The Rise and Fall of Most Be Loved Online T-shirt Community
It was my friend’s sudden chat message that stop me from doing those boring assignments for a moment. “Emptees will be closed down,” Iboy said. I took less than a second to check the website and went deep to Emptees section called “Talk” and found this title of posting: “Emptees will be closing on March 1st.”
ihearithurts a.k.a Matt Wigham who is a member of Emptees, suppose to be the admin as well, explained clearly on the posting that the one of the hugest online community for T-shirt designer will be closing on March, 1st 2011. “It’s like less than a month, goddamnit!” I screamed.
Since its started in 2007, Emptees.com has become one of the most favorite hangout place for T-shirt designer — that lately reformed itself into a huge community with 40,000 strong designers . Well, there are some other T-shirt communities like t-shirtforums.com or even Threadless, an ingoing T-shirt competition that host tee designers from all over the world. But Emptees gives different ambience.
It’s a place to showcase everyone T-shirt designs (or digest what other people showcases as aspiration) for some dudes who care most about it. With talents who always push their skills beyond their frontiers like Rob Dobi, Electric Zombie, Jimiyo, Chris Rushing and Derek Deal — beating the other tees and become Emptees’ “Tee of The Day” is something that gives them satisfaction and a confident-booster. This is one factor that pushed design submissions to less than 50,000 pieces and make it a hyperactive community with 30,000 forum posts, and over 1,000,000 comments and vote in just about 3 years.
But Emptess was in growing pain.
Matt’s short posting mentioned several reasons behind the decision to shutdown the 40,000 strong community after 3 years of running. High hosting cost and inability of Indie Labs, as community manager, to avoid the lack of new features and improvements while the site is growing are the two first reasons. But there is another reason that obviously give its member a quite powerful kick in a ass.
“We greatly underestimated the amount of moderation and maintenance a community of this scale requires,” Matt said, “(while) there are some very necessary moderation features missing to maintain quality control.” Closing the statement, Matt added, “worst of all, the community has grown increasingly negative to each other.”
I’m not sure myself if I have to be proud or regret when I call Emptees a hyperactive community in its young age. But the hyperactiveness has become somewhat disturbing over the time for Indie Labs . There are times when members trying to take down other members’ designs for an unclear reasons or unacceptable behavior. On the other hand, there was a somewhat organized attack towards members from a specified country while others was busy trying to hunt some fake accounts.
I think I just have to remember that the guys at Indie Labs rather called themselves “a team of passionate design and technology nerds building simple + thoughful things for the world.”
Forget your wish to find the word community or even social at company welcome message. Even if they four voluteering moderators for Emptees and Dan Christofferson as Indie Labs’ community person, I suppose it would put him on more important things: Big Cartel and Pulley. The first is customizable online store dedicated for bands, clothing designers, crafters, and other artists while the later is a service to help people sell their downloadable product from any website, blog, social network, or Big cartel store.
Well, I could only say this after noticing that Big Cartel forum is back, about two weeks before Emptees closure was announced. Get it?
So, Emptees is sinking and some are trying to save the boat. Who are they? That’s not the question to as, it should be: Will the new Emptees got any better with the new “name” if at the end of the day, it will be filled by the same people?
Let’s wait for the new chapter.