RIP Offbeat Bride Tribe: 2007 – 2015 (+ bonus musings on running leaner)

Fall of 2007, after dozens of requests from blog readers, I decided to set up an Offbeat Bride community on Ning.com.

"It's an experiment!" I said.

"We'll see how it goes!" I said.

"If it doesn't feel like a good fit, I'll shut it down!" I said.

That was eight years, two platforms, two community managers, dozens of volunteer moderators, and over 45,000 members ago. Friday, the Offbeat Bride Tribe quietly shut down.

For anyone who's been paying attention, this should come as no surprise. I wrote six months ago about how forums web-wide have been decline for many years, and I've always been very open about how the Tribe in some ways eats into the success of the Offbeat Bride blog, without giving a ton back. I have documents dating back to 2013 titled "Should I kill it?" with pro/con lists.

When I announced on the Tribe a couple of weeks ago that the community was shutting down, everyone was disappointed… but very few people were shocked or scandalized. A couple of people brought up concerns about donations they'd made toward the site, and a couple of refunds were immediately issued. (That was totally my oversight… I should have removed the donation option a few months ago when I made the decision to shut down the site.)

Even when we sent out an email to all 20,000 registered members… there was very little anger. This wasn't like when we shut down Offbeat Families, when readers went off on rants that we were money-grubbing, kid-hating assholes. This was more of a quiet resignation. As one person said, "I knew this was a risk, given the fact that forums as a whole are not really much of a Thing on the internet these days…" The community will be an archive for a year, and then will be deleted. [Updated November 2016: deletion complete.]

I will say that I specifically waited until mid-November to shut down the Tribe because it's the quietest time of the year for traffic. The Halloween weddings are over and the Thanksgiving engagements haven't happened yet.

Still, there's no right time, and I know for a fact there were Tribe members getting married the day after the site shut down.

Despite the fact that there wasn't a ton of anger or surprise, closing the Tribe feels like a significant shift. At its high point in March 2011, the Tribe had 78k sessions a month. By October 2015, it was down to 11k. Meanwhile, Offbeat Bride's Facebook page is up to 146k followers, and even during the quiet season, the blog has 630k readers a month. Here's the loss, though: those 630k readers? Most of them don't stick around and chat. I wish they did. I want them to. I don't want readers to stop chatting with us! My goal for 2016 is getting those 630k a bit stickier. I've got schemes, but am always open to suggestions!

What does shutting down the Tribe mean?

It's pretty simple, really: It means I'm consolidating my properties so that my financial and development resources aren't spread so thin.

Back in 2011, the Offbeat Empire's trajectory was all about MORE: more sites, more staff, more readers, more posts, more more more! For a while, my business model was to see if I could replicate Offbeat Bride's revenue success across as many different topics as possible: Offbeat Bride (plus the Tribe, plus the Vendor guide!), Offbeat Mama, Offbeat Home, then maybe Offbeat Career, Offbeat Pets, Offbeat Funerals, etc. Every site would have a dedicated editor and I would be MANAGER OF MANY, PUBLISHER OF ALL! (The fact that I did all this with a one year old baby sorta blows my mind now. When did I sleep? WTF.)

Quickly, it became clear that the success of Offbeat Bride was not something even its publisher could reliably replicate. Offbeat Mama evolved into Offbeat Families, and eventually collapsed. Offbeat Home became Offbeat Home & Life, absorbing Offbeat Families and Offbeat Everything Else. (Pets! Career! Funerals! We do it all on Offbeat Home & Life.)

Staff-wise, I went from believing that more was better (How's the biz?, people would ask. Great! I manage a staff of 8 now!, I would answer) to realizing that managing people is fucking hard. I do my best to be an effective, compassionate, supportive manager who also pushes employees to do their best and grow… but mistakes get made. Sometimes feelings get hurt. Sometimes people get fired. Sometimes people move on to bigger and better things and it feels like losing a limb. Managing people is HARD. Even managing volunteers is hard! Telling people what to do (and getting them to do it in a way that makes everyone feel ok) is fucking hard.

Here I am a few years later, with really just two websites (only like 10 people even know offbeatempire.com exists) and a compact staff of four. Everything is running leaner, and honestly? It feels great. Less websites, less staff, less editorial process, less community management… it all sounds like a loss, doesn't it? But the gain is revenue, sustainability, time, sanity, and real connection.

When I only have four staffers, I can send each of them truly awesome gifts when I'm in Italy. I can give people real Holiday bonuses. I have a level of trust with my small staff that when the shit hits the fan (and oh, it has hit the fan for me this fall), these four people are ready to stand tall. It means we can do weird experimental posts that might fall on their face. It means we can focus on building community on the blog and social media platforms, instead of siphoning the most active people away to a forum.

One thing that hasn't changed though is my interest in transparency — I'm here to answer any questions you might have about the Offbeat Bride Tribe, about community management, about the death of forums, or anything else! Leave a comment.

    • So by the "This!" count, at least 30 of us know about the Empire. That's 300% growth in a day! Woo hoo!!!!

      1 agrees
      • Ok fine, I was being hyperbolic. Is anyone really surprised? 😛

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        • I'll give you your right to be hyperbolic!

          I'm really glad that tightening up the business means that it's easier and more productive.

  1. This is great to read! I've been visiting these sites for over two years now and have watched how things got steadily smaller and more contained, and it did have me a little worried that Offbeat might disappear entirely. Sounds like that's not the plan, which makes me happy 🙂

    A question: is Home & Life going to continue publishing just once a day for the foreseeable future? I miss when it used to post twice a day, but I definitely get it if that's not really in the cards right now!

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    • A question: is Home & Life going to continue publishing just once a day for the foreseeable future?

      Offbeat Home & Life's posting frequency is a reflection of the advertising revenue. The blog is really the same as any print magazine or newspaper, where more ads purchased allows for more editorial produced… so if Offbeat Home & Life starts getting more sponsored posts, then we can justify adding more content.

      2 agree
    • Wow! What a wonderful feeling to feel connected to a site. I also have been visiting 'Offbeat' for at least 5 years, and have seen so many wonderful changes. The site has done so much for my own growth, I am glad to see it grow and change Like we all do.

      • Omg, I've been reading since 2007. Pre-book launch – and I've used OffbeatEmpire recommendations at my last two companies AND in business school.

        So yeah, @Ariel – let's just say that you're my favorite internet celebrity/business wizard that I've never met in person.

        [Edited to add – and when you get here via comment recommendation you don't realize you ALREADY POSTED YOUR LOVE ON THE THREAD EARLIER]

  2. I loved being a moderator for offbeat tribe but totally understand how things just run to their natural end.

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    • me too, even if I were shortlived!

      Hope you are well Mich!

      1 agrees
  3. I loved being a part of the tribe when I was planning my wedding. And I love reading the posts on offbeathome (and here).
    I am old-school, I was part of the team on my country's first Internet Provider and online community (like a tribe, basically, but early 90ies) – and when we killed it for the general public a few years ago, it nearly broke my heart. It did not make any sense to keep it alive, though.
    I understand the decision to kill the tribe. I'll cherish what it did for me – help me plan my wedding, and hopefully I helped others in the process.

    4 agree
  4. I miss forums. I do not understand this thing where everything needs to be through Facebook. I understand the one-stop-shop aspect, but it makes me feel very exposed. What I liked about forums was the ability to compartmentalize my online interests. I can talk about politics over here and my fandom over there and crafts in this other place and they don't have to mix. There are a lot of interests I don't engage with on Facebook because I don't want my comments connected to my real name and my real face. Not that I'm ashamed, it's just not the entire world's business. I don't need my Great Aunt Sue to see my comments about religion or sex. I don't want every single thing I do on the internet to be broadcast on someone else's page. But that's how Facebook wants it and Facebook rules all…

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    • What I liked about forums was the ability to compartmentalize my online interests.

      And I think that's why the Tribe lasted many years longer than a lot of other forums. The privacy and compartmentalization were the keys for most of the active members.

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    • Just wanted to suggest, you may want to look into Reddit or a site like it – I used to be a forum goer too, and I tend to use Reddit as a way to scratch that 'forum' itch when facebook, etc won't suffice. It's not exactly the same, but can still be pretty entertaining. 🙂

      2 agree
    • Amen! I'm a huge Facebook goer, but there's definitely things I don't get involved in because I have a huge number of FB friends that includes family, more distant friends, and a LOT of business (equestrian) connections as well as people I'm truly close to. The majority of the people closest to me know I'm a bit of a weirdo, but I don't need to broadcast it loudly and clearly to everyone. I don't understand why forums have gone south and I will continue to seek out the places that suit me best. Like you said, I don't need my real name and face attached to everything I do and say.

      5 agree
      • This is how I use Twitter…I don't follow people I know or let people know I have an account. I follow the things that I'm interested in and get the information I want…not as interactive, but at least it's separate from FB.

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  5. RIP Tribe!

    I feel like I've grown up with the Offbeat sites. When hubby and I were dating I was obsessed with Offbeat Bride and dying to get onto the tribe (and hardly ever read Home/Mama). The day we were engaged I filled out my application for the tribe and checked it more than I checked my emails or facebook. Almost the day after we got back from the honeymoon (after posting all my wedding photos, obviously!) I started reading Offbeat Home and Offbeat Families and hardly ever went back to the tribe.

    And now I run the social media for my company, and so the site I read most religiously is Offbeat Empire! (One of the 10, go me!) I find all the behind-the-scenes stuff so interesting, especially the way the sites evolve so effectively according to trending media usage.

    Thanks for working so hard on the tribe, I know it was your baby. My wedding would have looked completely different without it, and I think my home would look completely different without Offbeat Home! Keep doing what you do, because you do it so well.

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  6. I'm glad that the Offbeat Bride Tribe was there when we were wedding planning, I can't imagine getting through it without the support there, but I get it that times change. I guess what I'm saying is thanks for putting such an awesome community together and maintaining something so amazing for so long. RIP Tribe!

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  7. This sounds like it's transitioning smoothly and you don't seem perturbed by it, which is a relief to hear. Totally agree about how hard it is to be a good manager.

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  8. It's funny, the other day my younger sister made some comment to the effect of, "How did people ever plan weddings before Pinterest?" Now, I totally recognize that comment is problematic for SO MANY reasons, but I was like… uh… Pinterest didn't exist when I planned MY wedding… only 5 years ago. And already you can't imagine a world without it???

    But 2010/2011 was forever ago in internet years. I might not have had a Pinterest, but I DID have a Tribe. And it helped me keep my sanity so much that I thanked it in my wedding program 🙂 And I made real-life friends through the Tribe, who I still talk to and hang out with today. So RIP Tribe, you had a good life.

    Now as for new suggestions… I wish I had some! *puts thinking cap on*

    But seriously, the internet in the last 5 years seems to have become a totally different place than the one we grew up in. I feel like something shifted between 2008-2012, and then post-2012 just declined into social chaos and digital noise. So thank you, Ariel, for maintaining one of the only places I will actually visit on the internet now. Thanks to your insight on comment policy so long ago, it's cultivated a rare breed of dialogue online that's really hard to come by anymore. I read the comments on the Facebook posts occasionally, and it might be a good thing those 630k don't comment here, haha…

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    • Same here re: Pinterest! I use it so much now, though, that I'm sort of amazed that I planned without it. It's one of the few nü-internetz things I truly like, and even that has been crappier and crappier lately (I feel like I don't see people I follow, just endless "suggestions for me" which end up being the same things over and over. And ads for hairdye. Ugh)

      2 agree
  9. I still remember when Offbeat Families was shut down and shedding a few tears over it. It was my favorite website for a very long time even though we don't have kids yet, and something I was looking forward to visiting for many years to come. All of the Offbeat sites were ones that I checked every day and found myself slipping various site related things into conversations with people even though I was only the person I knew offline that read it. While the Tribe closing down doesn't have the same emotional impact, it always sad to hear about the loss of community in general and how the internet seems to have changed away from that. It's still a little strange to think about OBE shrinking instead of growing and reminded how it has become less of a presence in my life and a smaller one online in general. I appreciate all the hard work you've done for so many years, because no other website has ever affected me as much! 🙂

    I think it was really considerate of you to do this during a time that isn't as busy or active for most people. I want to say thank you for that and for you taking the time to share these things here. It's good to hear that there are positives to these changes for you and your team!

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    • It's still a little strange to think about OBE shrinking instead of growing and reminded how it has become less of a presence in my life and a smaller one online in general.

      A small bone of contention here: traffic across the Offbeat Empire network is actually higher this year. (Offbeat Home & Life has had huge growth.) So while I totally hear you that the Empire may be less of a presence in your life, I wouldn't say it's we're a smaller presence online in general.

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      • I believe it! The Empire is a smaller part of my life these days too (as actual work has overtaken my casual browsing/stewing time), but I know the Empire's digital footprint has grown, if by Pinterest and Facebook alone. I Pinned that Sailor Moon wedding dress on my teeny, tiny Pinboard and sucker gets Repinned at least a few times a week, without fail.

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        • That's a great point about Pinterest and Facebook! I remember thinking it was really neat when I saw a couple friends on Facebook sharing an Offbeat Bride article they liked when I know they didn't get it straight from the OBB site or facebook page themselves. So I could really see how OBE internet presence was reaching people that aren't direct followers. I know Ariel has discussed how posting older articles on Facebook and Pinterest has been a way to drive up traffic too, which I think is great, and I'm sure contributes to the positive changes she mentioned and with things running leaner.

          1 agrees
        • Totally unrelated: I wondered why Dootsie's link to her page was suddenly green, when I noticed that other hyperlinks were also green. Scrolling down, it seems to me that whenever Ariel replies to a comment, all hyperlinks in the following replies are turned from blue to green.
          Is that a new feature or is it a bug or has it always been this way and I just never noticed?

          Sorry, I'm aware I could be asking this via mail or "fix typo" feature, however, I'm curious whether my hyperlinks will turn green, too, so I'm responding to this comment thread.
          Feel free to remove comment if it's too off topic.

          ETA: Ha! I turned green, too! Is that on purpose?

      • I apologize. I realize that wasn't the best choice of words, and I didn't mean any disrespect. 🙁

        I was thinking of OB Families, the tribe, and less new Offbeat Home & Life posts as previously mentioned upthread. (Glad to hear OB Home & Life has had huge growth! Fingers crossed advertisers will take note and purchase more sponsored posts!) Reading about there being less started to feel synonymous with smaller in my mind, especially with less stirring that feeling of loss like you mentioned. Clearly you have gained a lot more, however.

        I didn't mean traffic, which is a much better indicator of online presence of course.

        You've created a wonderful Empire, and it sounds like you and your staff have gained a lot from the changes! Running leaner, feeling great, and still growing and gaining traffic are huge accomplishments.

  10. Ariel, I have been online since the days when the web interface was in DOS, so I know I am not your typical reader. Reading this made me sad because it was the first time I felt like I don't understand how to internet. I feel kind of arrested in 2010 internet, and for the internet, that is a loooooong time.

    However, seeing that other people feel the same way in these comments is quite comforting.

    This really needs to be a class – how to navigate 2.0 internet when you grew up with 1.0 internet. I'm going to look into that.

    Thanks for all you do! I consider you Internet Required Reading (also one of the 10 here).

    8 agree
  11. Aw it makes me so sad that forums aren't much of a thing anymore. I'm still a member of some fairly active ones on a craft-based site but even there, a huge amount of the off-topic forums it used to host are pretty dead. Siiigh.

    • Then again I still miss livejournal, so. Old internet fuddy-duddy.

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      • Hey, lj isn't ALL dead. I have actually seen a bunch of folks return, particularly for posting longer, filtered posts, and many communities are still going strong, especially now that people can comment with a facebook or twitter id.

    • DUDE, livejournal. So ahead of its time. In some ways, the internet is STILL catching up to what it had in 2001.

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      • God, LJ. When it was good, it was SO GOOD. (The good news is, even though LJ is a rotting carcass these days, Dreamwidth.org, which is a fork, is a pretty rockin' and active site. My internet home FOREVER.)

        1 agrees
  12. I'm sad that I was never able to join the tribe, but it sounds like this was the natural course for it to take. I'll just have to be one of those stickier readers and comment more often on Offbeat Bride and Offbeat Home.

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  13. I'm so glad the tribe did exist though. It's totally not right right now, but while I was getting married, it absolutely kept the people around me sane and my relationships happy because I didn't need to call someone about a mini freakout over marshmallows. Thanks OBB for always giving us an appropriate place to freak out about marshmallows.

    Ariel, your comment about staff – I hear you. I am sitting in my office right now, and was reflecting on letting go a staff member who I genuinely really love. Long-term awesomeness is so often the result of short term pain. Thanks for always being real about it.

    Complete tangent – how do people get to have those excellent avatars on OBB and OBE? I've been wondering this for at least 2 years now and never did figure it out.

    1 agrees
  14. I feel like the shutting down of the Tribe was better foreshadowed than Families, which made it easier to accept. This is my own personal sadness, but I'm still bummed that I respected the rules of the Tribe ("Don't join unless you're actively planning") and by the time I was able to join, the Tribe was already almost gone.

    I also never got that "Tribe is shutting down" email, so maybe that's why it went over so smoothly!

    1 agrees
    • I can confirm that the emails were delivered to 17,000+ members, but it's possible the email landed in your spam folder.

  15. "Even when we sent out an email to all 20,000 registered members… there was very little anger."

    I wonder if that email was received by everyone? Because I am/was a registered member and I went back and searched my gmail for both "tribe" and "offbeat" and I didn't receive one. I hadn't logged into the forums recently (I tended to go on in spurts), so the way I learned of this was Google Now telling me there was a new post on Offbeat Empire.

    A perspective on commenting – I participate in comments like 10x as often on sites that have disqus commenting systems. It has a few aspects that are super annoying (takes a long time to load, only loads a set number of comments until you hit load more, etc), but it has a major barrier removed in that my log in follows me around the internet. In order to leave this comment, I had to log in (small thing, I know). BUT if I was on The Mary Sue right now, I'd already be logged in. That small barrier might be why you have less interaction. I know the functionality of being able to reply to a comment from an email is cool and I was excited at first, but I rarely use it because all forum posts are marked as read and labelled Forum.

    • …I feel like that auto-login type feature is exactly what has led to the decline of thoughtful dialogue though. If you don't have to make an effort, there's that risk of speaking(typing) without thinking. I might not know what I'm talking about, because I do the exact opposite, I 100% avoid any comment section that uses Disqus, or Facebook commenting, or any other auto-login feature. So I'm curious — do you find the conversations on blogs that remove that barrier to commenting better or worse than what goes on in the Empire? And do they moderate, or is it a free-for-all?

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      • There's definitely more discord, but I only comment on sites that have great communities and moderation already. And if we're being honest – more discord is a motivator for more discussion a lot of the time. Perhaps that's why the offbeat discussions tend to fewer comments.

        • Yep, I've written many times about that… People gravitate toward drama, and who am I to stop them?

          • And I guess it depends on how you define it, too. I started reading Offbeat Bride in late 2008, and have lurked around to varying degrees over the past 7 years, and have seen TONS of articles with people discussing different points of view — but it's cordial, like we're doing right here 🙂 I'd much prefer that to the vitriol I see being spewed elsewhere. For sure differing opinions breeds discussion, but I don't see why they need to be steeped in callousness and/or a lack of wanting to hear the other side… then you just get people saying the same things over and over again and never finding common ground or an end to the discussion. And it's precisely that lack of negative tinge that I appreciate around here.

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          • @Lenna, end of nesting achieved so I can't reply directly

            I think that's at least partly the function of the curation of the community, because the vast majority of comments at The Mary Sue are kind and respectful, and it has disqus AND can have hundreds of comments on hot button topics.

    • In order to leave this comment, I had to log in (small thing, I know).

      To clarify, no one has to "log in" … you have to type your name and email, which I totally get is a barrier to entry, but it's not creating an account, or logging in.

      Lenna's already addressed my thoughts on the matter… the small barrier to entry is part of what keeps the worst of the trolls away from the blog comments. Folks who want to do a drive-by snarking generally just snark on Facebook. Typing their name and email is too much effort.

      That said, I hear you on Disqus. Some folks love it, and some folks are like "I would never comment ever if you used Disqus." The jury is still out for me.

      2 agree
      • I would actually love having a log-in (where I can remain logged in for a long time and not have to it every time I visit). It's a lot easier to comment when you don't have to think about entering your name and email every time (especially on mobile when typing isn't as convenient)

        • Chrome autocompletes for me. All I type is the first letter of my name and the first letter of my email.

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      • Thanks for that clarification, I should have used a word other than log in. Although, I echo what kirstin already commented – it's convenient to not have to type that, and that convenience increases my commenting elsewhere.

        You're probably right that the extra effort is also driving away drive-by snarking in addition to just lazy folks like me. Like I mentioned to Lenna though – the lack of discord might be exactly why it's quieter around here. Even when people are being respectful commenters and not trolling/snarking, disagreement breeds response.

        • Once you enter your name and email on here once, as long as you haven't cleared your browser cookies, you don't need to retype them though 🙂

          1 agrees
      • I am not a fan of disqus and have noticed that I participate a lot less on APW after their switch. You can't "This" things or get notice of replies to your comments as a guest, so I just interact less.

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      • Throw me into the "ew, no, Disqus" camp.

        There are other blogs I frequent who use Disqus for commenting and I exclusively lurk there. It can be a headache of a system all around.

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      • It went into my spam folder; I discovered it a couple of days ago. But I knew about it the day the post went up on the Tribe because I was there obsessively. So your email might have screened it too for some reason.

        • I usually check the subject lines and senders in my spam before I empty it as gmail can be wrong on what is spam. I don't remember seeing it there, but I guess it must have been.

      • I'm really sorry that some of you didn't get the emails… sadly, email is a tricksy creature. The good news is that even if folks didn't get the message, the Tribe is still there archived for another six months. We'll send out another email before it is taken offline. I'm doing my best to ensure that members who want stuff have plenty of time to get it, but at a certain point… sites go offline. It happens. I'm giving folks as much warning as I possibly can, but if they don't visit the site for six months and missed emails announcing that it was going offline, I've done all I can…

        1 agrees
  16. Oh, man. I loved The Tribe. So much so that I was a moderator for a bit. But I guess it's true that all good things must come to an end. I do appreciate that you evaluated and made the hard decision for the overall betterment of the Offbeat Empire. This is why you're kinda my hero.

    1 agrees
  17. Apologies if this goes through a bunch. I had some trouble submitting my comment.

    I feel some of the emotions here so hard. I've been following OBB for about…6 years? Give or take a little. I knew I'd be getting married eventually but I was so young then that I knew it would be a long while before me and my boyfriend were ready for engagement. Still, I couldn't wait to sign up for the Tribe, even though I knew I'd have to be patient since I wasn't actively planning just yet.

    Flash forward to today: 23 years old and that boyfriend is now my fiance as of last week. The day after he proposed, I thought, "This is it! I can finally sign up for the Tribe!" Only to be extremely disappointed and saddened to see that the Tribe had closed.

    I understand the reasoning here, but I'm definitely bummed. Even though I use all sorts of social media and websites and whatnot, I think forums offer a different "flavor" of the internet that I think is especially suited to wedding planning and the like. Not that I don't like Pinterest, but overall that site is very impersonal and trendy (even though I have hundreds of pins, I feel like it's harder to connect with that site). I know of a couple other forums of course that I can participate in for wedding planning but I liked how open and accepting and unique OBB is in comparison to the others, even if I'm definitely more OBB Lite than others (we retired that one too, didn't we?).

    As for Facebook…I use it, but I definitely don't wanna do anything wedding-related on there beyond me updating my relationship status to engaged (already done). I'd rather not have family members seeing what I'm participating and I find it's harder to track things on Facebook for when I want to reference stuff later.

    I dunno. I understand why the change has to take place, but I'm sad that I missed out on the Tribe, and all the wonderful discussions that took place there.

    Looking forward to seeing what comes next though.

    7 agree
    • I just wanted to add a little plug for the Tribesmates group on Facebook. A good portion of the currently active Tribe has migrated to a closed group over there, and it already feels like a really cozy and wonderful group. As a closed group, only group members can see what you post, and new members have to be approved before they can join. It's not perfect, but it's a great way to casually discuss wedding stuff without prying eyes being able to see it. The group has already helped me solve a problem I've been struggling with for most of a year!

      4 agree
      • I second this! I'm one of those people who got married the day after the Tribe closed, and having the facebook group to post to and look at has been great. I'm hoping to stay active there and on the Offbeat sites since this is pretty much my favorite online community ever!

        • That sounds really awesome! 🙂 It's great to hear that people have found a way to continue the community, as well as things getting stickier on the sites here. There's a Facebook group I stumbled upon for a band I really like, Nahko and The Medicine People, and it's neat to see the positive community they have made there. It's a bright spot on my fb wall, along with Humans of New York posts.

          Does anyone know about any other Offbeat groups, like for Home & Life, or similar positive communities online?

      • I have to say it's been darkly amusing to watch the post-Tribe FB group immediately get to deal with the kinds of community management challenges that have dogged me for 8 years. (Who gets the join the group? How do you decide? Who's in charge? What if a member doesn't like the decisions being made? Etc.)

        Of the many hats I've worn in my work with the Empire, community management was the most emotionally challenging, the lowest paying, and the least gratifying. There is truly no winning because every decision makes someone unhappy. It's super emotional and super difficult work. Godspeed to all the community managers!!

        4 agree
      • Ooh. I went looking but wasn't able to find it! Is it just Tribesmates?

        • Hi, Liene! I'm one of the admins for the group. For privacy's sake it is a "secret" group, but please friend Ollie B. Trothed (our tongue-in-cheek admin presence) on Facebook and we'll start getting you set up with the group. Cheers!

          1 agrees
          • Awesome! I asked Ariel about this at Lovesick Seattle today and I was like, "wait, was the answer a reply to my comment?" YUSS <3

      • I've been a long time lurker. For years, I've dreamed of the day I could join the tribe. Two days ago, it finally happened. After 8 years of living in rock 'n roll sin, we got engaged. I fully understand the feelings of anyone who comes here looking to be a part of something special to find that the elephants have been packed up and the striped tents taken down. I hope you guys will have me on the Facebook group.

    • Oh, this so much. I am with the man I will marry – I even contacted a ring consultant I saw on the blog back in October. We are talking about getting engaged, I've been planning my application to OBB, a childhood friend was featured on the site… and, well, I was engaged once before. I ended up on That Other WIC Website. I did find some nice people there, but I never felt they understood me, and it was very, very WIC. I felt very trapped in the standard – not that the relationship was all that great, we never did get married, thank goodness. (Granted, this was… 8 years ago?) The forums were helpful, however, in winnowing down from worldwide, to nation, to region, to locality, in terms of finding information.

      I don't really know what I'll do when we do finally get engaged. I will certainly read and comment here, but forums are so helpful for questions and particulars.

  18. Ariel, was one of your ideas to make things "stickier" the "what was your favourite wedding gift" open on OBB? Because if so, I would love those to become a regular thing. I am not at all a big commenter or comments reader (or a community engager, I guess–sorry) but I read that whole massive thread because that's the sort of thing I'm really nosy about! I love that sort of "give us one concrete thought on this topic" setup. Lots of fascinating responses!

    5 agree
    • Yep, open threads on the blog are a direct response to the Tribe's closure.
      That's the kind of post that used to happen all the time on the Tribe that always made me sad… like, why is this private? Why can't everyone enjoy this conversation? We're going to be doing lots more of those on the main blog, for sure.

      7 agree
  19. RIP, Bride Tribe. I wish you were a physical thing so I could viking-funeral you, or something like that.

    2 agree
  20. I joined the Tribe probably 2 years ago now, not long after I got engaged. Over those 2 years, I loved getting to know other people and seeing the plans for weddings both similar and wildly different from mine. Even after getting married, I planned to stick around because I just loved the other Tribesmaids so much… To see the Tribe shutting down literally hurt my being (though it didn't help that I was dealing with SERIOUS post-wedding blues). The Tribe had been the pillar of support I needed. It, and all the users, acted as my buffer when I was upset about something and needed to talk to my fiance (now husband!) about it but wasn't sure how to bring it up, or wasn't sure why I was even upset about it.

    I will not lie, I was very hurt when I learned of the closure. I felt like my people were being taken from me and I felt like I would never make it through my first years as a married woman without these people. When a certain special someone created a facebook group for us, I was ON THAT SHIT. I knew it meant still being connected to these people I loved despite never having met them. I was so excited to see the names roll in and so happy we could still share photos and posts with each other. It seems to me that those actively on the group are the people I interacted with most on the Tribe which made the transition very easy. I know we lost some people who are not on facebook, and that's still sad. But I'm glad the Tribe can live on until even the newbies are through their weddings and into married life.

    I've never really looked at Offbeat Home & Life because, pshh, I'm not a real adult! I didn't even regularly comment on the Offbeat Bride blog until Ariel made the plea to have us help the comments be more active and inviting. Now, I know that the blog is likely the only way I can really stay connected to the Offbeat Empire world so I'm willing to hop in and share my two bits. I love the Tribe and I will sorely miss it. But I understand the need to keep things in balance.

    Well that got long… I don't have any suggestions for anything new and exciting. I will probably be a lurker more than anything, but IF I can figure out some ideas, I will let you know. 🙂

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. Thank you Ariel for creating the Tribe. Successful or not, you single-handedly gave me and others like me a place to be real. I'll never forget that.

    2 agree
  21. I think it's a shame to see the tribe go. I really liked using it, though I mostly read other people's posts and didn't do a whole lot of posting of my own.

    But I LOVE offbeatempire.com and I think it's my favourite of all the Offbeat sites. This makes no sense because I have absolutely no technical understanding of all the things that get posted here and therefore they have no bearing on my life like Offbeat Bride or Home and Life posts would. But it's all so interesting! I've spent hours reading posts about site traffic and as revenue and the inner working of the Empire.

    All that to say, thanks for posting all this cool stuff that has next to no bearing on my life but is so cool to read.

    6 agree
  22. I think there was less backlash because of the openness and honesty throughout the process. And because we actually like you, Ariel!

    When you feel like you have a personal connection to someone, you're much less likely to rant and rage about things you hate. Trust me, we were/are very upset to lose the Tribe. But we know that yelling about it won't do any good and we know you tried to make it financially viable.

    4 agree
  23. I joined the tribe in 2007/8, married in 2009. I met some extraordinary women there, some women who I count now as very dear friends, indeed family. We've been through births, deaths, divorce, remarriage, shared heartache and triumph, supported and encouraged each other, met up irl, the best imaginary friends a girl could have. I am privileged to know them, and I wouldn't if it weren't for the tribe. I shall quietly mourn it's passing and celebrate everything it brought so my life, so much beyond wedding planning. The Tribe is dead, long live the Tribe. And thank you Ariel.

    2 agree
  24. I joined the Tribe in late 2008 or early 2009 before my Fall 2009 wedding. It was my sane space on the internet for wedding planning. It was literally the only place I found where I could mention any slightly nontraditional decision and not get verbally abused for being tacky, rude, etc. I had a very Offbeat Lite wedding and it was still by far the healthiest forum for me! The support that I received here when I opened up about the fact that about half of my family was hospitalized a month before the wedding was also extremely comforting and helped me get through it. I miss forums. Thoughtful, helpful, well moderated forums were a godsend in my adolescence and young adulthood. They say it takes a village, and so many Internet Strangers helped teach me and guide me through tough times over the years. I started my first OpenDiary blog when I was 11 (despite whatever age restrictions existed in 2000). I blogged continuously on OpenDiary, TeenOpenDiary, Xanga, Livejournal up until late high school, with varying degrees of anonymity, and had a wedding blog as well. Honestly, the more strangers and fewer IRL readers I had, the more helpful it was to write and parse through my experiences. OBT was a bit like the anonymous Livejournal to my public Blogspot. I'm not shocked that it doesn't work anymore in this internet era, but I'll mourn its passing.

    2 agree
  25. I was looking forward to really engaging with the Tribe community but when I first logged on I was a bit disappointed; the secret posts I'd dreamed about, all the private advice and discussions answering the questions that weren't on the blog and the local groups who could help me with area specific stuff (I live in Melbourne, Australia) just didn't seem to be there or were no longer active.

    I'll admit I didn't get into the journal feature of the Tribe, but if its past its prime, I'm looking forward to a new approach (like the open threads-similar to how APW does it) and if I can't find answers to my questions on the blog I'll just have to submit them, which means more posts for everybody to read!

    • Oh, you missed out; the journals were FULL of personal questions and answers! 🙁 I got so much useful advice by posting journal entries.

      1 agrees
  26. That's a decision that has long been in the making… I have good memories of the Tribe though – joined in '09, married in '10. It was a really nice place, and I totally get why you are shutting it down. I guess I grew along with your 'more, more offbeat everything', and I expected myself to be really active on Mama and Home. But OffbeatMama closed down before I became a mom and I feel that OffbeatHome has never really recovered from Cat Rocketship leaving. But that's just my perspective and I truly wish you all the best in running your business in a profitable manner.

    3 agree
    • "I feel that OffbeatHome has never really recovered from Cat Rocketship leaving" …this is so interesting, because traffic has doubled since she worked on the site. I'm not saying your impression isn't accurate for you, but there's always something fascinating going on when someone's feelings about a site are so different than the stats.

      • I must not be your target audience then ;). Which is fine… but I still sometimes surf to OBH, but do not find what I came looking for. Which is totally ok, 'cause it's a big big internet out there :).

  27. I'm still sorry offbeat families is a no go. I learned a LOT from it, and just as I got to a point in my life that I could have contributed, it was gone. 🙁
    Home and life is mostly boring for me, maybe I click into every fourth story? But I actually really like the empire. I enjoy learning how different businesses succeed. So I always come back every so often and catch up on posts. 🙂

  28. I'm sad that I never got to be a part of the tribe, I always aspired to someday! I find it's harder and harder to connect with new people on the internet these days, what with the downfall of forums. I personally love them, and wish they made a comeback. I have too much personal info on my Facebook page, and I like that I do get to compartmentalise (like others have said!) my interests throughout the web. I also will be a bit isolated when I get to plan, etc for my wedding, so being a part of the tribe would've been awesome. I hope something similar opens up again some time!
    P.S. You are amazing, and I wish I could also start an amazing empire, even be a writer someday!

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