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In traveling throughout the country, both for pleasure and for business, one of the most rapidly growing community organizations I have seen are those relating to consumer awareness; i.e., targeting consumer scams and fraud. Just this summer alone, I have seen this type of community group flourish in towns located in North Carolina and Colorado. What I saw made me wonder if good ol’ computer user groups could strengthen their posture within their communities just by embracing another aspect of users helping users! Are not consumer scams mostly related to some form of computer use?
What I found in a simple “trial run” completely blew me away. We hit on something that generated a meeting attendance of twice the number of 1st time visitors than regular members. There were no additional resources spent in publicizing the meeting, just a slight change of emphasis in the meeting announcement.
What I found was that by taking the concept of discussing one of literally thousands of scams that consumers face on a daily basis, I was able to bring in folks to a computer meeting and expose them to the user group community. I simply publicized that we would be discussing scams and how to avoid them and folks came in for that. In the end, we ended up with folks that “learned” what user groups were all about at the same time that they were learning about computer and consumer type of scams.
What started as an experiment generated forty members in less than 60 days. It
also helped our user group realize that when groups like ours expand their
horizons just a little, the end results are exciting and can bring many rewards.
The end users benefited a tremendous amount as well. We had members of the
community learn about scams and also learn what user groups are all