MoveOn’s fadeout from the center of the Washington conversation isn’t an accident. It’s one part necessity — the group found it impossible to compete with Obama for attention and love, and thrived more in opposition — and one part a controversial decision to allow its “members,” as it calls subscribers to its giant email list, to use MoveOn as an enabler and technical platform for its own campaigns.

It’s a transformation that mirrors the shift in the media industry toward platform-driven companies like Facebook and Twitter, but it’s also a risk for a group that was once defined by the clarity of its voice.

“There’s been a choice by them to not be as visible, to do things at a grassroots level,” said Mike Lux, founder of the D.C.-based consulting firm Progressive Strategies. “Even though they haven’t been as out there and visible to the mass media and general public, they’re still incredibly impactful when it comes to their own membership.”