Most of you know I've been an active member of the gardening site Dave's Garden for many years, beginning back in the days when it was a free site and had fewer than 1200 members. Many of you who read this blog are also members. Over the years it grew and grew; last count I saw was approaching half a million combined paid subscribers and free limited memberships.
Dave sold the website about 2 years ago, yet managed to retain full control of everything but the headaches. Now the website has been sold again and his new responsibilities are nil, other than being like any other paid subscriber.
My guess is that the list of paying subscribers will dwindle over time, the friendliness and individualism disappear, and the blatant ads increase. After all, don't websites exist just to make money?? That's really too bad. What made Dave's Garden so attractive from the beginning was the community that formed strong bonds. Many of my own friendships have developed from that community, and as a whole, that community is extremely generous and helpful, far beyond what you would expect from people who have never met.
I could cite time after time when they have pulled together in a spontaneous effort, whether just to replenish a garden that was vandalized, to offer shelter and support to Katrina victims, to raise money to buy tech equipment for a blind member, to send daily cyber hugs to a member with a terminal illness, or to send a digital camera and computer to someone in India. I could probably drive across this entire country and back, finding a bed and a meal with a member every place I stopped. Incredible generosity having to do with the people, not the organization.
Like every organization, it isn't all a bed of roses. There has always been an exclusive inner clique but for the most part everyone is generally accepted. Rightfully, troublemakers have been quickly dispatched... but so have some fine members who merely disagreed with management in some way.
I shall be sad to see it crumble because so far it is still the best site to get information and help... whether you are a newbie gardener or an advanced horticulturalist.