(The following post originally appeared on LinkedIn).
When everyone is in agreement I like to put on my Devil's Advocate Hat. Why? Because, oftentimes in my experience, when too many people agree they stifle important facts. I'll explore a few of these here.
Lesson One: Everybody's got an angle...somewhere.
I used to think Twitter was an absurd website until I figured out that it might be one of the most honest sites on the web. On Twitter you accept that everybody probably has an angle. It is okay for them to post (or tweet) something shamelessly about themselves or their businesses so long as the majority of their posts are interesting. We want to be entertained and informed. If their posts are both then their recommendations are more likely to be accepted.
I hate to say it but, for the most part, I think groups like these are quickly being outmoded by twitter-like systems due to this advantage. Google is working on one called Google+ and very large networks in Asia are about to branch into the U.S. Of course, you could still use Twitter itself until it gets trumped by one of the other services.
Lesson Two: Most Posts on the Web Are Crud (because you get what you pay for).
In Lesson One I said that we want to be entertained and then informed, in that order. The simple fact is that most people do not devote much thought to a post. They devote very little thought to it at all. It takes time and effort to come up with meaningful, factual, and valuable content. You just are not going to get that via free online resources completely devoid of the angles I mentioned earlier. Real content can be found via paid online content aggregators, journals, magazines, and the like. If we approach free online content primarily for entertainment value we can have a much more entertaining experience. I know I have.
Lesson Three: Without Transparency We Get Obscurity
When I was a kid I used to ask, 'who polices the police?' Someone would answer, 'the police force that is supposed to do that -- internal affairs.' When I would then ask, 'who polices them?' I wouldn't get an answer. Over the years I've learned that internal methods of self-regulation, like the so-called internal affairs of many organizations, easily break down. Why? For one they often choose to work in obscurity. Without complete transparency there can be no assurance that every decision being made is truly for the benefit of the community at large. There also needs to be open comment and discussion available about and prior to finalizing those decisions.
In summary, organizations cannot reliably regulate themselves without complete transparency, so a single or handful of monitors does not guarantee effective management unless they actively engage the community. Second, trying to derive high-quality content from a forum is like trying to extract aged wine from fresh grapes. Hence, my recommendation is that you relax restrictions to all but the most overt advertising efforts. Lastly, the 'go and post your commercial discussion stuff over there' is outdated. Other sites have found a 'happy balance' between commercial communication and meaningful content. That may not be possible right now on LinkedIn, but that should not stop you from trying to develop as much of it as you can with what you have.Go Back
Citation: Realities of LIMS Forum Management. (2011). Retrieved Thu Mar 23 00:19:08 2017, from http://www.limsexpert.com/cgi-bin/bixchange/bixchange.cgi?pom=limsexpert3;iid=readMore;go=1312657183