Just finished posting a comment over on Marc Blasi's blog about the whole group topic.
Here's the comment in italics, followed by additional commentary:
Good morning all. I received an urgent request from another in this discussion to chime in with my two cents - so here goes - apologies in advance if it doesn't seem all that inspiring!
Although I have "joined" a number of groups, I have yet to use them as a means of finding posts I want to comment on. I joined them so that I could, if I thought it applicable, add a post of mine to the group at the time I made the post. I was prompted to do this by a group leader who thought one of my posts would be a great addition to that group. In order to add the post, I had to join the group so that I had the option at time of posting.
Perhaps a solution would be that the group leader, if they find a post they think should be brought to the attention of the group members, has the ability to "add" the post to the group - even if the author isn't a member (sort of like a "guest author") - or just post with a link to the post they want to highlight, perhaps along with a word or two of why they think the group would be interested.
Personally, my instinct is that checking for posts in various groups for me at least is akin to checking multiple voicemail accounts. Forget to check one, and that's the critical one that you missed. So I'm inclined to stay "centralized" - but I understand others like to group - and that's fine with me.
I think the question of groups comes down a personal preference - or personality preference.
Can subsets on Active Rain help support cliques? Absolutely - but it's important to realize that cliques will form regardless of whether there is a place on AR for them to "group".
Is a clique inherently "bad"? Not in my opinion. Ask me the same question about the corporate world and you'll have to excuse me rolling on the floor laughing for a few minutes!
Active Rain is a "social" environment, where all members, however involved they choose to be, can read thoughts, opinions, debates of other members, even chime in if and when they choose to, and is an entity driven by "attraction" rather than "mandate".
To that end, I see no use of a hierarchy of mandates, other than to keep things reasonably organized, and those decisions are rightfully limited to Matt, Caleb and the other two AR "owners". They know that if AR proves unattractive - people will not come, and those that do will leave. It's in their best interests to make it as attractive as possible. I for one decline to second guess their decisions, experimentation, and anything else they choose to do in efforts to improve AR - they are far more informed and qualified than I am on the topic - otherwise I would be the founder of AR or it's equivalent!
It's great to hear the debate over various aspects of AR by the members, as I'm confident Matt et al are listening, and are influenced by what they hear. It's called a feedback loop. Nothing starts out "perfect" - although AR did a pretty darn good job of hitting that target! Over time, things that improve survive, things that stagnate do not long term, and things that are riddled with problems depart quickly.
In my humble opinion, Active Rain is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and will look much different and improved a year from now, if not sooner. It's the nature of evolution and technology. I intend to remain a part of it.
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