02 July 2007

Social blogrolling - controversy on MyBlogLog

There's been a bit of a tempest in a tea cup over a new feature of MyBlogLog -- the ability to send messages to all one's community members.

Some, like Meg in Australia, have complained that it is spam, but it seems that those who are complaining have joined hundreds of communities that they have no real interest in.

And I disagree. I think being able to send a message to all one's community members (provided it is not overdone) is a good thing. Perhaps some will abuse the facility by sending spam, but then the answer is simple -- leave their community. But a message once a quarter or even once a month should not be a problem.

I think "community" means that one desires to interact with others in the community. If people join communities on MyBlogLog and similar social networking sites, they ought to be interested in the topics of the community and in interaction with the members. If they do not want to communicate, they should not have joined the community in the first place.

In my blogs I have tried to make it clear what I am interested in and what I blog about, and I do that in MyBlogLog too. I hope that people who are interested in similar things will read my blogs and comment, and join my communities in MyBlogLog so we can keep in touch, and so I will be reminded to look at their blogs occasionally.

But some people seem to join communities just to see how many they can collect. I have difficulty in understanding the motivation for joining a community where one has no interest in anything the community is about. If you join a football club, and have no interest in football, why did you join? If you then object to receiving the club newsletter, don't complain to the post office about the club sending you the newsletter, just resign from the club.

I have the same problem with people on social networking sites like MySpace, whom I've never heard of, saying "I want to be your friend". If they've read and commented on my blog, or we've discussed things in a newsgroup, or exchanged e-mail or snail mail, or communicated in some other way, fine. But just to be a "friend" with no discernable common interest with me makes no sense.

One of the problems of electronic networking is that it can lead to communication without community. But the sudden demand from people on MyBlogLog for community without communication is far more difficult to understand.


Jackie said...

I have no problem as I only join communities where I am interested in what someone has to say. The emails also act as a reminder as I visit hundreds of blogs and sometimes miss some out without realizing it.

Plus if you find it annoying you can just leave the community....simple.

Anonymous said...


First of all, I'll like to ask that did you emotionally write this post or you have good experience in web communication?

By assuming on your own that joining a community means one desires to interact with others in the community, you really make it sound like you have no idea what people want in a professional community like MyBlogLog.

And maybe that's what is the reason you have a small MBL community even though you joined MBL in February and have been blogging since November 2005. (no offence intended)

Maybe you never cared to take each and every option in an email/bulletin board registration form seriously or maybe you are one of those types who are used to live with unwanted messages (that is known as SPAM, in case you need to read the philosophy of SPAM once again).

And people are not crazy who join hundreds of communities that they have no real interest in. If you were writing about black-marketing types instead of writing about Meg, it was OK but maybe you think that you don't need to research before writing anything on your blog.

If I, Meg and thousands of other MBL members (yeah, thousands of MBL members) joined hundreds of communities without any interest, why aren't we the members of your communities?! Now doesn't that sound funny? ;-)

The problem is that you never cared to understand that people who have joined hundreds of thousands of communities have the ability to digest information overload. But you decided to take it differently. Interesting...

Maybe if you weren't generalizing people, I had no need to leave this comment. I'll say, you should include all the post links in this post that are speaking against this feature but don't know why I'm getting this feel that people may start favoring us spammers (yeah, according to you!) instead of supporting the mass-spam feature.

You really need to get the fact straight that you have no right to decide yourself if your community/site members ought to receive a message sent by you. It's us, the community members, who decide if we want to digest your blog announcements or never wanna care about it.

Since people like to read your blogs, it doesn't mean that you automatically earned the right to feed them your personal crap whenever you want to.

EVERY reputable website allows its members to decide if they want to receive site announcements or not. If you are trying to act opposite, you'll only be losing your site audience.

In the end, we are against this feature because we want an option to opt out of mass-messaging stuff. If MBL adds this feature, your community members who are pretty interested in your personal announcements will still be able to receive your messages while other people who dislike unwanted messages will have an option to ignore your messages.

- Avi

Steve Hayes said...


If people don't want to interact with me, I don't want them to join my communities. It's as simple as that.

I know what *I* want in MyBlogLog, but I have no idea in what sense it is a "professional" community. What's that supposed to mean? Doctors and lawyers only? I have a doctorate -- does that count?

Anonymous said...

Small communities can be much deeper and more rewarding for the community owner than those full of 3K people who don't care about the subject but just want to be seen.

I've seen Steve's community and I think it's jam-up! Everyone uses MyBlogLog differently, and emotionally lashing out at people who do not agree with you does not further the discussion.

Steve, thanks for letting us know how you use MyBlogLog. We'll be discussing all the feedback this week.

Anonymous said...


are you trying to run a cult or a community? You only want those who interact with you. Wow, hope you can actually get some where with that philosophy.

Aldon Hynes said...


I am glad to be part of your community and to communicate with you. I am glad to be part of one communion, even though I suspect we may have doctrinal differences.

I think your comments are very wise and I'm surprised at the responses you got.

I have not had any problems with spam from the new feature, but then again, I'm only in 69 communities right now with 71 people in the community of my primary blog.

Personally, I hope to keep the number of communities I'm in manageable, probably less than Dunbar's number. If someone starts sending me messages I don't like, I'll leave their community. It's pretty simple.

I think I'll write a little more about this on Orient Lodge because I think it is a very important issue on a deeper level.

Steve Hayes said...


Yes, I read your article on the topic in Orient Lodge, and I agree with what you said there and here.

It seems to me that the difference between those who like the new feature and those who don't is that they have different understandings of "community". I've asked those who don't like it to explain how they understand "community", and why anyone would want to join over 5000 communities, and so far none of them have responded.

I don't expect those who join my communities to have all interests in common, but there needs to be some overlap.

If I join someone else's community, I'm happy that they join mine, because we do have some common interests, which I found reflected in at least some of the posts on their blog.

In the BBS days I belonged to a conference called "The Holodeck", which was a general one, discussing various topics. The moderator tried to keep about 10 topic threads going at once, and that meant there was something fgor everyone, and kept the discussion going. But it was all about interaction.

Actually I run a similar one on Yahoogroups, called Worldchat. You are welcome to join -- just click on the link to see how. I recently had to restrict membership, because a lot of people joined for the wrong reasons. They would say things ;ike "Be mt friend, please mail me" and that kind of thing gets annoying because if they said something interesting, people would respond, but how can you respond to "Be my friend?" Once again, it's communication without community.

Anonymous said...


I'm agree with you on the point that community means interaction but I also tend to agree with Avinash.

I visited Meg's blog following the link provided in your post and after reading too many posts on the same topic, I've started to believe that there seriously needs an opt out feature to be added. I've also found that anybody who is against community messaging hasn't written anything about the 100% removal of this feature so I really don't get why are you trying to prove these guys wrong.

If according to you, community means interaction, then what is the problem when Avinash and others are demanding an opt out feature? You'll still be able to 'interact' with your community members using the same bulk messaging option.

As far as joining one hundred or one thousand communities is concerned, I think every MyBlogLog member should have freedom to decide how many communities they want to join because you never know if someone has been a part of your blog 'indirectly'.

I run three blogs and have big MyBlogLog communities. Though I didn't have enough time to join thousands of communities (currently, I'm a member of 74 communities), I'm strongly against the point that 'only those people are against bulk messaging who have joined 300 or more communities'.

Seriously, it's you and a few others who just don't understand the meaning of social networking. MyBlogLog is a social networking site for bloggers and bloggers must be free to join or leave as many communities as they want.

By trying to make people like avinash/meg/andy understand the meaning of 'community and interaction', you're going nowhere because I've seen these people active on more than 3000 big and small *social networking* sites. I think they should have much better understanding of 'community and interaction' than you.

I don't have personal fight with anybody who is either supporting or hating this service. I just want to let MyBlogLog community managers know that you need to add an opt out option pretty soon. Bloggers already seem to be filling the blogosphere with posts that are completely against your community messaging stuff. By launching this feature, you've tried to repeat the same mistake that made thousands and thousands of people leave MySpace.


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