There is this site for those of you who don't know called "Im In Like With You". "IILWY" or "Ill-wee" as us users call it was a place for games. They have knockoff's of Tetris, Pictionary etc. but they also have word/question games. The latter games built a tight community of users. People would ask questions like "The Worst Place For Your Pants Is..." and then other users would spend points to bid their answers.
The answers can be witty, boring, disgusting, whatever a user thinks of. After the game is over the creator chooses a winner, that winner becomes a contact and then those two can interact through chatters and instant messaging. That was how I met a community of people that I call friends, some that I actually know now in the physical world.
I found the site in December 2007 via a blog post by Seth Godin. 6 months later, I'm done with the site. At least for a while. The reason? In the words of the guys on Outkast's Aquemeni skits when they realized "Pimp Trick Gangsta Click" was not all that: "It don't play right". It lost it's functionality. Things are broken. Including my heart. Well the last might not be true but it is very unfortunate.
You know how myspace let's you know how many profile views you have? Well IILWY did the same thing. Until it went into a technical coma from god knows what. Look, I'm not a fucking Doctor or a web programmer so I don't know what happened. The result: Everybody has the same number of profile views. It's not even zero either. It's some random number like 1612 or probably the date of the Magna Carta signing. This hurt the culture of the site because it made the site communist in a way. Everyone was equal, no one was rewarded with seeing or having others see how many profile views they have gathered in their time on the site. It might sound ridiculous but small things make big things.
The site also encountered other problems. Random downtime a la twitter, a somewhat stable IM system, an e-mail system that stopped showing new messages, bids that disappeared and finally we lost our homepages that we used to see when we logged on to the site. There wasn't a whole lot of communication coming from the Wizard behind the Oz as to why the site was as stable as Britney Spears' mind state and it frustrated many users.
One person in this community of users that I was a part of that communicated and hung out away from the site and in real life decided he was done. It was like dominoes. Others including myself decided the cons outweighed the pros and we left too. This is what can happen to a site that experiences technical difficulties. Hell, how many whale pictures will be enough for the users of twitter before they decide the hassle of trying to use the service isn't worth it? I don't want anyone to get me wrong, I do hope that it regains it's functionality at some point, I think it has a lot of potential to hit it big.
All in all I am grateful that I found the site and that it was made in the first place. The community that was created amongst the users introduced me to people I probably would never have met. Not only did we make our own community away from the site, some of us met in real life, danced, hung out, got drunk and slept on each others floors. It just goes to show you what can happen when you build something that attracts a crowd. Relationships are funny that way, they can sprout from the most unlikely of soils.