Running Your Own Online Discussion Groups

June 2005
by Reid Goldsborough

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At their best, online discussion groups expand your business and social contacts, exposing you to information and opinion you wouldn’t find otherwise and to worldwide camaraderie.

In one discussion group I frequent, the camaraderie was recently shattered when the moderator decided to ban one of the regulars who kept sending inflammatory and insulting posts despite complaints from members and warnings from the moderator.

It was an agonizing decision for the moderator, and although members agreed with the decision for the most part, the group erupted into a paroxysm of analysis and debate about the incident.

Among other things, instead of discussing the subject matter of the group, people speculated about the mental status of the person banned. “There’s a lot of anger in him, which is very sad,” one said. Another said that she liked him, and “the rising level of antisocial behavior has me worried for him.” Online, such situations, sometimes, are inevitable.

Online discussion groups can be unmoderated or moderated. In an unmoderated group, people are free, in general, to speak as they wish, with the main constraint being group pressure. In a moderated group, people have to speak according to tighter rules and guidelines or risk having their posts censored or their participation completely banned.

If You Want to Start a Group

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