Many people in the CCPL have LinkedIn and are interesting in extending their capabilities further by using a Group Function.
As it stands now LinkedIn only provides a discussion forum. Other group facilities offer more, like file hosting calendar, etc. Jim is concerned about maintenance activities. Because of spamming abuse all Group features strongly suggest or even require an administrator to approve each member. This isn't difficult but it does require some time sensitive response. LinkedIn, being a professional forum is less likely to be abused by spammers so the maintenance needed should be minimized by not dealing with spammers that would be found on other more general and popular services.
Ken has defined a CCPL Job Club group and I have asked to join and am awaiting his approval. In the mean time I have defined a CCPL Test group so I can test the group functions of LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Group Capabilities
LinkedIn is not attempting to be a major force in Group Services, it offers only a basic discussion forum. LinkedIn does not show email addresses unless you are connected to the other member. By joining a group, you can send a broadcast email to all other group members even if they are not connected to you. Each group member has the choice of how often they receive notification of new discussions.
To join a group, select Groups from your LinkedIn sidebar menu, click Find Group and type in the name (CCPL) and click Search. Click Join Group. The Group administrator must logon to the group on a regular basis and approve member requests. Once approved, the members can post discussions at anytime with no further action be the administrator.
It appears that the owner of the group can be changed and that the members can be promoted to administrators. Using the last feature, Jim could name an active regular member as administrator and that person could offload the approval process from Jim.
Other Group Services
Major Web Service providers (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft) have a Group capability that is more full functioned then LinkedIn's basic features. How much use the features would be is uncertain. I will review these extra features here in the coming days and would like your feedback.
Yahoo remains one of the most feature rich Group services. If you are a member of CVJS you have seen an example of their features. Yahoo offers the discussion service that LinkedIn does and so much more...
Files - allows files to be stored for the members to access. CVJS has many helpful files.
Photos - allows photo albums
Database - allows simple database tables to be defined. Another way to accomplish this would be to build a Word table or Excel data table and store it in the files section. But the user would have to have Office to update it or Office Viewers to view it. This feature is a simpler way to view and update simple database tables.
Polls - Allows a convenient way to solicit opinions from the group members.
Calendar - Allows a way to post events on a calendar for the group.
I have used a google group to supplement this blog. I chose google because with one sign on I could update both web sites. Google isn't as functional as Yahoo, but it does offer some improvements over LinkedIn Discussions. Google offers the standard Discussion feature and...
Pages - This allows you to actually host web site pages in the group. It doesn't offer much in the way of helping build the pages, so to take advantage of rich content you will need to build the content in HTML and paste it into the Edit HTML editor. You could use a full featured editor like KompoZer (NVU follow-on) or a simpler editor like PSPad to help build the HTML.
Files - This is a very useful group feature that allows files to be stored for group members.
Microsoft is in a transition as it relates to its group offering. The long standing, MSN Groups will be shutdown in Feb 2009. They are offering a smooth transition to Multiply.com which does not offer file storage. They are also enhancing their Windows LIVE spaces and groups offering. As of Jan 2009 major layoffs were announced at Microsoft so its unclear how these areas will develop.
Status: Second Draft - Major Revision 01/06/09