Facebook Changes: The Full Story

Author’s Note: This document is written as a more technical (meaning long-winded) explanation of why the changes were made to the Facebook groups. We really hope you’ll take the two minutes necessary to read the details of what’s written here. It provides details on almost every decision we’ve made, and what necessitated it.

How to Contact us: If there is something that ABSOLUTELY requires an Admins attention, please contact us by using the CONTACT US form at the top of www.OMJlist.com (you do not need to be a member or logged in to do this). Contacting OMJ Administration any other way may not get responded to. If we receive 3 complaints (from 3 different people) about a post, comment, or member we will then remove that post, comment, or member. 

Administrative Adjustments to Facebook OMJ Groups, effective December 31, 2011

     Effective on December 8, 2011, the administration and accountability for content posted on OMJ Groups here on Facebook will be adjusted. These adjustments are significant and might affect your decision whether to remain here on the OMJ groups, or to join us and the other members on www.omjlist.com.

   In the following paragraphs, we will clearly outline the following:

  • the reason for the adjustments, and explanations for each.
  • what the exact adjustments will be.
  • how to contact us (administrators) if you need to, at any time.

Why are We Adjusting the OMJ Groups:

     No one likes change. We know this. As members of Facebook, we administrators also feel the same pains our users do when changes occur with no warning, and with no explanation. We have all seen the angry posts from users who login only to find a massive change to their Facebook experience and we would like to mitigate that as much as possible by being completely open and honest and even transparent about our decisions, the reasons for them, and how they affect users of the OMJ groups on Facebook.  Our collective body of users, as of December 2011 is almost 100,000 in total, making us one of the absolute largest group bodies on Facebook anywhere. Our smallest member counties have around 100 members and our largest have over 10,000 each.

   When we first started realizing this success we were happy, overjoyed, and excited that our idea has caught on to so many people. We have even spawned hundreds of knock-off groups that try to mimic what we do. C.C. Colton said in 1820 that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and we agree 100%.

   Even though there are many like us, there are none even one-tenth as large as OMJ. Currently boasting 100,000 Facebook members and over 1 million photos in less than a year, we are the single most successful enterprise like us to ever have existed on Facebook. Being the biggest has proven to have it’s disadvantages as well, as we will describe here for you, so you can understand why we have come to the decisions we have made. 

Reasons for Change:1: Facebook Problems:

     As our groups have grown to such immense sizes, we are some of the first on facebook to discover programming problems with the groups. Simply stated; groups with 500 members don’t have the same problems as groups with over ten thousand members so none of the other groups out there have had these problems yet, but they will if they continue to grow like we have! We’ve stated this openly in the past and other knock-off groups have asserted rather bluntly that it’s just a scam we’re using to drive people to OMJLIST.com. We want you to know forthrightly this is simply not true. Certainly we DO want members to join us over on OMJLIST.com but this isn’t the way we want do it.

  • Photo Albums are Broken:
          
    If you look at the top of any group page for OMJ, you will see a link with a number and the word “photos”. Example: 9,872 photos. This is NOT the amount of photos in a group, but rather is the actual number of albums in the group, with photos being anywhere from ten to 100 times more than the number suggests. For example, ONE album in one of our groups had over 18,000 photos in it… ONE single album. There are over 9,000 more albums in that group. Can you imagine how many photos truly might be in that group total?
         We started receiving member complaints they can’t load the photo page, which means they can’t search for their albums , which means they can’t delete their pictures. We checked and found out they were right. There are so many albums on the page that even our fastest computers couldn’t even load the page. It simply breaks.
         Facebook didn’t intend (yet anyway) for anyone to actually post 1 million photos. That’s a reasonable expectation on their part we think. We didn’t see it coming either! But, now that users cant’ delete their photos and admins can’t delete their photos either, we have no way to stop the problem from happening. Therefore it is a fact that it will eventually happen in every single OMJ group on Facebook if it becomes successful enough to have enough photos to crash the albums feature.
     
  •  Member Deletions Not Working
         Another issue brought to our attention by our users is a problem with the member database on Facebook. A county with over 5000 members seems to have this problem, where the smaller groups usually do not.
         Let’s assume a user named “John Doe” posts an extremely rude comment, harrasses another user, or posts a banned item. Ordinarlily when someone brings that to our attention, we go over to the post to check it out for ourselves, then check the member list, search for the member, then remove or ban them, depending on the situation in question.  As part of this problem, the member doesn’t show up, even to us admins. We can’t delete some members! We can see them on the wall, but there’s no way to remove them from the group.
         We’ve checked Facebook’s technical support forums and filed bug reports for months with no response on the matter. Now we have users who are intentionally mis-using the group who can’t be banned. This opens us up to a lot of liability from people who are intentionally out to take advantage of others. 
     
  • Group Permissions:
    Some people have said in the past “Well, why don’t you just close the groups and just focus on OMJ?” Guess what.. we can’t. Due to even more errors with Facebook we can’t even close a group if we wanted to.
         There are over a hundred groups on here for OMJ and every single one of them is affected by a variety of permissions-based errors that we can’t fix because Facebook owns the servers. We couldn’t remove all of you if we wanted to! (I know some people will like to hear that!)
         With the severe liability this poses to us admins we are now legally required to take some action to protect ourselves from errors out of our own control that are due to Facebook’s technical difficulties. We create the group, moderate the group, administer the group, but Facebook OWN’s all the groups on Facebook and we can’t let ourselves be held liable for potential issues that could happen that we can’t control. 
     
  • Document Security:
    There is another problem, which is the reason you’re reading this on our blog, rather than on the Facebook groups wall. Due to a change from Facebook, we can no longer even secure a document. ANY user in any group now has the permission to edit someone else’s document! This is a horrible security nightmare for us, and already on more than one occasion we’ve had users edit our Terms and Conditions and other documents, just as a way to cause problems for the admins. I’m referring to intentional edits made by users being malicious, not accidental things. This was on purpose. Now, in addition to moderating members, we’ve had to monitor every single document in every single group and be sure they haven’t been changed. It’s a liability for us and a lot of additional work that have to do that’s not directly providing support for our users.
     
  • Other not-listed.
         There are about five other errors we know about but arent’ even going to share with you because any one of you could take advantage of these technical bugs to do things you shouldn’t do within a Facebook group.
         We won’t even begin to share with you the possible ways this mass of errors could be manipulated to cause considerable harm to users, mainly because we dont want to give a potential abuser the ideas if they don’t have them already!
         The bottom line on Facebook errors is that it simply puts us owners of OMJ at too much risk and we have no way to help protect our users against these problems. Considering the vast possibe ways these things could be misused, there is an almost 100% certainty in our minds that one day a user is going to get hurt and we would have no way to stop it, or to defend ourselves against litigation and liability if we continue as we have been.
         You’ve all heard by now of a trend that’s become known as “Craigslist Killings” where people are hurt, assaulted, and sometimes even killed. It’s always Craigslist that gets sued first in these scenarios, and Craigslist who gets smeared all over the news. I bet most of you reading this right now have heard of this happening, but you can’t remember the names of any of the people, can you? All we remember is “people died from using Craigslist. It’s not safe!” We love you guys but have to protect ourselves AND YOU from the potentials these problems have opened up for users and we can no longer do that with Facebook groups. It’s simply become too dangerous.

Managerial Problems:
     Not all the problems we are experiencing are the result of Facebook. Some are due to just sheer numbers. We have 100,000 members and we have 12 admins, meaning every person is responsible for monitoring roughly over 8,000 people. They do this for free. They make no money. They do this in addition to having a job and life of their own.
     If a member has an issue with another member, it becomes  non-stop mud-flinging on the OMJ group wall, taking time from our admins to research the issue, find out who started what, detele all the rude or inflammatory posts, and then ban the members. Usually this results in the admin getting yelled at as well. It puts our administrative staff in a difficult position we can’t easily find a way out of. On occasion we have been insulted, cursed at, threatened, and some of them have literally been stalked outside of Facebook. (Ithe author of this article is one of the ones who has been threatened, and stalked, so I’m telling you for certain that it’s really happening). It’s not safe to continue that way.
    Our response to the lack of manpower was to appoint more volunteer admins, and you all remember how that turned out. The only thing worse than having a member disrespect another in our open forums is to have an admin do it. That reflects poorly on all of the administrators and on the entire OMJ brand as a whole. Now our administrators have other administrators to watch over as well as their own counties to monitor. Do you see where this is going?
     The only real solution was to remove all the non-owner admins from the groups and return to the original group of administrators, who are back at square one again; overworked and tasked with an impossible job. It is simply not possible for 12 people to moderate 1 million posts fast enough to keep users happy. If we miss a post, users complain that we’re letting certain individuals get away with it. There’s just no joy in that scenario for anyone, so we’re having to try other approaches.

User Problems:
      There’s really only ever been a few user problems that are headaches to us moderators; banned members and fake profiles. There have been times when we’ve had to necessarily ban a member from a group, which you might think is easy, except you might not know that we then have to go to EVERY SINGLE GROUP and search for them, then ban them there as well. Banning ONE member can take as long as two hours if they’re in a lot of groups because there’s no way to search for them except group by group. Thankfully we’ve gotten pretty good and guessing which groups they’re in and can get them without going through all 100+ groups. 
     Some of the more bothersome banned users go out and immediately create sometimes more than TEN fake profiles and try to re-join the groups again. Imagine the confusion and time taken up when one of these fake profiles gets in the group and has to be banned all over again. Usually they only try to rejoin to post negative comments, but sometimes they’ve stolen member names, copied our copyrighted materials, and performed other illicit and illegal activities. At the very minimum this results in countless hours being spent by some of the admins working together to find and eliminate the fake users, hopefully before they start cursing at and harassing other members. Just as often as not we’ll find out about it right about the time they start saying really hurtful things towards other members, spamming them with messages, etc. It’s just NOT the way we want these communities to be run. That’s not a nice neighborhood for anyone to enjoy. 

Privelege versus Right:
     Lastly, through the sheer amount of posts and success some have had here on OMJ, a majority of users have started think that OMJ is a “right” and forget that this is a site we put together with considerable sweat-equity, hundreds of hours of labor per month, all for free, and in return some of them are getting hate mail and threats. To be fair to us owners, OMJ is ours. We created it for YOU, but we have to pay for lawyers to review terms, defend trademark and IP infringements, copyright violations, consult on legal and illegal items, etc.
     There actually ARE considerable costs associated with what we’ve created for our users here on Facebook. Conversely there isn’t any way for OMJ to profit on Facebook financially. We even float the costs of Swap Meets in local counties, and THAT has never generated us a profit. Even after the income from retailers renting space, each event costs us admins a couple thousand dollars to host the venue.
      If you’re surprised and offended by the fact that we do actually want to make money at this venture, then we apologize, but consider that 12 people currently spend about four hours per day during the week, and usually almost double that on EVERY weekend to moderate OMJ. That equates to 192 hours per week, MINIMUM we spend working on the Facebook groups. Since it’s inception we have spent over 13,000 hours working on moderating and improving OMJ on Facebook, all for no monetary gain.
     We were OK with that until the issues mentioned above put us in a precarious legal and ethical position. Have you ever worked 13,000 hours on something? That’s a cumulative 6.25 years of work-week labor from our admins only to find out that you can’t safely continue it without endangering your own livelihood and that you KNOW no one is going to understand when you explain it to them anyway? It’s a very disheartening experience for all of us.  

WHAT WILL BE CHANGING

     Now that you know what’s led up to this decision so we’re going to take a moment to let you know what we’re doing to address it. You’ll be glad to know that all the admins rejected the idea of closing ANY of the groups here on OMJ! We did however have to come up with a way to let the groups continue in a manner our users will enjoy and we tried to also put in a few of the requests some of the users have asked for over time. 
     Basically the OMJ Facebook groups are going to be put on Auto-Pilot. Yep, we’re literally pointing this plane towards success and walking away from the controls to go sit in the first class cabin and sip martinis with you guys!     

What does autopilot mean?
     In short, we’re going to let the communities of Facebook users moderate themselves like the adults they are. We ‘re not going to be stepping in every few minutes to look in on things. No more big brother (or sister) watching over your shoulder! These OMJ groups were built for your communities, so now we’re making them yours, and letting you drive. Just so you’ll know what to expect, the following is a basic list of adjustments we are making. If more are added, I’ll update this document to reflect it. 

  • Membership: Rather than having to have the admins approve memberships, now you guys can approve members into the group! (Previously banned members will remain banned however) Also please note that if a member approves membership for someone, that member can NOT then remove them. Only administrators can remove users or perma-ban users and you’ll have to go to the Contact Us page to file that request, though we’ll handle it immediately. 
  • Photo sharing OR posting will be allowed: The photo-share-only idea bombed for a number of reasons and the photo albums are already broken anyway, so you can post to the group however you’d like. We still do encourage users to share photos rather than post the other way or eventually we feel like the entire photo feature will break altogether. But we won’t be enforcing HOW you share!
  • We get some peace and quiet! We’re changing the contact method significantly for addressing problem within the group. We currently get over 300 facebook messages per day and can’t ever respond to them all in a timely fashion.  This is discussed later in the T&C’s below too, but basically we will NOT respond to private messages about OMJ FB groups. Instead we have created a Contact Us page at http://omjlist.com/ that allows you to send an email to ALL of the admins so one of us can handle the really important issues.
  • We’re not disappearing: We have all agreed that we will participate more as “members” in the community and less as administrators. If we see a post from a lady asking a question on how to do something, we’ll answer it. We’ll be here to provide helpful and friendly advice for the most part. We won’t be moderating the day to day operations of post violators much at all. This doesn’t mean members can disrespect admins. Technically the rules are that we “may” remove a member, but you can probably bet that cursing at an admin will get you perma-banned for life.
  • No more un-banning: If we have enough requests on the Contact Us page about a specific user, or see obvious evidence of intentional abuse of the terms below, users will be permanently banned, with no chance for reinstatement to any OMJ group, ever. We simply wont’ be moderating that way anymore. The rules are out there for you everyone to see and it is their responsibility to adhere to them. We will not be spending time explaining the rules anymore. 
  • Serious Violations: There are 100,000 of you. We cant’ moderate you constantly (we know, we’ve tried). Anyone can take two seconds to messge an admin, but if you actually take the time to document the problem and use the Contact Us form on the web site, then we know it’s real, and that you care enough about the issue to contact us about it. This means only the important issues will likely be reported, so we CAN devote time to handling those easily and efficiently.

     Secondly to this, we also now get to spend all that freed-up 100 hours per week working on our flagship website www.omjlist.com. Many of our admins have spending their 100+ hours per week on OMJ while the core development team works on OMJLIST. Thanks to a lot of new and interesting ideas, we have found ways of adding new features to OMJLIST that will appeal to everyone and aren’t centered around classified postings. Implementing these ideas and making omjlist.com is where our admins will focus their time on creating new stuff, making the site better, and supporting members.

Some of the new things coming (maybe this week, depending on our time)

  •  Social Selling Blog: We’re developing a new blog section with informative articles about how to sell better, what tips and tricks you can use to sell faster, and make more money. Many of you want to know how to do this, but we’ve never been able to take the time to offer it to you. Now we can. These tips aren’t about how sell on OMJ in general… they’ll help you on Facebook, ebay, and other selling sites as well.
  • Retailers are going to get a surprise bonus now as well! Every new (and existing) retailer is going to get their own write-up on the blog as a way for members and visitors to learn more about them, their story, and maybe we can even get them to open up and share how they became successful with social selling so readers can learn some new methods to use themselves at home!
  • Admins are easier to find and chat with if you need help. We’ve all agreed to spend significantly more time in the OMJlist chat rooms. We’ve changed our names in chat to “Admin-Firstname Lastname” so we’re easier to find. You can ask an admin for help on anything you’d like to know! That’s why we’re there!

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