Closing of MSN Groups

Thanks to Debbi, I just found out that MSN is in the process of closing the groups feature. They are suggesting to use Multiply as the new provider and they are providing support for the migration. While I have yet to talk to our manager John Sapp about this and when to phase out MSN, I want to reassure that this group will not be going away!
In the meantime, I would like to hear any comments about Multiply, and other suggestions for group options.

(by Carlos for everyone)

 

31 comments Add yours
  1. I don't like Multiply. I've taken the tour on the site, and it looks like a personals site rather than a forum. Plus with a name like that and not linked to any big companies, it is very unlikely to multiply, excuse the pun.

    I think we need to look at the major groups providers, those being google groups and yahoo groups.

    I have regurlarly used Yahoo Groups and it does offer a huge amount of storage (thats good). The interface is good although I'm not sure you'd be able to have two separate forums (anything goes and general). Google Groups I haven't used regurlarly but google has the advantage that it is always expanding and we are more likely to get a plug in google searches if we are with google. I just found that Google Groups has a 100MB file limit.

  2. For what it's worth–

    I've been on many groups through Yahoo. No complaints.
    A very good choice I think. However— Google as a company
    hasn't really sold out to the credo of maximizing shareholder
    value and bringing in corporate types to run things and squeeze
    as hard as possible for short term profits for corporate officer
    bonuses. Google seems more about envisioning the future and
    being in the "information business" generally than about short
    term profits. So my …"loyalties"?.. are more toward Google but
    my experience is that yahoo groups work great. Just my opinion
    of course. (Regarding Yahoo, the wiki on Geocities and what they
    did to it isn't very encouraging. — I believe it was the wiki where I
    read some analysis…)

    Richard Harper
    harpersnotes

    On Thu, Oct 23, 2008 at 5:51 PM, MICHAEL_LISITSA
    wrote:
    > New Message on Gregg Shorthand
    >
    > Closing of MSN Groups
    >
    > Reply
    > Reply to Sender Recommend Message 5 in Discussion
    > From: MICHAEL_LISITSA
    > I don't like Multiply. I've taken the tour on the site, and it looks like a
    > personals site rather than a forum. Plus with a name like that and not
    > linked to any big companies, it is very unlikely to multiply, excuse the
    > pun.
    >
    > I think we need to look at the major groups providers, those being google
    > groups and yahoo groups.
    >
    > I have regurlarly used Yahoo Groups and it does offer a huge amount of
    > storage (thats good). The interface is good although I'm not sure you'd be
    > able to have two separate forums (anything goes and general). Google Groups
    > I haven't used regurlarly but google has the advantage that it is always
    > expanding and we are more likely to get a plug in google searches if we are
    > with google. I just found that Google Groups has a 100MB file limit.
    >
    >
    > View other groups in this category.
    >
    >
    > To stop getting this e-mail, or change how often it arrives, go to your
    > E-mail Settings.
    >
    > Need help? If you've forgotten your password, please go to Passport Member
    > Services.
    > For other questions or feedback, go to our Contact Us page.
    >
    > If you do not want to receive future e-mail from this MSN group, or if you
    > received this message by mistake, please click the "Remove" link below. On
    > the pre-addressed e-mail message that opens, simply click "Send". Your
    > e-mail address will be deleted from this group's mailing list.
    > Remove my e-mail address from Gregg Shorthand.

  3. I just remembered something else positive about Google,
    but will only apply to some of us. If you have downloaded
    the google-apps application (forget what exactly it's called)
    (and still free I suspect)…
    during your computer slow time it indexes not only all
    your hard drive files but your gmail as well so that when
    you search through googleapps you search it all at
    once. Through yahoo, if you are getting the group
    postings to that email account, you have to search
    separately. That feature of google/gmail is actually
    pretty useful over time as I've accumulated rather
    a lot on both the computer drive and my gmail account.

    Richard Harper

    On Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 11:56 AM, Chuck—- wrote:
    > New Message on Gregg Shorthand
    >
    > Closing of MSN Groups
    >
    > Reply
    > Reply to Sender Recommend Message 10 in Discussion
    > From: Chuck—-
    > I found out about a limitation in Yahoo groups. Messages cannot have any
    > attachments — these will be stripped from the message upon posting.
    > View other groups in this category.
    >
    >
    > To stop getting this e-mail, or change how often it arrives, go to your
    > E-mail Settings.
    >
    > Need help? If you've forgotten your password, please go to Passport Member
    > Services.
    > For other questions or feedback, go to our Contact Us page.
    >
    > If you do not want to receive future e-mail from this MSN group, or if you
    > received this message by mistake, please click the "Remove" link below. On
    > the pre-addressed e-mail message that opens, simply click "Send". Your
    > e-mail address will be deleted from this group's mailing list.
    > Remove my e-mail address from Gregg Shorthand.

  4. I'm throwing in my support for Google as well. I really don't like how Yahoo's messaging is set up, where it's a list of messages chronologically instead of keeping them nice and tidy in the original topic.

  5. I don't like Multiply. There's is a section for various boards (like General and Anything Goes and others as the board grows).   I was looking at Proboards I've been testing it and that looks pretty good. There isn't a "board" for photos, but one could be created in a thread.  I have a photobucket album and copied the IMG Code over and it put the photo in the message.  Super easy. There isn't a "documents' section, I haven't looked at it closely enough to figure that out… unless you do it as an image then you can post it…   Debbi

  6. Hi Chuck,   If you and the group agrees, you're welcome to move the group to the shorthand communities at http://www.shorthandclasses.com/community/ubbthreads.php?ubb=cfrm.    There's plenty of room:  multiple forums (new ones can be added), gallery rooms, doc rooms, chat box, editing, deleting, moving, etc. and it's free.    When you have some time, login and take a look see.  I know everyone is concerned and weighing the options.  Consider this another location option.   Feel free to ask questions.  Bye now,  Ms. Letha    

  7. Its a possibility. Its just that every single shorthand forum except for us has been dead. We've got the central community of Gregg Shorthand writers and we have to make sure our forum is findable to new interest.

    I believe the only reason why we're also not a dead forum is cause we've got a big provider like MSN doing the advertising for us. No one, I imagine, in the active shorthand community including I'm sorry http://www.shorthandclasses.com has the potential to attract people as much.

    Also, and I might be picking at strings, but there's really little interest on this forum for Diamond Jubilee, most people being supporters of earlier versions, so having to navigate through a page of diamond jubilee to get to the forum might turn people off.

    I know I might seem a little harsh, but thanks for putting yourself out there. Maybe other people think its a good idea, therefore keep checking.

  8. Hi Chris,   I think I understand what you mean.  It would be better to have a direct URL as we do now http://groups.msn.com/greggshorthand to help identify us as a specialized group and also provide the public with a destinctive address.  This is probably what Michael meant about having a "findable" forum.   In doing some research, I went to the SCC Gregg Shorthand forum that already exists, I clicked into the Simplied forum and the address was the same as the main community URL (as in an earlier posting of this thread) but with a different location name at the end.  The link address did not show Gregg Shorthand as the name of the forum, nor did it show Simplified as part of the URL link.   Therefore, I cannot offer a specialized, group URL at this time.  I tried!!    But it's something I'd like to look into as a future possibility.   My input then, will be to consider having a Google group instead.  My personal experience with Yahoo groups has been too much SPAM!  I'm truly not familiar with any others.  If I hear of something, I'll speak up.  

  9. Yeah no offence meant Ms Letha.

    Luckily this forums spam has been limited to some phone chatting service once in a while. I once replied asking if the lady is willing to dictate text to me, but I don't think that's their specialty, so I didn't get a reply.

  10. I'm on several Yahoo groups, large and small, and am as happy with them as with MSN.

    Yahoo Pros and Neutral:

    Spam is as controlable as it is in MSN groups. Yahoo boards seem cleaner.

    I prefer the "no attachments" feature, but I'm still using POP3 email and a private mail server, so hate receiving large attachments. (Three years ago, that was state-of-the-art.)

    It's easy enough to upload files and images on Yahoo. As you upload, it asks if you want to send a message to the group about it, with the link. I think disc space is by group rather than by member.

    In Yahoo, you can sort by thread, but it's more the way usenet or an email program does it. I only do that if there are a lot of messages. It's easier to check for new messages — just read by date rather than clicking on each board and thread.

    As a discussion migrates and branches, you can change the subject. In MSN, the title may have little to do with where the conversation goes.

    Yahoo Cons:

    Email addresses are in the clear in emails. Hidden on the boards, but clear in the emails, regardless of how paranoid you set your account.

    It doesn't have the "most recent images" sidebar.

    You can't embed an image in a message to illustrate a point. Rarely used, but nice.

    +++++

    I'm only on one Google group (a very inactive one), so can't comment on them. I researched them for another group, and liked their shared documents feature.

    I notice, though, that their user support isn't responsive. Several people have noted in their user forums that their Calendar doesn't handle time zones they way they say, and there's been no useful response. (What the manual describes is awesome, the reality is same as the other providers.)

    I do like Google's overall "no limit on size" feature.

    I'd love to see what Google is like for an active group.

    ++++

    Michael, LOL your response to the spammer!

    I would suggest a two-pronged approach. If MSN is supporting a move to Multiply, that might be the easiest way to keep our archives. We'd then need to "touch" it every few weeks so it isn't inactive. I've never used Multiply, so I don't know anything about it.

    Cricket

  11. Oh, well. Maybe we should try Multiply — I just joined and the groups section is very different — it uses a blog post with comments style.   I couldn't find a google group that wasn't "usenet" so I don't have a clue what they look like.   Yahoo groups will sort by "subject" which is actually not by thread.   Really, the closest thing to having "threads" like the MSN group we are all so used to is Multiply, so maybe we should give it a try — especially if we can move our older material over without too much of a hitch.   Frankly, even though the posts system in MSN is a bit restrictive, I like the format the best, and so far Multiply is the only one that comes close.   I suppose we could set up a group blog on blogspot or a similar site, and get the same thing.   sidhe

  12. The message part of Google Groups is based on usenet.

    I like the shared documents that Google Groups has. There's a lot of good information spread throughout the messages here. We could put that into documents.

    Yahoo sorts the way usenet does, with branches, rather than linearly like MSN.

    How does Multiply handle conversations? Will it mail out the messages or a daily digest, even of threads you aren't participating in?

  13. Procrastination, thy name is researching a decision that isn't mine to make, which doesn't need to (and shouldn't) be made for at least a month (between the "early adopters / aka beta testers" and "OMG, the group dies tonight!"), and where the information will change (as Multiply improves the process).

    http://msngroups.multiply.com/journal/item/10/From_the_staff_how_migration_works_and_what_to_expect

    The migration is "screen scraping". Their computer looks at the page MSN creates and tries to interpret it. It does not look at MSN's data directly. Also, there seem to be many groups where the conversion failed worse than that.

    Quote: Second, there is a major paradigm shift going on here. The transition from a message-board based product to a more feed based one is definitely not for the faint of heart. In fact, MSN itself is not providing a migration path to its own Live Spaces product.

    In Cricket's words: "Hi Multiply, have we got a great deal for you! We will put your name in our letter. Millions of soon-to-be-homeless users will contact you, expecting you to recreate their old home to the smallest detail. BTW, the users are used to wood. Convince them of the merrits of plastic is your problem. Oh, and we're creating a new site next month, which may compete with yours, but it's too much effort for us to convert the old users when we can give them your name. Have fun!"

    Further reading:

    Do not create a Multiply group manually if you intend to do a migration. Creating the group manually will use up the group ID. Same with a test migration. If you want to create a test group, don't use up a useful name. Use Testgroup### or something useless. (IDs are taken forever.)

    Multiply recommends that members get multiply accounts before the migration.

    You need to be careful when inviting through Multiply — some manage to invite all their contacts, not just previous group. Read each screen carefully.

    Make all your contacts "Online Contact", rather than family or neighbour or whatever. Otherwise, your network includes all their contacts as well (and vice versa). Online Contact does not do that.

    There is absolutely no relationship between names and accounts and IDs between the two companies.

    The support forum has lots of "we changed that method last night," and some changes aren't retroactive so you have to contact them so they can do it manually. In other words, they're finding problems and fixing them. Definitely not the time to move over. (Aside: Given MSN's lack of assistance, I'm not at all suprised at this. The question is how Multiply handles it over the next few months.)

    They have more hard drive space — unlimited. High res pictures are kept for a limited time only, after that they're downgraded to a res suitable for viewing on the web, but not for printing.

    You can comment directly on a picture or movie or whatever rather than starting a separate thread. You can put movies directly into it rather than linking to youtube.

    http://msngroups.multiply.com/journal/item/3
    Things are moved around a lot. Well worth reading this page, as some things aren't moved over. Several things, e.g. files and lists, become blog entries. I can see this being a real pain — might be worth doing the files separately.

    +++

    We might also look at LiveJournal. Their group set-up seems to be a blog, just like a regular blog, but members ca contribute to it. Not sure about privacy and member screening.

  14. Short answer:

    MSN doesn't want to be in the business. Either they aren't making money off it, or they think there's more money in another model, or they think it will be better for society if we move to another model.

    (I find the move interesting. It comes not too long after Google started doing groups.)

    From MSN's letter:
    Because we are dedicated to providing our customers with the most current and user friendly technology available today we made the difficult decision to close the MSN Groups service. This decision is part of an overall investment to update and re-align our online services with Windows Live. In the long term we believe that closing the service is the best way to continue to offer innovative and effective services that help you stay in touch with the people you care about. We plan to launch a new Groups service in the coming weeks, but unlike MSN Groups, Windows Live Groups will focus on offering a place for small groups to collaborate. Multiply is available now, making it your best option today for continuing to share and communicate together online.

    +++++

    Multiply has said MSN doesn't have APIs.

    (Fine print: I'm a programmer's wife, not a programmer.)

    APIs are functions that sit between the database and the main program (and user interface). I suspect the rules for the database are scattered throughout several million lines of code. APIs are really useful, especially if you want several different programs to access the data.

    Maybe they're running out of programmers who know the code well. That's a huge problem with legacy systems. All too often, there's some little thing that needs adjusting when you put it on a larger server or change one of the processors, that takes forever to track down. Or the programmer made some assumption that made sense at the time, but no one knows what it is. This is pure speculation.

  15. I do not think that Google or Yahoo groups will serve your needs. I am more familiar with Yahoo groups, and one problem with them is that you don't have true threads. They are more of a chronology of postings with no real way of organizing posts by subject matter. As others have said, you can sort the list by subject, but that's not the same thing as having 'topics' that encapsulate multiple conversations regardless of what the conversation author put as the subject.

    Since you're being forced to migrate to something new, I think you should advance yourself rather than just make a lateral move. Something more along the lines of a 'Forum' would be appropriate. There are lots of free ones out there, but many of them don't have the digest feature. This is a critical requirement so that people get updates in their email inbox rather than having to go check the Forum itself.

    Second, being able to include pictures or post documents is important. Sometimes people on this group want to post a shorthand example for others to look at.

    A blogging platform might also work, but I'm not familiar enough with them to say for sure. I know they are chronologically organized, but postings can have tags assigned to them that allow people to select conversations by one or more tags. WordPress is a well-known (free) blogging platform.

    Third, being able to migrate your past postings is really important. Would hate to lose all that past information.

    If Multiply can do all that, then I say go for it.

  16. Kim, you can view Yahoo a single-track threads on the web. Go to Message List, then Group by Topic. You can also see them by thread in the daily digest format; I think it's the "new" format rather than Classic.

    That's not to say we should switch to Yahoo, just correcting the information.

    Richard, Yahoo lets you search a group's post. I can usually find a post I vaguely remember within a few minutes — much less time than me indexing it on my local machine. (On the other hand, you seem to enjoy doing it.)

    Multiply seems to search the entire public database rather than a single group. Easy enough to add "group title" to the search terms, but one more step. http://multiply.com/search/

    My vote is to give Multiply a try. We will keep our archives. If it doesn't work, we can always try something else and keep just enough activity that it isn't considered abandoned.

    I also vote that way for selfish reasons. There appears to be a bit of a learning curve, but this group will figure it out and put it through its paces. I'd like to know if I should recommend it to other groups who are less technologicaly adept, and more fearful of change in general.

    Cricket

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