I Should Care About Grouply’s Survival?

In http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/GrouplyImprovements/message/195
Shal said:
On a purely business level, you may as well ask them to turn out the lights and close the doors.


In this sentence, and in the overall thrust of his post, Shal seems to refer to some sort of necessity that we take into account Grouply’s business interests.  I do not see any necessity for telling a group owner that they must now accept a new paradigm for their group’s experience just because someone’s business interests are at

Many (if not most) YG owners are volunteers running non-profit civic types of groups where nobody has a business interest except Yahoo!, who deserves to make money on the service they are providing to us for free, and does it in a way that costs group owners nothing but the sweat of their brows to make a good thing happen for their group members.  If Grouply offered those group owners an option (a true OPTION, not an imposed thing they must opt-out of), then perhaps they might also deserve a piece of the business pie, if what they offered had value in the opinion of the group owner.

How this massive movement of volunteers in online communities should be deemed NECESSARILY open to companies like Grouply making money off of our painstaking work for our group communities (I refer to Shal’s phrase, “on a purely business level”), against our will, is beyond me.

Grouply CLAIMS to be improving the members’ experience.  Some members may agree with that, and that’s their prerogative, of course.  Group OWNERS also have rights and prerogatives.  Those owners who do not agree with their Grouply-fan members should not be subjected to having the groups that they OWN “opted-into” a third party service that they find contrary to their groups’ interests, regardless of what anyone else thinks of those owners’ opinions about what is good or bad for their groups, especially when they are “opted-into” it by a tiny minority of members (or even JUST ONE member!) who have no right to unilaterally change the paradigm on which the owner built and manages the group.

Nobody is obligated to take into account another party’s business interests unless they are contractually committed to do so, or obligated to do so under some provision of law or morality.  I have no legal or moral obligation to take into account any business interest of Grouply in my groups’ existence.

Shal said:
If each new subscriber finds that they can access nothing until they go and pester the owners of all their groups into each giving them the ok — well the would-be subscribers will just walk away.

Yes, Grouply’s would-be subscribers may well just walk away from Grouply if they have a strong interest in a Yahoo Group that opts out of Grouply involvement.

Shal has been known to say, as he does in this thread (and I agree), “Your group, your rules.”  So yes, if my group members want me to change those rules, they will have to consult with me about it, lobby for it (“pester” me, in Shal’s words).  And if they don’t like the rules established by the owner for the sake of the good of the whole group (not just a few Grouply fans, or just one seeking to opt the group into Grouplyfication), then indeed, they can and maybe should “just walk away,” and I would bid them a farewell with best wishes, if I had opted-out my group from Grouply.

But clearly group owners who prefer not to have to deal with the behaviors of Grouply, or don’t like it, do not have that option to just walk away from Grouply, or will not have such an option until Grouply grants it to them through an opt-out procedure to reverse the decision of one group member who opted-in the group’s archive … a procedure offered to us only after many of us “pestered” Grouply for it.  Such group owners, unlike members of our groups “pestering” us for changes (which, by the way, almost never happens in the groups I own, because I usually consult the members BEFORE imposing significant changes on the environment they joined), never voluntarily joined Grouply the way our “pestering” members voluntarily joined our groups and accepted the rules as they were upon joining.  But Grouply subscribers decide to redirect our archives to Grouply’s web site, at Grouply’s profit, and we are left with only “pestering” Grouply to stop their interfering, if we deem it to be interference, an opinion which is our right to hold as the grantors of the keys to our groups’ archives.

Is it truly interference?  That is a subjective matter, and nobody has a right to tell a group owner what their subjective experience should be of something they own, and built with their own hard labor and the support of their members.

What happened to “my group, my rules?”  If my rules were to now say, “No Grouply,” Shal’s statements seem to say that he would oppose it “on a purely business level,” based on a notion that I should have some sympathy for Grouply’s business interests.  My degree of concern for Grouply’s business interest is entirely dependent upon the quality of their concern for me, and my realization of some benefit derived from their business activity, a benefit I have yet to see.

Treat me in an honorably businesslike fashion, and I will be happy to reply in kind.  Barge into my house and say, “New rules, folks!” and I may be rather defensive and intolerant of such a presence.  My group, my rules.

I didn’t create and run my groups for the past several years so that Grouply could come along and reap a profit off my  labor.  I already know that my biggest group’s co-owners, moderators, and leading members object strongly to the idea, simply on principle that our volunteer labors should not be used by anyone, anywhere, to turn a profit.

Recently I kicked another corporate entity out of one of my groups because they were found to be using a trojanesque member account to redirect postings to an external web site to generate revenue off them with Google context-sensitive ads (and Yahoo finally shut down that operation, I was glad to see, after an outcry by group owners  and members, one similar to what we are seeing about Grouply, and for similar reasons).  I also work to prevent thievish “sploggers” from doing the same.  I enjoy the use of alert services continually crawling the web to notify me of such activity, among other measures I take to prevent profiteering on my group’s non-profit volunteer activity.

My group expects me to practice such measures.  They are not happy with the Grouply situation.  They expect me to do something about it.

Shal said:
Yes, eventually enough groups may have approved that a subscriber’s initial experience would be more positive, but with 7+ million groups out there that day would probably be too far off for Grouply’s survival.

“Grouply’s survival” is not a concern of mine, especially if I do not agree that their product is an improvement on the experience of my group, and doubly especially if I find it detrimental to my group.

Shal said:
Granted that from a moderator’s point of view I often say “your group, your rules”, but from the point of view of a group member, the requirement of an owner opt-in is unworkable and unfair. It is likely to be at least as unpopular with group members as are those moderators that choose to mess with members’ email delivery settings.

Shal is certainly entitled to an opinion of what is “workable and fair,” and so am I.  Under the terms and conditions of the Yahoo agreement under which my group exists, and to which I and the group members are accountable, Yahoo and I define what is workable and fair for my group, not the members.  (Though I do take their opinions into account, I don’t let any one of them change the handling of my group archive unilaterally, yet that does not abrogate my right as owner to change the group rules unilaterally, within the Yahoo TOS).

Shal’s opinion of what may or may not be “unpopular with group members” is as valid as mine, but I own my group’s site in the YG system and I have been granted owner-level rights and responsibilities by Yahoo for that group resource.  Shal does not own it, nor does Grouply, and neither of them are party to my contract with Yahoo.  That makes my opinions about usage of my group archive take precedence over Shal’s and the company whose business interests he appears to defend.

Shal said:
Before Grouply accesses any group there has been a positive opt-in — by the member.

On principle if nothing else, I am not comfortable with the idea that Grouply has enabled any single member of my group to choose unilaterally to grant Grouply an opportunity to forever make untold sums money on my group’s existence, its history of activity, its future activity, and its non-profit volunteer labors without my explicitly opted-in consent (and that of all other members of the group, as I would prefer).  People tend to be touchy about others using their volunteer group work to make money without something in return that they actually want or need and that serves the mission of their group.

Under the Yahoo TOS, members do not have the right to redirect group content to another web site.  They don’t own the group content.  They only own the content of their individual postings that they wrote.  They can send their own postings anywhere they like.  But they don’t have a right to “opt-in” all their groups’ entire message archives, past, present and future, to an external profit-making environment that the owner of the group opposes and the members were not given an opportunity to consult on.  (However, I will not mind if Grouply can find a way to make a few pennies on THIS post, and I won’t even ask for a royalty.  LOL.  Just kidding.)

Shal’s assertion that a SINGLE member’s decision to opt-in a group to Grouply.com seems to clearly imply that he thinks individual member rights are greater than owner rights, and greater than the majority of members’ rights, as any such rights may affect changes to the way the group archive is used.

Do you detect that I disagree?

Shal said:
To the extent that Grouply makes good on its promise to safeguard message access, mirroring the access afforded by Yahoo, I’d argue that Group owner opt-in is unnecessary.

That mirroring access Shal mentions is not being accorded to Grouply BY YAHOO, as he mistakenly asserts here.  It is done by individual members giving their Yahoo account IDs and passwords to Grouply, and, in all cases, by JUST ONE member initiating a relationship between Grouply and affected groups.

Opt-in by owner is the right way to go.


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