Ideas on Handling Large Groups, or why you may not want them.

B Butler found* that large, active, groups were able to attract more members. However, they also lost more.  While more activity helped retain members, it was not as powerful as group size.

For a Community manager, my takeaways were:

  • Spend your energy not in helping large groups communicate but breaking them down to smaller sizes.
  • If you are looking to have a large churn of members, then you want to go big. A more long term membership would stay small.

Another option Butler mentions is coming up with alternative ways of communicating. He has several ideas. (Two of which seem to me as more or less creating groups.)

  • Use special symbols or jargon to help categorize content.
  • Use summaries, agendas, and standardized presentations to allow the audience to select.
  • Edit out the extraneous stuff that is not of interest or has more cost then benefit.

The paper also puts forward a resource based framework from which to understand groups, as well as what groups provide, and large groups pros and cons

*  Membership Size, Communication Activity, and Sustainability: A Resource-Based Model of Online Social Structures  Brian S Butler  2001

(Hat tip to R Millington )

About John

Interested in how information intersects daily life, technology, and art. Collaboration specialist, working in social and collaborative media. Biomedical Informaticist, focusing on patient/patient, patient/provider communication.
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