Crabgrass is an internet organising tool, developed and hosted by riseup, that allows a network or distributed group of people to have discussions, store files, and cooperatively write ‘wiki’ pages online.
The first thing you need to use it is an account. If you don’t already have one, go to crabgrass.riseup.net and click ‘create new user’.
Once you have an account, you can join any groups that you need to. The web address for Transition Heathrow is: crabgrass.riseup.net/transitionheathrow
Within the Transition Heathrow group, there are a bunch of committees. These allow you to access and create content relevant to different subjects in one place, where access can be restricted if neccessary. Committees are best used for content relating to working groups or projects, and anyone is able to create a new committee should they need to. To join a committee, you may need to be invited by an existing member, although for most you can simply add yourself.
On the main page you should see all Transition Heathrow content that you have access to. You can click on a committee icon to take you to it’s page, which will only show content that belongs to that committee.
A useful feature of committees is that you don’t need to be a member of the main Transition Heathrow group to join them, so if you’re working on a project with people from different groups you can create a committee to share content with them without giving them access to any other Transition Heathrow content outside the committee.
To add content to the main group or any of the committees, go to the relevant group or committee page, select the ‘Pages’ tab, then click the ‘create page’ button at the top of the menu on the left. You’ll be given the option to create different types of pages. The main ones to consider are ‘Group Discussion’ for general questions or points for consideration, ‘Wiki Page’ for content that will need to be edited or re-drafted, and ‘File’ for any non-textual content that needs sharing.
Polls, Surveys, Votes and Task Lists are useful tools to use in specific situations. Their use should be fairly self-explanatory.
Using crabgrass can help to streamline discussions, enable cooperative working and reduce the volume of posts being sent to shared email lists. To keep track of information shared within the group, regular summaries of important updates and discussions added to the crabgrass site could be posted to an email mailing list. For important updates, you can use the ‘Send Notification’ option to notify everyone with access to the page of the fact that a change has been made.
Using crabgrass takes a little while to get used to, but is generally straight forward and intuitive. If you want more information, you might want to read all about Crabgrass.