On one extreme, you have the groups that pick a very broad range of art (or pick every kind of art) and advertise themselves as billboards with no submission restrictions of any kind.
On the other extreme, you have the groups that stick to a veeeery narrow kind of art or topic.
I COULD spam my work to the first kind but I usually don't because it would get lost in the noise. I CAN'T spam my work to the second kind because most of it would get rejected. I have to wait until I make something that fits their topic.
The groups in the middle, though, I "spam" with no remorse. I always try hard, though, to stick to the group rules, submit the right kinds of things, and submit in the right categories, so I don't make extra work for the moderators.
There's no reason why you shouldn't "spam." It's great exposure, and you're not breaking any group rules.
Advertising always help. Each group has a different set of members (even though many of them have similar members), and naturally you'd want as many people as possible to see your work. And who knows, a certain person who likes your work might promote it to his/her friends.
I don't see the reason to limit yourself to submitting to 4 or 5 groups. What is this, some fictional medieval chivalry? It's a competitive world, holding back gains you nothing.
One of the things you learn if you want to make art professionally is not to be ashamed of "art whoring." There are millions of other artists in the world, making more art than anybody wants or appreciates. If you want your art to be the art that people notice [and buy] then you've got to take every opportunity to promote yourself, even if it isn't extremely dignified. There may not be a lot of money in DeviantART, but the I-need-to-be-proactive-and-do-whatever-I-can-to-get-my-work-out-there mindset still persists.
That said, I don't particularly like to see spam in my DeviantART inbox, so I just don't join groups that promote spammers. For me, the best way to use groups is to find a handful of discerning groups, run by people who will take the time to examine all of their submissions and choose just the ones that most deserve to show up in peoples' inboxes. It'll be a lot harder to get your work accepted, but it's also a lot more rewarding when you do, because you'll be a lot more likely to get noticed than if you joined a group that spams inboxes constantly.
I've been thinking a lot about that lately too. In the beginning I joined a bunch of groups, but then felt bad that I couldn't contribute to all of them so I left a bunch. After some time I tried out a few other groups, but I'm not very talkative and I don't always have the time to look at others work, I can only do what I can. I've got a family to take care, goals to achieve, people I'm already watching. Now I just figure, if a group lets me submit something, then I'm grateful they do. If someone comments and favs I say thank you and I appreciate it. If I don't get any response from the few groups I submit to I go ahead and submit to more groups. I am trying to get my art out there and I do hope to become published one day, so why make rules against sharing art? Unless the group has a rule, then that's their thing, but people shouldn't be made to feel bad that they are trying to share their hard work, in my opinion. It's a busy world and everyone here is busy. Some have more time than others. I come across stuff every now and then that I really like and it's more special than feeling obligated to comment on all the work in one group. So I just spread it out. Plus, not everyone in one group may like what I have to offer or notice it. How else are we supposed to meet new people or find people who might be truly really into what we're about? You just have to put yourself out there. I've seen people put their work into 100 groups per deviations too, I have not gone that far yet, but I don't think bad of them. I think it's their art that should be important, not judging them for something silly about clicking buttons on a website. Those are my views on it.
I use groups to place my art in more categories (like colourful, so if people look for something colourful, they can find my art), but I refuse my art getting placed in "accept all art" groups, because I don't see the point in doing that. It feels too much like spamming and is like a smaller version of deviantart. It's too random. Anyway, I like to look at art in groups I like, with a certain theme and to belong there. But it's not really possible to make friends in groups because they don't have forums so you can't talk about your favourite subjects!! Which is very annoying.
Nice topic! I felt the same as the OP- getting annoyed at people spamming groups for attention. But it's got the the stage whereby artists need to promote their stuff any way they can- there's nothing wrong with that So many great DA artists now that it seems like a good idea to have ways to promote yourself by targeting a market audience.
I'm not one of the top artists on DA, but I want an audience and feel I deserve at least small one. I don't want my ego stoked, but want to interact with people who comment on and take an interest in my work
Gruops are there to show you art I donīt understand where the problem is. When you are not popular you need some place to show your art..And the good thing when you go into groups you find the right audience which is interested in you art...everything you do to get yourself arround can be seen as spam.
And of course in my groups I find a lot of art I prefer to see. Iīm not really interested in the popular stuff (like anime or MLP) so itīs much more easy for me to search in groups.
I wouldnīt say gruops are useful for networking. Most of the groups I know have a gallary and rules thátīs all. Most of the people I talk to I find when I give comments on art...then start talking and so on.