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If a person is joined to an MSN Group they can contribute to certain areas. Some areas may only be accessible to administrators.
Each group created comes with a default message board called "General". Other message boards can be created for other topics. Members can participate in the group by adding messages and replying using the same interface as used for creating a custom web page. Alternatively, an e-mail can be sent to the group's e-mail address and the message will appear on the General message board. To reduce spam only e-mails from members can be sent. So, even if a member from a group sends a message he or she will need to use the e-mail address specified in their profile. Some groups discourage members from disclosing their e-mail address due to spoofing. The group may have certain guidelines to tell members not to have their e-mail on display in their profile. There is also a separate e-mail address which can be used to contact administrators only.
Documents folders are there for storage and can be made accessible to members or just administrators but not non-members. If adding a file to a documents folder this contributes to the member's storage limit. A photo album can also be created for storing photos and images for the site. These images can be put on a custom web page and on the message boards. Adding images also contributes to the storage limit. Uploading images and documents requires the ActiveX control to be installed. The storage limit is 3 MB across all groups and can be upgraded to 30 MB if the person upgrades to MSN Hotmail Plus (fee). However, on MSN Spaces an unlimited amount of images can be added without the need of paying. So, images can be hotlinked as they are on the MSN domain.
Organising events for the group can be made simple by using the Calendar page. This embeds the calendar as used in MSN Hotmail. Depending on the settings members may be able to contribute to it. Special pages can also be created for lists and links. Again, depending on the settings members may or may not be able to add it.
If a group is placed in a specific category (such as Xbox or MSN Messenger) then a theme is automatically applied. Instead of the default violet-colored bar at the top it will be a themed bar and message boards will contain different colored buttons. Some themes are restricted to groups created in the United States.
- MSN Groups has previously been known as MSN Homepages and MSN Communities.
- Storage reduced to 3 MB from 30 MB (now fee for 30 MB).
- All "Mature" and "Adult" groups were transferred to a third party web site (see external links). Creating or changing a group to "Mature" or "Private" was not possible after October 19, 2005. The removal of all "Adult" groups was processed on November 28, 2005 .
- Some groups have icons displayed next to the name. Official groups by MSN have the MSN butterfly, groups considered "cool" have sunglasses (no longer supported) and previously "Mature" and "Adult" groups had their own icons too.