The Art of Hosting


Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about how to use this site. It starts with general questions that are relevant to the entire site, and then goes on to address each of the areas you'll see in the navigation menu under the site's banner. If you have questions you don't see the answer to here, please post them in the conversation space that deals with them!

To start, here's a list of the contents in the order you'll see them below if you scroll down:

  • 1) Context
  • 2) Registration
  • 3) Search, or How to Find What You're Looking For
  • 4) My Profile, Settings & "My Page"
  • 5) Other Members
  • 6) Conversations
  • 7) Stories
  • 8) Cybrary
  • 9) Groups
  • 10) News/Blogs
  • 11) Media - Photos, Videos
  • 12) Events
  • 13)Tagging
  • 14) Further Questions

  • 1) Context

    What is this community space for? How can it serve my needs? How can I use it most effectively?
    This is an online space in which you can meet and interact with Art of Hosting 'mates' and colleagues all over the world. This is a place where you can share knowledge and explore your emerging thoughts and ideas; an opportunity to generate learning, and listen for the wisdom among us. This is a place where you can ask questions of experienced hosts, a place you can help others gain a deeper understanding of the Art of Hosting patterns and how they work in practice; a place where you can explore a subject or project in depth with others in groups who have joined together for that purpose. It's a place where you can find the resources you need, and offer your own contributions, a place to support and be supported.
    To use this space most effectively, the old adage of getting what you put into something holds true - you must participate and bring your best self to the table; risk sharing your nascent thoughts and be willing to listen to difference with respect and curiosity. If you bring the same intent and care to your interactions here on this community platform that you do to the hosting teams you are part of, then have the same opportunity to experience the "magic in the middle" that can happen in the best of them.

    2) Registration

    Why are specific questions required when I register?
    The questions that are required refer to things we all want to be able to search for, like location, areas of special interest and what kind of Art of Hosting experience you have.

    3) Search, or How to Find What You're Looking For

    Where is the search engine on this site and how do I find the material I'm most interested in?
    There is a search box in the top right corner of the black band on the home page, and on every page of this site. In addition, there are search boxes at the top of the main page in many of the tabs - Conversations, Groups, Photos, Videos, Audio, Music, Blog Posts, and Events - where you can search those sections in particular.

    How do I find someone specific here?
    You can use the Search box at the top right of the page, or the search box directly under the "All Members" title in the "people" page. You can also look at the drop down search menu to the right and "sort by" alphabet, looking through the pages until you find who you're looking for.

    How do I find people who have specific skills, share my interests, or live in a particular geographic area?
    To find people with specific interests, skills, or who are living in a specific location, etc. click the "Advanced Search" button. That will bring up the profile questions we all filled out when we joined the community. Click the box or combination of boxes for the skills or roles you're looking for and then click the "search" button at the bottom of the page. You will see a list of people whose profile answers match the boxes you chose. To find people in a particular location, write in the country or city or state. If you want to see everyone in a given US state, for example, use a comma in your search logarithm to take the place of a particular city, like this: ", CA".

    How do I find more information and resources reagarding Art of Hosting?
    Go to the Resources tab, where you will find a number of subtabs that bring you where you need to be.

    4) Your Profile, Settings, and Customizing Your "My Page"

    How do I unload a photo of myself?
    You can either add a photo during the registration process by following instructions you are given, or later you can go in and open the "My Page" tab and click on the "change my Photo" link underneath the temporary image that stands in for you and your name and location.

    Can I go back and edit my profile later?
    Yes, at any point you can go to your "my Page" tab and the click the "edit" button in the top right of your profile box. You can also access your Profile settings through the Quick Links box at the top right of every page.

    Can I customize what shows up on My Page?
    Yes. Every "My Page" has a "text" box that is fully editable with whatever you want to put in it, and you can change the order of the material in the center of your page by clicking on the blue bar across the top of each box and dragging it to whatever location on your page you'd like.

    Setting Your Email and Other Preferences
    Will I automatically get email notices when someone leaves a note on my page or a conversation I've started?
    You can set your own preferences for how you are notified in the box on the top right of every page just under the navigation bar. Click "settings" and then, under “email” you can set your preferences for the various options. You can always go back and change them afterward if you change your mind later.
    There are a number of other preferences you can set in that same area, including privacy settings for who can see your content or comment on it, etc.

    What's that little box right under the banner at the top right of the page with my name on it?
    This box offers you a quick way to look at your messages, invite friends to join you in this community, change your settings, etc. You can also use it as a shortcut to upload videos or photographs or music, start a conversation, post a blog entry, announce an event, or log out. Just click on one of the links showing, or use the drop down menu for more options.

    What are Profile Apps and what can I do with them?
    Profile Aps are "widgets", or special bits of code that allow you to do things like track words on Twitter or add a Sudoku or Chess game to your "My Page". You find them through the "Add Profile Apps" link in the left column of your "My Page" under your photo, name and location. You can move the profile apps boxes around on your page as described above or you can customize or delete them through the "edit" button on the top right of the box.

    5) Other Members of this Community

    How do I invite others to join this community?
    There are number of ways to invite others to join this community. You can use the quick and easy box on the top right (just under the navigation bar) on every page (choose "Friends - invite"), or through the "invite Friends" button directly to the left of your quick and easy box in the "people" tab.

    What does it mean to “friend” someone, and how do I do it?
    A "friend" here in this community allows you to give special privileges to specific people. E.g. your friends can see content that you only allow friends to see, they can send you messages that will remain private between the two of you and you can send messages to them, individually or as a group.
    If you find someone you would like to be friends with here, click on their picture, which will take you to their profile page where you can click the "Add as Friend" link under their name. You might want to send them a little message, especially if they don't know you. They will accept or not, but don't be discouraged or take it personally if they do not. They may not have logged in since you sent the friend request, or they may want to keep their friend list small, etc..

    Can I send someone else in the community a private message?
    Yes, but only if you are "friends" with them first. Go to the person's profile page by clicking on their photo or name, and click the "Send a Message" link in the left column under their name and details. That will open a message box where you can send your note to them.

    How will I know if I have received a private message?
    If you have agreed to receive email notice of messages in your settings, you will have received an email alerting you. If not, you will see a number next to your "inbox" in the right hand quick and easy box that is on every page. Just click on that and it will open your inbox here and you can read or delete your message.

    How can I access other Ning Communities I'm part of?
    When you're logged in, click your name in the top right corner of your screen, and it will take you to your central Ning account page where your other communities will be listed in a box in the right column. To visit one of them, just click on its logo.

    6) Conversations

    What are categories and how should I use them?
    In the "conversation" area, categories are different sorts of conversation that we might have here. Have a look through the existing categories to see where to add your conversation.
    The "Stories" and "Resources" are both listed as categories and they are the place to put your stories and resources. The methods and tools you'll use to start a conversation, share your story or post a resource in the Cybrary are the same, and are covered below. There are specific things to know about these two categories as well, and they will be covered after the basics which follow.

    How do I start a conversation?
    Go to the Conversation tab, and click on the "add a conversation" link on the top right of the page, just under the top navigation menu. Choose a title for your conversation/story/resource that will identify its content, and put the body of your message in the "post" section. You can add images and links, as well as format the text with bold or italics, etc. as well as include other files if you'd like. Information for how to do that follows. Choose the category that best fits your material from the drop down menu under your post, and be sure to add tags that can lead others back to find your content.

    How do I add a response to an existing conversation?
    From inside the Conversation tab, click on the category of the conversation you want to reply to to open all the conversations inside it. Scroll down to the bottom of the post you want to respond to, and click the "reply to this" link if there is no reply box showing. Be sure to click the "add reply" button when you are finished.

    How do I add a image to my post/story/resource?
    In the editing menu for your "post" content you'll see an icon that looks like a camera. Click it and a box will open asking you to browse your computer for the image you want to include. It will also give you the option of adding a url where your image can be found (i.e. on Flickr or some other online photo source). If you click on the "options" triangle, you'll see that you can also "wrap" text around your image, make it smaller, or create a "pop up" window to link to your image full-size.

    How do I link to a url from my conversation/story/resource post?
    In your post content box, highlight the text you want to link and then click the icon in your post menu bar that looks like a chain link. It will ask you what url you want to link to - be sure your link starts with a "http://" if it is on the web, or "mailto:the@emailaddress" if it is an email address. Click "ok" when you are finished.

    How do I add a document or other file to my conversation/story/resource post?
    At the bottom of your post you will see three boxes, titled "Attach File(s)", where you can browse your computer to add up to three files. If you are replying to a conversation, the link will be called called "Upload Files". Click on that and you will see the three boxes.

    Why should I tag my conversation/story/resource and how should I do it?
    You should tag your post with words that indicate the topics you are covering so that your conversation, story or resource will come up when someone is searching for material about those topics.

    How do I know when a conversation, story or resource was started or last replied to?
    The "latest activity" column will tell you when the last post or reply to a post was made to the category across from it on the left. If you want to know when the conversation, story or resource was initially posted, click on it and it will tell you directly under the title.

    7) Stories

    What is an Art of Hosting story and why is it so important?
    The Art of Hosting community has grown through networks of friendship and the sharing of stories; for us story is the currency of conversation, the lifeblood of relationship. The stories we tell about our hosting experiences help us articulate what we have learned. Reading each others stories is one powerful way we learn from each other and develop a Community of Practice in which we can co-evolve and deepen our collective understandings of this work.
    When we share stories, we also provide a glimpse of who we are and what matters to us; we connect our lives and work to others. The shared meaning created by sharing our stories contributes to the shaping of not only our work with the Art of Hosting, but to the world we all share.

    How do I post my story? To post your story, follow the instructions in "How do I Start a Conversation" above, and be sure to choose Stories as your category.

    Why and How should I add a image to my story?
    Images are particularly effective for bringing your story to life, and making it engaging to read. Add one or more images to your story using the instructions in the "How do I add an image" question above. You might like to upload these and additional photos from your event into an album in the photo page and include a link to it in your post. Get the url from the album in the address bar of your browser.

    Why should I tag my stories?
    Stories are particularly valuable sources of information for others in the community and you should tag yours with words that indicate the main topics you are covering - education, community, graphic recording, etc. Your tag will ensure that your story will come up when someone is searching for material about those topics.

    8) The Cybrary - Resources
    What is a Cybrary and what would I find there?
    A Cybrary is an online library, in this case a library of resources that people on this community have contributed. These resources can be anything of value or interest: articles written about some of the Art of Hosting patterns, new insights or any documents that are helpful in some way, etc.

    How do I upload a resource entry to the Cybrary?
    To post your resource, follow the instructions in "How do I Start a Conversation" above, and be sure to choose Resources as your category.

    Can I link to a url or add documents and other files to my resource entry?
    Yes, these are particularly useful in the Cybrary as you'll want to link to media and articles about the hosting practice, etc. as well want to include documents that would be resources to others. You would do that using "How do I link to a url" and "How do I add a document or other file" instructions in the conversation questions, above. Be sure to tag your resources too, as that's how they will be found by those who are looking for them.

    9) Groups

    What are groups for?
    Groups are available to support specific working groups or groups that are using a particular language or focused on a specific interest. They each have a front page that allows comments, a section that lists group members and an area for conversation. Groups can be open to all, or they can be private and invitation-only, but in this community we have agreed (at least to start out) to leave all the groups open.

    How do I start a group?
    If you would like to start a group, go to the Group tab and click "Start a Group". You will have to wait until your application is approved, because while anyone is welcome to start a group, the person who starts it must take responsibility for hosting it and we want to make sure you are aware of that. If you are in a hurry and want to make sure your group is accepted right away, email the community administrator with the name of your group and something that indicates your intent to create a hospitable space and care for the group as it evolves.

    What's involved in hosting a group?
    A group's host will determine the title and description for their group; welcome new members and invite people to it; they will respond to questions and keep the conversations fresh. In other words, they will care for the group and encourage others to do the same.

    Can I change my group settings or details if I change my mind about something, or want to add a photo, etc.?
    Yes! Go to your group page and click the "Edit Group" link on the right (only the person who started the group - the "group owner" - will see this link and be able to use it). That will open a window that will allow you to make changes - e.g. to the group's name, description and other settings. Directly under the box for your group's name is a place for an "image" - click the "camera icon" and a box will open that will allow you to upload an image from your computer. Put your cursor in the box and a browser will appear to help you find the image. When you've found it, click "open". and then click "done" in the box. When you're finished making changes, be sure to click the "save" button at the bottom right of your page edit page. If you have any problems with your photo it might be because your image is too big. If that happens, you can either re-size it with photo management programs you might have available to you, e.g. iPhoto, or you can ask the site administrator for help.

    How do I manage my members? i.e. "deputize" other administrators, keep track of my invites, or heaven forbid, what if I have trouble with a member and have to ban them?
    Go to your group page and click the "Manage Members" link on the right (again, only the person who started the group - the "group owner" - will see this link and be able to use it). That will open a window that will give you two tabs - "members" and "invited". In the member tab you can click the box to the left of a member's name and choose to either promote, demote or ban them. Of course we encourage diversity of thought, so think carefully and explore all your other options before you decide to ban someone from your group. If you are having problems of this kind, please feel free to consult the community administrator before taking any action.
    In the "invited" tab, you can see a list of who you've invited to this group, and either cancel their invitation or resend it.

    10) News/Blogs

    What’s the difference between a blog post and a conversation?
    A blog post is an excellent choice when you primarily want to explore a subject you've been thinking about or offer your ideas on some topic or another - like announcing something (like a new conversation here, or a new group; or something 'outside' - that doesn't need a conversation space; while a conversation is the best choice when you have a question you want other people to respond to or when you want to instigate a conversation about something. People can comment on a blog post if you have given permission, but you have the choice. There are a number of other benefits to a blog post - e.g. you can go back and edit (your own) blog posts later, choose to publish them at another time, etc. The way to use options will be covered below.

    How do I write a blog post?
    Go to the "Blog Posts" tab, and click the "add a blog post" link at the top right of the page, under the navigation bar, or under the list of blog posts. Fill out the title, and body of your post in the main window. Remember you can add images and links, and format your text in a blog post just the same as in conversations and stories.

    Why should I tag my blog posts and how should I do it?
    You should tag your blog posts with the key ideas you are exploring so that your blog post can be found when people are looking for material using those terms.

    How do I set a date for my blog post to be published in the past or future?
    Directly under the tag field for your post there is the opportunity to choose a date other than the current one in which your post will be published.

    Why would I want to do that?
    You may want to have a blog post published while you are away on holiday, or you may want to write a series of posts all at once that can be automatically published in sequence, without you needing to do it manually.

    How do I respond to someone else’s blog post?
    If the blog posts' author has approved comments, you can add your thoughts to what they've written using the "comments" box directly below their post.

    Can I moderate other people’s comments on my blog posts? How?
    Yes, it is entirely your choice whether to allow comments and if you do, you can moderate them so that only the comments you choose will be published. When you publish your blog post you'll be given the choice of who can comment and under what circumstances.

    Can I look at just my own blog posts?
    Yes, at the top of the page in the Blog Post tab you will see links for "All Blog Posts", "My Blog Posts". Yours will be in the latter. You can also read anyone's public blog posts by going to their profile (you can do that by clicking on their image or name) and then clicking "blog Posts" in the left column of their page, unless it is grayed out which means they have not written any.

    Can I look at all of someone else's own blog posts?
    Yes. Just go to the person's "My Page" and look in the left hand column for "blog posts". If they have written anything, you will be able to click on that link and read it (assuming it has "read" permissions enabled).

    How can I find blog posts on a particular subject?
    Go to the Blog Posts tab and put the key words for the subject you are looking for in the search box (it's a blank field) on the top of the page. Anything that has been tagged with that key word will show up as a result of your search.

    11) Media - Photos and Video

    How do I upload my media files?
    Go to the drop down menu under the "Media" tab in the navigation bar, and choose the kind of media you want to upload. Click the "Add Photos" or "Add Video" link in the Photo and Video pages and upload your media from the box where you can "browse" for the material on your computer. Note: the Bulk Uploader doesn't work for everyone. If it's not working for you, try the simple uploader.

    Can I upload photographs and videos from my phone?
    Yes. There is detailed information about how to do that in the "Upload Photo" or "Upload Video" pages.

    Can I upload videos from YouTube or Google?
    Yes. Just click the "add video" link under the YouTube & Google icons in the "Upload Video" page.

    Can I add photos from my Flickr account?
    Yes. Just click the "add photos" link under the Flickr icon in the "Upload Photos" page.

    I’m having trouble with the photo/video batch loader – what shall I do?
    The batch uploader seems to be a bit buggy so don't worry - just use the "Simple Uploader" - there will be a link to it from the Bulk Uploader page.

    Why should I tag my media files and how should I do it?
    You want to tag your media files so that others can find them when they are looking for a particular subject or person. There is a text field that will appear below every one of your media files for tags (directly below your description). Fill it out with all the relevant descriptors for that file.

    Can I map my photo or video?
    Yes. If you enter the location where the photo or video was taken in the appropriate box, it will automatically map it to Google maps.

    What’s a photo album, and why do I need them?
    Albums can help you keep track of photographs that belong together, for example photos that were all taken at one training or event, or photos focused on one subject. We recommend that you always use Albums!

    Where do I find everyone else’s photographs/video files?
    When you click on Photo or Video from the drop-down menu in the Media tab, you will see links at the top of the page to both your own videos and to "All Photos" or "All Videos". If you choose "All" photos or videos you will see everyone else's photos or videos.

    Where can I find media files posted by someone specific?
    If you want to see videos or photos uploaded by a specific person, click on their name or photo in the "People" tab or wherever you see them, and look in the left column of their Profile page under their picture. If they have uploaded any photos or videos, you will see a number next to that word, and you can click it to see them.

    How do I rate a photograph/video file or mark it as a “favorite”?
    If you particularly like a video or photograph, you can "rate" it by first opening it (by clicking on the title), and then clicking whatever number of stars that indicates your rating (you'll find the stars directly underneath the photo or video description). You can also mark a video or photograph as a favorite by clicking "Add to Favorites", right above the comment box, which will enable you to find it directly through your Photo or Video page.

    Can I comment on someone else’s photograph/video file?
    Absolutely. Just open the photo or video or audio file and put your comments in the "Comments" box underneath it. Don't forget to click the "Add Comment" box to publish your comment.

    Can I share a slideshow of photographs with people who are not on this community network?
    Yes. Choose one of your own or someone else's albums and open it. Directly below the title photo there are a list of options, including "View Slideshow" and "get Embed Code". The latter gives you a link and code that allows you to post your photos on any website. There is also a button to publish them directly to FaceBook or MySpace.

    12) Events

    How do I add my event to the calendar and what information do I need to include?
    Go to the “Event” tab, and click the “add an event” link in the top right of the page. It will take you through a process where you title your event, add a picture if you want, a short description, indicate an event “type” (i.e. “training”,"conference", etc.), location, website and contact details. When you are finished, click the “add event” button at the bottom right of the page. (Note: the “public” option at the top of the right hand column should be set by default, but if not – just check it unless you want your event to be private and only visible to invited guests)

    13) Tagging

    What is tagging and why is it important?
    On the simplest level, tagging is how we are able to connect with the people and material we are most interested in on this site. In other words, tagging offers us an easy way to make links between the different kinds of information here. It allows us to find other people who are like-minded or interested in or working on the same things you are, and it help us find the material we are most interested in. It's also a way to see and explore the patterns that are emerging in our midst.

    How should I tag my content?
    When you've started a new conversation, or written a blog post, or uploaded some photos or added a resource to the Cybrary, take a moment to think about what you've posted and some words that would help identify the content to others. You can take these words from your copy, or they can be a general descriptive word of something you've written about in more specific terms. Don't stop with just the broad, general terms either - you'll want to start there but feel free to get more specific, and list people's names or other words that will indicate or describe your content. Important Note: in this tagging system words from a phrase will be broken up as individual words unless you either put quotes around your entire phrase, e.g. "the art of hosting", run multiple words together - e.g. artofhosting, or put hyphens between the words, e.g. "art-of-hosting". Remember that whatever you choose as a tag will be the exact term (including hyphens, etc.) being searched for, so try to choose what you think most people will use.

    14) Where can I find more help, beyond these FAQs?
    If you don't find the answer to something you're curious about, please don't hesitate to ask your question in the Conversations area.

    With lots of thanks to Amy Lenzo, webmistress of the World Cafe community, who did most of the work of putting these FAQ together!

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