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Managing successful online communities

Matt
 

CrossFit suspends Facebook and Instagram accounts

A month ago, CrossFit, Inc. posted a scathing blog entry outlining why they made the decision to quit Facebook and Instagram.

I first came across CrossFit back in early 2007 when I was looking for new ways to improve my fitness. Their fitness programming was a breath of fresh air. Most workouts were based around either long cardio workouts such as running or traditional gym workouts with weights and machines.

CrossFit successfully combined the two into a short intense workout which gained popularity very quickly.

I was a fan immediately and followed the WODs (workout of the day) as closely as possible and watched the early CrossFit stars emerge.

CrossFit, Inc. is very strong-minded. Their press release cites several reasons for their abandonment of the Facebook platform.

Quote

Recently, Facebook deleted without warning or explanation the Banting7DayMealPlan user group. The group has 1.65 million users who post testimonials and other information regarding the efficacy of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. While the site has subsequently been reinstated (also without warning or explanation), Facebook’s action should give any serious person reason to pause, especially those of us engaged in activities contrary to prevailing opinion.

Facebook and its properties host and oversee a significant share of the marketplace of public thought. To millions of individuals and communities across the world, Facebook and its properties remain the platforms where ideas and information are exchanged. Facebook thus serves as a de facto authority over the public square, arbitrating a worldwide exchange of information as well as overseeing the security of the individuals and communities who entrust their ideas, work, and private data to this platform. This mandates a certain responsibility and assurance of good faith, transparency, and due process.

CrossFit, Inc., as a voluntary user of and contributor to this marketplace, can and must remove itself from this particular manifestation of the public square when it becomes clear that such responsibilities are betrayed or reneged upon to the detriment of our community. Common decency demands that we do so, as do our convictions regarding fitness, health, and nutrition, which sit at the heart of CrossFit’s identity and prescription. 

They also expand on this and believe that "Facebook collaborates with government security agencies on massive citizen surveillance programs such as PRISM", "Facebook, as a matter of business and principle, has weak intellectual property protections and is slow to close down IP theft accounts." and "Facebook has poor security protocols and has been subject to the largest security breaches of user data in history."

It's certainly a bold move.

CrossFit does have a legacy forum system which dates back from its early days which gets some use still.

I think that investing in that community platform through modernisation along with a solid community building strategy could pay dividends in them taking back control of their conversation without fear of falling foul of any heavy-handed moderation beyond their control.

Modern community platforms like ours have plenty of tools to automate basic moderation, encourage more engagement and work well on mobile devices.

CrossFit, Inc join Lush Cosmetics as high profile brands that have taken themselves off Facebook completely.

Do you think we'll see a resurgence of owned-communities?

Edited by Matt


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Interesting...

Not the article itself, too much tinfoilhat-y for my liking, but more and more business and people are realizing that FB takes more then it gives back. 

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Facebook is going no where but it seems, their are tons of bureaucracy issues with it. Until we find replacement for Facebook, it will be here for a long time. 

Smaller communities are also going no where yet but imagine the cost of hosting something? Example - Youtube - you post the videos and make the $$ out of it. Now if you need conversation place, Facebook is good choice because no additional fees. 

Gaming communities - they are also slowly moving to different things - example Discord. Everything happens live. Why a gaming community, needs to pay additional 625$/year + additional recurring cost, while free alternative exist which has Mobile app, as well. 

The only descent way to make money out of your website is only if you have direct contact with advertisements because definitely Google ad-sense doesn't pay you much. Over the years, I have seen lot's of good content getting lost because website owners have no intention to keep stuff going. 

Facebook, Discord, etc etc is all free, free. So for starting, it get's more easy to host stuff on it and requires no additional skills. Just click, click and done. One of the reasons, I think reddit, is so popular, now a days. 

Edited by AlexJ

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36 minutes ago, AlexJ said:

So for starting, it get's more easy to host stuff on it and requires no additional skills. Just click, click and done.

Only one of thousands makes "click, click" and has success. The most out there do not have any luck with Facebook and Co. either. There are tons of dead groups and channels. The time as it was so easy is gone. Nothing is easy in internet nowadays. Nor in Facebook neither with own community. You can succeed with both, if you have right ideas. It is not a medium or platform that decides about success. 😉

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7 hours ago, AlexJ said:

Facebook is going no where but it seems, their are tons of bureaucracy issues with it. Until we find replacement for Facebook, it will be here for a long time. 

Smaller communities are also going no where yet but imagine the cost of hosting something? Example - Youtube - you post the videos and make the $$ out of it. Now if you need conversation place, Facebook is good choice because no additional fees. 

Gaming communities - they are also slowly moving to different things - example Discord. Everything happens live. Why a gaming community, needs to pay additional 625$/year + additional recurring cost, while free alternative exist which has Mobile app, as well. 

The only descent way to make money out of your website is only if you have direct contact with advertisements because definitely Google ad-sense doesn't pay you much. Over the years, I have seen lot's of good content getting lost because website owners have no intention to keep stuff going. 

Facebook, Discord, etc etc is all free, free. So for starting, it get's more easy to host stuff on it and requires no additional skills. Just click, click and done. One of the reasons, I think reddit, is so popular, now a days. 

Some thoughts in no particular order: 

1. Yes, Facebook will be here for a very long time.  They've done an exceptionally good job of making the service as sticky as possible for users, with games, marketplace selling, and soon their Libra coin.  

2. Facebook and Discord is not free.  There's a false sense of free with those services, where it's literally costing you your user data and privacy.  

3. Whether or not Facebook and Discord are easier to start a new community on, they're exceptionally bad for large communities with a lot of activity.  There's no long form communication or organization on those platforms, which makes to hard to save and retain the best content.  

The one overwhelming takeaway from this article is that anytime you rely on another platform, you're at it's mercy.  The only way to protect yourself is to run an independent community.  You lose a lot of the platform's benefits, but you control your own destiny.  

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4 hours ago, Joel R said:

The one overwhelming takeaway from this article is that anytime you rely on another platform, you're at it's mercy.  The only way to protect yourself is to run an independent community.  You lose a lot of the platform's benefits, but you control your own destiny.  

This. I can never understand what drives anyway to spend hours running and moderating a facebook community that could literally be on the verge of being closed at any time. The facebook group that accompanies my forum will most certainly be shut down for racism at some point and there will be nothing I can do about it

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16 hours ago, Sonya* said:

Only one of thousands makes "click, click" and has success. The most out there do not have any luck with Facebook and Co. either. There are tons of dead groups and channels. The time as it was so easy is gone. Nothing is easy in internet nowadays. Nor in Facebook neither with own community. You can succeed with both, if you have right ideas. It is not a medium or platform that decides about success. 😉

No - I think you are partially wrong, their. On Facebook, I am part of some gaming groups, health groups and financial trading stock groups. Crazy active groups. I have also seen lot's of recipe/cooking group and even kids group exist where mom's ask question to other moms which my wife is part of. 

Facebook is all marketing play because audience is readily available. People even sell stuff through FB and make crazy $$ out of it. 

I can also see their point. I had asked question to different group owners, why not create your own website? Each one had said similar lines - why invest time, money and effort and then ask users to register on it through Facebook or other things while they can do it directly on Facebook? 

Their are tons of groups on Facebook - similar to tons of gaming, health and tech, etc. websites. I see no difference. You pick the one which is active and either get help their or help someone else. 

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9 hours ago, Joel R said:

2. Facebook and Discord is not free.  There's a false sense of free with those services, where it's literally costing you your user data and privacy.  

Discord is crazy popular atm. Not in just gaming world but even in professional stock traders and many other people from different field are using it. The whole privacy stuff - I agree with you but the reality is only minority of % people care about it. If majority would care - Facebook user base would decline but it's not actually.  Facebook user base out of all odds, is actually growing. From Facebook earning call - 

https://investor.fb.com/investor-news/press-release-details/2019/Facebook-Reports-Fourth-Quarter-and-Full-Year-2018-Results/default.aspx

 

9 hours ago, Joel R said:

 3. Whether or not Facebook and Discord are easier to start a new community on, they're exceptionally bad for large communities with a lot of activity.  There's no long form communication or organization on those platforms, which makes to hard to save and retain the best content.  

IMO - i see it as opposite. My kid had eczema when he was 1 year old due to less humidity in house because of crazy winter spell in east coast. I was able to find Dr. through Facebook and got support and suggestions through FB group. People where really communicative and in fact people use FB messenger same as forum PM but it is instant conversation saving my time.   In today's world, time is value and everyone wants faster feedback, replies and support. Someone post on FB, you get notification if you have opted in and you either help or pass it on or ask Q.  Plus the accessibility through App makes it much faster. No down time much and no maintenance required. Select some good moderators and you are good to go. No need to worry for webserver, php, database, turning, etc etc.

9 hours ago, Joel R said:

 The one overwhelming takeaway from this article is that anytime you rely on another platform, you're at it's mercy.  The only way to protect yourself is to run an independent community.  You lose a lot of the platform's benefits, but you control your own destiny.  

It's same with IPS or phpBB or Xenforo. If I use IPS platform, I am at mercy of IPS. If i use FB, I am at mercy as of FB. So for a user that always has been the case. Not for Matt or Brandon because they are geeky masterminds :)  

 

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55 minutes ago, AlexJ said:

On Facebook, I am part of some gaming groups, health groups and financial trading stock groups. Crazy active groups. I have also seen lot's of recipe/cooking group and even kids group exist where mom's ask question to other moms which my wife is part of. 

Facebook is all marketing play because audience is readily available. People even sell stuff through FB and make crazy $$ out of it. 

I am part of some webmaster forums, yoga and hiking. Crazy active forums. I have also seen lot's of fashion forums and even mom's forums where moms talk to each other. They even sell stuff through their forums and makes crazy $$ out of it. :biggrin:

This is still a prove for nothing. Neither that FB group is easy and own community is hard to maintain, nor vice versa. 

 

Edited by Sonya*

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44 minutes ago, AlexJ said:

My kid had eczema when he was 1 year old due to less humidity in house because of crazy winter spell in east coast. I was able to find Dr. through Facebook and got support and suggestions through FB group.

And I know a guy who had hemorrhoids. He did not want to join hemorrhoids FB group. He has found a forum and was able find Dr. through it and got support from other forum members. Most of them did not want to use their real name there to some reasons 😉 

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3 hours ago, AlexJ said:

It's same with IPS or phpBB or Xenforo. If I use IPS platform, I am at mercy of IPS. If i use FB, I am at mercy as of FB. So for a user that always has been the case. Not for Matt or Brandon because they are geeky masterminds 🙂 

You have the data on your server (or if you are on our cloud plan, we will give you a copy when you leave) and there are numerous conversion tools for other platforms.

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7 hours ago, Sonya* said:

And I know a guy who had hemorrhoids. He did not want to join hemorrhoids FB group. He has found a forum and was able find Dr. through it and got support from other forum members. Most of them did not want to use their real name there to some reasons 😉 

I think that is completely acceptable, I had seen, similar case for STD's. I was trying to do research on some pharma companies for future pharma growth for their next generation medicine pipeline for trading stocks and I figured that. :)  I was just sharing other side of the experience. That's why I had said first in my comments - "Smaller communities are also going no where yet"

 

3 hours ago, Matt said:

You have the data on your server (or if you are on our cloud plan, we will give you a copy when you leave) and there are numerous conversion tools for other platforms.

I mean to say was tomorrow you can decide to shut down IPS. Then all my 5 licenses are worthless and over the period, I have lost some good data since their was no good alternative for the add-ons which I was using in previous version. Ex - IP.Tracker. Loved it! Sadly, no good solution to that addon. While I migrated the board from IPS 3.x to 4.x lost data over it. In that sense, I am at mercy of what you guys decide. :) Another example is IP.Subscription - using IP.Nexus just for subscription now. 

What I was mentioning was when people choose free stuff i.e. FB page, they make precise decision for using it knowing the fact that it can be gone next month. Lot's of Youtube channel folks, need a place where their viewers can interact in real time and they use Discord. Same for Facebook. 

For me at the end - use what meets your requirement.  :) 

Edited by AlexJ

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On 6/20/2019 at 8:18 PM, jair101 said:

Interesting...

Not the article itself, too much tinfoilhat-y for my liking, but more and more business and people are realizing that FB takes more then it gives back. 

Well, with regards to "tinfoil-hatty" - ever since I saw that article with pictures of hardware such as routers en route to countries like Pakistan being opened by the NSA so they could plant bugs in them, then send them on their way - and ever since this was admitted to by the NSA - I think anything is possible.

With regards to owned communities, one can only hope - but to face facts, the majority of people are lazy and like bright and shiny things and answering 10 questions which tell you what kind of Idaho Wood Spider you are, so...don't hold your breath.  But I would like to see more and more owned communities decenter the social libido of the public sphere, which is clearly monopolised by...CORPORATIONS.  Yes, obvious, but one should never forget what the implications are for corporations, which can only be counted on to...well, act like corporations.

I was never surprised about the whole Cambridge Analytica fiasco, nor am I surprised that the NSA, Five-Eyes, or [insert govt. organ here] has access to any and all data on such platforms.  You have to be a true believer in 1990s-era "Internet means global democracy" naivete and euphoria to think otherwise.

I can't help but wonder if these things move in some sort of dialectical rhythm (Jung called it enantiodromia)whereby things transform into their opposites (and back again)...everything gets concentrated in select corporations, there is a "revolution" of sorts where this power is dispersed and decentered, only to swing back around again...who knows?

</political crank> 🙂 

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IF this pre-trial judgement about defamation sticks, Australian companies would do well to leave FB and use a system that allows contnet to be approved before posting.

 

From Guardian Australia

Major media companies and Facebook are scrambling to come to grips with a landmark ruling by an Australian judge that found publishers are legally responsible for pre-moderating comments on the social media site.

On Monday in the New South Wales supreme court judge Stephen Rothman found that commercial entities, including media companies, could be regarded as the publishers of comments made on Facebook, and as such had a responsibility to ensure defamatory remarks were not posted in the first place.

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21 hours ago, GlenP said:

IF this pre-trial judgement about defamation sticks, Australian companies would do well to leave FB and use a system that allows contnet to be approved before posting.

 

From Guardian Australia

Major media companies and Facebook are scrambling to come to grips with a landmark ruling by an Australian judge that found publishers are legally responsible for pre-moderating comments on the social media site.

On Monday in the New South Wales supreme court judge Stephen Rothman found that commercial entities, including media companies, could be regarded as the publishers of comments made on Facebook, and as such had a responsibility to ensure defamatory remarks were not posted in the first place.

Yeah...not that I'm leaping to defend the ghetto that is social media, but that judge is completely out of it where social media is concerned.  But wouldn't it be nice if that precedent strangled social media content to the extent that people returned to independent communities which can (theoretically) offer higher quality content?

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The only thing missing for me from IPS is an app so people can get notofications instantly (about PMs, likes etc - that should be configurable like forum notifications). We have a webhook on discord for posts and stuff, but that's the most important missing thing that comes to mind which could help in community building for me.

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On 6/26/2019 at 10:58 AM, Nebthtet said:

The only thing missing for me from IPS is an app so people can get notofications instantly (about PMs, likes etc - that should be configurable like forum notifications). We have a webhook on discord for posts and stuff, but that's the most important missing thing that comes to mind which could help in community building for me.

I agree. I think being able to have an app for your website would make it more competitive against others such as Facebook and other social media platforms.

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On 6/26/2019 at 10:28 AM, liquidfractal said:

But wouldn't it be nice if that precedent strangled social media content to the extent that people returned to independent communities which can (theoretically) offer higher quality content?

I like this thinking. 

The only way we can do this though is to constantly remind people that the convenience of FB comes at a high cost. 

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