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WELL users pledge to buy online community from Salon, seek investors

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Members of The WELL, a 27-year-old online community, are trying to buy the site from Salon, which is making another attempt to sell it.

the well
the well

The WELL, one of the longest-running and most influential online communities, was recently put up for sale by its owner Salon, which previously tried to sell it in 2005. While it's unclear who might buy the site, some of the remaining 2,600 active subscribers are rallying to take it over themselves by pledging money towards a deal with Salon. In a members-only thread, over a hundred people have pledged at least $1,000, including high-profile WELL users Bruce Sterling and Cory Doctorow, with one person offering $10,000.

Longtime subscriber Earl Crabb, who is helping to organize the drive, wrote that he hoped to make an offer for both the community and the domain to Salon, but many posters have said that they're willing to forgo using if it means that the community can continue elsewhere. Others, however, rely on email addresses, making it more important to buy the (probably very expensive) domain as well. In a recent update, Crabb said that the thread had a "heartening" amount pledged, but that it was looking for anyone who could invest more. Since the WELL staff has been laid off, however, members would both have to reach a deal and come up with a workable plan for keeping it running.