Hi Sterling - from an overall perspective on GovLoop, here are some thoughts:
1. Philosophical: With more groups, we're finding a few things happen:
(a) Conversations get diluted. People are asking common questions and having similar conversations in different places. There may be 120 people on the site interested in the same topics, but they are spread out - 40 here, 50 there, 30 in another location.
(b) People are cross-linking across similar groups. Since these conversations are happening in multiple places, members feel the need to cross-post to multiple groups to ensure replication and sharing of content, including event announcements, white papers, etc. The upshot of that practice is that people who belong to all of the groups are getting their email boxes filled with links to the exact same content...which diminishes the power of that notification and/or causes people to default to delete vs. checking the groups and engaging.
2. Practical: For the reasons above, we've pulled the 700+ groups into a spreadsheet and are taking a really close look at them with an eye toward:
(a) Consolidation - We're in the process of asking similar groups to join together so that more people can derive maximum benefit from interaction/engagement.
(b) Closing - Once the groups merge into one, we dissolve the other ones. We're most likely going to reach out to the Creators of inactive or never active groups and see if they want to continue to give energy to them. If not, we'll ask for new moderators to step up or dissolve those groups, too, capturing the content somewhere (GovLoop wiki?) so that it's not lost completely.
(c) Consultation - As people talk about forming new groups, I am quickly contacting them to think through alternatives/ways to blossom right where they are planted or using other hacks to grow on GovLoop.
3. Application to YAP: With all of that in mind, I was actually going to recommend that you do something akin to bullet 2 above - use Google Forms and Spreadsheet to do Mentor-Matching. You've seen that example over in the Acquisition 2.0 Group where we're gathering websites and resources from people.
So that's much more than 2 cents from the GovLoop side! Eager to see what other folks say...