Probably not 100% true, but not far off.

In 2007 I started a Software Testing Club LinkedIn group to support the software testing community I had created several months earlier.  At the time it was a *new* thing.  And from what I discovered it was all very valuable.  The ‘viral’ effect it had really helped spread the word about the software testing community.  At one point half of the members signing up were coming from LinkedIn (now it is closer to something like 3%).  Some good conversations were happening on both LinkedIn and STC.  Of course I was very happy about this.

But now it is very different.

LinkedIn has become a much bigger place.

I reaped the benefits of setting up a group early on.  Today the same actions just wouldn’t have the same effects. I can almost hear the sighs and the “oh no not another LinkedIn group” mutterings echo in cyberspace whenever a new group is created.

It’s just so easy to join new groups on similar topics or industries.  This means people sign up to every group possible.  Combine that with lack of moderation or group focus and you get one big marketing fest.  Where interesting conversations and resources are rare and links to the latest event, product, thing-a-me-jig are all you can see.  All the groups look the same.

I tried to ignore it for STC for a while, but the marketing spam got so bad.  I didn’t have time to deal with all the *look at me* or *become a social media expert ebook offers* or the recruitment person who  keeps posting jobs despite us telling them no jobs are allowed on the discussion board.  (We have a dedicated software testing job board for that stuff and it is important to us to have a central place to be guaranteed to find certain information.)

About a year ago I switched off all ability to post discussions/content. I had had enough.  I was even tempted to shut it down, but I knew that would be silly to lose the 6,000 or so members that were there.

I reopened the group for discussions a short while after a request to open it back up so that someone could find something someone had posted.  I decided to clean it up, keep it open and moderate all comments.

Obviously this is a pain.  Not only for me, but for the genuine discussions that are being had.  I now ‘check in’ to LinkedIn 3 times a day to moderate discussions - I wish it could be faster to prevent delay in responses to discussions happening.

The marketing spam is still pretty bad.  People still keep doing it. No matter how many times I re-iterate the ‘guidelines’ - many people still just see it as just another LinkedIn group that can be treated like any other.  And because other LinkedIn groups allow *anything* then it is presumed that Software Testing Club’s LinkedIn group allows *anything* too.

It is all a pain, but I am keeping it open and the reason is because there are some great people there and genuine discussions to be had.  And yes, I wish everyone would just head over to the Software Testing Club forum, but I, just like everyone else want to have discussions where I want.  This includes LinkedIn, Twitter, niche communities, etc.

STC isn’t about just one place to be (as in www.softwaretestingclub.com).  It’s about connecting people and sharing ideas.  The more we can do this in a professional way, the better our industry becomes.  It is just crucial for me and the ‘STC brand’ that a certain level of quality is maintained wherever we have conversations under our ‘roof’.