Tag Archives | new users

Navigating the Commons

Our main navigation tabs are picture below.

My Commons

The My Commons tab is where you land when you first login to the Commons.  It provides an easy way to stay current with the network of friends, groups, and sites you develop on the Commons.  It constantly aggregates information that is relevant to you – what your friends are doing, what’s going on in the groups you belong to, and what content and discussion is happening on the sites you follow.


If you are not logged into the Commons, the Home page will be the first open tab you’ll see. This “splash” page provides a site slider as well as a quick look at what’s going on: you can see which members are recently active, you can see a selection of Sites and Groups, and you can see some of the most recently published 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.


On this tab you can search for people you know, or people with common interests. The Commons has almost 8,000 members, and continues to grow. 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.


This tab serves as the hub for Social Paper.  Here you can discover colleagues’ works-in-progress and provide feedback.  Social Paper’s granular permission settings let members of the Commons determine who they want to expose their work to.  Paragraph by paragraph commenting makes Social Paper an ideal tool for modern academic writing.


The Commons Events Calendar is a site-wide plugin that supports individual, group, and global calendars. Designed to publicize events to the friends you’ve developed on the Commons and to the groups you belong to (and which you choose to notify).  This tab will display all events which are public, and all which pertain to groups that you belong to or friends you have made.


Want to know what going on right now at the Commons? Click on the “News” tab to access recent activity. You can use the filters to narrow down results. You can save items which you want to review at a later date by clicking on the “Favorites” button (These can be retrieved on your “My Activity>>Favorites” page.)  Be sure to check out the Twitter sub tab.  It’s a great way to use Twitter to track what’s going on at CUNY.  To find tweets from the @cunycommons/cunycommons list go to our Twitter News page.


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

Getting Help

On the top-right corner of every page of the Commons, you will see a “Help” button.  Clicking it will display two ways to get help with the Commons.  You can visit our Help page where you will find our help documentation. These include Help & Support, FAQ, the Commons Codex, Take the Tour, 10 Things To Do (when you join the Commons), Bug Tracking and Outreach.

You can also send us a message and we’ll work with you to figure out your issue.

My Navigation

At the very top-right corner of every Commons page is a tiny version of your avatar.  Hover over to display personal links:

  • My Activity
  • My Profile
  • My Sites
  • My Groups
  • My Notifications
  • My Events
  • My Settings
  • My Messages
  • My Papers
  • My Friends
  • Send Invites

Options swing out to further options. These are easy, time-saving shortcuts.



Dear Colleagues,We are excited to invite you to join the CUNY Academic Commons, an academic social network created by and for CUNY faculty, graduate students, administrators, staff, postdocs, and alumni. The site offers members the chance to present their work and connect with colleagues from throughout our twenty-four campus system.

The Commons can be used to:

  • Create a personal profile and explore the community.
  • Join or create public and private groups to facilitate collaboration and communication with colleagues on your campus or across campuses.
  • Set up blogs to promote your work, events, and conferences using a highly flexible format that allows for a wide range of visual presentations.
  • Create shared public resources on our wiki.

Please see below for a list of sample projects.

Sign-up here and then check out our list of Ten Things to Do to Get Started on the Commons. Please note that undergraduate students are not currently allowed to create accounts on the CUNY Academic Commons.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our Help & Support pages.

We look forward to connecting with you and to seeing you add your voice to the Commons.


The CUNY Academic Commons Team

Sample Projects:



Wiki Resources:

10 Things to Do


New to the Commons?

10 Things To Get You Started

  • Take the Tour and find out how members connect with colleagues, share ideas, and collaborate.
  • Join some groups or start a group of your own. Collaborate via forums, BP Docs, and file sharing. Participate from the comfort of your inbox using our robust reply-by-email feature.
  • Read some blogs or start one of your own to share interests and passions, facilitate departmental administration, advertise events, or publish research findings.
  • Browse the Commons Twitter page and filter tweets about CUNY six different ways.
  • Adjust Your Privacy to control your information’s visibility and the ways you get site notifications.
  • Follow Us on Facebook and Twitter to stay current with new posts, projects, and threads.
  • Get Help from a variety of resources or Send us a message by clicking the Help tab in the top upper right hand corner.  We welcome ideas on how to make the Commons better and your ideas contribute to our development priorities.
Thank you for joining the CUNY Academic Commons. If you need further assistance, email us at support@cunycommons.zendesk.com

Invitations to the Commons, to Groups, and to Group Sites

When you invite colleagues or students to join the Commons, there are a number of options that can save you a bunch of time. Listed below are the basic scenarios, and how you can combine what you want to do into one process.

Inviting Someone to Join the Commons
This is the basic scenario – you want to invite a CUNY colleague to join the Commons. Any member of the Commons can send a customized email invitation, and the recipient can simply click on a hyperlink to begin the registration process.

Hover over your avatar in the top right corner of your browser screen, and scroll down to the “Send Invites” option.


When you click on Send Invites, you’ll see a screen like below. Fill in your colleague’s email addresses, one per line, in the box highlighted in red. You can customize the subject line and the text of the invitation.



Inviting Someone to Join the Commons and Your Group(s)
If you want to invite someone to join the Commons, and to join one or more of your groups, follow the same procedure as above, but in the optional section 4, click on one of the checkboxes of the groups you’d like the new member to consider joining. When he or she completes the registration process, an invitation to the group(s) will be waiting for acceptance.

This is particularly effective if you are using the Commons to teach a graduate class. Make sure you create your class group first, and then, when you send out invitations to class members, check your class group’s box. Then your students will receive an invitation to join the Commons, and once they registered, will automatically receive a request to join the class group.

Inviting Someone to Join the Commons, Your Group, and Your Group Site
The final scenario pertains if you have a group site. If you already have a group site, go to “Send Invites” on the left to search for members to invite:


The invitees will be sent an email with a confirmation link. The invitee will initially join as a Member. If you’d like to remove, ban or promote individual members, go to Manage (on the left) and select the Members tab in the middle. Next to each name are four options:


Members are free to leave the Group by navigating to the group Site, then clicking Leave Group:



Please let us know if you have any difficulties or questions about this process at the Commons help desk – support@cunycommons.zendesk.com




You Just Created a Site on the Commons – Now What?


You now have a site on the Commons.  If you are new to the Commons or to WordPress, you might feel a bit confused about what to do next and unaware of the possibilities.

Blogs on the Commons

If you’re not already be clear about a focus, here are some examples of how members use blogs or “sites”:

  • Personal blogs
  • Research projects
  • Event or conference sites
  • Department sites (including calendar of events)
  • Class sites
  • Journals and reviews
  • News and Views commentaries
  • Photo blogs

Getting Started With Content

To make any changes to your site, you’ll need to go to your WordPress dashboard.   There you can enter content (i.e. “pages” and “posts”), and organize it with tags, categories, and menus, decorate it with images and videos, and make it accessible in sidebars using widgets.  The opening video demonstrates how to publish your first post.

Other stuff to think about:

  • recent blog postsVisibility – Do you want your site public and have search engines to index it?  Private to only Commons members?  Private only to you, while you are setting it up?  There are a lot of ways to control accessibility.  If your site is public, an excerpt of your posts will appear on the front page of the Commons when you publish, under “Recent Blog Posts.”  It will gradually disappear on the front page, as other members post content. (The Commons Home page displays 8-10 of our member’s most recent posts, and is constantly being updated.)  New blog pages are not shown on the Commons Home page.
  • Discussion – Do you want people to comment on your content?  You can turn discussion on or off globally, or on the page/post level.  Follow this link for more information on discussion settings and ways to filter spam.
  • Collaboration – Do you want to be the sole contributor, or do you want to let colleagues add content too?  You can add new “users” to your site and assign various levels of permissions.

Working With Themes

The default WordPress theme is great, but you might want to experiment with changing the general appearance of your site.  The Commons has hundreds of WordPress themes, many premium, that can make your site more unique.  No coding knowledge is needed, but you’ll just need to configure your new theme to take advantage of its options.

Themes provide alternative ways to layout and advertize your content.  Some come with built-in sliders and customizable front pages.  Some let you configure sidebars that compliment individual pages.  Many themes are designed to appeal to a certain type of blogger – so check them out and see if you see something that looks good and will work for your site.

live preview2A new feature of WordPress lets you preview a theme before you activate it.  In your dashboard, go to Appearance>>Themes, find the theme you are interested in, and then click “Live Preview.”  This will give you a general idea what’s in store if you activate it.

When picking a theme, you might want to consider how it looks on mobile devices.  For more information about this, and a list of mobile-ready themes, see Responsive Themes.

Working With Plugins

Plugins extend what you can do on your site.  So for example, if you are doing research and want to include a map with various sights pinpointed and annotated, you’ll probably be interested in a plugin like Leaflet Maps Marker.  Or if you want to create a Frequently Asked Questions section, you would want to activate Q & A plugin.  Love the 2012 theme, but would like to create a slider for a specific page?  Check out Easy Rotator.  Want to create a cool tag cloud – activate WP-Cumulous.  There are over two hundred plugins on the Commons that do cool stuff, and thousands available on WordPress.org.  If you have a special need or a favorite plugin that is not available on the Commons, submit a plugin request or contact us at support@cunycommons.zendesk.com

See “Tweaking Your Site” for a quick summary of our most popular plugins.

Working with Media

You can easily include pictures and video in your pages and posts.  Typically, on a page or a post, you simply click on the Add Media button, and select “Upload.”  Then find the image on your computer system, and WordPress will upload three different sizes – small, medium and large.  Pick the size you want and orientation (right, left, center), and you are good to go.

Videos are even easier.  Simply paste the URL of the video on a new line and it should automatically embed.

Want to embed a PDF or a Google Doc?  You’ll need to use a specialize plugin – see Simple I-Paper and Google Doc Embed.  Have a presentation that you want to embed?  Check out the possible options.

Help Resources

There are many WordPress help resources available, both on the Commons and on the Web.

  • WordPress Help! A group on the Commons where members help other members out with WordPress questions.
  • On the Commons Wiki, check out the FAQ pages about blogs and Tweaking Your Site.
  • On the Commons Codex menu, see the section on “Blogs” – there are many posts that focus on blogging.
  • Contextual Help – don’t overlook the help button that is available on many dashboard pages.  The WordPress team has done a fine job of documenting common tasks and explaining concepts.  Find the “Help” toggle button in the upper right corner of your dashboard page.  Clicking it will show/hide an area that provides information about the particular task.

The contextual help section for “Pages” is shown in the screenshot below.  On the left side are textual descriptions, on the right, external links to WordPress documentation.

contextual help

  • Instructional videos –  There are a lot of videos to watch to more detailed information.  WordPress TV has some great ones – your might want to look in the beginner category if you are just starting out with WordPress.  You can also search YouTube and Vimeo for good videos on specific topics.


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