My Ragan shuts down Social Media Club Group: The danger of closed communities

Word from Chris Heuer that Mark Ragan has shut down the Social Media Club group in My Ragan and replaced it with the lame-sounding “Social Media Tools and Strategies” group, started by … Mark Ragan.

Chris says,

I have setup Social Media Club groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning and many other social networking sites, so that members who use those services can come together to further the goals of the club. Mark invited me to create a group on his “myspace” clone a few weeks ago, and even invited me to promote our Workshop through it.

Since becoming the largest group on MyRagan, Mark has apparently changed his mind, because the group (and my profile) was represented by the Social Media Club logo. His post to the group (which he deleted after my response to this message) read:

“We are recreating the Social Media Club tomorrow and re-naming it to read simply: Social Media Tools and Strategies.

The current logo for the club is giving the impression that we are somehow selling this space to an advertiser. We are not. These groups are designed as non-commercial places where free discussion can flow without fear of being pitched. …”

This doesn’t sound good to me. I’ve followed Chris’ efforts to establish Social Media Clubs across the continent. And yes, he is always pitching his concept for a collective effort that will share social media best practices and knowledge. I don’t find anything wrong with that. He is enthusiastic about the potential for social media to transform communications and connect communities of interest. In my mind, his zeal is a positive thing. And I would expect that anyone who really “gets” social media, would applaud his efforts.

But I want to hear Mark Ragan’s side. So, I posted the following message in the Social Media Tools and Strategies group:

Hello Mark,

What happened to the Social Media Club group? I saw Chris Heuer’s post at Social Media Club No Longer Welcomed at My Ragan. Is it true? Did you shut the group down? If so, why?

Social media is propelled by a desire to share and a spirit of generosity. I recognize that My Ragan is YOUR Ragan. It’s YOUR space and YOU can do what you want with it. But having said that, if you in fact act in this way, you will be sending a message that you do not share the basic tenets of social media and that you are in fact motivated primarily, if not exclusively, by a desire to use social media to capture an audience for Ragan and sell.

Yes, you can sell. But only if you build trust. And shutting down the Social Media Club group does not build trust. It erodes it.

I’d welcome a response to this post.

I hope that Mark Ragan will respond to me either in My Ragan or here on ProPR.

  • Joe:

    I’m with you on this one. If Mark shut down/renamed the group and kicked out the moderator just because the group was becoming too big in number for Mark’s comfort, then I don’t think MyRagan is a site I’m likely to spend more time on.

    But there are always at least two sides to every story. Let’s hear Mark’s.

  • What a truly bizarre episode. This doesn’t look good for MyRagan. I was already having some misgivings about the whole thing, and this incident really makes me wonder.

    As Bryan says, there’s always at least two sides to the story, but Chris Heuer’s one of the good guys and I’ve no reason to doubt his version of events. The cited rationale, that use of the SMC logo was somehow giving the impression that the space was being paid for, makes no sense at all. Even if there really was some kind of ToS violation caused by the use of the logo, surely you’d just remove the logo, leaving the group intact – not delete the entire group and introduce a new one with a new moderator?

    It’s just… odd. Can’t wait to read what Mark has to say.

  • Worth reading Chris Heuer’s comment in response to this post over at Lee Hopkins’ blog: http://leehopkins.net/2007/05/23/rumblings-of-discontent-at-myragan/

    Again – we haven’t heard from Mark on this yet, but Chris’ comment certainly seems to indicate that Ragan acted in bad faith.

  • I was troubled last night when I read Mark Ragan’s notice that he would be deleting the Social Media Club group today, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking he had perhaps corresponded privately with Chris Heuer to let him know. Evidently that was not the case.

    If there had been a real concern that the SMC logo implied “other advertisers” could “buy” space on MyRagan, all that was necessary was a simple request for Chris to change the group’s profile photo. Knowing Chris, he would probably have complied. Instead, the group was shut down and Chris was replaced as moderator.

    That does not speak well at all to Mark Ragan’s commitment to the free flow of discussion or the principles of social media. Turns out that “My”Ragan isn’t “mine” at all. I’m not at all motivated to participate if popular groups, which have not violated the terms of service, can be arbitrarily deleted.

  • Very thoughtful post, Joe, which raises good questions. I think we’re all waiting for Mark Ragan to weigh in at this point!