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Online support groups; the concept revisited

My business was boosted incredibly by online support groups for decades. In fact, I can easily say that my past businesses like Medsave (sold in 2008) and OnlineAdviser / OnlineNavigator (no longer active), would not have been successful on building to tens of thousands of users in the 1990s and early 2000s without this online peer support tool. Yet the quality of information, level of activity and overall usefulness of online groups seems to be suffering lately. The overall activity level of online groups has dropped and the “idiocy factor” of lower quality content contributors has increased. Most online support groups have seen and infiltration of bots, scammers, salespeople and generally uninformed people posing as otherwise. There is plenty of indication of lack of interest, lack of due care by posters, missing application of logic and absence of social graces in the online groups I’ve loved over the years. The result, in short, is “garbage in / garbage out”.

Last week in the Successfully Screwed podcast Seth Goldstein of Goldstein Media talked about the value of searching out and joining Slack communities to address this need for better information and support. My initial effort for find valuable Slack groups showed that this might not be so easy; it’s not as if there is any official directory or rating/review service for Slack communities.

This search lead to the discovery of paid access Slack groups; a new and interesting concept. Then, digging deeper, I found that Facebook recently introduced paid access groups. That concept is even more intriguing.

I have already reached three conclusions: 1) I do have a need to access more high quality information in a number of different topics, 2) Paid access online group hold the potential to exceed the value of both public online groups and in-person groups like Masterminds, Chamber of Commerce, development groups, etc., and 3) change is ahead in this area fueled by rapidly developing technology.

I have not reached any conclusions on: 1) what is the best platform for value-added online groups, and 2) how to find and evaluate such groups.

My questions remain open; this blog post in meant to stir further exploration.

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