In my Community Watch Post I mentioned how I was having a difficulty finding a community that I felt comfortable with or which would work for what I wanted to discuss, i.e. some communities hasd set themselves up as facebook pages so posts by contributors were getting lost down the page. I was watching one particular community and had reservations about the “half glass empty” type comments. This lead me to give a great deal of thought to starting a twitter group discussion myself and I gave this even further consideration (even messaging people to ascertain interest levels) about half way through my time with this community as things seemed to be heading toward the negative.
I feel that with the position I used to hold in the industry that I needed to be addressing the issues I found troubling and search for solutions as well as highlighting and promoting the positives tha tare happening in the industry
The Community I choose to join was the Harness Racing Owners Association (HROA). I have chosen to join their Facebook community where I feel more interaction is taking place.
The HROA are infact an associated body of the regulatory body of harness racing in New Zealand – Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ). They have an elected/appointed member to the board of HRNZ.
HROA has struggled for many years to keep memberships and a voice within the industry and really only one person has kept it going, that being Richard Brosnam a former HRNZ board member and a current harness racing breeder, owner and trainer. Richard has campaigned tirelessly for the owner over the years as he watched memberships and interest in Owner Associations around the country dwindle. I actually believe now that social media may just be the lifeline that this community has been waiting for.
This facebook community was established to gather the views of owners and share them with the representative on the HRNZ Board, Ken Spicer. It provides an opportunity to discuss any concerns or topics that are curently affecting harness racing owners, the HROA website actually has its own forums but these do not seem to generate the same discussion as the Facebook group. (maybe because yet another login and password is required). Also I have noted (which is faantastic with an aging harness racing owners population) a number of younger generation harness enthusiasts posting or commenting on the Facebook site, I wonder if they would have made comments in the forums of the HROA website had this group not been available?
The HROA website which is about one year old gives a great deal of information to new and existing owners tha thas always been available but perhaps not so readily.
There do not seem to be a great deal of rules around posting on the HROA Facebook Group. Other groups or pages I have been involved with/member of have had rules about posting and commenting posted at the top of their page for members to view i.e. what is permitted and what is not.
The HROA is an open group and any member is able to invite people via email to join the group.
Members will have to follow the guidelines/rules established by facebook for posting and commenting. So there can be:
No haters, intimidation or harassment of any other users
You cannot post content that is hateful, threatening, inciting of violence, too graphic or violent
No discriminatory posts
I think posting and commenting is about finding the balance between the being honest as well as sensitive. There are rules and regulations that we should follow but these can limit our creativity and spontaneousness of our interactions. On the other hand, we ought to be aware of the publicness of Facebook and repect other users.
With this in mind I set some rules for myself that I would love to see other members of the group try to adopt when posting and commenting.
Keep it positive – I like to find some good things that are happening in the Harness Racing community and post about them
Be sensitive – Having been involved in a management position with the regulatory body I know these people have only the best interests of the industry at heart and are doing their best within the rules and regulations.
Solutions – the industry is facing hard times and people are feeling rather despondent which is understandable – I hope to give some solutions with any problems that I wish to share with the group.
Repective Opinions – Everyone has a right to express their opinions and views and this should be respected by all users whether they agree or not.
Factual – I would like to think that I am posting and commenting on subjects which I have knowledge of and the information I am posting is factual.