I am really excited to announce a new feature that has been in the works since Chairman Mom’s earliest days: Private groups.

There’s something very powerful about people meeting in small groups to discuss something that matters to them. Those suffering trauma know it. Publishers who benefitted from the rise of book clubs know it. PTAs know it. Jeff Bezos as his famous “two pizza teams” knows it. Boutique fitness chains know it.

There is something about a small group that—when done right—is far greater than the sum of its parts.

When done right is the key phrase. We don’t think the right way to “do” groups is those massive million person things over at Facebook. We’ve all experienced the problems: Byzantine lists of rules from the moderator intended to keep order, threads that devolve into misunderstandings and fights, floods of messages that are nearly impossible to keep track of unless your full-time job is Facebook Groups.

Science backs this up: There’s an optimal size for groups to be powerful. When solving for difficult problems for which there isn’t a clear “yes or no” answer, groups are more powerful than individuals, but the larger the group gets the ability to solve problems actually becomes inhibited.

Here’s how groups work on Chairman Mom:

Starting today, on every Chairman Mom question page, you’ll see the option to join a small private group around that question. Groups have no “leader”—everyone’s voice is equal—and will remain open as long as there are still members posting. The minimum number of participants in a group is two, the maximum is 12. Once all twelve slots are taken, new members will be added to a waiting list. By limiting the number of participants, we’ll keep the conversation manageable, and on topic.  

That’s right: We are intentionally thwarting gargantuan scale in our groups. Whaaaa? But it’s the Internet and scale is everything, right? It is if your customer is an advertiser. But our customer is you. And since we don’t have to addict you, amass you, and serve you up to advertisers, we can rethink what’s actually best for you when it comes to groups.

Imagine how this could have played out with some of our threads over the last year.

Remember the woman who was terrified about a potential move to New York with young kids and all the New York members who flooded in to give her advice and offer to meet up?

Remember the idea of starting a “Daddy Weekend’s Club” for those of us who have forced “me time” thanks to divorce? That idea for a Chairman Mom book club?

Or the thread that popped back up recently about how to forgive a spouse for infidelity? The parents all slogging through applying to high schools? Or the time a bunch of you helped a user perfect her resume before a job interview.

I could go on and on. We’ve had threads about divorce, infidelity, career crossroads, dealing with in-laws, raising kids with disabilities, thriving back-and-forths about fall wardrobe ideas, and women more passionate than I am about healthy car snacks. Desires to meet up at conferences like CES and JP Morgan. Imagine if the people most invested in these conversations could opt into a small, private group and continue to deepen their relationship and support for one another in a more private and ongoing format?

Plenty of apps and clubs and organizations have existed to help women “make friends” with one another. We think our approach will be different from many of them, because it’s not based on where you live necessarily or what your job is or how old you are or what you look like, but what you are going through. If Chairman Mom has built anything in the last nine months of helping women solve the hardest problems they face is an intimacy graph.

We’d love for you to join a small group or two and let us know what you think. You can either go back to a thread you were passionate about and opt in, and we’ll see if a group comes out of it, or you can ask a question with the intention of starting a new one.

One idea I had is to start a few threads about specific New Year’s resolutions we all have. What better way to help us all be accountable in the coming year?

To kick things off, I’m asking for support on one of my core sets of resolutions: Getting my personal financial house in order.

What do you need support with in 2018?

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