Datecraft.com – A Case Study of a Real Online Community

A side project that I’ve been working on for nearly 8 months now has hit a major milestone today.  In a couple minutes we’ll be re-launching live Datecraft.com, which originally was a social network and dating realm for World of Warcraft enthusiasts (link is the story covered by the very powerful Kotaku!).

There’s already been some coverage by Mashable as they got some leaked screenshots the other day.

Since then, the site has averaged more than 1,000 new registered members a month.  Pretty insane.

But we had a little pressure from Blizzard / Vivendi legal to “reconsider” our use of some of the World of Warcraft artwork and intellectual property… and we’ve “considered” it (a lot) and decided it was time for a change.

Lots of hours have been put together in the last 2 weeks… redesigning, developing, testing, polling the community, and even having a live webcast this past friday on UStream.tv to talk with a number of the members about the future of Datecraft and their opinions on the matter.

But here’s the thing: One of the most amazing things that I’ve learned in the past number of months or so is the power of real and intimate online communities.  And the passion that a community has for it’s online identity.

The result?

Trust, loyalty, a feeling of overwhelming support, and a lively membership that enjoys each others company and has enjoyed making new friends and relationships.  It’s been truly inspiring as I’ve met hundreds of people and chat with a few daily about life, relationships, ramen noodles, the dark knight, etc…

These conversations and relationships are as deep as an online friendship can get, and the farthest from superficial that I would have dared to imagine when I first launched the site many months ago.

And my goal, because of the overwhelming support from the community, is to make sure to continue that at all costs.  I truly does take me back to the amazing truth that one will do many things for those that they truly care about.

Is this not the best foundational motivation for doing what we do?

*sigh*

Here are a few legacy screenshots for the record.  I’ll miss that styling a lot.  It was so freakin’ uber.


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