Frequently Asked Questions

  • Organizational Issues
    • Who controls the communities?

    The communities will be organized by volunteer coordinators from among the community members peer group. Coordinators will not be professionals "helpers" in a given field but will be "self-help" coordinators. For example, a community of cancer victims will not be coordinated by a physician or nurse, but by a fellow cancer victim. Experts may be invited to events at the option of the coordinators. The coordinators will follow general rules and guidelines for the "Being-there" organization as a whole, and will have access to educational materials in on-line community facilitation. Advertisers will be prohibited from controlling or influencing the direction of the communities, in the same way that a reputable news organizations separate sponsored advertising from editorial content.

    • Who Pays the Bills?

    We hope to obtain foundation funding to complete our development work. Ongoing operational funds will be provided by banner advertising revenue and licensing of the 3D chat software to 3rd parties building independent communities. The bulk of the labor necessary to make these communities work will need to come from volunteer community coordinators.

    • How can you say your are a non-profit, educational organization when you are spamming us with banner ads? Most IRC Chat communities have no ads

    It is in the interest of our communities and the contributors who fund the building of our communities that we are self-sustaining for ongoing operations into the future. Currently, internet chat users do not expect to pay for their chat service though this could be an option in the future. Public, educational radio and television media have a long history of presenting advertising by sponsoring organizations. Even government organizations are beginning to post banner ads on their sites. We intend to screen our advertising, so that it is limited to material that is not pornographic or exploitive. As we get larger, we will have an advisory committee to set standards for advertising, and review questionable advertising. Also, note that our 3D chat environment is unique in that it permits the individual to decide whether or not to focus attention on the advertising material.

    • Why aren't you a for-profit corporation. Couldn't you attract capital and grow faster that way?

    Our founders were primarily motivated by the prospect of doing the kind of work we love to do, as a full-time career. Nobody needs to get rich. Rapid growth would be attractive, but there are two main reasons for avoiding a for-profit entity:

    1. we would be forced to focus primarily on maximizing investor return on investment rather than our organization mission, and
    2. we would have difficulty recruiting dedicated volunteer community coordinators if they suspected that someone else was realizing a monetary profit as a result of their unpaid labor.

       

  • Portal of Communities
    • Where are all the people?
  • While we are in test mode, we will not be widely publicizing this site. We do not want initial users to be put off by bugs and feature limitations. As we begin to release this to the public, we will use web-based calendars to permit small communities to schedule chat events so they can attain a critical mass of users early. We will also support community communication through web-based forums where members can leave messages.

    • What is special about your communities?

    They are 3D, voice-enabled, chat communities with a purpose - with something compelling to talk about. See here for more details.

    • Why is this any different than other existing chat communities?

    Current chat communities already serve a vital need for millions of people. However, internet chat can be confusing, disorienting and even frightening to newcomers. The predominance of sexually oriented themes tends to put-off many people and obscures the true value of these communities. Our portal provides a organizing framework for people to find their areas of personal interest. Our technology makes chat more accessible, intuitive and expressive than text-based chat. Our themes, content and volunteer coordinators, driven by our mission, provide a context and culture that is supportive and postive in support of interpersonal growth and cross-cultural communication.

    • I really like the idea of your portal, but I can't support an organization that endorses lifestyle XYZ

    We intend to build a portal that is as inclusive as possible. People on the fringes of society need community to avoid isolation more than most. Yet there are some communities (such as pedophils) that we will not support. As our organization matures, we will have an advisory board to determine which controversial issues will be permitted, within the framework of our organizational mission.

  • 3D Virtual Reality Chat
    • Why use 3D for Chat?
  • We believe that a well implemented virtual world community can be more intuitive and more expressive than text-based chat. It is more intuitive because you know intuitively whether someone is talking to you (they are facing you) or someone else (they are not facing you). It is more expressive because user-defined avatars (representatives of themselves in the 3D world) permit a community member to project any image and mode that they choose.

    • Why bother with IRC compatibility?

    The universe of communities that use the internet-standard IRC protocol is a growing and thriving group. As of May 11, 2001, there were nearly 500,000 people online at the same time using IRC. Check this IRC Statistics site to see how big it is today, and how it has grown over time:

    By being compatible with these communities, we hope to be more inclusive of this worldwide population. These people can use our software for a 3D voice-enabled chat experience without ever leaving their communities.

    • Why not use state-of-the-art 3D modeling technology?

    Our goal is to be inclusive to a broad base of users and to create software that will run on any Windows-compatible personal computer. State-of-the-art 3D games require fast CPU speeds and video cards with hardware 3D accelerators to produce an acceptably fast frame rate. Our software will produce a frame rate of about 15 frames per second on a Pentium 133 MHz CPU with no hardware acceleration. This fast framerate is the key to the fluid, immersive experience on a wide range of computers.

    • This is a promising chat environment, but I won't really be great until it has feature XYZ

    We agree. This is a work in progress, and the final product will have full support for IRC chat, animated and audio-enabled gestures for avatars, web-based chat, web-based bulletin boards and event calendars, and a wide range of additional features that we have planned.

    • Give me a gun; I want to shoot somebody

    This is one of our most common requests. Shooting people is not exactly what we had in mind when we created this environment, though maybe we will create water balloons to throw at people in the future.