Planning a conference or event? The Commons offers users the ability to host a group or conference website on the Commons. Groups and sites offer great tools to help with publicity, organization, and registration before your conference.

You will want to decide which aspects of the conference or event you plan to run on this platform. Some options include (from least to most involved):

  • You can spread the word about your conference or event by posting in group forums to which you belong
  • You can create a group to bring folks together to share resources in the library and host discussion in the forum
  • You can create a site and host conference information, registration, submission, and more.
  • You can host  video presentations, share presentation materials, and engage attendees in asynchronous discussion on your conference or event site.

To get up and running easily, check out the Commons Conference Site Template.

Curious to see how it worked out for others? View the Conference Showcase Page here.

Suggestions for running a conference or event are below.

Feel free to reach out to the Commons Community Team with questions by clicking the HELP button above or by emailing We hope to see your event on the Commons!

Before the Conference

  • Create a WordPress site on the Commons.  You can select the conference template (if desired) during the site creation process.
    • On your conference site you can centralize all information about your conference, publish agendas and presentations, advertise, and provide a place where members can blog and comment on other posts. You might want to select a theme with a slider that will showcase presentations and create a buzz.
  • Post it on the Events Calendar
  • Optionally, create a group or a number of groups on the Commons.
    • This can help with organization, provide an addition place for discussion, and launch a permanent space for like-minded colleagues to meet. Groups can provide a powerful social layer to your conference. Tools include discussion forums, announcement boards, file uploads, docs, email notifications, and reply by email functionality.
  • If you have a group and a site – consider linking them for better integration.
  • Get a “CUNY.IS/[yourSiteName]” quick link for your conference site or group (or both).
    • These easy-to-remember, short URLs help make the information about your conference easy to find.

Customize & Map your Domain (optional)

Does your conference already have its own domain name? Or does your department or program have a place where events typically reside? No worries. You can map that address to your site on the Commons. This provides a great way to take advantage of the great functionality available at the Commons while still maintaining a connection to your traditional domain. Users can either type in your domain’s URL or the Commons URL to access the conference site.

The Commons is open to faculty, staff, graduate students, and graduate alums (we do make some exceptions and create some temporary accounts). If your conference audience does not fall into these categories, you can still use the Commons, but keep in mind that Non-Commons members cannot join groups. They can view your conference’s public site and post comments on posts and pages, but they will not be able to subscribe and create posts.

During the Conference

Your conference or event website and group on the Commons can serve as a centralized andinfromation  space and social hub where participants can access information,  discuss issues, post presentations, comment on papers, and view related tweets.  And once the conference is over, the social network you’ve created provides a way for people to stay connected and keep the conversation going, as well as a space to archive what went on.

You can add a Twitter feed directly to your conference or event  site sidebar, using the Twitter Timeline (Jetpack) widget*. The Jetpack plugin must be activated and connected on your site and the widgets must be made available in Jetpack Settings.

After the Conference

You group or site will never be removed from the Commons, therefore  your conference or event group/site will remain archived here on the platform. You can reuse this site each year developing a consistent space over time, or you can clone your site or group to copy over information for your next conference or event.


If you have a WordPress site on the Commons and frequently announce or organize events, check out the Events Manager plugin. It is a neat way to manage and display upcoming lectures, seminars, conferences, meetings, etc. Each event is nicely displayed on its own separate page with an automatically generated Google map pointing to its location. Events can be categorized and tagged, and can be displayed in your site’s sidebar using widgets that itemize them in a bulletted list, or in an interactive calendar. You may also use shortcodes on pages or posts to display all or selected events. This is a great way to organize the way your site displays upcoming events.

Getting Started

Go to Plugins and activate the “Events Manager” plugin. You will notice a new tab on the left-hand side of you dashboard called “Events.” (You’ll also see that the plugin author has included three test events for demo purposes. You’ll want to get rid of these after you get the hang of how the plugin works.) Click on “Add Event” to add your first event. There are seven basic attributes for each event. Only the first two are required: (1) title; (2) date; (3) location; (4) description; (5) thumbnail image; (6) tags & categories; and (7) enable bookings. If you don’t give your event a location, the Google map will (obviously) not appear. If you enable bookings, you can let your users register for the event, and manage tickets and seats. Click here for more info on bookings.

Here is a screenshot of how an event may appear on your site:

Widgets and Shortcodes

The plugin has two widgets, one called “Events” and the other called “Events Calendar.” Simply drag and drop these into your sidebar to give your readers quick access to the events you want them to know about. There are also many shortcodes which can be used on individual posts and pages to list and aggregate events by tags and categories. Here is a page explaining the shortcodes and their implementations. Shortcodes can be used to create detailed calendars of events, or styled lists with thumbnail images.

Settings and Documentation

There are tons of settings possible. One immediate change you might want to make is to switch the date display from European style to month/day/year. The plugin has great documentation and its own demo site. As the author notes about the demo site:

This website is only a small example of what’s possible with this plugin. With all the formatting options and event settings in the admin area, you can style and format events to look the way you want them!