We now have lots of information channels to keep up to date with, if we want to keep up to date. Aside from things like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, developer websites and Joomla! related blogs, we have the whole family of Joomla! websites where some have RSS feeds, we have the forums, the people portal with groups and discussions, the JED with reviews, the Google groups and some more things. So much that I have given up on trying to follow all of it.
In other words, information is fragmented. On the whole there is good reason for that, because most channels of information are geared to provide a particular type of information. So in that sense there is clarity in spite of the fragmentation. To learn about extensions there is the JED, to discuss things there is the forum, to find service providers there is the JRD, etc.
However, I wonder if the People Portal is not breaking that clarity. To find out more about an extension, one should go to the JED and the developer's website as before, but now also to the people portal group made for the extension or developer. To find a service provider the JRD is still there, but now one should also check the people portal fan clubs to find out more about a provider. To find, start or join a discussion about a particular topic, one can go to the forum as usual, but now it would be wise to check or use the people portal, either in addition or instead of the forum. In short, the way the people portal is used overlaps with other channels.
What is the interest for Joomla! in all this? The more fragmented information is, the more effort it takes to be informed, and the less likely it becomes that someone takes an informed decision in favour of Joomla!.
I am not against fan clubs at the people portal, if only because extensions are at the heart of what makes Joomla! interesting as a reason to interact with other people. I think it is for developers to decide whether they want to create the same confusion with respect to their own support, spreading discussions over their own website and the people portal - and perhaps the forum. But from a user point of view, it does not help to have to check several sources of information for one type of information.
I am also not against people starting whatever interest group they want at the people portal, but if discussions are held there then either the forum is losing its function or the fragmentation of information will increase.
All in all, I do not think it is possible or even desirable to stop people from doing most of whatever they like in the people portal. But perhaps it is possible to create information tools to overcome the fragmentation of information. For example, if people could use their people portal to have an activity report that spans not just the people portal but various sources of information, then that would really help.
A good year ago I made a networking website with CB and what now is Kunena I think, and managed to have forum posts showing up in profiles while also using the forum to make comments on blogs. Like that, there was some degree (not enough) of streamlining the flow of information. For people.joomla.org this could go much further. Profiles could in theory show whatever someone has done in any of the Joomla! channels of information, and to some extent whatever stream of information someone wants to be informed about.
Perhaps this is much to ask, but then again it would be nice to see if joomla.org on the whole could be a show case in itself of what Joomla is capable of. At the moment, with things like different layouts, different logins, etc., I cannot say that it looks like that even if the underlying functionality is quite something. The people portal is also missing some simple things that I think are basic in that sort of site (number of unread messages next to the link, etc.) but it is still beta. Perhaps this new part of the family of Joomla! sites can be an opportunity to show how a wide variety of information can be streamlined with Joomla, instead of a threat of more fragmentation of information.