The other day I happened to pop on over to my WinCustomize profile page to see if there was any action on my guest book, and I glanced past my "Member Since" date. You know what I saw? That I was coming up on my 5 year anniversary as a member of the Stardock community.
November 30, 2002.
Five years ago I came across a game called Galactic Civilizations. There was a beta test going for anyone who bought the game so I signed up for an account, sent over some cash and was soon plugging away with the game.
Gal Civ released a few months later to rave reviews and a reasonable amount of commercial success. I continued to play the game, post on forums, skim articles etc. And from there I started to see what else there was to be had. I picked up Object Desktop and ObjectDock and played with that for a while. Then in late 2003, JoeUser launched. Immediately it looked to me like a much better blogging site than what was available at the time so in September, 2003 I signed up.
For the next 2 years I blogged at JU frequently. I posted about everything from my post-college job hunt, to life in CT working for an insurance company and every misc topic that popped into my head. Along the way I played more and more with Object Desktop and started cruising WinCustomize more and more for skins and icons to download.
Then I started frequenting the Stardock IRC channel, even going with Danny Bassette (former JU user) to create a semi-official JoeUser chat channel. From that point on I started chatting more and more with people both in Stardock and in the community as a whole.
Often people can't really say what they get specifically from being a part of an online community. Heck, a lot of people laugh at the idea of a "community" made up of people you've never met in person. Me, I can point my finger directly at very tangible things I've gained through being a part of the overall Stardock community.
What I've gained:
Folks like Island Dog, ZubaZ and others in the wider community, as well as many many people from Stardock itself. I've gained a lot of very real, very good friends here.
I've "met" and worked with some really great people from around the tech world. These are contacts and relationships that will be invaluable to me for the rest of my career.
- A fantastic job
Being a part of the community helped me land possibly the coolest job ever. I've gushed at length about my job in the past, so I'll leave that off this list
- A broader view of the world
One of the greatest things you can gain from an online community is a broader perspective. We have people from all over the world visiting us every day, sharing their thoughts in blogs on JoeUser, or discussing technology on WinCustomize. I've learned a lot from the people I interact with within this community.
It's hard to believe that today marks five years. Five years ago I was still in college (a Junior), working a handful of part time jobs, wondering what the hell I'd be doing in a few years time. I never ever guessed I'd end up where I am. Being a part of this community has played an incredibly important role in my life, no question.
But what have you gained from being here? What does the community mean to you? Has your real life been made better or worse for the experience?