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Reading Groups

What are Reading Groups?#

Reading Groups are a way for readers to annotate and comment on Texts as a cohort and is geared toward classroom and peer-review use cases. With Reading Groups, readers can create Public, Private, and Anonymous annotation groups; invite others to their groups; and manage group membership. When engaging with a Text, readers can associate their annotations with those groups of which they are a member.

Readers who create a group are considered the group’s moderator. Those who join a group are group members. Presently a group can have only one moderator.

Reading Groups are accessed through the user profile icon in the upper right corner and selecting “Manage Groups” from the dropdown. Once selected you will be taken to the "Manage Reading Groups" Page.

Alternatively, highlighting any passage in the reader will open a pop up modal that indicates the current group under which your annotations and highlights will be associated. When the "Current Group" name is clicked the modal will display all the Reading Groups which your account is associated. The last entry, after the list of Reading Groups, is a "Manage Groups" link that will take you to the "Manage Reading Groups" page.


You need to have an account on the Manifold instance in question and be logged in, in order to see the "Manage Groups" option.

Creating Groups#

New Reading Groups are created on the "Manage Groups" page by clicking the Create New Reading Group button. A drawer will open from the right with the following fields that will define the dynamics of the group:

Group Name#

A group name is required to create a new Reading Group; however, the group name can be modified at any time.


Groups have three privacy options—public, private, and anonymous—that function along the following lines:

  • Public. Annotations and highlights made in Public groups are viewable to everyone—even to readers who have not signed up for an account on the Manifold instance in question—but only group members are able to leave annotations and highlights under the auspices of the group. Annotations made in public groups can be used by instructors to guide classroom conversation across sections, as a means to enhance/transform texts into scholarly editions, to organize engagement around public happenings occurring on campus or at a particular institution.

  • Private. Annotations and highlights made in Private groups are only visible to other members of the group. Private groups can be employed in the classroom setting as a means to facilitate discussion among specific students in a safe environment, without concern of unaffiliated members interrupting the flow and dynamic of that space.

  • Anonymous. Like Private groups, only fellow group members can see those annotations and highlights that have been committed to the group. Additionally the identities of group members are masked from one another—save the group moderator—allowing for texts to be peer-reviewed in the system.


Comment threads are disabled in Anonymous groups. However, readers annotating anonymously can still engage in cross-communication by adding an annotation of their own to the passage in question by way of the Annotation button, located below the quoted annotated passage.

Invitation Code#

The Invitation Code serves as a key to accessing a Reading Group. The code supplied in this field is automatically generated by Manifold upon the group’s creation, and it can be modified or swapped out entirely for a manually input key that may be more pertinent or meaningful.

The Invitation Code can be shared with those intended to be part of the group—via email, text, etc.—and recipients can input it on the "Manage Reading Groups" Page to join the group.

Clicking the Regenerate button on the right will create a new Invitation Code for the group, rendering the previous code inactive, though users who joined the Reading Group previously with an old code will still be members of the group.


Any manual alterations made to the Invitation Code on the "Manage Reading Groups" page will be reflected in the corresponding Invitation URL, described below.

Invitation URL#

An alternative means for readers to join a group is by way of the Invitation URL, which can be sent out via email or included on a course website. Readers who click on this link—whose value is determined, in part, by the active Invitation Code value–will be taken to the Manifold instance and asked to confirm their intent to join the Reading Group.

Readers who are not logged in or do not have an account on the instance will receive an error message when they click the link, indicating they do not have permission to access the group. Once they log in or create their account the page will resolve to the Reading Group confirmation prompt.


The phrase that follows join= in the Invitation URL is the group’s Invitation Code and can be input by readers on the "Manage Reading Groups" page.

Invitation Security#

Security around the Reading Group invitation system is presently soft. If a group moderator selects an Invitation Code already in use they will be alerted that the code is already taken—a tell that provides them the means to join a group to which they were not invited. To ensure other moderators do not intrude on your Reading Group, we suggest employing an Invitation Code not easily guessed by others and enabling Notifications.


When the Notifications field is checked, Manifold will alert the group moderator via email when someone joins the group. This can be used as a guard to ensure only those readers targeted for the Reading Group become members.

Managing Groups#

On the "Manage Reading Groups" page you can create new groups, join a group, leave a group, and see a listing of those Reading Groups you moderate or are a member. Each group in the list includes a tag beside its name indicating whether the group is Public, Private, or Anonymous. The listing also indicates your Role to the group—Moderator or Member—the number of members in the group, and the number of Notations-annotations and highlights-the group has made.

Clicking on a Reading Group entry in this list will direct you to a specific group’s dashboard, where you can see and sort through various engagements the group members have made across Texts.

The first element of the dashboard is the Reading Group’s name. If you are the moderator of the Reading Group there will be two buttons to the right: Edit Group and See All Members. If you are only a member of a Reading Group, only the See All Members button will be available.

Join a Reading Group#

There are two ways for readers to join a Reading Group: by inputting an Invitation Code or by clicking on an Invitation URL. Both means are supplied by way of the group moderator. Readers cannot presently request to join a Manifold Reading Group.

Readers who have been provided an Invitation Code can join a group by selecting “Manage Groups” from the user profile dropdown and entering it in the “Join a Group” field on the "Manage Reading Groups" page.

Alternatively, if the group moderator has encoded the Invitation URL on a course webpage or in an email, readers need only click the link to be taken to the instance and join the Reading Group.

Invitation not working?

See the Invitation URL section for concerns that may arise for readers that click on an Invitation link and are not presently logged in or don't have accounts on the instance.

Leave a Reading Group#

Leaving a group can be done from the "Manage Reading Groups" page by selecting the name of the group you want to leave from the list of groups you are currently enrolled. You will then be directed to the Reading Group’s dashboard where you will select the See All Members button.

From the group’s member list page there is a Leave Group button located to the right of the Reading Group's name. Clicking on that button will allow you to remove yourself from the group. Once clicked you will be prompted to confirm your desire to leave the group.


Any Annotations or Highlights a reader commits to the group prior to their leaving will still be accessible to remaining group members.

Edit Group#

A group moderator can use the Edit Group button (will open a drawer from the right of the screen) to reconfigure any of the group options that were set when it was created, from adjusting the Reading Group's name to changing Notification settings and deleting a Reading Group.

Deleting a Reading Group#

The moderator can delete a Reading Group entirely by selecting the "Delete" option, located above the Reading Group Name field.

When deleting a public Reading Group, all annotations and highlights a user made within the auspices of a public Reading Group will remain in their "My Public Annotations" group. Annotations and highlights made in private or anonymous groups will persist for each individual reader in their "My Private Annotations" group.

See All Members#

The See All Members button allows members to leave, moderators to remove members, and everyone to see what other members have done in the group. If you are a member of the group and click the See All Members button, there will be a Leave Group button that will allow you to remove yourself from the group. The Leave a Reading Group section details this process.

Group moderators and members have the ability to see all annotations and highlights a group member has committed to the group by selecting their name from the list.

Group Information#

Below the Reading Group name and the Edit and See All Members buttons, the dashboard displays high-level information about the group—it’s type (Public, Private, Anonymous), your role in relation to the group (moderator or member), how may members are currently in the group, as well as the number of annotations and highlights the group has made in total across all projects on the instance.

Group Interactions#

Below the high-level information is a paginated, interactive list, documenting all of the Reading Group member’s interactions with the Texts across the instance. In this space members can sort to see the work done on specific Texts or by specific users—or both. Thus, if you are curious to see what everyone has thought of a specific Text, you can select that Text from the "All Texts" dropdown. If you want to see what only a particular group member thought about it, you would adjust both the "All Texts" and "All Members" dropdowns. That said, it is only possible to select one (or all Texts) and only one group member as sorting characteristics at a time.

When the list is sorted to a reader’s preference they can peruse and then select any item in the resulting list to take them to the location of the annotation or highlight to engage with the material further.

Remove a Reading Group Member#

Reading Group moderators can selectively remove individual members from their groups. When a group member is removed they will not receive any notice of their removal; they will simply not have the option to commit their annotations and highlights to the group. Removing members from the group, is done by clicking the Remove button beside the member's name.

Annotating within a Group#

Annotations are a means for readers to engage with the Texts they read on Manifold. Annotations can be private and serve as one’s own marginalia, left publicly to foster conversation among other readers, or they can be associated with Reading Groups. If you are logged into Manifold, when you highlight text with your cursor a pop-up menu will appear providing you various options to interact with the text, along with the current Reading Group to which you will commit your interactions—i.e., annotations or highlights.

By default each reader’s account is associated with two Reading Groups: "My Public Annotations" and "My Private Annotations". Interactions associated with the "My Public Annotations" group are public to everyone viewing the Text, regardless of whether they have created an account on the instance or not. Interactions associated with "My Private Annotations" are only viewable to the reader who makes them.

You can change the group you are committing your annotation or highlight to, by selecting the "Current Group" listing at the bottom of the pop-up. This will show you all the groups with which you are a member. By selecting a new group or by clicking the Back button you will return to the original pop-up menu, where you can choose to annotate or highlight the passage you selected.

If you select "Annotate", a sliding drawer will open from the right where you can compose an annotation that will be associated with the passage you have selected. When you select the Save button, your annotation will be attached to that Text.