Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Dynamics of Facebook Groups

We have some great series book groups on Facebook.  Here are the more active ones.

Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books
Series Book Swap & Sell
Nancy Drew Fans 
Judy Bolton Fans
Trixie Belden

In each group, members who are series book enthusiasts are responsible for nearly 100% of the discussion.  However, each group also contains many members who are not at all interested in series books.  In fact, I believe that over half of the members of the Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books group are not series book collectors at all and have little interest in them.  Some members join because of a relative's interest, while others join all groups that focus on anything of a nostalgic nature.

Many members are also online sellers hoping to use the groups to promote their items for sale, although this practice is discouraged.  The members who are series book enthusiasts are interested in purchasing books from others.  However, many comments have been made where those members have made clear that they want cheap books sold by other series book enthusiasts.  Many members will not consider books sold by someone who is seen as a commercial online seller, which means that there is no point in all of these online sellers joining the groups.  Of course, the sellers don't realize that.

I am the administrator of the Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books group, and I have tried to word the group's information section in such a way as to strongly discourage the online sellers from joining the group.  It's clear that the members don't want them there.  Unfortunately, some still join and immediately post a link to either their online store, which generally has very few series books, or a link to one item for sale that is a little overpriced or of very low interest to the average member of the group.

Online sellers also join the group to ask for information about books they plan to sell.  They seldom state that they are sellers, but collectors do not typically join the group and ask for appraisals.  I have also tried to discourage sellers from joining to ask for appraisals, since the burden of response falls on just a few of us, and we would rather explore our interest in series books than appraise books that hold little interest to us.  When someone asks for an appraisal, one of us will state that the book is outside of the group's focus.  Often, the person who asked for the appraisal gets offended, because the expectation is that we should be willing to do their research for them.

Most all general discussion in the group is polite with no insults.  Occasionally, a member makes an inappropriate remark.  This most often happens between a few series book collectors who have disliked each other for over 20 years.  When the rude remark is not by one of those collectors, it is almost always by a member who does not like series books who is only in the group for some other reason.  These other members do not understand the group's dynamics.

In one case, a member who does not collect series books thought that someone was doing something for less than honorable reasons.  This member did not understand the thinking of the other members and the true enthusiasm of the collectors and should have stayed out of the discussion.

Another time, a member was a bit negative in some comments made about some books another member photographed, pretty much saying that the books shown in the photo weren't as good as older editions.  I thought that was quite insulting to respond to someone who is proud of their books by telling them that older editions are better than theirs.  Some other members reacted in a defensive manner, and after a few more comments, the person who made the negative comments mentioned not liking books at all and only being in the group because of a family member's interest.  This is another example of a person not understanding the group's dynamics.  That person also should have stayed out of the discussion. 

In another case, a member outright insulted another member after disagreeing with a statement made.  That person had never participated in discussions before that day and immediately became rude.  She then, within just an hour or so of the rude statement, made a post where she was trying to sell books.  I believe that she read the group's policies that state that only "participating members" could offer books, so she commented on a discussion in order to "participate."  She participated all right, but she executed it poorly.  It's very strange to get rude and then try to sell the same people some books.  Not only that, she never took a photo of the books or gave any information about the books or how much she wanted for them.  This brings me to my next observation.

Many people join the group and make a post about some extra books they have.  The statement goes like this:  "I have some Nancy Drew books.  Is anyone interested?"  Immediately, multiple group members post comments saying that they are interested.  Several members ask for details and ask for a price.  The person who posted the message, oddly, usually never follows through with any additional information.  If they do follow up, they say that they don't know how much the books are worth or will name a steep price.  Others will promise to get pictures and prices but never do.

I do not understand why someone gets in a Facebook group to say that they have some books available but then fails to follow through.  They are sending out feelers to see what kind of response they get, but they could just as easily post the books for sale on eBay in an auction or put them on Craigslist.  I do not see the point of asking in the group and then not following through.  All it does is disappoint the group's members.  I recall one instance where one of the members posted another comment several days later trying to get the person to post the promised photos and information.  There was no response.

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