Ending Online Communities

Just like everything organic or that takes on a life of its own, at some point your online community is going to die. In his book Design for Community, Powazek provides five reasons why communities end and how to handle breaking the news to it’s members. I’ve Googled “shutting down online communities” and here are few of my most interesting results.

Netscapes Professional Connections

Netscape’s “Professional Connections” community was mentioned by Powazek as being the paradigm case of fouling up shutting down an online community. Without telling the participants AOL, the new owners of Netscape, shut down the community because they saw it as competition to themselves.

Second Life Forums

Several asynchronous forums that supported the online environment Second Life were shut down with mixed reactions from the users. Some applauded the move as bold and needed given conduct in the forums, while many others bemoaned the loss of a channel which facilitated commerce and interaction in the game itself.

Rural Gay
An online community for gay cowboys that existed years before Brokeback Mountain brought rural homosexuals to the forefront of America’s consciousness. The site provides an intriguing answer to how socially isolated homosexuals might find social support (or potential dates…the sites dead now and it had a membership fee so I have little idea of the content) in rural and likely conservative areas of the United States.


In the wake of controversies concerning its business practices in China, Google shut down some communities on the Brazilian social networking site Orkut that advocated violence against government officials. The site was also said to be used to facilitate drug deals.

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