What’s New: Hierarchical Dgroups

We are introducing hierarchical groups as part of Dgroups 2.0 to help structure relationships among groups that sometime exist. Sometimes one communicates on a topic that has both general and specific components that are naturally organized in a hierarchical relationship.

Our Migration Group Hierarchy
Our Migration Group Hierarchy

Our migration team is using this hierarchy to simplify communication. Our top-level group, ‘Migration to D2’ deals with general communication around migration. This group also serves as the entry point for all people we’re involving in the work around the migration process. Yet, we have some specialized topics, like data analysis, observations on the behavior of the new platforms, meeting coordination, and similar. For these specific topics that include only a subset of people involved, it makes sense to treat them separately. This is where the hierarchy comes in: we dedicated a sub-group for each of the specialized topics.

The interesting part is how the platform deals with hierarchy membership: all members of the sub-groups are always members of their parent groups, all the way to the top. If we invite someone to a sub-group, that someone is automatically a member of the parent groups (but not the sibling groups). Membership always propagates upwards. 

Conversely, an administrator of a group is automatically administrator of all sub-groups. Of course, one can assign a new administrator of a subgroup, who in turn can administer all sub-groups of that group, but is only a member of all parents. 🙂 Quite a mouthful to say, yet simplifies user management greatly.

There is no limit how many levels of sub-groups one wants to create, except maybe in practicality of writing an URL that is 1000+ characters long. Each group still gets its own mailing list and a document library, and outside of the URL and membership rules, it behaves like a top-level group.

One Comment

  1. I just learnt about this blog through Peter B and thought I should post my reply to him here rather than by email.
    I think that maintaining tools/techniques that operate through email is primordial to the initiative.
    The Hierarchical dgroups is exactly what is required in the Southern African Dev Community (SADC) region at the moment. We have just been discussing that people currently work well across national boundaries if they are organised by themes; but these thematic networks themselves increasingly also need to share information among themselves to enhance integration of KM. Finally, as these traditional thematic networks start interacting, perhaps initially more at regional level, there is a need to help the people also network across themes at national level. All these combinations are possible using the hierarchical dgroups, while all the people still belong to the larger ‘community’.
    I note the comment about the long URLs for child groups – perhaps a graphical representation of the structure (colour coded clusters) will help navigate?
    I hope that existing groups will be able to transition into the new version as subgroups of larger communities
    Keep us posted!

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