Groups are Grrrreat

Connect has been live for several weeks now. We spent only a few days running it concurrently with original Connect, and then Rich slapped redirects in place for the old URLs. It didn’t make much sense to maintain two instances

Traffic, which had dwindled significantly has ramped back up to between 13-15,000 pageviews each week. This isn’t super heavy volume for Connect, which is a good thing as we work out the kinks.

The early analytics show that groups are a big hit. From our experience with Connect a year ago, we’ve always know that groups is the killer feature. That’s why we added them to Mix. People have been asking for Groups since we launched Mix, and now, they’re joining Groups like crazy.

One interesting effect I’ve noticed with groups is that the early ones have been based on affinity, e.g. Apple technology or iPhone or Linux. I noticed a couple of these pop up, so I added a few myself. It’s always interesting to see what your colleagues are interested in, whether technology or hobby or both.

One note that amused me was the formation of an Enterprise 2.0 group. Its membership quickly grew to 60 plus people, but there is very little activity within the group. Ironically, one quarter of the activity was Billy’s snarky comment about my joining the group. After all, I’m not a fan of the term.

My guess is this will be pretty common, i.e. people will join groups and wonder what happens next. We’ve seen this on Mix, and frankly, we have some work to do with the groups UI to make it more useful. RSS helps, and when we roll out email subscriptions and digest emails, that will help too. Still, we need to focus on making the UI better.

Right now, participation isn’t necessary, but once teams try to use Connect for real collaboration and productive work, we’ll want this to be intuitive and easy. I mean more intuitive and more easy.

It will probably be a while before we get a lot of work-related groups started, so we’re huddling in a conference room next week in Pleasanton to brainstorm the design.

If you read here with any regularity, you’ve probably used Mix and are familiar with Groups. What do you think would help the UI design? Stuff to add, ways to make it more engaging for collaboration.

Any other suggestions? Sound off in comments.




  1. I'd like to see a real profile field (instead of what we're doing now, just putting it in a field) for twitter username and then allow me to easily follow all the tweeters in a group where I'm a member. @topperge was telling me about his idea for this which involved a whole separate website just for that. There still may be need for that (after all, not everyone I know is on Mix or associated with Oracle–I know), but seems like an interesting potential application for groups.

    The other stuff about messaging to a group could be a useful way for me to replace the RAC SIG notification emails I send a couple of times a month and just have Mix do that for me instead :). Similar groups may find that to be more effective (and easier to maintain–no listserv or other stuff needed) than current solutions. I know I would and it'd allow RAC SIG members to use other features of the site as well. I'm sure that many if not most of the RAC SIG members aren't even using Mix currently.

  2. So you want a Twitter ID field on the profile, surfaced in group members? Trying to think how that would work, since most people won't have one. Would make for a lot of whitespace, but OK.

    I think sending mail from groups may be a no-fly for us with GIS, which I think has pretty strict spam controls on Oracle-owned mail servers. Wouldn't digests meet this though? Since we're investigating digests though, it would be possible if you triggered the mail by posting something.

  3. You're probably right–I guess it seems like there quite a few tweeters,
    but I suppose there probably aren't a significant percentage of mix
    members. At least not yet.

    As for mail, yes, I suppose that might work, but in thinking about it
    more, there's a possibility that people won't like the hassle of being
    forced to register for Mix (even though it's great) since we'd still
    want their profile on the site (since we gather
    RAC-specific info from them during registration). So, maybe it wouldn't
    work for my case, but digests do sound interesting in general.

  4. Unfortunately, registration is a must have. It's hard to run a social network if you're not enforcing some ways to ensure that people are 1) people and not bots and 2) who they claim to be.

    This may be an area for an OpenSocial app, to port profiles from an existing system. We can do data portability among our sites more easily due to implicit trust. Assuming you trust us 🙂

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