As the owner of one group (http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/oz_mystery_readers/) and a member of a number of others, I am interested to learn whether people's opinions of what makes a good group coincide with mine. Do you think there needs to be critical mass of members, lots of activities, clarity of purpose, constant flow of information?

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I am surprised by the number of Yahoo groups where active moderation takes place. I have joined YGOG which is a moderators group where nearly everyone says that they actively moderate, as in approving all post postings, of the group. Strikes me they must have to be online all the time
First off I think it's the owners/moderators who set the atmosphere for the group.
If the group is informal and welcoming then new members are fare more likely to participate.
That's the key to a good group. Participation. Not just members posting, but sharing of tasks and responsibilities.

As for rules of a good group. I think they can be pretty much boiled down to two things.
1. Play nice.
2. Respect others.

If you have that then you can't go too far wrong.
One of the education groups I belong to had a very nasty interchange between a couple of people last week, where they both challenged the other's right as an 'authority'. The backlash from other members of the group was quite remarkable. The one who started the whole interchange and was definitely in the wrong finally left of his own accord
When we opened the Pub (Moldy Cockroach) as the off-topic list for 4MA Maddy helped us set things up. One thing she said to me was that it is very important for the moderators/owners to be active on their groups. Seems to help at Moldy - if it gets slow we try to make sure there is something fun to do.
I think activity is very important. Before I started oz_mystery_readers, I belonged, for about a year, to another oz group which had about 2 postings a month. I joined through the recommendation of a friend has never contributed in the 5 years I have been a member. The only postings seem to come from people advertising competitions and reviews. The best groups seem to have have a lot of activity, with auto-generated regular things happening for people to respond to. However I do worry about the activity generating email overload for some members who are not used to it.

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