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August 03, 2007

What's the point of a Facebook group?

I couldn't help noticing one or two of my Facebook 'friends' joining the Scalable Semantic Web Architectures Fb group.  How ironic is that - locking away semantic Web discussions in an almost entirely non-semantic, non-open forum like Fb?  Good grief.

I've yet to see a Fb group that did anything other than fragment discussion away from other, better forums - though in most cases even that doesn't happen, since in most of the groups I've joined there isn't much discussion full-stop.

Don't get me wrong - I like Fb... I just don't understand what useful purpose groups serve in anything other than a purely trivial context, which is after all what Fb is best at.

So what are Fb groups good for?

  • They make a point, either in the creating of them or the joining of them.  They say something about who you are, what your interests are and what you believe in.
  • They offer a reasonably useful place to share photos of people in the group, particularly for smaller groups of real friends.  The photo-tagging feature is quite nice, provided one is willing to ignore the 'locked-in content' type issues.
  • In some cases they might put you in touch with other people that share your interests and that you don't know already - but I'd be interested to know whether this ever happens much.  My suspicion is that it doesn't.
  • Group names can sometimes be quite humorous (in the short-term).

I've yet to see any other benefits.  What am I missing?  How could this situation be improved?

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Comments

Couldn't agree more.. :-)

Good points Andy, we recently set up a facebook group to form an action group on Sydney's bar licencing law reform. FB was quite useful for quickly and easily creating a space for sharing oppinion and for providing a medium to quickly grow the group (500+ names in less than two weeks is pretty good compared to the effort required).

A similar group we know of that has been running longer has 1,000 so collectively we are able to talk to 1,500 interested people - all in the matter of few weeks and with very minimal effort.

We are still exploring how these numbers can then be leveraged into action (do people on Facebook want to move from joining and freind related banter to political action?)

We received strong press in the weekend papers so the group has also had a useful publicity effect outside FB.

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