There is no better way to advertise events in Second Life than through SL groups but damn it, Linden Labs limits us to just 25 groups. Given that we need a few groups likely to manage land permissions for our homes, stores and group projects, that leaves very few slots open for keeping up with groups that interest us.
I understand the arguments for limiting groups. With groups being capable of determining land permissions, each group spot adds to the potentional information that Second Life needs to process to determine who can rez objects or build in certain parcels. Adding groups would mean fewer avatars could be accommodated on a server.
But who says there has to only be one kind of group? Couldn't Linden Labs create a newsgroup category that was only for notices? This is just a thought. A lot of us are resorting to mail services like Subscribe-o-matic that potentially cost us money in order to to reach people interested in keeping up to date on our products or events but who lack the group slots to join. This means sending out messages to two lists, group members and list members. It is not only a waste of our time in broadcasting but it is another list to check when you are inviting members to your group. Are they already members? Have they joined the Subscribe list? One doesn't want to spam people with group invites who have already signed up to a list.
This week I had three things happen that made me think about groups: how we invite group members, how we use groups, what is fair to ask group owners to broadcast through their groups.
I have a greeter at Music Island and periodically, usually after concerts, I review the list of visitors and send group invitations to individuals who have visited the island in the past few days. I try not to send people already in the group or on the subscribe list by cross-referencing. This work takes me a couple of hours each week but has help me build and maintain a group of about 1400 SL residents (all of whom have logged on in the past year as I clear the group of inactive accounts monthly). About 10% of the people I send invitations to accept the invite and each week a few people leave the group, presumably because other things interest them more and they are up against the 25 group limit. Only by constant work does the group grow. Passive group joiners yield very few group members in my experience.
For the first time in more than a year of sending group invitations I had someone complain about my invitation. The lady, Aliciea Mistwood, first accused me of "spamming her techno club" assuming I was in her club and sending out invites to all in attendance there. When I expressed puzzlement and said that I was sending invites to people who had been at the venue during a weekend of concerts she remembered that she had visited to "check out" Music Island and the series offerings. She still felt that sending her an invite was inappropriate and said that she must have been "tagged" in some way. I failed to understand her usage of the term "tagged" in reference to a simple greeter script that is in use throughout SL by venues and merchants alike.
To me an invitation is a pleasant offering even when one declines. It is nothing that should cause hostility or upset but in this case I had a very angry person. I wonder if others feel that way about group invites?
The other two thought-provoking incidents involved people whom I know and like asking me to publicize something on the Music Island group that had nothing to do with the purpose of the group. In the first case I was asked to promote a day long benefit event featuring popular/rock performers at another venue not associated with Music Island. In fact one of the concerts was in conflict to a Music Island concert. When I explained that the group was generally only for concerts at Music Island or affiliated with Music Island (festivals and series offered collaboratively) the individual argued from the standpoint of the worthiness of the cause. There are many worthy causes in Second Life and I wish them all well but they need to be promoted to audiences that will be interested in the event. Later the same week I was asked to send out notice about a US only political announcement to be made in Second Life. The Music Island audience is not US based and is not organized to discuss political initiatives.
I think that members of the Music Island group appreciate that they will only receive notices about classical and art music events coordinated as part of that series with our particular stamp of inclusiveness. I believe that if I bowed to pressure to publicize anything and everything that came my way, it would become a group without focus first and a group without members second.
I welcome thoughts on this as I am trying to frame a policy for the Music Island group that assures a good-sized audience for musicians performing on the series without harassing people to join. I also want our series to be open to cross-promotions and collaborations with colleagues while not annoying group members with totally irrelevant postings.
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