My conversation with Sophie today

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I had a very worthwhile discussion with Sophie today, covering a range of topics, none of which are "sensitive", so...

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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 3, 2018 12:00 am
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I was particularly interested to understand whether the feedback that I have been providing is giving the LI Groups team new and useful perspectives and insights, and not just telling them "things they already know". If it were the latter, than I would not bother to continue providing feedback. In the course of our conversation, it became evident that there were areas that had not been raised through their various feedback channels, so I will continue to provide input in these areas - which mainly pertained to different approaches to curating group experience for members without relying on moderation. My focus is in this area, because the three most valuable groups for me have not had any moderation, and the groups range from 200, 10,000 and 100,000 members. (I acknowledge that other groups use and seem to need such measures, but I am keen to ensure that there is provision for groups that do not need these measures.)
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 2, 2018 8:00 pm
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Sophie enquired as to whether there were any areas of additional feedback that I wished to convey. I indicated that it did not make sense to me to provide further requests at this stage. It seems to me to be far better to wait for the re-launch, which will encompass a whole lot of foundational functionality arising from the rebuild / re-integration, and then assess where there are critical gaps and provide input into subsequent releases, which will be much easier and potentially more timely, given the LI Group integration into a common code base.
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 2, 2018 8:00 pm
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I outlined my interests in a platform which would support peer-learning-based-professional-development as I had experienced in 2012-14. For me, Groups had offered an environment in which leading practitioners could share and refine their understanding, articulation and practice of their discipline, which would be of direct benefit to each member, and to the clients and enterprises with whom they interact. These groups had offered value because there were no such comparable opportunities through f2f services in my geographical setting. Time has moved on and different services are available now, but most rely in synchronous communication, whereas the LI platform and other social media platforms allow peer-based-learning through asynchronous interaction at times that suit each participant.

(This is not necessarily the nature of the needs of other groups - I am simply seeking to ensure that future directions offer suitable options in areas that are of value to me and others I know)
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 2, 2018 8:00 pm
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Peter Murchland, I have not been keeping up on the proposed changes but from what I understand currently here are some key disruptive changes:
1. Moderation is gone as the group own is expected to do a background check on each person before they are admitted to the group.
2. You cannot send group announcements

Are those 2 items true and are there any other disruptive features we should be looking forward to?
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Posted by John Jones (Discussions: 368, Comments: 3041)
Replied on August 2, 2018 8:00 pm
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I did not ask or discuss either of those questions.

As I indicated above, I talked about the three groups in which I had been most active in 2012-14 that had no moderation. That led to talking about key behavioural issues in those groups relating to trolls and bullies. We did not talk about announcements at all, but the two larger groups (with membership over 10,000 and 100,000) made no use of announcements, and with the dysfunctional operation of announcements, I have learnt how to operate without that function in my smaller group.
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 2, 2018 8:00 pm
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One of the features that I did talk about was a feature that I have used in groups that I have owned and managed on an alternate platform for the last 20 years. That feature relates to the list of all members of the group where the list includes that date/time last on platform and the date/time last visit to the group. The list is sortable by clicking on any heading, so I click on last visit to group, which gives me visibility on member participation, and whether the member has been on the platform more recently than the group.

With this information, I am able to ascertain whether the member is active on the platform but not in the group, or not active on both. If the latter, then that usually means the member is sick, on holidays, or otherwise indisposed. If the former, then that may indicate that interest in the group has lapsed or other groups are commanding their attention - as there is a limit to how much anyone can keep up with group, article and home feed activity.

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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 2, 2018 8:00 pm
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This allows a number of different actions, such as back-channel contact or initiation of a different topic to test interest, or on LI a mention (not available on the other platform) which could draw their attention back to the group.

I did qualify this conversation as being pertinent to smaller rather than larger groups.
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 2, 2018 8:00 pm
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I did also talk about group size and my experience in peer-learning-based-professional-development groups (which was the purpose of all three groups in which I participated) that optimum membership is probably around 200-300. It has been my experience on other platforms and on LI, that deep discussion typically engages no more than 20 people in active contribution, but with 180-280 actively following the discussion and learning from it.

I indicated that it was my guess that LI would have lots of insight into contributor / participation metrics that I could not even guess at. I also talked about how participation metrics are likely to be a vexed question for LI as marketing revenues are partially derived around membership numbers and gross view stats (as per stats in quarterly reports) where participation numbers would give a different outlook on where activity is occurring.
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 2, 2018 8:00 pm
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So, I don't know what view stats apply to groups, but I do know that in the three groups, there were really only about 20 active contributors, with the larger groups (10,000 and 100,000) having up to about 50 occasional contributors. This experience is what informs my views on sustainable peer-learning-based-professional-development groups engaging in deep discussions.

I would be interested to learn of other, differing experiences amongst other OMMS as this is an area that I continue to hold the greatest interest (and the greatest hopes for using LI Groups).
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 2, 2018 8:00 pm
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Peter Murchland, thanks for that very thoughtful response. I concur with your last comment about contributor numbers. I would not be surprised at all if the number of real contributors on Linkedin within groups amounted to a few thousand while the number of spammers may be roughly the same amount and the number of readers that contribute nothing other than likes may amount to a few million at best.

Those type of stats do not impress the likes of Linkedin I am sure. Group owners get far more out of the groups they own than Linkedin I suspect. This is why I believe it is no trouble for group owners to move their groups from Linkedin. While I am interested in seeing the new communities functionality they come out with, I am personally disinclined to make much of use of it as my external group has far surpassed anything Linkedin brought to the table.
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Posted by John Jones (Discussions: 368, Comments: 3041)
Replied on August 3, 2018 8:00 pm
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John Jones There seem to be some misconceptions about what impresses LinkedIn. Unsurprisingly, the gross number of views is an important metric. It aids in driving marketing revenue (which was 20% of their revenue). Small groups can generate greater activity and views than large groups (based on stats I have shared before). So, it can be misleading to focus on group size as the metric of sole or greatest importance for groups.

In fact, small groups have numerous benefits for LI, for OMMs, and for members:
a) deeper, more valuable conversations
b) higher activity and views
c) lower OMM overheads (little or no moderation required)
d) lower LI overheads (less need for supporting functionality, less need to develop and sustain rules for auto-moderation, more time spent online by members with less need for notification)
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 3, 2018 8:00 pm
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Peter Murchland, given what you say, what advantage does LI provide you over simply moving your group out of Linkedin but using the Linkedin login to make the transition easier? At least if you move it off site, LI benefits from item d) above and you benefit from control, ownership and a more certain, self directed future. If your groups are small, you have no real advantage at LI. You can grow a small group almost anywhere and have a dedicated member base.
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Posted by John Jones (Discussions: 368, Comments: 3041)
Replied on August 4, 2018 8:00 pm
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John Jones Really interesting question!!

I have tried to move a group to another platform and it did not work. I have not fully analysed why …

I know that:
a) the platform was not perceived to be contemporary and did not support email notifications (upon which some people rely)
b) the participants valued going to a single platform, so my group on an alternate platform was competing with multiple groups on the LI platform - ie a question of convenience, but also scale in bringing together different groups of people reflecting any individual's particular interests
c) I know from checking out BeeBee that the scale question is important - even though they had lots of members, they had very few with an interest in my interests
d) I know from participating in one or two groups on Facebook that transitions to that platform don't necessarily work, either.

So there are some interesting dynamics at play. Interested to hear what has worked for you??
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 4, 2018 8:00 pm
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There's been some widespread rumor mongering that LI is doing away with group moderation and announcement posts. There's no evidence to support this but it's spreading anyway. Did you get any insight on these two issues?
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Posted by Christopher Paris (Discussions: 1, Comments: 1)
Replied on August 4, 2018 8:00 pm
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Christopher, I did not seek to gain any insight on these two issues.
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 5, 2018 8:00 pm
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Thanks, Peter.
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Posted by Christopher Paris (Discussions: 1, Comments: 1)
Replied on August 5, 2018 8:00 pm
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One of the topics that came up in our discussion was the approaches taken to dealing with trolls and bullies. I indicated to Sophie Bonnet that I would need to think about how I dealt with these type of people and their behaviours. Sophie suggested that I share this with other OMMs.

I expect that many OMMs will have encountered and dealt with trolls. So, I am not sure that there is anything particularly novel or unknown in this area. The key to dealing with trolls is reflected in common group advice - "Don't feed the beast". In other words, don't take the bait, don't reply, don't respond or challenge. Simply ignore the person as they driver for trolls is gaining attention - and any response is simply satisfying their primary need. Of course, it takes quite a bit of discipline to do this, as a troll can be quite persistent. And it is annoying and distracting for other members.
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 6, 2018 8:00 pm
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But it is a big world with lots of other groups, and lots of other platforms, so the best outcome (for all) is for the troll to find another playground in which to play. This is also where there can be a difference between small and larger groups, and trolls will feel there is more potential for securing attention in a larger group than in a small group. In some groups, members will ask the owner / manager to remove the member. In at least one group of which I was a member, the OMMs were not prepared to take action. I suspect that they would have required a whole lot of "evidence" in order to justify their actions, and found it simpler to take no action. Ultimately, a better outcome arises when the member chooses to move on rather than being forced to move on.

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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 6, 2018 8:00 pm
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The other difficult behaviour in groups is that of bullies. This is harder to deal with in an online, asynchronous, text-based environment than in a physical, face-to-face environment. And even in the latter, it can be a challenging behaviour to deal with.

Bullies have a range of tactics in terms of challenging any challenge to their behaviour. In these environments, they will "play the person rather than the ball", they will challenge, deny, etc. As I reflect back on the bullies that I have dealt with, they have misrepresented what others have said - often to then criticise what has been said. They are typically poor listeners and "full of themselves". So, any disagreement with what they have said is taken personally, because it is a challenge to their self-worth and self-esteem.


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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 6, 2018 8:00 pm
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Another of their tactics is simply to exhaust you, taking you to the point where you "give up". This becomes difficult in groups because it takes away from the conversation that is generating engagement and value for others. It is a distraction and it is annoying for the vast majority of members. So it does not have a good effect on the overall group dynamics. Bullies trade on this, hoping that you will give up, in the interests of group harmony, etc.

If you are operating a group where the means of managing a bully exclude moderating content or denying / blocking membership, then bullies have to be managed differently.

Two of the techniques I have used are:
a) to ignore any of the comments - a little bit like trolls - stop feeding them by simply not replying, challenging, etc
b) to talk around them by directing comments to another group member, making it evident that you are not talking to the bully - yet, you may still be discussing the topic and presenting alternate views

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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 6, 2018 8:00 pm
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Overall, the key strategy I have used is to be persistent (with techniques like those above) such that the bully is forced to "give in" rather than have me "give in". In both instances where this occurred, the bully eventually left the group - once again, most likely to find a more favourable environment where he (in both cases) would be heard and recognised more than was occurring in the group that I was facilitating.
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 6, 2018 8:00 pm
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Yes, please share.
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Posted by Beth Granger (Discussions: 0, Comments: 2)
Replied on August 8, 2018 8:00 pm
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Beth Granger - is there something in particular that you are hoping I will elaborate further on ?
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 8, 2018 8:00 pm
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Peter Murchland Did they share specifics of how Groups will work, the tools we will have or not have as moderators/owners?
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Posted by Beth Granger (Discussions: 0, Comments: 2)
Replied on August 9, 2018 8:00 pm
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No, I did not ask questions in that area. It was evident to me that design / development is so advanced for the current release, that there was no point in seeking to provide feedback, and that communication about what will be released will occur in due course.
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 9, 2018 8:00 pm
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As I think about the space that a group needs to create for valuable, rewarding discussion and peer-learning-based professional development, it occurs to me that this happens in trusted communities where respectful, high quality conversations occur.

So I am going to be watching LinkedIn Group developments very closely to ensure I understand what they are offering and how I can best leverage new features to the advantage of the groups of which I am a member.
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 10, 2018 8:00 pm
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One of the interesting areas to consider is the manner in which attention is drawn to group discussions.

In the past, members were heavily reliant on email based notifications, which drew their attention to discussions and group activity through:
a) Group announcements
b) Selection of none, daily or weekly digests depending on their level of interest and the level of group activity
c) Notifications generated through LI algorithms (rules not fully known or understood and changing over time)

More recently, a number of changes have occurred, notably:
a) release of IoS / Android apps which provide a more readily available and more continuous capability for notifications
b) development of additional notification methods, most particularly "mentions"
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 18, 2018 8:00 pm
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What might this mean?
I am interested in what other OMs have already identified as new practices which take advantage of these capabilities for the benefit of group members?

For example, how might a featured topic and new discussion capture the attention of all members as an alternative approach to Announcements?

Or, how might a network of "mentions" draw active member attention to new and engaging topics and activity?
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Posted by Peter Murchland (Discussions: 14, Comments: 111)
Replied on August 18, 2018 8:00 pm
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