The team of administrators agreed to be accountable to the members of the OAC after the first half year in December. We are now four: Francine Barone, Keith Hart, Justin Shaffner and Paul Wren. In the past six months, we found that we work well together and managed to resolve some challenging issues.

Today we have 2,400 members from across the world and with a variety of statuses. 135 groups, including some in Portuguese, Spanish, Russian etc, a forum, blogs, library, press, seminars (starting in January), photos and videos, personal pages in all their variety. We currently average over 500 visits to the site a day (see About).

We now wish to make two proposals:

1. That the current admins team be allowed to serve a full year's term until the end of May 2010; and

2. In that time begin to separate the admin function from the strategic task of developing the OAC's institutional capacities.

The latter would involve proposing to the members a clearer definition of the administrator role (including a method for recruiting new admin team members) and opening up a new window on the main site where all who wish to can join a discussion about further developing the OAC. This could lead to the formation of a new body, a development committee or some such, separate from the admins team, but no doubt with some overlapping membership.

Upcoming issues: In the New Year, we plan to move to our own domain; remove ads from the main page; announce an OAC logo competition; reorganize the Groups; create a place for questions and suggestions on the front page, and so on. We hope that a number of you will step forward to help us continue to improve the OAC.

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Hi John,

Thanks for your input. I agree with all the improvements that you suggest. As you've discovered, Ning's group pages are very badly designed, so we are fighting against the structure of Ning in order to provide a better way to view the activity taking place in groups.

In my opinion, there are far too many groups. To prune the list, we would have to determine if it's possible to archive groups at all, or if we simply have to delete them. Still, some groups may be dormant for long periods of time, then have renewed activity. I'd rather only remove the clearly empty ones.

I have been working on this issue and I hope that we can soon provide a solution that will offer a more detailed view of group content and that this will, in turn, help to renew activity in groups that are virtually hidden away in the group pages. It would be helpful if group owners could also work with the admin team to refine our list of groups, keeping only the most active and dedicated to interesting conversation. If posts are made only rarely on a particular subject, they can just as easily be placed in the public forums, rather than a dedicated group.


John McCreery said:
One thing that I would find helpful is some pruning. Seems to me that if a group remains inactive for, say, a month or so, it should be archived and disappear from the top and group pages. This step would, I suggest, offer several benefits.
1. It would make it simpler to see where the active interests of our members are. 2. It would provide an incentive for those who start groups to work a bit harder to generate activity. 3. It would clear the way for people to create new groups for old topics that are stuck because previous discussions have ground to a halt, and nothing is more discouraging that checking out a group that looks interesting and discovering that the last activity was several months ago. It could, of course, be argued that the "My groups" list and the choice of "largest," "most active," etc. already provides a mechanism by which individuals can pick and sort groups as they choose. I think, on the other hand, of the title of my favorite book on Website design, Don't Make Me Think.

Francine Barone said:
I'm working on enhancing the functionality of groups. I can't do much about the way Ning structures the groups section, but I'm experimenting on a way to better display group content. Updates on that soon. Any/all ideas welcome!

Jan Begine said:

reorganize the Groups
This one should be a priority, imo.
Hi,
on deleting groups: I think it would be respectful to only delete really inactive groups (with practically no members/comments) or at least ask the members and group-creators if its okay to delete their group - some of these groups may not function as a active discussion-site, but then again they might still work as a resource for contacting people with the same interests in person and for re-reading posts.

Ben
Thanks for the advice, Ben. We went much further than that in contacting the owners of problematic groups and have deleted none. Several owners hit the privacy button by mistake, but unfortunately that is irreversible.

Benjamin Hirschfeld said:
Hi,
on deleting groups: I think it would be respectful to only delete really inactive groups (with practically no members/comments) or at least ask the members and group-creators if its okay to delete their group - some of these groups may not function as a active discussion-site, but then again they might still work as a resource for contacting people with the same interests in person and for re-reading posts.

Ben
If it is allowed to suggest something here, I would say Ben's suggestion is remarkable. However, I should say, if some groups are passive, next time it might be active, and even passive group, blog...can become a part of evolutionary history of the OAC.

Benjamin Hirschfeld said:
Hi,
on deleting groups: I think it would be respectful to only delete really inactive groups (with practically no members/comments) or at least ask the members and group-creators if its okay to delete their group - some of these groups may not function as a active discussion-site, but then again they might still work as a resource for contacting people with the same interests in person and for re-reading posts.

Ben

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