Net Tools to Help a Friend in Need

This is a thinking out loud/research post about possible net tools to help a friend in need. I’ll call that friend F. F is due to undergo a major medical procedure w/in the next few months or so, and she’ll need help. More help than just one or two people can provide. She’ll need help from a good-size group. We’ll need to communicate with each other to share news, but, more importantly, to issue calls for help and friendcare.


F is on Facebook. Naturally, F has friends there, too, which makes Facebook a natural (and possible) starting place.

We could start a Facebook group, open by invitation only, for those F wants to be involved in her care during this whole procedure. And somehow make it private, so that the select group of F’s friends can communicate w/ one another — what’s the news? Who’s able to go and help and be with her and take care of her? That kinda thing.

Facebook’s private groups for families. Maybe we can commandeer that for a friendly-family group?

The group, once created, looks like any other Facebook group with a Member List, Discussion Board, Wall, Events Section, etc. However, there’s a big difference between this group and others you’ll find on Facebook. It’s a completely private group, not visible to anyone else.

Facebook explains this in the “Group Type” box:

This is a secret group. It will not show up in your profile, and only admins can invite members.

In other words, you can post away in here without worries that your online friends will see your activity. The only exception to this, unfortunately, is with the events. When you go to create an event within the group, it’s shared either with your local network (in my case that’s Tampa Bay) or all of Facebook. The supposedly “secret” group is listed as the host of the event. So much for privacy. It would have been nice to use this feature to track family gatherings, but there’s no need to broadcast every anniversary and family reunion to the entire social network that is Facebook.

Sadly, this Events section is yet another example of how Facebook forces public sharing on you even while pretending they’re offering you a completely private venue.

Google Calendar

Well, I wasn’t even thinking of Facebook events for that. My sibs and I have a common Google Calendar that we use to monitor dates in common, especially that concern family health care. Appointments, stuff like that.

Google Calendar seems to be a good thing to coordinate appointments and who’s signed up for caretaker duty. Jill Doughtie has a great post describing how two households use calendars to deal with personal, shared, and common calendar events to keep track of dates for the kids.


An email list for news, coordination. Advantage — once everyone is signed onto the list, all any one member has to do is send email to the list; it arrives to all. Can set these up to be private and not open to invitation, I think.

Other Possibilities

Ning. Can work well, can set it up to be private, but it’d mean a new login for people who probably already have login for Facebook and Yahoo. The same goes for Vox, which has good privacy tools for private posts. But Vox doesn’t have one member of group can communicate with all.


Have you had to coordinate with a group of people to help a friend in need? What net tools did you use? Do you have any thoughts or advice for me (us)?

3 responses to “Net Tools to Help a Friend in Need”

  1. Rebecca

    I just started using Doodle . . . it’s a great way to plan an event without anyone having to register, sign in, create a user name etc. We found a date in common for a family dinner without a million emails back and forth.

  2. Ann Erdman

    Hi, Susan. I passed on the link to your site to several friends and family. Thanks!

  3. Kelly

    I’m a Yahoo groups fan.