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Re: Removing Groups From Forums


@alanchrishughes said: “What is the idea even behind this “groups” concept? I have been trying to understand it and figure out a way to just work with it, but it just doesn’t make sense, it’s backwards.”

Just waking up Alan, so I hope I haven’t completely misunderstood. Personally, I’ve always been interested in how people respond to software systems. I think one of the main problems these days is that techies are so into, and used to, all things forum-ish, etc., that it’s second nature. People who get into systems like WordPress and BuddyPress quickly become techies, often without realising it, and take up the common language and perspectives of the software system they’re using. However, from the average user’s point of view, everything is very different.

We’ve done a lot of research with local people regarding using community websites. They know what a community is, and they know what a group is, at least in the real world. But mention a forum or a blog and we hear, “A what?! Oh, don’t give me all that computer-speak, and *don’t* try to make me understand all that rubbish”. This from some young people as well as older ones not so used to technology.

In building a social network as we are right now, forums are pretty much useless, and so are blogs. Why? Generally speaking, because in community organisations a forum is a face-to-face meeting of different service providers, and in business an online forum is seen as a bunch of people talking constantly about nothing on the Internet, ie., not much real use in terms of serious networking and increasing profits. Blogs are perceived as even worse: people blathering on and on about nothing of much interest to the world because they haven’t anything better to do, and love to see themselves racking up the page count and traffic day by day. This is our experience here in the UK, at least in our locality.

Groups, on the other hand, everyone can relate to. People form groups in real life, and the word ‘group’ is one everyone readily understands. Consequently, if I tell a local voluntary group that they can have their own online group, and even keep it private if they wish, they respond positively and grasp the idea of posting messages in a group. That’s all a group need be: forums and blogs don’t come into it. The response I’ve personally had to the question of whether someone would like a blog is, “Why?” and to the question of whether they’d like a very useful online forum it’s almost always, “But we already have a forum, twice a month”!

Whether the take-up on our site is good once it’s completed and advertised is dependent upon many factors. One thing I’ve learned to do over the past few years though, is switch off from the latest cool thing like forums within blogs within groups within posts related to other blogs which pull in every social network on the planet because you typed a certain key phrase. OMG yes it’s all so cool, but OMG do you end up with only users who also think it’s cool. The rest of the world don’t flaming well care, and the rest of the world IS the world.

Just my two-pence worth as they say here, but I’d look at what your users will find useful, and how what you’re building will make sense to them in terms they currently understand. In the recent past I’ve tried to enthuse people about all the cool stuff we have available, but unless it relates quickly and simply to their real world tasks it’s a waste of time and effort.

Groups are cool and useful because they reflect simple public/private real world entities.

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