Thanks for all the invitations to join groups.
However, I don't join groups. Although I have a semi-humourous explanation on the description for the group, I thought I would explain my reasons a little further here. (I would like to point out that I don't think that anyone that's sent me an invitation to join a group is an idiot - except those that I don't have as contacts).
First problem with groups: I saw this on Flickr, and I see it growing here - groups quickly get swamped. You end up with hundreds and then thousands of members. New photos get added every other minute or every other day. People upload whole doc/photo streams, and all you get is a big mess. These groups are interesting for a spectator to trawl through and see different pictures of, say, the moon, but they serve little benefit for the members of the group, who presumably want some sort of feedback on their photos - or else why join a group?
Second problem with groups: everyone invites you to one at some point. You just get swamped with invitations. I've had twenty since the groups first appeared. This would not be a problem, except that many invitations are insincere; that is, they are from people who don't know you, haven't marked you as a contact, and haven't taken the time to see if your interests reflect those of the group. It ends up a kind of spam.
Third problem: photos that are submitted to multiple groups (or even just popular groups) end up with an unreadable amount of comments. Most of these comments are along the lines of "Brilliant" or "Great shot", with little other input. Such comments are fine on their own - but when thirty other people have put such a comment, it is boring to read and reduces the impact of the photo.
Fourth problem: with groups, certain people have a need to create some sort of 'award', which then ends up all over the comments on members' photos. I can't stand these 'awards'; either people like the photo or not. Getting an 'award' means absolutely nothing to me, but presumably means a lot more to the award-giver.
Fifth problem: rules. I don't need to read a big set of rules every time I join a group. Some of them are ridiculously complicated, such as: "Only post on Thursdays. Only photos with a blue background. Only photos with a 'y' in the title. Only upload while wearing shorts," etc. There is just too much noise and information: if a person joins ten or twenty groups, these rules are difficult to follow every time. But a lot of people join over a hundred groups (some times a few hundred), presumably in an effort to 'market' their photos.
Sixth problem: the combined result of the above problems turns a great document sharing service into Myspace (i.e. shit). This hasn't happened yet, and I think Ipernity is above being turned into a hyperactive teenage zoo, but it degrades something about the service.
I am not saying that groups shouldn't exist; I actually like the idea of them - but it's the way they're used (that is, as a marketing tactic for the individual rather than a sharing community) which ruins it as far as I'm concerned.
People spend more time joining groups, creating groups, commenting and discussing in groups than getting on with the business of taking photos and sharing them along with other documents. This seems entirely self defeating to me. Why join a photo/document sharing site, and spend more time promoting yourself than simply sharing?
I like Ipernity for the community feel it manages to maintain, for the generally high level of intelligence amongst the members, and the high quality of work that I see everywhere. I hope the groups don't dent this fine structure.
Anyway, if you have bothered to read this much, feel free to let me know what you think. And to re-iterate, as well as the above points, I also don't join groups because it is not generally in my nature. So, if I don't join yours, it doesn't mean I think you're an idiot or are spamming me; it's just that I don't feel any need to be part of a group (beyond that of the Ipernity community itself).