enables users to invite others to join a Group.
Getting started with Groups
Try creating three to eight Groups as a pilot program to introduce the idea to your community. Generally speaking, it's better to have fewer total Groups to encourage higher quality and participation. For example, 10 Groups with 30 members each will create a far better experience than 100 Groups with three members each. Of course, the best number of Groups for your community depends on its size and specific needs.
Create a Group
1. On the Groups page, click New Group.
2. On the resulting page, configure the Group's details and settings.
- Give it an appropriate name.
- If you'd like to provide extra information or context for the Group, enter a description. This displays on the main Groups list and the Group's page.
- The Icon image shows on the Groups list.
- The Banner is the large image that displays at the top of the Group’s page. For most themes, 1000x175px is a good choice. We recommend testing this on staging prior to applying to production.
3. Select the Group's privacy setting:
- Public: All users can see the Group and its content. Anyone can join.
- Private: All users can see the Group, but only members can see its content. Users must apply or be invited to join.
- Secret: Only members can see the Group and its content. People must be invited to join. Secret Groups are completely hidden from non-group members. They are an especially good fit for product teams that want to test a new product or segment users to a special place, but do not want the larger community to know such a group exists.
4. When finished, click Save to create the Group.
Post Group content
On a Group's page, users with the appropriate permissions can post content, including announcements, discussions (of all types), and events. Each content type is displayed and managed in its own section of the page.
This is where admins and the group leaders can make announcements, with a small preview of what the announcement is about. Just like in the community, a group discussion can be made into an announcement.
Group discussions have all the features regular discussion do. Members of the Group, depending on the permissions you have set, can also ask questions or start a poll for the Group.
Events can be created for the Group. Check out this article to learn more.
From a Group's page (or the main Groups list), click the Options dropdown to access the following management options.
Edit any of the Group's details and settings, such as its icon or banner, or privacy setting.
Deleting a Group removes all of its associated content. This action is irreversible.
By default, Group owners, Leaders, and admins can invite users to join in two ways:
- Searching and selecting registered usernames.
- Invite users to groups via their email addresses.
Invites function differently depending on whether the recipient is a registered or unregistered user:
- Registered users will receive a notification letting them know they've been invited to the Group. The notification includes a link to the Group where they can accept or reject the invitation.
- Unregistered users will receive a notification letting them know they've been invited to the Group. The notification includes a link to your community's registration page where they can create their accounts before accepting or rejecting the Group invitation.
- This is where you view all of a Group's members, along with its assigned Leaders.
- You can search for members, which is useful for locating specific people in large Groups.
- In the Members area, you can click Leader to make someone a Leader or Remove to remove them from the Group.
- If a member is made a Leader, you can "demote" them back to a member at any time by clicking Make Member.
- For private and secret Groups, this is also where join requests are listed.
📝 NOTE: Leaders can manage the Group’s members and edit its settings, events, and discussions. The Group’s creator cannot have their Leader status removed. If you need the owner of a group reassigned, contact Vanilla Support.
Group membership notifications
Three notification options are available pertaining to Group membership:
- Group invitation: Receive notifications when you've been invited to join a Group.
- Group applicants: Group owners and Leaders can receive a notification when a user has applied to join their Groups.
- Group applicant approval: Users who have applied to join a Group can receive notifications when their group membership requests have been approved.
Set your notification preferences
You can set your notification preferences from your profile, on the Notification Preferences page.
The Social Groups Category
If the Groups and Events addon is enabled, the Social Groups Category is added. This is where users can go to see all Group discussion content they have permissions to view.
🛑 WARNING: Do not delete this Category - it's needed for the addon to work.
- By default, users should only have the
Social Groups > Comments > Add and
Social Groups > Discussions > Add permissions for this infrastructure Category.
- Administrators and Moderators should have ALL permissions except
You can update this by editing any Role:
Or, you can do the same thing for all roles in one view by updating the category:
For more information on this Category, or if you have accidentally deleted it, contact Vanilla Support.
Click the link below to access a video expanding on what you learned in this article.