SEATTLE – The power of online communities was revealed, as were the frailties of real-world infrastructure, on Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center claimed the life of Dennis Gomes, who worked at Fiduciary Trust. At FanHome.com, the largest independent sports community on the Internet, Gomes was known as trane, in tribute to his love of jazz and John Coltrane, and was a regular poster on FanHome's Yankees forum.
In fact, on the last morning of his life, "trane" visited and posted on his favorite FanHome forums.
In response to this tragedy, FanHome members, assisted by Gomes' widow,
raised money to start a college fund for Dennis' baby daughter MacKenzie.
"That tragic day and the weeks afterwards brought out the meaning and importance of FanHome as a more than just a message board but a true community," said Kevin Cabral, FanHome's CEO and co-founder.
Today that large and meaningful online community joined forces with TheInsiders.com, a network of more than 100 college, professional and high school athletic Web site affiliates. The coupling not only joins the large FanHome community with the large aggregated communities of TheInsiders.com network, it paves the way for TheInsiders.com coverage, commentary and interactivity in areas such as professional baseball, basketball and hockey.
Jim Heckman, TheInsiders.com CEO, called this union one of the more significant moves in his company's short history.
"This move brings a huge influx of not only users, but brainpower to our network," Heckman said. "Kevin Cabral and (FanHome co-founder and president) Alberto Corral have assembled a massive audience by offering top-notch technology and customer service. Their model of aggregating niche audiences and giving them a comfortable and reliable home base fits exactly with ours. Just as significantly, their addition to our already established strengths in college, high school and NFL jump starts our move into exciting content areas like major-league baseball, pro basketball and pro hockey."
Corral said, "With this partnership, sports fans on the Net will get the best of both worlds – premium quality content coupled with a superior, if not the best, community. Furthermore, TheInsiders.com now is well positioned to service on all levels the influx of new users expected from their strategic partnerships with the likes of Yahoo! and CNNSI.com. Off the bat, FanHome and TheInsiders.com will now be able to boast a community, that will rival anyone in size -- and superior in quality."
Based in New York City, FanHome began as four independent sites, the first of which, BaseballBoards.com, was launched in July 1999. FootballBoards.com, HoopsBoards.com, and HockeyBoards.com soon followed. FanHome.com LLC was incorporated in January, 2000, and FanHome.com was launched in January, 2001, as a super-site uniting all of the company's existing URLs under one umbrella.
During FanHome.com's three year history, it has been featured in ESPN the Magazine, numerous local newspapers and radio shows, as well as visited and
posted on by athletes, journalists and other sports celebrities. FanHome's Web design and user experience also has been recognized for its quality by the Dayton Ad Club.
FanHome.com's success was built upon its original goal of creating "the Net's largest, most intelligent and respectful sports community".
According to Cabral, "We accomplished our goal primarily with customer service and our Community Standards. Customer service comes first and foremost from our dedicated 300-plus strong moderator group, five community managers each devoted to a sport, which act as liaisons between moderators and administrators, and strong real-time customer service from administrators. When acting together, these three elements guarantee that problems are tackled in record time.
"Furthermore, FanHome revolutionized the sports community by creating our Community Standards, which outline both general and specific guidelines to
preserve the highest quality online experience. To quote: ‘We expect that all members of FanHome will behave in a way that's conductive to the diversity, intelligence and respectfulness of the community. Each of these three general principles is fundamental to the quality of our site.'
"Our Community Standards were not only accepted by our users, but they became a source of pride, differentiating us from other communities. Our users have come to expect a level of excellence from the community."
On average, FanHome.com has generated approximately 20 million pageviews per and visits from some 300,000 unique users per month. It typically has offered strong depth of content in specific markets. New York fans, for example, can join great communities for the Yankees, Mets, Islanders, Rangers, Devils, Knicks and Nets in one place. Then they can hop over to check out rivals in Boston with strong Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics and Patriots sites.
Using the Internet's great power, FanHome also puts fans together from smaller
Markets. The Expos community is one of FanHome's largest baseball communities despite the franchises' troubles. Other examples of this include the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Clippers.
"We take pride in the fact that the FanHome community has built thousands of bonds offline," Cabral said. "A huge number of users have become friends. For better or worse, we've heard that more than a few marriages have been tested
by the addictiveness of FanHome. On the other hand, there are also a few husband and wife teams who have managed to share accounts and their passion for sports
FanHome and TheInsiders Make History!
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