Some groups or discussion forums have a likely topic (e.g. http://groups.google.com/group/alt.childcare/topics?lnk=srg), but are filled with ads to 'make money while working form home' which might match a childcare topic but it ends up being about AMWAY etc. or advertising adults sites.
So, maybe groups should be member driven, with approved membership... (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/onlinefacilitation/), as Joe Manna says:
- Fear from New Users
- Spam Exposure
Some ways to make a discussion forum worthwhile are:
- have students teach students - ensure as tutor that I pick someone with a good attitude and good ideas or perspectives to share
- Moderate loosely but precisely - use a gentle hand in editing or culling posts, but be very clear about standards and topics to be covered and when disconnecting someone make it very obvious so peers learn by example
- Don't be a Nazi - I don't have to be in complete control (http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-behave-on-an-internet-forum)