e-platform for the Faculty of Humanities





Glossary of important AGORA terms. 

Access check

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

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


To access your account settings, move your mouse cursor over your profile image in the top right corner of the screen and click “Account.” In this section, you can change your password, subscribe to the newsletter, and change your dashboard settings.

Action Menu

The action menu is located in the top right corner of every project room. You can access it from the various rubrics and from individual entries. It is a dropdown menu (labeled “Choose action”) that allows you to add new entries and carry out various other actions such as “Print,” “Save,” “Copy,” “Delete,” and so on. You can also use this menu to add new sections to material entries and save a new version of an entry.

Announcements (rubric)

Announcements are a useful tool for sharing important information with all room 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 room. After you save your announcement, it will be displayed on the top right of the entry page, over the room banner.


Project rooms that have been archived can nevertheless be entered as usual. On the contrary, no new members can get access to archived rooms 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 rooms will be archived automatically. Room moderators will receive an announcement mail with detailed steps how to adjourne the archiving process. 

Tip: You can also reactivate archived rooms, 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 room overview, project and community rooms, 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.

CommSy bar

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 rooms,” “My rooms,” “Search,” “My Copies,” “Stack,” “Dashboard,” and your profile image. To sign out, hover your mouse cursor over your profile image.

Community room

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


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 rooms and a calendar containing dates from all your rooms 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.”

Dates (rubric)

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

Discussions (rubric)

The “Discussions” rubric is an important component of many project rooms. You can access it via the rubric bar. Its action menu allows you to create new discussion (“New entry”). To add an entry to an existing discussion, open the discussion and choose the bottom entry of the action menu (“New article”). If others have already contributed to the discussion, you can answer them directly (“Choose action” -> “Answer”).

Drag & Drop

Drag and drop refers to moving objects from one place to another with your mouse cursor. In CommSy, you can use drag and drop to rearrange lists such as the navigation.

Drop Down Menu

Drag and drop refers to moving objects from one place to another with your mouse cursor. In CommSy, drag and drop is used, for example, to upload files and rearrange sections.

Edit symbol

The edit symbol is a pencil inside a square. This function is available for all entries that you can edit (e.g., as the creator). It is located to the right of the various sections of such entries (title, description, files, etc.). It appears when you move your mouse cursor over one of these sections. When you click it, the editor for that section opens.

Entry page

Each project room has a homepage. It contains an overview of new entries in the room rubrics and shows how many people have recently been active in the room. If tags and categories have been activated for the room, they will also be displayed here. On top of the page, you will see the room banner and an introductory text (if one has been added). The rubric bar on the left allows you to return to the homepage from any rubric.

Groups (rubric)

In the “Groups” rubric, members of a project room can form subgroups. This is useful for tutorials, working groups, and individual topics. The group members can communicate via email and create their own private group room that is part of the project room and has the same functions.

Materials (rubric)

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 room search.

Membership code

In the room 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 room immediately upon entering the code, but you still retain control over who enters the room. Membership codes are distinct from your password.

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


Mouseovers are graphic elements that appear when you hover your mouse cursor over a specific area of a website, platform, or program. They are important control elements in CommSy9 that allow you to click the edit symbol when you add a new entry, for instance.


The newsletter contains information about changes that have taken place in your rooms since your last visit: new members, new material or discussion entries, new announcements, dates or tasks. This includes rooms you have created and rooms 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.


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 rooms.

Project room

Project rooms 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 room through its virtual “door.” Depending on the setting chosen by the room moderator, users can enter a room (a) immediately by clicking its door, (b) by entering the membership code set by the moderator, or (c) after the room 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 room moderator why they wish to join the project room. Anyone with an UHH user account can create a new project room. To do this, log in to CommSy and click “Create new room” on the dashboard.

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

Reason for membership

When you try to enter a project room, you may be asked to provide a reason for joining. If you participate in the room moderator’s seminar, for example, tell them so in a short message. Afterwards, the moderator will be able to approve your membership. You will receive a notification email once you can enter the room.

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

Responsive design

The term “responsive design” describes websites that automatically adapt to the requirements of their users’ devices (especially smartphones and tablets). Version 9 of CommSy is fully responsive and can be used on nearly any device.

Room moderator

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

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

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

Room profile

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

Rubric bar

The rubric bar is located on the left side of each project, group, or community room. It contains links to the homepage, all activated rubrics and, if you are a room moderator, the room settings. If you are viewing CommSy on a mobile device or other small screen, the bar may be minimized. It will expand when you move your mouse or finger over it.

If you are the room moderator, you can activate or deactivate individual rubrics.

Tip: You will find a brief overview of the functions of each rubric after the corresponding link.
Materials | Discussions | Dates | Groups | Tasks | Announcements | Topics | User


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 room, set a membership code for future members, or add extra functions. To access the room, 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 “Room settings” tutorial for more details.


The stack is a CommSy function that allows you to store content and files independently of a specific room. You can use these entries in any other room. (See the section: “Storing content in your stack.”)

Tasks (rubric)

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.

Topics (rubric)

The first entry in the “Topics” rubric of a room 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 room entries.

User (rubric)

The “User” rubric contains a list of all room members. Moderators and contact persons are marked with specific symbols. You can email other room 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 Universität 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 Universität 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: At the moment, the wiki is available exclusively for members of the assigned AGORA workspace. In contrast to it's predecessor, this wiki can not be entered from outside the workspace, e.g. by typing the URL. It currently remains unclear whether or not the wiki will be published later. 

The wiki is a tool similar to Wikipedia, in which users can collect and share information on a website that is seperate from AGORA. In addition to text entries, all kinds of media (including images, videos, audio files etc.) and links to wiki-internal links or external websites can be included. Only one wiki can be assigned to a workspace.

Tip: For further information, please consult our Tutorial on that topic.