Ma.gnolia is a social bookmarking website, making it easy—and pleasant—to publicly and privately submit links to interesting websites and articles, tag and rank them. They do a lot of things right, including a permanent link for each individual bookmark, so that I can link directly to it if a comment someone makes needs responding to or pointing out. (Dare they add comments? But think of the spam!) Earlier this month, Alex Jones has been posting some excellent articles on how to maintain and promote Ma.gnolia groups. I've been administrating, gardening, and maintaining a few groups on Flickr and now on Ma.gnolia, and Alex's tips apply to all microcommunities built on someone else's community site. I wanted to take some time to promote the groups I'm heavily involved with, even though their membership is small and not likely to grow into overwhelming numbers.

  • Vancouver Transit on Flickr: for photos of buses, boats, trains, and other vehicles under the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink) operate to support their public transit routes. Initially through private emails through the site while following the 'translink', 'skytrain', and 'seabus' tags, I've managed to grow the group to 238 members and over 1800 photos at this writing. I still need to make a decision on whether Aquabus counts, since it's neither publicly-operated, owned by TransLink, and worst of all, it does not even sport TransLink's trademark camel-casing! People are now contributing photos without my having to ask them. Build it and people will come.
  • Icelandair on Flickr: since visiting Iceland and knowing about it all my life, I wanted to create a place where people could show their love, respect or at least interest in Iceland's national airline. I'm doing the same thing I did with Vancouver Transit: starting small and privately asking people to submit their photos. As time goes on, people will see others contributing, join, and post to the group pool as well.
  • Vancouver Olympics Protest: after a false start with the wrong URL, I'm administering this group with Kris Krug. The idea is to document the resistance to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, be it in protest, graffiti, or poster form. At the outset, I wanted to make sure that membership in the group is not a declaration of how you feel about the Games (those that support it or are neutral are welcome to participate), but rather just a way to share what you've seen on the streets that oppose the Games.
  • I have administrator status in other Flickr groups, but don't participate heavily in them.
  • Public Transit and Vancouver on Ma.gnolia. So far the least used groups, since Ma.gnolia has a relatively low number of users in my social network. I thought big with the first one, as I'd like people to contribute links about public transit from all over the world, and there are enough people who either live in Vancouver or love it or both to have a group dedicated to it. So far I'm the only contributor to the Vancouver group, but someone has to start the fire!

Discovering that Ma.gnolia implements OpenID, making it easy for me to login without having to remember yet another password, that finally got me to move my over 2000 bookmarks from, which doesn't have the community features Ma.gnolia has like thanking for bookmarks (I like being thanked!) and it doesn't look nearly as pretty. Not that you need to look good to be popular (e.g. ILX, Craigslist), but it doesn't hurt (e.g. Digg). I can't imagine keeping up with a community the size of MetaFilter, which I rejoined, so if the little communities I created or am trying to create solve a problem for me and a few others, then I can feel like I've made at least a small contribution to the health of the Internet.


Thanks for mentioning and linking to my articles, I'm glad you've found them useful! This is a great post, and I hope managers of groups in Ma.gnolia, Flickr and other social sites follow your lead and write about their collections and the reasons behind starting each - it really rounds it out, and introduces people to things they may not have seen. I include myself in that group and have added the idea to my list of "things to post about". Also, if you have any feedback or suggestions concerning my articles, or thoughts on what I should talk about next in regards to Ma.gnolia and social gorups, I would definitely appreciate hearing about them Cheers!