A Quick Guide
to Joining a Yahoo Group

Ralph L. Vinciguerra


You're here because you want to be part of a Yahoo Group. Yahoo Groups are a useful and free way to facilitate communication within a group of people. They are a free electronic internet service of the Yahoo Website. However, they can be a bit tricky to set up properly, and that's the justification for this short guide. Once you have things set up correctly, they cruise along quite nicely.

Basic Concepts

A yahoo group is created by a moderator, who then invites people to participate as members. You can be a member of the group two ways:

  1. Through e-mail only
  2. Through a flexible combination of e-mail and web access

If you initially joined the group with e-mail only access, switching to the more flexible form of access requires setting up a yahoo ID and this usually introduces great confusion, as it's tricky or darn near impossible to get Yahoo to understand that you want to convert your membership mode. Press on, brave reader!

On commercials:
Concerning advertisements, Yahoo will inject these into the various messages that traverse the Yahoo Group implementation. This is a symbiotic relationship, they give us free services in exchange for the presence of advertising messages; similarly to watching broadcast TV. They cannot be disabled; the only solution would be for me to run special software of my own on my server, and I've haven't had the resources, or the quality of internet connection to take that on... yet.

E-mail Only Access

This is a quick and semi-effective way to use a group. In this case you are added to the group (or invited) by the moderator, with only your normal e-mail address as the necessary information.

Messages sent to the group by others will be sent to the e-mail address you give to the moderator. If you reply to these messages, they will automatically return to the entire group (see the "Reply-To" field that you get when your e-mail software stages a reply).

This form of access cannot be directly converted to the more flexible form of access detailed in the next section, unless you take special steps detailed in the next section.

Flexible Access

Having full access to a Yahoo Group has several advantages that are mediated through a central group website that requires you to login with a password:

Establishing flexible access requires one essential task on your part. You must signup for a proper "Yahoo ID" (or account) and communicate that ID to the group moderator. These IDs are free, and enable you access to additional Yahoo services if you so desire (beyond the scope of this humble document). However note that, without this form of identification, the Yahoo Group system can't properly recognize you and grant you access to it's more extensive features.

Establishing your Yahoo ID is easy, so take these steps:

  1. Go to http://groups.yahoo.com
  2. Select the "Sign in" link that appears in various places on this entry page.
  3. Select "Sign up now" link on this new page.
  4. Answer numerous questions, including the selection of a user ID. You withold quite a bit of information to maintain a sense of privacy if you like. Also, Yahoo has a modern privacy policy that you can read up on.

Now that you have a yahoo ID (or had one before):

  1. E-mail the moderator just the yahoo ID. Do not send the password as it should never be shared!
  2. Hang tight, and the moderator will now add you to the group using your new Yahoo ID (and remove your old e-mail address identity if you were signed up in e-mail only mode).
  3. When contacted by the moderator again through your regular e-mail address(through the group) follow these next steps, with pictures of web browser screens and red circles around the steps to take. The Yahoo ID is the fictitious rlv1000 (use your own instead!), the group is named "buildingpride" (you should see your group listed), with a regular e-mail address of rlv@alum.mit.edu (use your own instead!).
  4. Go to the Yahoo Groups system via http://groups.yahoo.com and select "Sign In".
  5. Sign in to Yahoo with your Yahoo ID and password.
  6. Select the Membership Wizard to link your Yahoo ID to your e-mail address.
  7. Read the instructions and continue.
  8. Select "Add a new e-mail address" (for your existing one).
  9. Fill in your existing e-mail address as an alternate address.
  10. Select the alternate e-mail address to be verified
  11. Select the yahoo group identity (profile) to associate with this alternate e-mail address.
  12. Select automatic use of this alternate e-mail address for any future groups that your join (saves you time!).
  13. Goto the mygroups page at the address http://groups.yahoo.com/mygroups and select "Go to e-mail preferences" to verify your e-mail address.
  14. Verify your alternate e-mail address
  15. Confirm your alternate e-mail address by entering your own confirmation code you received to that e-mail account (check it now!) and your yahoo password.
  16. Go to the mygroups page again at http://groups.yahoo.com/mygroups and you should see your membership listed nicely with a link to see the group.

Fear Ye Not

Do not be afraid, or as they say it these days "No Fear!". You can't break anything, and even though I've been a bit verbose above, it's to make sure things go smoothly. The actually task you have to get connected is pretty simple if you keep calm and read each web page that comes before you a couple times over. You'll get the hang of what's going on. Also, the Yahoo system is pretty well documented, but can require some patience.

If all else fails and this task is totally opaque to you, then go ahead and contact the poor overworked moderator. Just kidding, go ahead and get some help!

For of course, if this document had been written properly you'd be all set by now without having to ask extra questions. So, if you followed these instructions, have succeeded, and are muttering to yourself: "If he had just told me X, I'd have saved many minutes of my time." do let me know, so I can add the missing details to this document.

Ralph's Original Publications - 2008-06-25