Crowdsourcing, Self Regulating Groups On Social Meda – Great example of failure


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I’ve had a lot more spare time this week than planned, brought down by a bad flu and now a throat infection. So, bored as I wimper to myself in bed (wimpering is just about all the sound I can make), I use my Ipod to check in to social media just to read here and there, and perhaps save some links of interest.

The other day I came across a group of accounts sending identical messages all at the same time. Not retweets. Same messages. They would do one message, then do the next and then do the next in machine gun fashion using the hashtags #socialmedia and #entrepreneur, the result being that there were about 60 of their message to one real message. Their links went to a page/blog which, by the way was also auto generated. Clearly this is an automated process. I posted a message and the only response I got back was from some idiot who implied that there’s spam in email too, so?

(If you want to see the extent of it ongoing at this time click here to go watch (who knows when they’ll be banned)

Spamming and misuse happens with everything these day, and I’m pretty used to. I get somewhere around 500 spam messages a day, and I survive. In this case they spammer has rendered my viewing of two major hashtag messages almost impossible, unless I get into setting up filters on my ipod. Even so, no doubt they’ll be toast soon, although it’s a bit surprising why twitter’s auto police gull hasn’t found this yet). Life is not perfect.

What About Community?

So what happened to community? You know, that thing all the vapid and rabid social media priests tell us is so powerful? You know, like when people share some common interests and recognize that the community belongs to EACH member and EACH member has a responsibility to keep it clean and functional? To stand up FOR the community.

Of course that doesn’t happen much on social media all that much, contrary to the mythologies, and as a student of online groups for 15 years now, I can tell you it NEVER happened regularly, but since social media pundits usually have no understand of Internet history, or human behavior let’s leave that for the moment.

Not one person objected publicly or suggested helpling out by sending a comlaint to Twitter. That is like having a racing car going round and round in a school zone at 90 miles an hour for several days, while NOBODY bothers to protect the childen, or even mention it to their neighbours.

It doesn’t surprise me that this happend on social media. It offends me, but doesn’t surprise me. What brings it to the “almost funny” is that it’s the very people who have a strong interest in social media that don’t demonstrate any sense of community or responsibility to keep it clean.

What Does It All Mean?

Not surprisingly I see this as being part of a consistent set of information that disproves most of the ideas and claims made about social media in terms of interpersonal and social behavior. Here’s some things to ponder.

  1. One possible reason nobody has commented on the spam mentioned above is that in fact, almost nobody actually reads tweets. Some research suggests that 92% of tweets sent elicit NO reaction (no RT, reply, nothing) whatsoever although it’s possible people do read and then move on without actually doing anything. Still, one of the fallacies of Twitter is that there is this MASS of people who can be reached. There just isn’t.
  2. Maybe people are skimming these tweets and not recognizing them as spam? This could be. I tried that last night lying sleepless in bed, but the way they are set up it’s not easy to simply skip over them without knowing what they are. Then, knowing what they are wouldn’t someone care enough about the community to say something. It could be the spammer just doesn’t know better.
  3. Aren’t online crowds supposed to self-regulate? Well, supposed to is the operative word. Actually when online groups try to self-regulate, members are lost and it’s not the inferior spammer members that usually leave. It’s the high quality people who have better things to do with their time or are not absolutely committed to that particular community. Of course, in this case, there is no self-regulation whatsoever. Why?
  4. People don’t care. That is the answer. People neglect a community because they don’t care, whether it’s an online community, or a real one is a city core. Why they don’t care is always an important question, but there is a bottom line generally, about social media groups: The relationships based only on social media based communication will also result in weak links to both individuals and the group. (there are exceptions to this but let’s leave that for another time)
  5. Finally, online “communities” are almost always limited to online interaction and felt responsibilities to people within the group and the group will also be limited to the modality of interaction of the community. Fancy way of saying that if you interact in a group of LinkedIn or Twitter, people will express concern for you on those media but they aren’t about to cook you up some chicken soup and express mail it to you. The relationships are illusory because they are limited to the media they live in. It doesn’t feel that way until you need them. The ties feel much tighter. (I know, there are, once again, exceptions to this, and I’m working to keep some level of simplicity.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Robert Bacal
Robert began his career as an educator and trainer at the age of twenty (which is over 30 years ago!), as a teaching assistant at Concordia University. Since then he as trained teachers for the college and high school level, taught at several universities and trained thousands of employees and managers in customer service, conflict management and performance appraisal and performance management skills.


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