For some time I have been monitoring usage of the AppleVis User Groups, and unfortunately I think the time has now come to close them down.
I had high hopes for these when they were first added to the site, as I thought that they would provide a great opportunity for people to create what would effectively be micro-communities or micro-websites. A number of people have created Groups over the past year, and in most cases I have thought them to be great ideas. However, the number of people who have actively participated is very low (certainly in relation to the total number of registered users that we have).
There are many possible reasons for the low level of activity. It could simply be that people forget the Groups even exist (as a couple of you have actually admitted to me), or it could be that they are too close in nature and function to the Forum. I certainly suspect that the latter is a significant factor.
Looking at them now, it is hard to argue a case that the User Groups add any real value to the overall site. In fact, most of what has been posted to the User Groups would sit just as comfortably in the Forum, where the likelihood is that it would get read by far more people. This would mean that the useful information would be shared to a wider audience, and the questions asked would be more likely to get answered. For that reason, existing posts in the User Groups will be migrated to the Forum.
Thank you to everybody who created a User Group, and to those of you who participated.
Although I am a little saddened by this decision, I do feel that it is the right one. I also believe that it will remove a possible cause of confusion over where is the best and most appropriate place to share information or ask questions.