Help with Groups Instant Messaging

Why virtual support groups?

Everyone in the group lives with Parkinson’s disease, is online (without the need to have a degree in Information Technology) and connects in ourchat rooms on Skype 24/7 in real time – whenever at least two members are logged in (= green) at the same time. They socialise, swap stories, discuss their medication, and together share the burden of a chronic progressive movement disorder.

Skype Gerald introduced Skype IM (Instant Messaging) groups for people living with Parkinson’s a few years back in Austria, where some groups are now running since the beginning and never went quiet for a single day. Places are limited, therefore group members gather from a particular region, and from time to time also organise face-to-face meetings as well.

To join a group, go online, download Skype for Windows, Mac OS or Linux – or get the apps for your smart phone or tablet. Then connect with the host of the group yo would like to join, so they can add you as a new member to their private group. It’s by invitation only – so there are no intruders. And Skype offers other uses too, like video or audio calls.

Join the group IM

  1. Download Skype for free at (the free version will do, and there is no need for extra hardware like microphone or speakers if you use the software for instant messages only).
  2. In your privacy preferences select "Allow messges from Anyone" (which is important, otherwise you will only see messages of your own contacts in the group).
    Skype privacy preferences settings illustration
  3. Connect with my Skype Name gerald.ganglbauer or one of our local hosts, stating that you want to be added to a Parkinsonline group. If there is no group in your area, we wil be more than happy to help you setting up a new virtual group. Or, we recommend becoming a temporary member of an existing group.


The "secret" Skype emoticons

Finger (finger)
Bandit (bandit)
Drunk (drunk)
Smoking (smoking)(smoke)(ci)
Swearing (swear)
TMI (tmi)
Toivo (toivo)
Rock (rock)
Headbang (headbang)(banghead)
Bug (bug)
Fubar (fubar)
Heidy (heidy)
Mooning (mooning)
Poolparty (poolparty)


Skype Group IM – do more than just calling

Quickly typing messages in an instant message (IM) is great, especially when you need to share addresses and links. You can share stuff with loads of people in a group IM.

  • Instant message with lots of people at once.
  • Paste website addresses or news directly into messages.
  • See what others said when you were offline.

You can even catch up with all the messages sent by the group when you’re offline. The messages come up when you next log on to Skype so you need never miss a thing again.

Typing indicator

Group IMs are a great way for lots of people to chat about all sorts of things. If there are a lot of people in a group IM it’s really useful to see who is currently writing a response. With the latest version of Skype there’s a useful feature that shows a pencil next to a contact’s name when they are writing something. Now you can tell at a glance who is about to respond in the group IM.

Edit your message

Instant messages are a nice quick way to get information to your friend, especially when it’s not convenient to talk. We sometimes get into the habit of hitting the send button before checking what we’ve written and it’s only afterwards that we notice we’ve made a mistake. That’s when it’s really handy to be able to edit a message.
Right clicking on the message will bring up an option to edit it or remove it entirely.
For this to work, everyone in the IM need to have the latest version of Skype.

Save group IMs

If you’re in a really interesting group IM (e.g. Parkins|on|line NSW), you can save the group in your contact list (on a PC) or bookmark it (on a Mac). This is handy for regular conversations with family or business contacts. Pick them back up again whenever you need to, without having to set up the group all over again.

Message alerts

Even if you want to be involved in a group IM, sometimes it’s not convenient or you just don’t need to know everything that's being written. For those situations it’s possible to turn the alert messaging on and off. You can even set up alerts so you only see messages that contain a key word, for example, your name.