e-platform for the Faculty of Humanities





Glossary of important AGORA terms. 

Project workspace moderators have 3 options for granting other users workspace access. These options can be found in the dropdown menu labeled “Access check” in the workspace settings. “Deactivate” means that anyone can access the workspace. “Always” means that every membership request must be approved or rejected individually. “Code” means that users can access the workspace by providing a specific code.

Tip: For detailed information on access checks, refer to the corresponding tutorial.

The new term in CommSy9 for "identifier". You can access the account settings by hovering over the profile picture in the upper right corner and clicking on "Account". Here you can change your password, subscribe to the newsletter and edit the dashboard settings.

The choose-action-menu can always be found in the top right corner of the project workspace, both in sections and within entries. It is a drop-down menu that allows you to create new entries as well as perform many other actions such as "Print", "Save", "Copy" and "Delete". You can also use this to create new sections in material entries or to save entries as a new version.


Announcements are a useful tool for sharing important information with all workspace members. When you add a new entry in this rubric, you can enter a title and description and attach files. The “Valid until” date is important. It specifies how long an announcement will remain on the homepage of the workspace. After you save your announcement, it will be displayed on the top right of the entry page, over the workspace banner.

Project workspaces that have been archived can nevertheless be entered as usual. On the contrary, no new members can get access to archived workspaces and it is not possible to create new material or other entries. The archiving process can be initiated manually, as described in this manual. Additionally, after 365 days without acitivity, project workspaces will be archived automatically. Workspace moderators will receive an announcement mail with detailed steps how to adjourne the archiving process. 

Tip: You can also reactivate archived workspaces, as described here.

CommSy stands for “Community System.” It is a web-based system that supports networked project work. CommSy is the section you see after logging in to AGORA. It consists of the workspace overview, project and community workspaces, and all other functions available there.

CommSy is open source software (GPL) that is available for public use. The latest version (CommSy9) has been running on the AGORA platform since September 2017. Universität Hamburg used its predecessor, CommSy8, between 2013 and 2017.

The CommSy bar is the header bar displayed in the upper section of your browser window while you are logged into CommSy. It offers the following functions (left to right): All workspaces, My workspaces, Search, My Copies, My Stack, Dashboard and your profile picture. To sign out, hover your mouse cursor over your profile picture.

Institutes and other organizations can contact the CommSy team to request a community workspace. A community workspace allows you to organize multiple project workspaces centrally. In addition to the usual functions of a project workspace, community workspaces come with the rubrics “Project workspaces” and “Institutions.” You can link your institution’s community workspace to its various associated project workspaces. Setting up a community workspace also makes it easier to manage documents that are relevant to all members of the community. Simply add them once in the central community workspace instead of creating a new entry in each associated project workspace.

Tip: The assignment to a common workspace can be subsequently entered or deleted in the workspace settings under the item "General".

To enable you to manage workspaces optimally, it is possible to assign different roles to the users of a workspace. These include contact persons: these persons are displayed with the "telephone symbol" in the workspace. This signals to the other participants that they should contact this person in case of problems or questions. As a contact person, however, users have no administrative rights.

Tip: You can find an overview of the roles and their functions here.

The dashboard is a new function in CommSy9. It gives you a personalized overview of your activity in CommSy. You can see the latest entries in all your workspaces and a calendar containing dates from all your workspaces at a glance. To access the dashboard, click the icon to the left of your profile image in the CommSy-bar on top of the screen. To edit your dashboard settings, click your profile image and navigate to “Account” -> “Additional functions.”

Entries in the “Dates” rubric are displayed in the calendar or as a list, depending on the workspace settings. You can highlight dates in different colors, set recurring dates, and add files. Members of your workspace can see all important events at a glance, export dates, and confirm their attendance.

The "Discussions" section is an important part of many project workspace and can be accessed in the workspace via the rubric bar. New discussions can be created via the action menu ("New entry"). To add a post to an already existing discussion, call up the discussion and select the lowest action "New post" in the action menu. You can also reply directly to a post if posts have already been added to the discussion ("Select action" -> "Answer").

Tip: To prevent your entries from being deleted (by mistake), please select "to be edited by author only" when creating an entry. Then all participants can still reply, but only you and the workspace moderator can edit or delete the entry.

Drag & Drop describes the method of moving objects by dragging them with the mouse to the destination. In AGORA, drag & drop is used, for example, when uploading files or sorting sections.

A fold-out menu part. Clicking on the window expands a list of different options either downwards or upwards, from which a (different) option can be selected. Drop-down menus are often used when a fully displayed list of options would take up too much space.

The edit icon shows a pen in a rectangle. You will find this in the view of any entry you are allowed to edit (e.g. as creator), to the right of the different areas of the entry (title, description, files, etc.). This icon will appear when you move your mouse over one of the areas. If you click on it, the editing view of the respective area will open.

On the entry page of each project workspace, the user is provided with an overview of which category contains new entries or how many people have actively used the workspace recently. You can also see keywords and categories here, if they are used in the project workspace. At the top of the page you will find the banner of the workspace as well as a welcome text, if applicable. You can also return to the entry page from other categories at any time using the rubric bar on the left. 

Under the heading "Groups", the members of a project workspace can form themselves into subgroups - for tutorials, working groups, or for individual topics, for example. Members of the groups can easily exchange information with each other via e-mail and also set up an access-protected group workspace subordinate to the project workspace, which has the same functions as the project workspace itself.

The "Marketplace" of the AGORA platform provides you with an overview of the site. You can get here directly after logging in and via the CommSy bar, via the "All workspaces" link or the "List of all workspaces" button on the dashboard.  On this overview page you can also create a new workspace by holding the mouse on "Select action" and selecting "New project workspace".

Tip: For more information on the overview of all AGORA workspaces and how to create your own workspaces, see the "Getting started" tutorial.

The “Materials” rubric is used to publish and exchange files and other content. To do this, create a new entry in this rubric and add your texts or files to it. You can publish entries at a later dateembed images and videos, and use many other practical functions. To create a new material entry, select “New entry” from the action menuEtherpad allows you to write texts collaboratively with other users. If you are looking for a specific material, select the entry from the list or use the workspace search.

In the workspace settings, moderators can select the option “Code” from the dropdown menu labeled “Access check” and enter a term of their own choice. This has the advantage that new members can access your workspace immediately upon entering the code, but you still retain control over who enters the workspace. Membership codes are distinct from your password.

Tip: For detailed information, refer to the corresponding tutorial.

Mouse-Over are graphical elements which appear when the mouse pointer is moved over a certain region (e.g. a website/platform/program) or remains there. In CommSy9 they are a central control element and allow e.g. the selection of the edit icon when creating new entries.

"My Stack" is a CommSy function that is suitable as a storage location for content/files used across to workspaces and works independently of workspaces (see tutorial "Depositing content in "My Stack"

The newsletter contains information about changes that have taken place in your workspaces since your last visit: new members, new material or discussion entries, new announcements, dates or tasks. This includes workspaces you have created and workspaces in which you are a member. Your personal newsletter is sent to the email address specified in your account. All news items are linked, so you can access them with a single click. Please note: The newsletter does not contain any general news about the portal. You can specify whether you wish to receive the newsletter daily, weekly, or not at all.

Tip: Adjust the corresponding settings in your profile. You can find more information in the tutorial.

The workspace moderator has the option of selecting the "Participation by participation code" option in the Settings area under the Access conditions item and entering a term of his or her choice for this purpose. The advantage of this is that new members receive access to a project workspace immediately, but not completely unchecked, by means of this participation code, which is similar to a password when they apply for workspace participation. Participation codes for workspaces are not to be confused with the password.

Tip: For more detailed information on this, please visit our corresponding tutorial.

The workspace moderator of a project workspace has three options for how to allow other AGORA users access to the workspace. In the Settings area, he can choose between "Never check participation", "Always check participation" and "Participation by participation code" under the item "Participation check".

Tip: For more detailed information on this, please visit our matching tutorial.

Your password belongs to your uni username. It allows you to log in to CommSy. It is distinct from the membership codes required to enter certain CommSy workspaces.

The CommSy function "Personal workspace" creates a separate area that is only accessible to the workspace moderator and a single student. The workspace moderator can set individual tasks here and then also correct them after completion - only visible to the respective students. The workspace moderator of a project workspace can enter every personal workspace of the project workspace; the students, however, can only enter their own personal workspace. 

Tip: For more information and instructions on how to use it, see our tutorial on personal workspaces.

In the persons rubric you will find a list of all workspace participants. Presenters and contact persons are marked with corresponding icons. Even if the email address is hidden, you can send an email to other people about the workspace. If you call up a person's entry, you may see additional contact details and information provided for that workspace.

By the way, in this rubric you will also find those persons who are still waiting for activation by moderators or are locked, i.e. do not have the status "user". To view this list, change the selection of the displayed status group in the menu "Restrict list" under "Status".

Project workspaces are the main component of CommSy. They allow their members to work collaboratively, exchange materials, join discussions, and so on. Users first log in to CommSy—the “house”—and then enter a project workspace through its virtual “door.” Depending on the setting chosen by the workspace moderator, users can enter a workspace (a) immediately by clicking its door, (b) by entering the membership code set by the moderator, or (c) after the workspace moderator manually approves their membership request. In case of option (c), prospective members are asked to write a short text in which they explain to the workspace moderator why they wish to join the project workspace. Anyone with an UHH user account can create a new project workspace. To do this, log in to CommSy and click “Create new workspace” on the dashboard.

Tip: Have a look at our tutorials entitled “Creating a new project workspace” and “workspace settings” to learn more about creating and moderating project workspaces.

When you want to enter a project workspace, it is possible that you will be asked to provide a reason for participation (instead of code). For example, if you are a participant in the workspace moderator's seminar, let him know by making a short note at this point. The moderator will then have the opportunity to unlock you; once this is done, you will receive an email notification and can then enter the workspace at any time.

Tip: For more detailed information on this, please visit our matching tutorial.

The term "Responsive Design" refers to the automatic adaptation of websites to the characteristics of the respective end device used (especially smartphones and tablets). Since the update to version 9, CommSy is also "responsive" and can therefore be used on almost all conceivable end devices.

To access your workspace profile, move your mouse cursor to your profile image in the top right corner of the CommSy bar and select “workspace profile.” The menus on the left side of the screen allow you to adjust various personal settings related to the workspace you are currently using, including your address, your contact details, and your profile image. You can also cancel your membership in the workspace in this section.

An RSS feed (RSS: Rich Site Summary Feed) collects short information that can be read with a suitable program, the so-called feed reader. Outlook, for example, which is also available to you free of charge in the RRZ's Office 365 for Students package, is capable of processing RSS feeds. You can find instructions on how to do this here.

In each workspace of the AGORA platform (group, project and community workspaces) an RSS feed can be activated. By subscribing to this, you will receive real-time notifications when a person has joined the workspace, materials have been uploaded, etc.

The rubric bar is located on the left side of each project, group, or community workspace. Here you will find the entry page, all activated sections, and, if applicable, the settings for workspace moderators. In mobile view and on small screens, the bar may be collapsed and open to full size when you move your mouse or finger over it.

As a workspace moderator, you can set which sections can be used in the workspace.

Tip: A short overview of the functions of the sections can be found after each link:
Materials | Discussions | Dates| Groups |
Tasks | Announcements | Topics | Users


Sections are used to divide a material entry into multiple parts. To add sections, open the action menu in the material entry and click “New section.” You can add a title, description, and files to the newly created section. To change the order of the sections of a material entry, click “Sections” in the quick navigation menu on the right. Click the edit symbol next to the sections list and rearrange the list via drag and drop.

Tip: Read the tutorial “Structuring room contents” to find out more about sections.

Room moderators can use the “Settings” section to configure their project workspace, set a membership code for future members, or add extra functions. To access the workspace, click the “Settings” button next to the wrench symbol on the rubric bar on the left. Only room moderators can access this section.

Tip: Read our “workspace settings” tutorial for more details.

The “Tasks” rubric enables you to add a due date, planned duration, and status to every new entry. The added information will be displayed in the list of entries. This allows every user to see who is currently working on which task. You can change the status (“pending,” “in progress,” or “done”) of individual or multiple entries via the action menu.

In the To Do-rubric entries can be created, which can be provided with a due date, planned working time and a processing status. These details also appear later in the list of entries. This makes it easy to see at a glance who is currently working on which task. The processing status can also be changed quickly via the action menu, even for several entries at the same time.

The first entry in the “Topics” rubric of a workspace could, for example, introduce the content of a specific seminar. You can then create a path to link the introductory topic to other entries in the correct viewing order. Before you can add entries to your path, you need to link them to your topic first. You can rearrange the path using drag and drop. Topic entries are very useful, as they give structure or a fixed order to multiple workspace entries.

The “User” rubric contains a list of all workspace members. Moderators and contact persons are marked with specific symbols. You can email other workspace members even if their email address is hidden. When you open another user’s entry, you can also see any other contact details and information the user has provided.

This rubric also lists certain non-members—users who have not yet been approved by a moderator and former users whose accounts have been locked. To view this list, use the menu labeled “Change status” under “Restrict list.”

Members of University of Hamburg (regular students, employees) use their uni username to log into CommSy. You can change your password in your account settings.

People who are not members of University of Hamburg can also be given access to CommSy. This includes individuals working on a joint research project with members of Universität Hamburg, for example. They can be invited by their project partners.

If you are still using the “CommSy” source to log in with your old account, you can use the link “Forgot your password?” to change your password.

Do not confuse this with: password, membership code

Tip: Read the tutorial “First steps” to learn more about logging in to your account.

Note: The Wiki is no longer available in the latest version AGORA-CommSy10.

If you create a new project workspace, you will be its moderator. This allows you to adjust its settings, decide who can access your workspace, and so on. You can also grant other workspace users moderation rights.

Users will often turn to the workspace moderators if they have questions about accessing or using the workspace. The contact persons for each workspace are listed next to the door symbol in the workspace overview. All users, even ones who are not workspace members, can use the link “Contact via email” to contact the workspace moderators. 

Tip: To find out more about moderating workspaces and granting rights, read our tutorial entitled “workspace settings.”

You can access your workspace profile by selecting the "workspace profile" field in the section bar on the left-hand side of the screen. Here you can use the menus on the left to make various personal settings that affect the workspace; for example, change address and contact details or edit your profile picture. If you want to leave the workspace, you will also find this option here under Room Profile.