Hi Ally – sorry for the delay getting back to you.
We’ve been working on a solution to this for a few days recently, and I still hope to have something better in place by the end of March.
For the moment, all I can suggest is that you email or message your invitees with the group’s URL: https://www.talkphysics.org/pg/groups/25280/east-of-england-physics-teachers-group/ , and ask them to click on “Request membership”, a button they’ll see on the left-hand side of the group’s homepage.
The problem is that Elgg was never meant to handle people’s real names, so the list of invitees is in order of their username, and as a double whammy, it treats capital letters entirely separately from lower case letters. Barry is under the “G”s because he chose the username Gaelach. Likewise, Gerry chose the username “g.blake”, and so he appears after all the people who have usernames that begin with capital “G”. You can find someone’s username by clicking on their profile picture and seeing the last part of the URL.
What we’re hoping to implement is ordering everyone by first name + surname, ignoring case. That isn’t completely straightforward and wasn’t obvious when TalkPhysics began with a few users.
I certainly agree that what we have isn’t satisfactory.