Thanks to all the Beyond Blue readers who weighed in on the combox of my post “Group Beyond Blue: Public or Private?” or at the discussion thread at Group Beyond Blue.
I was confused that I called up AOL Co-Founder Steve Case, who is presently founder and chairman of Revolution Health.
I said, “Steve, do you have a thought on which way we should go?”
Actually, it didn’t really happen that way. I was invited to an hour-long conference call with him, along with eight other health bloggers, last Thursday, and he said something that made me think about our group. When describing AOL’s history, he said that the first nine years consisted mostly of people lurking around, unwilling to really dive in and connect. Once that happened, somewhere around the ninth year, AOL mushroomed and became the leader of the online world (at least during his reign).
And then he described what’s happening at Revolution Health, which just celebrated it’s first year anniversary, and as of January passed WebMD with its (monthly!) page views of 256 million as the number one health property on the internet. He said it’s about “building trust” and inviting readers to use all of the tools available until they are ready to engage. First comes the information, he said. Next comes the engagement.
As he spoke, I thought about the direction of Beyond Blue, and where we want to take it. I think Steve would recommend that we keep Group Beyond Blue public, because of all the window shoppers that eventually go into the store to buy. The majority of you, as well, preferred to keep it public—after I ran the numbers both on the combox of my post and on the discussion board in Group Beyond Blue. And lastly, I think we should keep it public for the same reasons that I went to all “public” 12-step support meetings when I got sober: for about a year, I just observed, not saying much at all. And I learned so much in that time. Eventually I went on to chair meetings and volunteer, to get involved in the program. But not until I had enough confidence and information.
If we make it private, I’m afraid that we won’t be there for the newbie who has no idea if he is bipolar or ADHD or OCD, but can educated himself by other people’s stories and, from the wisdom of the boards, knows better what he should tell his doctor.
That said, I do appreciate the concern of readers who prefer a private group. To that end, I think it might be worth hooking up with a few other Beyond Blue readers on your own, and forming a kind of private support group, or starting another small group on Beliefnet Community, as some others from the group have done. I don’t think they compete with Group Beyond Blue. At least not if they serve a need that a public group can’t.
Thank you again for all your input, and more importantly, for all of your stories, wisdom, and insights here on the blog, and also on the discussion boards of Group Beyond Blue.
You all are the best!