I have seen several posts now that talk about the new Group feature of AR. Earlier today, Marc Blasi, talked about the wrongful placement of posts within a group. Others have talked about the confusion of the groups. And still some debating of the good and the bad, and let's thrown in the ugly.
I am writing this post because I have not seen an official "how to guide" on groups.
So, let's begin.
Step 1: Before creating a group, scroll through and see if there is already a group. Chances are it has already been created. For instance, I was one of the first people to create a group. I created the group Mortgages. It was a place for mortgage professionals to post all posts relating to mortgages (whether it be for our own information, for realtors, or consumers. Since I created the group, 5 or 6 other groups have been created specifically for mortgage professionals, with the newest one being created yesterday.
Step 2: If you are creating a group designed to target a market area, do so on a general area. For instance, the entire state of Florida or even a region (I.E. South Florida or Southwest Florida). There is no need to be specific, and narrow the group to a specific city, unless your city is big and notable like NYC.
Step 3: When you finally get ready to create the group, think of a name that describes the group in general terms. Examples - Mortgages, Active Rain Newbies, The Chic Book Club. By seeing these names, you have an idea as to what they are for.
Step 4: Now you have created a group name, but you have to give a description. Be general, but specific. You want the group to include a broad discussion of topics within the main category of the group, but at the same time you want it to specific as to what should be posted. For instance, for The Chic Book Club, they description is "Active Rain Chic Book Club - reading books and learning from each other!" Very General. One could write a post about the "DaVinci Code" under this description. Perhaps adding a few more words to the description like "Active Rain Chic Book Club - reading books and learning from each other to better our skills." Now, it removes pleasure reading. (I don't think people would include pleasure reading in this group. I was merely using it as an example)
Step 5: Member activities within the group. Here is where you can grant or deny postings to the group. Most of the groups have open postings becuase that is the purpose of the groups. Right now, I only know of one group that blocks postings. That group is my AR Speed Networking Group. Each week a single member will have access to post a topic for others to answer on. After the post has been put up for discuss, the block goes back up. The purpose is to keep the discussion for the group limited to one topic at a time. By using the block feature, you can control the amount of discussion that take place.
Step 6: You are officially up and running with your new group. You now have several members. You can edit the rights of each individual member within the group. Use this wisely because you do not want to hurt feelings by allowing some people access and others limited or none at all.
Now, on to etiquette within the groups.
1. Do not spam or advertise within a group, unless that group is meant for advertising.
3. Do respect the intentions of the group and contribute to the group.
4. Do make your post available to the master blog platform. If you post specifically to a group, you are loosing those that have not learned to join groups, not joined your group, or have chosen to not go the way of the groups.
5. Administrators of the group should delete those posts that do not pertain to the group. Now, there is some question as to if the person should be notified that their post has been deleted, or blocked. I am of the mind that no they should not be notified. Reason, they should know that their post does not belong there. If they have a problem and want to dispute the fact, the poster should contact the administrator via email. If the poster makes a valid claim, the administrator can unblock the post. (Note: Blocked posts still show up on the administrator's blog page.)
If you took the initiative to create the group, you took on the responsibilty to monitor what is put in the group. We all joined the groups to read and communicate with those that have similar interests, not to have off topic items thrown at us. Think of it as you went out to a club that plays light jazz. Tonight is open mic night. After the fourth song, someone gets up and starts out in heavy rock. That is not what you wanted to hear. It is you job to make sure that this does not happen.
6. Administrators should contact repeat violators to notify them that any more wrongful posts will result in a blocking from the group. Make sure that you follow up with the warning.
I believe that this is all for now. As the groups grow into more established communities, I am sure that more etiquette will follow. But for now, this is a starting point to make sure that everyone is on the same page and to ensure a more pleasant experience. If you have any other ideas on etiquette that should be followed within the groups, please feel free to share.