Logo use courtesy of Yammer, of course
Last week Yammer announced the "next wave in Enterprise microblogging"
This weekend, on the very last day of February 2010, Yammer launched Communities. And it went so fast there isn't even an entry on them in the Help section
Communities are quite a shock to most people using Yammer for a while. Information is very scarce, labels are inconsistently used, and there's been a bit too much hardcoding done by Yammer itself.
If you want to create a Community, you have to click "Create Network" from the network you're in. That first Network there actually should read Community
If you have created a Community, it's labelled Private Community by default in the right side of the community space. No matter what setting you pick, it keeps saying the same thing: Private Community
Where Yammer went wrong is by labelling them as "Private Communities" where these are obviously open. I prefer using Open versus Closed over Public versus Private, as anything on the Internet isn't really private, unless you're the only member yourself
What little people realise is that the entire Yammer model 180-ed over the weekend. From being closed and siloed it has become wide-open for anyone. Closed meaning that you're always absolutely certain that only people from the same email domain (...@company.domain) can read and write messages. Those closed networks can now be linked via open communities. Where networks are reserved to email domains, communities aren't. Anyone can be invited to or request to join a community. It's up to the admin to allow whetehr only he or she, or also all members can invite people
So even if you made the explicit agreement with the community admin to only invite people from the same email domain, there's nothing preventing him or her from doing so
Biggest surprise to everyone is that communities aren't children of a network: they're parents themselves, fully standalone entities. I'm expecting some discussion with my employer these coming days about me having 21 communities, allowing my employer's employees easy access into some. We'll just have to redefine our mutual level of trust, I think. People still refer to them as ...company's Communities, where they're really mine (if there is such a thing, of course - they're Yammer's in the first place)
My Yammer account changed from being fully company-based to fully me-based. After Facebook and Google making your private stuff public, Yammer now follows - but they do it more discretely. Stowe Boyd will love it, and there certainly will be a lot being said about all this for some time to come