My immediate reaction to Facebook’s “community” announcements: Great. I like Facebook.

Words are cool, but as we sit here today, group admins have an exceptionally poor toolset, provided by the world’s 8th most valuable company. When I say that Facebook Group admins don’t have the tools of forum admins in 2000, I’m not being hyperbolic.

This will still be true after they’ve added the new features they announced.

When I had community legend Howard Rheingold on Community Signal, he said something that fascinated me:

“Unfortunately, I think that Facebook has somewhat degraded people’s ideas of what a forum should be. Facebook Groups really don’t do forums very well. In fact, I was invited to talk to about 100 people, the social science researchers at Facebook, a while back, and I pounded on them about it. They’re smart people. I can’t believe that this is done because they’re not aware of how forums operate. There must be a business reason for why they want the forums to be badly organized.”

I hope they deliver good tools, and soon, because the only real plus Facebook Groups have is discoverability, e.g. people are on Facebook and we can insert posts into their news feed. They lose on everything else, and throwing your community’s content into a Facebook Group is like throwing it into a pit you can never, ever extract it from. The only way to leave a Facebook Group is to start over. Bad for communities – and bad for members. And that’s who we serve. Not Facebook.

As I said, I like Facebook, and I’m supportive of them improving the the tools provided to group admins. But let’s not turn into cheerleaders because they are moving closer to where they already should have been, and let’s not, as community builders, become blind to the obvious downsides that Facebook Groups represent as a platform.

(I know this is my first article here in more than a year, after writing twice a week for several years. It wasn’t planned that way. Life hit me, and then I was focusing on the podcast. But I need to start writing again, and I’m excited to get back to it. I’m working on making time! Thank you so much for reading).