Come Together: An Easy Guide to the New Groups System
An easy guide to the improved Group tools.

Groups exist in Second Life for many reasons. Most of them are social, but there's so many unique variations. Whether you're running an in-world business, being a Volunteer helper, enjoying random titles above your head, or just have a common interest with others, groups help Residents come together.

Second Life 1.12 introduces a whole new Groups system. With Members, Roles, and Abilities, you're finally be able to control "who can do what" within a group, giving you greater organization and flexibility for all kinds of groups.

Members, Roles and Abilities
Three essential terms to understanding the new Groups system are Members, Roles, and Abilities. These all work in conjunction so that your group can get things done.

Member - An individual Resident within a group. If you have four people in your group, then that's four Members. Each and every Member must belong to at least one Role called "Everyone", more on this later.

Role - A collection of Abilities with a name, title, and description. Each group can have up to 10 Resident-configurable Roles, including the Everyone and Owner Roles. Roles are assigned to Members so they can only do these Abilities.

Ability - A specific power that can be performed by a Member as part of a Role. Being able to set group-owned land for sale is an Ability. So is the privilege to vote on group Proposals. There's a broad variety of Abilities encompassing many categories relevant to a group. If you aren't assigned an Ability as one of your Roles, you can't do it.

A fun way to visualize how this works is to imagine the following scenario:

John Omega, a friendly roleplayer, wants to start a spy bureau in-world. He creates a new group called "Stealth & Rhythm", and is automatically the Owner, a Role with all Abilities. Next, he makes a new Role, "Elite Spies", for his longtime friends. He assigns "Elite Spies" Abilities to invite new recruits and more, but does not give them the Abilities to create new Roles and assign Abilities of their own. Just in case something goes badly, John has no fear of having his group wrecked.

Next, John creates a "Rookie Agents" Role and restricts their Abilities so they can't participate in the group's internal voting, nor will they receive a portion of group land sales--but during the course of their training, they'll be able to halt intruders by freezing and ejecting them because they're assigned this Ability.

John then makes a special Role for Doc Starseeker called "The Gardener", whose sole purpose is to landscape the espionage academy's grounds. The appropriate Abilities are assigned to this Role so he can't tamper with group-owned objects, but he can sure rustle up plants!

Once that's all done, John invites Members accordingly: Elite Spies to the Role he set up earlier, as well as Doc Starseeker to the Role of The Gardener. Since John delegated duties to the Elite Spies, they can then invite Rookie Agents and the group grows.

Wait! One more wrinkle arises: John's a big film buff, and wants to allow any Member to control the movies on group land. No problem, he just turns on the "Change music & media settings" Ability for the Everyone Role.

Life, Second Life, is good.

Similarly, these concepts can be applied to a business, club, non-profit, band's fan club, theatrical society, or any other type of group. What matters most is the wide angle of possibilities you can draw from and tailor to your group structure. It might as well be: "Your Group. Your Imagination."

What's Changed - and how this Affects your Existing Groups
Previously in older versions of Second Life, Groups had the equivalent of two fixed Roles: Members and Officers. A third type, Founder (now known as Owner), was mostly symbolic. The old definitions of these terms aren't accurate anymore, so let's get cozy with the new ones.

With the new Groups system, everything's been converted over for you automatically, so there's nothing to worry about; this is just good to know:

Minimum number of members
OLD: Groups had to have a minimum of three Members. Groups with less than three members for over 48 hours would be disbanded, and their group-owned land would be abandoned to Governor Linden.
NEW: Groups have a new minimum of two Members, allowing for groups between a coupled partners without a "third wheel" involved. Groups under two Members will still disband and the same thing happens with group-owned land, but one person isn't a group anyway.

Maximum number of groups
OLD: You could belong to a maximum of 15 groups total.
NEW: Good news! You can now belong to up to 25 groups, allowing for a richer palette of social connections and won't ask "Which group should I drop to make room for a new one?" again!

Benefits for group Founders
OLD: Group Founder status was pretty much symbolic and it was a manual headache contacting Lindens to stop rogue Officers. Founders were also powerless to prevent group land sales, objects being inadvertently or intentionally returned, and worse.
NEW: Group Owners have ultimate power in a group and by default have all of the Abilities. A group can have more than one Owner as well.

Who became the Owner of a group?
Easy! We've already used some rules to determine this. Starting from the top, if a rule is met, the rest are skipped. Go ahead and check your groups to confirm this.

  1. If the Founder's in the group, they became the Owner. (Look in the Group Information > General tab to see who founded a group.)
  2. Without a Founder present, then each Officer who contributed 512 sq. meters or more to the group became an Owner.
  3. If no Officers contributed that much land, then all Officers became Owners.
  4. In an absence of Officers, no one became an Owner. In which case, if you want to take advantage of the new Group system's features, it's best to create a new group.

Role versatility
OLD: Only three types of Roles: Members, Officers, and Founders. Preset abilities which couldn't be changed for what Officers can do that Members can't.
NEW: As many kinds of Roles as you like! Because of the new MRA (Members, Roles, and Abilities) matrix, the generic term for anyone and everyone in a group is "Member".

Role transitions for existing groups
For the many groups that existed prior to the new Groups system, nothing has been lost, but a lot has been gained. There are some wording and functional changes you should be aware of.

OLD: "Member"
NEW: Everyone who used to be a "Member" is now in the generic "Everyone" Role.

OLD: "Officer"
NEW: "Officer" Role keeps the same word, but it's merely an arbitrary name that can be changed. Plus, as will be explained more in a bit, every "Officer" is also in the "Everyone" Role. The settings have been transferred to match what you're already familiar with. For example, the "Officer" Role can still return objects on group-owned land, because that Ability has been automatically assigned during the conversion.

Note: If you create a new Group, "Officers" will appear as a generic, preset Role. You can take it as a starting point or fine-tune and customize it.

OLD: "Founder", effectively an "Officer" but having the additional status in the group's info.
NEW: A group Founder gets assigned the "Owner" Role, and is still listed--unchangeably--in the Group Information panel. And like the "Officer" Role, you can change the "Owner" label to anything you wish--like "Her Royal Majesty"--provided you're the Owner or have the proper assigned Abilities, of course

Note: The "Everyone" Role, like its name implies, can't be deleted. Every single person, or Member, in a group will always have the Abilities in the Everyone Role. Think of it as a common set of Abilities you want EVERYONE to have. Therefore, it's generally not a good idea to turn on some of the more powerful Abilities for Everyone.

Group Roles are additive (and addictive!)
This is one of the most significant improvements of the new Groups system, and may take some time to settle in. That's okay, you'll get used to--and find uses for it.

There's no old equivalent for it, and the way it works is: you can assign more than one Role to a Member.

For example, say you're the director of a new art gallery. You have a Role called "Artists", for the creators who'll populate your gallery with their lovely creations, and another Role called "Promoters", for your loyal street team who'll get the word out. Most of your team fits into one Role or another, but you happen to have a very talented ingenue who's skilled at both. What do you do? Make a third Role called "Artist and Promoter"? No! There's no need.

Instead, in Members & Roles tab > Members sub-tab, you'd just click on her name and check BOTH roles in the Assigned Roles section. Those Abilities will be added--meaning the powers will be combined, and the Member will be able to do everything an "Artist" AND a "Promoter" can do. Remember: Members can belong to more than one Role. A group can have up to 10 Roles, including the Everyone and Owner Roles.

Tip: You can create Roles which have a single or a few Abilities enabled, and assign them as "bonuses" or "special exceptions" to select Group Members. For instance, as the owner of a wacky "Walking Only" club (part of the parcel settings), you could award a "VIP of the Week" with a Role which allows them to fly on group land--yes, this is an Ability!

And remember, EVERYONE is in the permanent Everyone Role--at all times.

Group L$ Distribution
OLD: Group liabilities and dividends, such as the L$30/week cost of a parcel listing in the Find directory or the distribution of proceeds from sold group-owned land, were divided equally amongst everyone in a group with no control.
NEW: A new Ability has been especially created for this, "Pay group liabilities and receive group dividends". Now you can control WHO partakes in group L$ payments. Distribution of L$ earned from group land sales hasn't changed and still happens overnight, but there'll be future improvements to come.

Note: To ease the transition to the new Groups system, the Everyone Role has this Ability checked by default. It can be easily be unchecked and limited to other Roles in a group.

Group Elections
OLD: A Member could be promoted to Officer via group vote. Historically, this unfortunately resulted in undue abuses, and wasn't a useful feature on the whole. A group election was also used to chose a new leader after the last Officer left the group.
NEW: Any Member in a Role with the right Abilities can promote and demote other Members from Roles. The last Owner of a group who tries to leave will be asked to confirm if they really want to do this, and Owners are free to add other Owners at any time, allowing for clear successorship.

Group communication
OLD: Voting proposals used to be sent out to simulate group-wide communication. This was a "fake" way of doing it and proved rather clunky.
NEW: Responding to the community's demand for getting messages to the masses, a Notices tab has been added to the Group Information panel. It's as easy as typing a message and pressing "Send Message"--provided you're assigned the proper Ability to do it, of course. Notices appear in a bright blue box to catch the attention, and since a single item can be attached too, this makes distribution of inventory a snap. Still hoped for down the road is a real group inventory. Voting lives on in the Proposals panel, to be used for what it's actually meant for.

The Group Information Panel, Explained
There are three basic ways to get to the new Group Information panel so you can explore the possibilities of the new Groups system for yourself. You should be a group's Owner to get the most out of this.

  1. From the top of your screen, Edit menu > Groups. From the listing of groups you're in, select one and click Info, or double-click it.
  2. Right-click your avatar, then select Groups from the pie menu. Same as the above. (If you're not in an "Owner" Role in any of your groups, you can create a new group for L$100 by clicking the "Create" button here--since you founded it, you'll be the Owner.)

Main Tabs
In the Group Information panel, there are five main tabs at the top: General, Members & Roles, Notices, Proposals, and Land & L$. Each contains help tips, if you need more help, click on the "?" buttons. In some tabs, you can also pause your mouse over checkbox labels to get more info. There's also a Refresh button in the lower-left corner which, when clicked, assures you're seeing the most up-to-date info.

At first, this panel may look more sophisticated than the way it used to be done: that's because it is! But it's also a lot more flexible. Chances are there are things you wanted to do within a group before but couldn't, because of a lack of control. Well, as you can see, that's changed!

The heart of the actual editing of Members, Roles, and Abilities happens in the Members & Roles tab. Click on it and you'll notice three sub-tabs titled Members, Roles, and Abilities. Each of them is designed to be easily cross-referenced so you can quickly get a good idea of who can do what. For example, click the Abilities sub-tab. Click on any Ability, they're neatly labeled in categories, and below, you'll see Roles with the Ability, and by extension, Members in those Roles with the Ability.

To summarize: Members are assigned to Roles, and Abilities are assigned to Roles, allowing for "who can do what".

Members Sub-tab
So if you think of it that way... click on the Members sub-tab. The purpose of most of the controls is pretty straightforward. Click on your name in the list and note your Allowed Abilities. Also observe that under Assigned Roles, "Everyone" is checked and grayed out--it's permanently on for all Members of a group. Also, as a group Owner, you'll permanently be in that Role unless you leave the group, pending confirmation.

Roles Sub-tab
Now, click the Roles sub-tab (press Ignore Changes if it comes up). Click "Create New Role" and you'll instantly see, aptly enough, a New Role. You can then proceed to fill out a Name, a Title, and Description if you wish. You can't assign Members to a Role from here--that's done in the Members sub-tab. But what you can do are assign Abilities to a Role. Under Allowed Abilities is the whole buffet. Scroll down the list and familiarize yourself.

The Members are visible checkbox will show Members in this Role in public listings to others who aren't in the group. You can uncheck this for privacy reasons.

Abilities Sub-tab
The Abilities sub-tab allows you to view an Ability's description and which Roles and Members can execute the Ability. In case the list of Abilities wasn't understandable enough, you can view expanded descriptions by clicking on the Abilities sub-tab and clicking on specific Abilities for more details.

Tips and Tricks
The Members, Roles, and Abilities sub-tabs each have a Search field near the top. Use them to find what you're looking for. It's very handy if you have a big group.

When you're comfortable, you can go back to the Roles sub-tab and assign Abilities to this new Role. Be sure to press "Apply" when you're done.

A group with a single Resident is no fun, so if you're feeling lonely, now would be the time to bring in some of your friends. Return to the Members sub-tab, and click Invite New Member.... A Group Invitation panel will come up. Click Open People Chooser, find names, and select them to be invited. You can invite many Residents into to a single Role at once.

Warning: Be VERY careful with what you select from the Choose what Role to assign them to pop-up menu. Invitations can't be cancelled after they're sent, and it's up to the recipient to accept or decline. If they decline, you won't get a message, they just won't be added to the group. "Everyone" is always selected by default.

Once your group's populated, you're well on your way to bigger and better things!

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
The title's a quote by Uncle Ben to Peter Parker from the movie Spider-Man. Even the maverick web-slinger recognized the value of groups in superhero teams, and since knowledge is power, you can read on to find out more.

Some notes about the power and responsibility of Abilities:

  • The Assign Members to Roles and Remove Members from Roles Abilities can be used on any Role except Owner (unless you are an Owner). This means only an Owner can add another Owner. An Owner also can't remove another Owner, but Owners are free to leave the group at any time.
  • Similarly, Assign Abilities to Roles should be assigned cautiously, for whoever has it can give themselves, and any other Member of the group except an Owner, all Abilities. As a group Owner, think of it as dangling your housekey right in front of your door instead of personally handing it to someone who trust.
  • Use of the Eject Members from this Group Ability: an Owner can eject anyone except another Owner. If you're not an Owner, a Member can be ejected from a group if, and only if, they're only in the Everyone Role, and NO other Roles. To remove Members from Roles, you need to have the Remove Members from Roles Ability.
  • If you're not sure what an Ability does, check out its expanded description in the Abilities sub-tab or ask for help!

Owners have ultimate power and responsibility of a group, and hopefully by being well-informed of the potential consequences of assigning Abilities, you'll ensure that your group continues to grow and prosper.

Note: DON'T take a chance. DON'T let this happen to you. DON'T give Assign Abilities to Roles to someone you don't have 100% confidence in as it's a very powerful tool.

General Tab
A Group Insignia is fancy language for a logo, scribble, or whatever imagery represents your group. If you don't have one, click the gray X and choose a texture from your Inventory. Similarly, a Group Charter, the box to the right, can be a description of what the group is about, a mission statement, or even a poem in iambic pentameter, if you're that artistic. Both of these must be PG to comply with the Community Standards because they're publicly viewable from any region, so please keep the nudie pics and salty talk out of it.

If you belong to multiple Roles in a group, you can select from any of their titles by using the My Active Title pop-up menu. It'll display over your name inworld. If it's not, go to Edit menu > Preferences > General tab and look next to "Show Names" to make sure your title isn't hidden. Also, in your group listing (right-click your avatar and select Groups), click the right group and Activate it.

The Member Name, Title, and Last Login columns are sortable, so if you can view this area for a group, you can see when its Members last came inworld. This is configurable on a per-Role basis by going to Members & Roles tab > Roles sub-tab and toggling the Members are visible checkbox.

As mentioned before, if you don't want to receive Notices from a group, uncheck Receive Group Notices.

Members & Roles Tab
In the Members sub-tab, you can select multiple Members by holding down Ctrl key and clicking on names. By doing this, you can then assign more than one Member to a Role at a time, using the Assigned Roles section.

Also in the Members sub-tab, Eject From Group does so immediately without a confirmation. This is useful when you kick out several Members who start causing trouble, be careful and don't click it accidentally! Also, you can view any Member's profile by double-clicking on their name.

Notices Tab
A group Notice's message can be up to 511 characters long, so write wisely! Also, if you have Send IM to Email turned on in the Preferences > IM tab, you'll receive Notices via email while logged out of Second Life.

With the right Abilities, you can control which Roles can send and/or receive Notices and view past Notices. You can also selectively turn off receiving Notices for yourself if you're getting spammed. This is done under the General tab, with the Receive Group Notices checkbox.

You aren't able to send folders, so if you want to distribute multiple items, you'll need to drag them into the contents of another object (a generic cube will do) and send it instead. Permissions must be set correctly: only objects which are both copyable and transferable can be sent.

Proposals Tab
Proposals are a way to take the group's "temperature" on a certain issue, but they shouldn't be used to spam a group. The results of a Proposal have no functional effect on a group, it's up to the Members, in particular the group's Owner(s), to decide what happens next.

Land & L$ Tab
Under the new Groups system, contributions to group-owned land continue to have a 10% tier bonus and will be reported in the Your Contribution and Total Contribution in this tab. Learn more about the group tier bonus in the Group Land section.

Now that you know much more about the new Group system, it's time to get your group on!