On Wednesday November 13, 2019 we changed the settings of the Watercooler Connections group to archive status as a part of our transition to the new Groups.io hosted site for the Montclair Watercooler.
We're excited by this new chapter in our support of civil discussion of things Montclair and we look forward to building the online community using the rich features of Groups.io. As mentioned in the group announcement when we archived the group, the changes and concerns about Facebook as a hosting platform were a part of this decision. Here is a bit more on that part -
There are issues with Facebook as a platform and as a company. This is an organization that profits off us and our personal stories, wishes, and desires. It uses our basic human nature of wanting to connect to each other to make money. For us, we have up until now accepted the unpleasantness of their business model as part of the cost of delivering to you a forum where you can share things and connect to each other locally in Montclair. Of course, that in and of itself is contrary to our stated noncommercial ethos. We’ve looked the other way, uncomfortably, until now.
The recent news and testimony from the Facebook CEO on the company’s commercial policy and the lack of any significant public policy oversight on it are a great concern to us. This is a tipping point. Therefore, we believe we must act within the bounds of what we can do and not support this commercial entity going forward.
We see many advantages to the Groups.io platform and believe it provides all the tools you may need to ask, discuss, and share with your neighbors online here in Montclair, NJ. Additionally, there are no ads, no tracking of your online behavior, and no hassle. We also think that by spending the time to write something in a tool that requires a bit of focus and care, that the level of our discussions will be civil and respectful.
We think this “back to the future” as it is will be a better platform for everyone and we hope you tell your friends about it. If you still prefer Facebook for what it offers, we will be sad to see you go, but wish you all the best.
We would like to share a bit of news about the Montclair Watercooler and some changes that will be affecting our online community. Most of you (16,975 as of today) are members of the Facebook group Watercooler Connections. This is the largest and most active local online discussion group in town, and we are thankful to all members for your support. The Watercooler also exists (for now) as a much smaller (3912 members) Yahoo group.
The Yahoo group was the original “Montclair Watercooler” created by Mary Krugman and curated by a group of admins (benevolent despots) throughout the years. A full history of the group may be seen here, but it was founded on May 7, 2000.
Earlier this week all members of the Yahoo Watercooler were given a shut down notice by Yahoo and its corporate owner, Verizon. The full text of the message is here, but the upshot is that no new content will be supported on Yahoo groups as of October 28, 2019 and on December 14, 2019 ALL prior content (back to 2000 for us) will be deleted from their site. The Yahoo Montclair Watercooler will then only be supported as an email mailing list and we are not even sure how long that will exist or be supported. So it seems the internet is in certain cases allowed to “forget”.
We at the Montclair Watercooler believe in civil discussion of “things Montclair” and we have successfully evolved as the online tools available have. For example, as Facebook offered its new group capability, we took advantage of the options it provided to enhance the delivery of content to you. We were the first to do this. Of course, this is not always without issue given the immediacy of Facebook and the easy ability to create fake accounts and questionable content. In many ways the Watercooler saw much of the issues we all deal with online elsewhere here in Montclair. All through this, we remained dedicated to our original charter which supports civil discussion of things Montclair, limited commercial content, and a focus on issues, not people.
We believe all online tools evolve and change. To support you members of the community we have the responsibility to constantly evaluate the platforms we use. For example, today we are very concerned about the statements from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his hands off policy on false and violent content. There is much debate in this country today on the need for regulation of online companies, and we certainly all have our own opinions on that, but suffice it to say the direction of Facebook and all of its other tracking and commercialization of us all gives us pause.
So, we at the Watercooler are faced with two challenges going forward. The near term one being, what to do about the loss of the Yahoo platform and the longer term one of how do we position the group for the longer term.
Here is our plan –
We have evaluated and quite like what the online tool Groups.io provides. This platform supports groups like Yahoo did, but adds additional options that make the interface and support much more vibrant. We have created a Montclair Watercooler version on this group and are currently reviewing all of the details of it. Once we are ready to go, we will notify all members of both the existing Yahoo group and the Watercooler Connections Facebook group of its availability. We like its clean interface, simplicity, and the lack of tracking and commercialization of content that you post on the platform.
The Watercooler Connections group will remain active and supported. Many of you enjoy it, and we understand that, but we also think there are really strong reasons these days not to be on Facebook and if you wish to discuss things Montclair without it, you should have an option.
Finally, for the history of the Watercooler back to May of 2000, Groups.io does offer a transfer option, but we would need to upgrade to a “professional” version that costs $110 for a year. We’re not necessarily history buffs here and would be happy to let all the content go and start fresh, but if you’d like to help out to fund a save the content with a small donation, let us know.
To simplify contact with us, you may send any comments or questions directly to Jon Bonesteel at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be sure to share what you send with the other admins.