OPW Exclusive Interview #2 - Tribe.net's New CEO - Online Personals Watch: News on the Online Dating Industry and Business

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This site is in serious trouble with this person at the helm. I doubt investors feel this way "Rather than capitalize all out, we’d rather benefit everyone from the Tribe.net goodwill."


This person is running the site into the ground, average use across the board has dropped significantly, many groups are seeing 75% or more decrease in posts and activity. The community is up in arms over the change of the interface which use to be very intuitive and easy to use. Now one must click through multiple pages to find any relevant data that use to be on their home page. So they are forcing users to click more to get page views/impression counts up. The staff continually spins all the complaints, outright ignores them, and in several cases have told the users quite rudely to just get use to it. They claim they want user feedback, but are ignoring everything the users are saying. Just look at the threads in http://tribes.tribe.net/newlook and http://tribeideas.tribe.net

Many of the core user base that founded tribe are unsubscribing or simpling no longer logging in anymore...


The direction Jan has taken Tribe.net in proves he understands little of how the site grew to have such a deep connection with its core audience by letting us express ourselves fully and freely on an unusual site.

That got silenced recently before 2257 was even out of appeals, the network implemented changes many felt unjustified and overkill... The provisions they quoted were successfully appealed a week later.

Then less than a month later a slapdash redesign in an irritating color scheme is sent to beta test.I got notice and reviewed the site for 3 weeks, and all feedback was negative... yet it still went live, and buggy.

I wouldn't spend much time on Pespi or Proctor & Gamble's websites, and unless a major overhaul of the UI goes in shortly, not many will spend much time on Tribe.


with the new CEO for Tribe came the New look and UI for the site...

I used to spend a fair amout of time on there... populated my profile posted some, discussed, linked,etc. now that it is doubly time consuming due to the inept changes in the UI, I'll check in only for email... I cannot spent the time to search for simple stuff even in my own profile... this whole revamp is patently and exasperatingly anachronistic.... even the simple functionalities that made this a true online experience are gone, deflated. I cannot have that 'at-one-glance' overview of myTribe anymore... it is all hidden. Colors are pharma, like a generic private-label brand for SAV-ON. Turn on the flourescent lights!! get in your cubicles... We are traveling BACKWARDS!!


Tribe's new look, and organization reeks of cheesy marketing targeted at youngsters, and has lost any kind of 'community' appeal. The old layout encouraged connections in a broader sense, a user could log in and see odd listings from people that would connect him to things he would not normally. Now the new page only lets you see *your* friends and lists thing such as *my profiles* *my testimonials*, etc. The whole thing went from being a community-hangout to becoming a very 'me' centered community. I think thats the last thing we need. People come to tribe to get out of that feeling of 'me' and 'my world' and to encounter the broader world around them, in addition to their friends.
The new changes are disastrous. The colors are horrible. Another tribe user said it best - you cannot associate the name and feeling of 'tribe' with the current look and feel of this website.
They should be ashamed of this new thing.


Reading this article, the fantastically inept, ugly, eyeball shattering mess of the new tribe redesign makes so much more sense to me. I have to wonder just how much time this new CEO spent actually using the site before this disaster. Wonder how the tribe staff feels being on a sinking e-ship with this kind of leadership at the helm? It's like going back 5 years in an Internet time machine and reliving the internet dotcom bust all over again.



I've been participating in Tribe since 2003. It has grown and evolved since then, as any business is wont to do. It has gone from a funky, boutique site to a klunky, commercial service.

This latest incarnation is spiritless and disappointing. I agree with most of the rants posted here, except for the personal attacks made to the CEO.

I was invited to beta-test the new format. I submitted my experiences to Tribe, and I received a personal response in which my feedback was ignored and all the new changes were justified. With all this talk about "community" (an overused word, IMHO) when invited to dialogue, I would hope at least to be listened to.

Three years with any service on the internet is a long time. I feel my relationship to Tribe has run it's course and that it's only natural. Time for me to move on. Best of luck to Tribe.

El Chongo Blanco

Tribe has recently initiated a new Terms of Use policy that has frightened away a good number of their customer base. Additionally, they've launched a very confusing and poorly designed new user interface. Its very sad to see what has happened to Tribe.

Laura Bee

I have loved tribe since I first joined in 2004. The new format may look all slick and corporate, but it makes it difficult and confusing to find things I used to be able to peruse. One tribe I moderate used to have over 100 posts a day, and now it gets between 10 and 20. Many of the people I know and love from tribe are leaving, and I've considered it, just as soon as I choose another spot for my blog. I'm sad that tribe feels ruined with rules and ads, some of which I am unable to make disappear with "remove it permanently" (a Mozilla feature that I love.)My circle of friends and I are exchanging email adresses now, so that when we leave we can still stay in touch. The new "improvements" certainly did nothing to make tribe better...Someone seems to have forgotten that "If it's not broken, don't fix it!"


Jan Gullet: "We’re not as big as other social networks but we have good organic growth, so additional marketing will accelerate our growth."

Awen: Is this WASP-caricature guy trying to be ironic??

JG: "We’ve had a nice compound annual growth rate for the last year now. It just remains to be seen how fast we can step on the accelerator."

A: So far, most of the tribes, blogs and neat listings seem quite frozen to me.

JG: "We’re an online hangout…for very good and valid reasons. Gratifying reasons. Rather than capitalize all out, we’d rather benefit everyone from the Tribe.net goodwill."

A: We're showing out goodwill sticking to this stupid, ugly-looking website that replaced Tribe.net. Now where's YOUR goodwill to respect traditional members, who keep having deaf ears turned to them???

Pak Hanafi

The prior comments re tribe pretty much sum up the experience reported by those vocalizing their impressions of the company itself as well as the new "tribe experience"(UI)on various tribe forums.

The shame is that what it once was, is no more. The ability to connect, question & interact with a pretty diverse cross section of humanity has been significantly diminished due to many tribes being made invisible to the community at large due to "content" issues. There is obviously a new demographic focus, and the current membership is largely not included.

Another disappointment is the behavior of the designers & marketers of tribe. There is great show of encouraging involvement, inviting feedback, etc. In the final anaysis however, its little more than a show. The technical support they can freely get from the large number of talented members is utilized. The criticisms of design, format, utility, "friendliness", etc. are dismissed summarily.

On an up note, there is a tribe currently in the process of designing a replacement! http://tribes.tribe.net/tribealternatives

Mark Brooks

Site traffic looks quite healthy.


The old design was rather bland. However, so is Craigslist. There's something wonderfully unassuming and unimposing about the Craigslist design. But hey, that's Craigslist, and Tribe wants to differentiate and be a little more jazzy.

Mark Brooks
Online Personals Watch

Markus Frind

They are mega spamming. 450 reach should translate into a reach of .15% or so on ranking.websearch.com it turns out they only have a .02%. Most likely alexa is being manipulated to show investors progress. Keep in mind you only need 30 installed users to visit the site per day to show up as 4000 on alexa.



I used to spend hours on Tribe. Posting, reading posts and blogs, meeting new friends and making connections. It was a social outlet. With the new design, and changes, Tribe has become an unfriendly place. It's horribly formatted and literally an eyesore. I agree with the multitudes that I can only take about 10-15 minutes online with the white backgrounds and the angry red highlights. That may work in marketing aimed at people in commericials and advertising (where you only expect to capture their attention for a few moments) but does not translate into online activities. Everyone I know hates it and so do I. I'm slowly migrating to the previously inferior myspace world. Sad that the powers that be don't even recognize it's users as the most valuable part of tribe and are willing to alienate them and make it so commercial that it loses all it's vitality.

Rob the Wop

Corporate invasion and tactics of a once social network. Blatant disregard for consumer feedback. Tribe.net has become the new Verizon.

The ads really don't bother me. The censorship is also no problem. The user interface is, quite frankly, hideous now. What used to be a race to read all the posts on the 20ish tribes I am part of, has become something I can do in a couple minutes.

I am hoping an entrepreneur will notice the mass dissatisfaction and create a site similiar to the old Tribe. How a competant CEO can not notice that a site has nailed a specific market niche, and then blatently kill it in this fickle Internet market is beyond me. But working for a major corporation has shown me that VPs and above can make really mind-blowing mistakes without repercussions. They simply blame it on lower managers and 'reorg' the company. There is still time to fix the problem by rolling back the interface, but pride is usually the downfall of fly by night Internet success stories.

Awen (again)

Has anyone noticed the servers on Tribe.net are slower today?? Man, what the FUCK is going on??? This sudden wrecking just doesn't make SENSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shady Backflash

i, too, beta tested the "new tribe." i, too, offered constructive criticism of the new look (mostly of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" variety)... my primary critique was it took more clicks to find what i could find in one click before. (a scheme to generate more page views for ad revenue?)

my opinion is the new site is ugly and inefficient. i still love the people and hope they don't ALL jump ship without at least leaving a forwarding address...

it's a great community that seems to be getting mismanaged into McTribeSterSpace.Net and using the Target / KFC color scheme to do so... YIKES!!!!

i love tribe, but this new doppleganger pretending to be tribe ain't fooling anyone!

Stevland Ambrose

Tribe Networks was doing very well. They had attracted a huge base of avid users in a very short time.

Maybe Jan sees something that we're missing... by overlooking existing members and attracting new ones.

Only time will tell. My opinion is that tribe is going downhill rapidly.

At one time Google, while the best search engine, still lacked a strategy for making money. Not anymore! We've all heard how much money Google is worth now. But they managed to find a revenue stream while upsetting almost none of their regular users.

Good luck, Jan et al.


I'm not sure how many different ways it can be stated.... the vast majority of devoted, avid tribe users are deeply disappointed and disaffected by both the unbelievably un-tribe-like changes to the UI and the shocking, flagrant disregard for user feedback. Isn't that the basis for any business application? Satisfied users (aka customers) in the interest of business growth? Do they think that any of the wildy irate, disappointed and sad users of tribe are going to be in the frame of mind to read any of the advertising they've done such a good job of making room for, let alone frequent their advertiser's sites? I think the "usage spike" indicated by the previously posted sites is reflective of everyone's freaked-out, venting posts initially after the change happened. It is not an exaggeration to say that posting has dropped off in popular tribes (I've seen it, many are commenting on it).

As we come to accept that they really are not (!) paying attention to our complaints and that they really are not going to attempt to satisfy our needs, desires, feedback, we will leave. It's already happening. I hope that there is a way for "former Pepsi and Proctor and Gamble exec" exec Jan Gullett to hear these pleas. What if feels like, is that he's not hearing anything. Funny... reminds me of another, current high-level administration that I am particularly un-fond of. They don't listen either. I exptected more from Tribe.


Tribe used to be the best, most innovative networking tool I could imagine. Now its just something I log in to just to see if I've gotten any mail, or comments on my blog. Ineraction and communication have fallen to nothing more that a very outspoken group of dissatisfied Tribers.

Jon Bischke

First let me offer a disclaimer. I own shares in the company I'm about to talk about and used to work for them (although I'm no longer officially employed). Now with that out of the way...

I honestly never saw the point to social networks. I figured that I spent enough of my time online and figured that I'd rather connect with people offline. So I missed out on the Friendster/MySpace/Tribe revolution and frankly I didn't feel I was missing much...until Zaadz launched.

Now I get it.

For me social networking is all about connecting with people who share your passions, goals and dreams. It's about being able to connect with someone who you might not have found in the "real world" and who you can identify with and vice versa. And it seems to me like it's an incredible powerful tool to use to push the world forward.

At the end of the day it's becoming clear to me that a social network is all about its users. It's not about trying to manipulate them and it's certainly not about ignorning them. Rather it's about listening closely to how they want to express themselves and then giving them the tools that faciliate that.

I've never used Tribe so I can't offer any feedback good or bad but I can offer that in the month or so that I've been active at Zaadz I've met a ton of amazing people who "get it." They're intelligent, creative and most importantly they're conscious of the impact they're having on the world around them. And based on what I know of the management team and the developers they get it too.

They get that social networking has the power to change the world but that that power must not be abused. They get that users want to hang out at a place where they feel their voices are being heard. And they understand that when the day comes when you've made your #1 goal to monetize your constituents then you've just destroyed everything you've worked so hard to build.

So I'd encourage you to check it out if for no less of a reason than I think it will change your life just as it has changed mine.



My friends are quitting tribe, one by one, and moving to Zaadz as well. I like their site better already, and they're still in construction mode, so we can all share our opinions with the operators. And the best part is, they will listen.
Anytime you get a CEO from a corporation in like this, they ruin everything trying to "make it their own". Plus the ads have to pay for their big fat salary too, so of course we'd have to click through more pages of ads.
Do they really think we're stupid enough to stand for this? What are we? Sheep?
Come on, lets all move to zaadz and show them what we really think.


I have been part of tribe as of 04 and liked the simpleness of it. It allowed users to express themselves in their own personal way. Tribe, instead of listening to the core users, has limited this expression to a bare scant outerlayer expressionism. The way it feels, operates, and just looks is for the corporate jockies that think that numbers beyond good membership, is what it takes. Maybe they are trying to change for the overall censorship ratings game. This will lead someone else to create another "tribe" for everyone to full appreciate non-censorship and a good operating program that doesnt have the ads and corporate punch.

Unless they listen to the members, numbers from the core and overall will drop systematically.

All I have to say is, "Listen up, Hear the Tribe YOU created and do for THEM"!!!!!!!


Jan as Tribe CEO... let me just say this.. after looking at his (or her?) list of professional duties... I can tell you this person is very likely OVER-EXTENDED and reducing the quality of work because of a lack of focus and such OVER-EXTENSION of one's talents and time. Focus on one thing at a time, please! Be a CEO of ONE (1) company at a time, and please stop being the corporate superhero -- because all you create is crap when you do that. You are no superhero when all you create is crap because you fail to lead when you are OVER-EXTENDED. I can read you like a book, Jan, and I don't even know you. Reduce your addiction to power, money and attention and get on with the real work, please. The quality work, that is. Get YOUR hands dirty.

Harold Roy Jordan (aka audiominer1)


I established an account on Planet Zaadz a few days ago as soon as I became aware of it.

It feels like the old Planet Tribe W/out the ads and their not even up to Warp speed yet!

After reading this interview with the 'new' and 'improved' Planet Tribe CEO from McPepsiProctor&Gamble Land I suggest everyone should just cut your loses and bail.

Make ART, Not WAR.
Cheers, audiominer1

CV Rick

I'm a former tribe.net user, blogger, and was very active in the political and writing forums. I unsubscribed last week due to an unsatisfactory experience with tribe.net's new policy regarding censorship of political expression.

Secondarily, the new UI is designed to appeal to idiots.

Thirdly, their new Terms of Use steals publishing and ownership rights from authors and artists - the backbone of the original community.

Irrespective Jan's words, they are turning their back on the demographic which built the community and instead are marketing to those which they suppose will bring in ad revenue - - suburban mothers who shop at walmart and have given up all their dreams and aspirations and instead live life vicariously through reality television and their children.



I joined tribe right before the switch. I too, am deeply dissapointed by the new format, TOU and attitude of the owners. I will also be moving as soon as I find a place to move too.



I joined tribe right before the switch. I too, am deeply dissapointed by the new format, TOU and attitude of the owners. I will also be moving as soon as I find a place to move too.

Miss Mini

> This is at the core of who we are: providing a rich environment where local people can connect with each other.

Talk is cheap, but the fact is that the new user interface and restrictive TOU inhibit the "rich environment" that was once tribe. Borders and Starbucks are *not* good analogs for tribe. To say so is to completely misunderstand the community involved.


I've been with tribe.net for over a year. I moderate two tribes, one of which I may need to dismantle since it contains topic which is in violation of Tribe.net "TOU". The other tribe I manage is a very large tribe and being it's a glbt tribe, I wonder if it'll get flagged for being in violation of TOU. I loved tribe because of the numerous people I've met. This has been the only networking site when I've gone to parties and met people. I hate the new Ui, they ignored feedback and rolled it out anyways...I'm hoping to check out the new alternative that's in the works...

you don't need to know my name

Why does Tribe.net hate its members so much?

What percentage of people actually like the new layout? Almost every single response to this, that I've seen, is that they hate it! Why not allow us to use the old version for our mytribe page?

Why are you abandoning the quirky and alternative and adult demographics that have been one of the principal mainstays of your site since the beginning? We came here to forge thriving communities, but are now rejected! Did we not respond enough to your advertising? Perhaps you should have tried to sell us stuff that we might consider buying! (market research!!)

Are you trying to compete with myspace.com? myspace is a very different kind of site and you shouldn't try to mimic what they're doing in any way. Tribe has it's own appealing character, or USED TO, I should say!

Worried about the government crackdown on porn? Well, you took the wrong steps, alienated a huge percentage of your users, and most of us have lost all respect for the website now. (I didn't even have any mature stuff on my profile and didn't subscribe to any mature groups!) You could have dealt with that in a much better way, I'm sure you got thousands of emails explaining how.

Has anyone ever gotten a meaningful answer to any of these questions from the tribe management? I know I haven't!!


i joined trite.net over a year ago. before that i had never realy found anything online that held my interest for more than 15 min.
but in short order i was hooked. it was the worst addication of my life. i started calling myself a "trite slut/junky" cause that was what i was.
so i want to thank jan for the recent changes.
it so completly cured me that i would have unsubbed immediatly if it was'nt for the fact that i have built up a large network of friends and associates. but i'm closing up shop @trite.net and stumbling on...
speaking of which, i joined zaadz yesterday and though it shows promise it has a long way to go.
so, until something better pops up, my recommendation for people looking for an alternitive is:


I've been a heavy user of Tribe.net since December of 2003. I know we're all getting tired of hearing the same lines, but this new version of the Tribe website interface is a real challenge.

Frankly, it is no longer helping to bring people together, but rather destroying a fairly tight group of long time users here in the Portland area. Many are reluctant to even use the service any longer - a real shame, considering how popular it was just prior to the redesign. The interface is so bad that some are even willingly moving to an even worse service, mySpace. There is hardly anything left that resembles the 'organic' community they refer to in the above article.

This is saying absolutely nothing of the recent draconian approach to censoring people's photographs. Yeah, yeah, yeah - privacy regulations aside. We're in a Brave New World out here on the Internet. We need companies with a little backbone, one's willing to fight for their customers. The taste police have and never will win the battle for Market Share in the world of online community building. It's just not 'cool' to moderate people in that way. The old Tribe allowed for a little bit more individuality - people were drawn to that hipness. The new Tribe is vanilla, with a capital V.

It kind of reminds me of when Coke decided to do New Coke - and lost their asses. After losing millions of dollars, they admitted their wrongdoing and came back with the "Classic". Come on, Guys. Stop screwing with a good thing. Fire those idiots you have working for you and stop f**king with it. Of course, it feels like it may already be too late...

About to Bail


i love tribe and i wouldn't even THINK of leaving. it's funny the way that change gets people's feather's all ruffled. i think that Tribe.net is extraordinary in it's community as it is, and i am sure that when the changes are rolled out and fully *tweaked* to member preferences, that it will be even better! obviously the changes will not happen over night, and may have some issues that will need to be resolved throughout the process.

bottom line - i have met many people that i would never have happend upon and i have had some great life experiences from those interactions with those people. i wouldn't give that up for anything - even an "ugly" color scheme.

i mean come on - what's really important here people??

get over it.

Pissed off tribe user

Hey Mr. Gullett Listen up! It looks as if the majority of your users are pretty ticked off about the new interface, and you should SERIOUSLY think about switching back. After all this change is all about dollars right? What if, let's say 40% of your registed users stopped using tribe. How is that going to affect your bottom line? You might not be able to afford that new mercedes after all eh?...

jonny pummel

Tribe fucking sucks now. It's not about the new design for me... it's about censorship. I mod two tribes and I will post whatever I wish. If TOU deletes anything, I will post it again and ten times worse. If you want a successful entity in tribe, I suggest you start listening to the tribe members and stop censoring shit. Now, if you'll excuse me.... I'm going back to Myspace.
Fuck you and have a good day.
jonny pummel
Death Benefit

Lee Newberry

I like the unstated assumption that any good website must have a profit motive. I understand the need for advertising to pay the bills, but that does not logically follow into going corporate.

It gives me hope that Gullett recognizes the negative effect that naked greed has on a community. I hope he also sees the value of restraint, and realizes that not all kinds of growth are healthy.

Just K

I am deeply offended by the hatred and anger of so many tribe members. If Mr. Gullet has some additional strategies to enhance tribe that eliminates these windbags I am all for it. The people that speak the loudest and are the most offensive are not creative, merely obnoxious. I can't even make reasonable posts on tribe without some spiteful poster complaining about the TOU changes. Move on so that reasonable people can use Tribe without your mouthiness. Now, I am gonna duck because there is a real fear about being honest on tribe given the level of hatred that exists towards reasonable people.

Chicken John

I'm a pretty smart fella... all I can guess is that Tribe.net wants to lose the community it created. The are scaring us away. The toilet is full, they are flushing it. Makes sence to me. You will likely see them almost smirking as everybody wanders away... we had our place and now we move on. Nothing new here... the artists move into cheap, industrial lofts in shitty neighborhoods, then the next thing you know it's gentrified and there are million dollar luxury condos. So on and so on... but what is super annoying here is that we are more then 'them'. The freaks exponentially swelled in the last decade, and Mr. Pepsi is a clueless number cruncher. HIs demographic is not actual. Tribe has done everything in it's power to humiliate and alienate the arts community. As well as make the user interface ugly, uncomfortable and insulting with the click-through (or whatever you call it). They want us to leave. They are not even smart enough or care enough to have their people posing as Tribe users arguing with us. I see this as a great opportunity for someone who knows how to build sites like this. We could use tribe to organize the people for a shift all in one day. I wonder if anyone sees that the door leading to a great opportunity has just fallen off the hinges and couldn't possibly be more wide open...

the mind reels....... chicken john

Bill McLaughlin

I can't think of any time in recent memory where a heavy-handed and out-of-touch management has ruined something in so little time!

Tribe is dead, sadly.

Here's the story: first, any text and pictures Tribe considered to be "potentially objectional", including , as it turned out, both bland text and art, was flagged overnight as 'friends only', making it inaccessible to anyone not already connected to you. Putting it another way, anything posted by anyone you had interacted at a more casual level than 'friend' vanished from your view overnight.

If that wasn't damage enough, Tribe's management summarily changed many member's profiles to be 'Private", that is, they could no longer be seen by anyone not already connected as a 'friend'. In other words, many members, for all intents and purposes, simply vanished overnight.

Not content with having shot themselves in the foot, Tribe then purged the people and tribes I had bookedmarked of anybody and anything they had previously flagged as 'friends only'.

So tell me, exactly, how is this social networking going to take place?

Them there's the ghastly new user interface. Apart from having so much white space (that is bright space) which strains my vision after a while, it's just plain boring! The old orange "T" design was both distinctive and easy to use.

The best thing that could happen to Tribe at this point would be to run Jan Gullett out of town, return to the old interface, and send out profuse appolgies.


I believe Tribes success was that it (possibly half unwittingly) tapped into an ever increasing 'sub culture' of people who are tolerant, progressive, non-commercial and believe in the idea of an interdependent community/society (you know..., tribal type living)

This is why tribe thrived. It was a reflection of the 'new era' progress. Tribe fell backward and adopted what is considered by those who believe they know better, a ‘proven’ business model. Unfortunately it is outdated and flawed for our changing society.

Tribe just stepped out of the driver’s seat of being pioneers the 'new era' to just another cookie cutter wannabe website. As I see it ,Tribe’s only salvation is to immediately return to that which created the success, or…, at the very least establish a sister site called (let’s say…) Primal Tribe and let the members of Tribe be who they want to be.

“New Tribe’ will stand or fall on its own and ‘Primal Tribe’ would thrive, confounding the ‘traditional’ thinkers


I agree with Kenji. I never thought it would happen to Tribe, what has happened to just about everything that was ever truly cool in the underground. Tribe became what it was because of the uniqueness of our subculture. And those who tried to make it better were obviously ignoring what was really needed--to preserve the integrity of its users' contributions.

I still use it, to check messages, to vent now and then, i check up on my tribes every few days, but the blood has been drained and it's just a lifeless shell now. I'm saddened by this, but i can accept it if the new CEO and staff don't care enough to listen to us and try to put it back the way it was--after all, this is the way our society works and it is up to us to keep on moving and regenerating.

Some day what has happened to Tribe will happen to Burning Man--mark my words. Sponsors, advertising, marketing, more and more regulations, and ultimately complete annihilation of the soul that inspired it in the first place. We can mourn the loss of our culture, or we can band together and recreate again and again, forever one step ahead of Babylon. I think we should do what we can to have our voices heard and attempt to prevent this thing from completely nose-diving, but at some point it's wise to save ourselves and abandon ship.


Penguin Scott

I am now looking for another community on line instead of Tribe due to the changes recently made, including, but not limited to Tribe's new censorship policies.

Jan states that community relies on people knowing one another, but Jan and his ilk have no idea who their core customers are. They have turned their backs on us by monitoring our content and creating a new Terms of Use that the majority of Tribe users seem to be upset about. How can we continue to know one another in our community when Tribe insists on censorship?

I wonder why Jan feels such a need for "accelerated growth"? Why drive a Hummer when a smaller car is so much better?

Jan mentions a hunger to be in groups with similar interests, but again, with Tribe's censorship, it's often difficult, if not impossible to find groups of similar interest.

I suspect that I will only stick with Tribe another month before switching to Zaads. If Jan wants a Disney version of a web community for the high school kids (which I thought already existed) and wants to turn his back on those of us that has put Tribe on the map, then we have no other choice but to seek out in a new company what Tribe once was.


Just adding my voice in agreement. It's a good time to find or develop a new social networking site thanks to the bad decisions made at tribe.

Andros Dejan Czibor

I agree with the populace here. The new tribe look was completely rejected by the tribe beta testers but it was used anyway. Then tribe staff lied to their users claiming that it was being praised. Fortunately the beta testers spoke up and proved that Tribe staff is full of it!
The new TOU is a complete rejection of the members who actually made tribe the great place that it ONCE WAS!


I left Tribe because of its censorship, deafness, and manipulative Big Business slyness. I hope Tribe's investors and advertisers are listening. When I left, over 100 followed, and we're GONE. Evaluate what your time is worth and where you want to spend your advertising dollars, because Tribe is feeding you bogus information about page views.

I hope they fail spectacularly. Shame on them for deceiving and penalizing us loyal fans. I'm so bitter, I won't buy anything advertised on Tribe.

Big Mike

Over 2 years now i've ben a member and slowly iv'e observed it's slow and now steady decline in quality, it's drastic chang in look that's definatly not for the better, and also the whole "coperate" feel of it now.....what used to be something warm and inviting now feels sanatized and cold.


I used to spend hours on Tribe. I joined in its infancy when I was in my freshman year of high school. I loved Tribe. As a teenager who was considered strange by the populace of the school, I found that Tribe was a place where I could share my feelings with others without the fear of ridicule. I finally fit in, and I was happy. I went vegan, too. Tribe has done so much for me, but now it has betrayed me like a parent leaving their kid in the desert.

I had a mature profile. My profile was NOT available to be viewed by those without Mature profiles themselves... And yet, I am told to remove my "obscene" photos or I myself will be removed. I would be violationg the TOU policy, which was not the one I originally agreed to. I have seen a friend of mine's ( who's Black) picture (with her breasts exposed) removed, while a picture of white breasts stayed up. I have seen pictures of Iraqi dead and mutilated stay up while pictures of American dead and mutilated were taken down. These are just a few examples.

I would be happier with Tribe if the rules were being fairly enforced because I realize that they have the right to change their rules. Unfortunately, Tribe is just reinforcing negative stereotypes and racism, not to mention their various other "crimes" against humanity.

Don't EVEN get me started on the new interface. The original wasn't the greatest to begin with, but the new one is absolutely horrid and everyone at Tribe seems to be ignoring the complaints.

Kevin Joyner

The supposed reason tribe began censorship was because of article 2257. However that is not even close to true. If you read article 2257 you will find this:
Paragraph 2257(h)(3) clearly states:

"...does not include mere distribution or any other activity which does not involve hiring, contracting for managing, or otherwise arranging for the participation of the performers depicted;"

Therefore tribe.net does NOT fall into a catagory which places it into a 2257 catagory. Funny how tribe staff claimed it affected them though. Yet another lie! Let it be known that I will only remain a member of tribe so that I can see the advertisers and avoid patronizing their business. And I will also discourage others from purchasing goods or services from companies who advertise with tribe.net!

Max Allstadt

(this post is real analysis, not ranting, please read)

Tribe.net is doomed to failure because Mr. Gullett has made a number of gross errors:

1. Introducing a censorship regime in response to the US DOJ's attempts to crack down on online indecency. If Mr. Gullett had done the opposite, and deliberately courted prosecution, Tribe.net would be very very famous today, and likely a cause celebre, supported by a small army of free speech advocacy groups.

2. Attempting to alter Tribe.net into a mainstream social network at a time when Tribe.net has less than one percent of the membership of Myspace.com. Instead, Tribe.net should have cultivated it's existing niche market, and saught advertizers appropriate to this market. The existing market I speak of was one of deviants and countercultural types. In a nation that is rapidly fragmenting into subcultures, mainstream society is in fact the SHRINKING market.

3. Ignoring a massive deluge of user dissent. Duh. Duh Duh Duh!.

Adam Katz

"Is there any similarity between Tribe and Starbucks? - Besides being equally addictive? The reality is we have incredibly intense usage by our members. The involvement, time and relationship with the site is really very strong."

How is it possible that a guy from Pepsi learned nothing from the "New Coke" fiasco. If you change something that people are addicted to, there is going to be outrage. And there has been outrage at tribe.

People are leaving in droves.

But, maybe Jan is more devious than we think. Maybe he did learn something from Coke's immense rebound. Perhaps, Tribe Classic(tm) is on it's way soon.

I certainly hope so for Tribe's sake.



I quick breakdown...
I'm a moderator of over 30 tribes, and joined in Sept 2003 when Tribe was small and the community networked closely. Using the network I've: organized events, performers, gathered quotes from a spiritual poet from fans around the globe, got a free used car, stayed in touch with friends while in Italy for 4 months and shared pictures of my travels. It's been a big part of my life, and the recent descions by Tribe's directing board has me reconnecting elsewhere and lending my ideas to a network who listen...
After beta testing for 2 weeks, with lots of negative feedback, and staunch denail of member requests, pleas and demands after launch, this company doesn't seem to want to flourish. It is committing suicide.

Q- "Is there any similarity between Tribe and Starbucks? "

A- "Besides being equally addictive? The reality is we have incredibly intense usage by our members. The involvement, time and relationship with the site is really very strong. People hunger for relationships and friendships and being a part of a larger social group. There’s a hunger to be in groups of people with similar interests. As we live in more crowded areas, with less public space and fewer places to hangout…it seems like most of hangouts have gone by the wayside and are being replaced by commercial real estate. "

My curiousity is that while Jan praises our tight knit community and acknowledges our connection with the site due to thorough integration of Tribe into our lives, the corporation doesn't acknowledge they've forced a change that is breeding resentment and destroying the fabric of the community as accounts go unsub, tribes fall silent, and Tribe is hushed into being an email client. The design is a daily reminder of this to many, and others less vocal simply don't login in avoidance or active protest. Why these choices? I'm still baffled...

"Starbucks and Borders have become the new local hangouts. In a way, we’re the online version of that. "

Was the demographics on userbase consulted?

While there are many folks in places
where the social options are limited to commercial chain environments,
many of the user base are not a part of that demographic.

And it was that user base who helped to virally market Tribe
via word of mouth and direct invitation to their friends around the globe.
One might consider that for them to be friends
they may have similar communication or stylistic tastes that are shared traits.

From this, we built a virtual city of artists, free thinkers, kinkers, and creative professionals
on one site to commune... and we're given McDonald's color scheme.

No wonder the peasants are revolting and the libertines leaving,
the intellectuals rethinking the system elsewhere,
and the conversation limited or non-existant.

It's not welcoming to be here visually.
Just like you wouldn't paint your den red and white
and expect folks to relax deeply in the room...

Q- "And what of Yub.com’s ‘affiliate program for everyone’ site model? "
A- "Amway made a lot of people successful. I would say there's business promise."

We're being compared to Amway???
A MLM???
There's more to the community than accounted for in most multi- level marketing schemes...

"But there’s the sanctity of social friendships based on merit and fundamental essence of goodwill."

If this has been a motivation of management to maintain,
it's really hard to discern as a member.

" We don’t want to pollute Tribe.net with an external economic motivation."

Again, this is not the message received.
Comparisons to Starbucks, Borders, and Amway don't make me think community.

" We’re an online hangout…for very good and valid reasons. Gratifying reasons."

What are those reasons again?
Oh yeah, because we like it here!
And we invited all our friends here!
Makes me consider hospitality an intergral part of the business' success.

Just my .02, please forgive any percieved hostility towards individuals,
it is intended firmly for the choices, actions, and accountability
of the directing board members as a unit.

CV Rick

Here's something interesting for you. I officially unsubscribed from Tribe.net over a week ago. The account is gone and logging in naturally doesn't work.

However, my profile is still on tribe, visible for everyone to see. It seems that not only are they artificially inflating their numbers but they are now intentionally preventing the tribe.net membership from seeing all the people who have left. . . . making it "seem" better by showing a profile next to those old posts rather than that nasty "UNSUBSCRIBED" icon.

- CV Rick



I used to love tribe, now I HATE IT,

and I am NOT a minority, everyone I know

feels the same way, Tribe was unique

because, it used to allow people to connect

with their extended community or tribe,

through showing listings from people 2,3,

or 4 degrees apart, now we either get

to look at our immediate friend's listings

great, but we already know them,,

or sort through the mess of craigslist

like listings,,, I want to hear from myy

greater community, not the greater

community of the bay area,

my friends of 2 3 or 4 degrees away

thats how we used to network on tribe,

thats how we got things done,

tribe is totally unorganized now,

random people pop up rather than people

just a little removed hellepppp

dont believe what he says,,, he doesnt

know, and hes killing tribe


Member of tribe since '03. It was truly an epiphany and fundamentally changed the way I looked at online communities. I'm still over there because of my friends, but as my friends slowly migrate to other sites (like Zaadz) I will follow them. You see, tribe isn't about flashy graphics, more ads, and more profit. Tribe was about the people, and if you piss off the people, they'll leave. Once they leave -- there is no tribe.

If I ran across tribe today and knew nothing about it, I don't think I'd join. Too hard to figure out with the new interface and too hard to meet new people.


It's been over a week now, and I'm still appalled. Nothing about this made sense, and after hearing from other old school Tribers that the new looks were repproved Beta testing but still shoved down our throats, and now what CV Rick tells us of Tribe.net not letting profiles be deleted together with account is beyond the whole of me.

It is clear to me that the changes, from last December 20th's new ToU to this very day, are not focused on making money, as any idiot without any notion of marketing such as myself understands that shooting your own feet is not marketing. It's like a tree sewing its own trunk in order to grow more.

I'm still experimenting with Zaadz.com and so far I'm loving it, but honestly what's happened with Tribe.net, along with some other personal experiences, has destroyed some of my faith in community forever. However, it's been quite enjoyable, even without common-interest groups running yet. Let's see what's gonna happen. Maybe the fate of ventures such as Tribe.net or Burning Man is, as someone posted here a couple of days ago, shipwreck and prostitution much as Karl Marx has written, but as John Lennon said, 'alright, Flower Power didn't work. So what? We start over again'!!

Stand still, folks. Tribe up and move on. While we have an ideal, we'll be together and we'll be forever. We're paramount!!


You realise people, this is just another of an almost infinite number of internet forums? you can leave any time. you can go to Orkut, you can go to friendster, any of these spaces. There too you can bitch and whine and moan about free services and how crappy they treat you.


Of course if you get something for free why complain?

That is a very simplistic argument.

Truth is, I don't like the new Tribe anymore. I though I would learn to like it, or live with it. Problem is this, Tribe is dying.

The hard fact is that the activity is nearly at a standstill beyond complaining about Tribe. People are leaving. Forums and groups are dying.

If there isn't activity, there is no Tribe, no business, nothing. This re-design and business plan is a sinking ship that (and forget about members here) for the sake of your investments and employees MUST BE FIXED in the very near future.

Bill Broadbent

Hey Mark - You may want to partition this thread off somehow. I don't think it will stop.


the new tribe sux ass

seriously, the cool thing about tribe, sense of community, is slipping away largely due to the ineptitude of the marketing folx and the ugly as f*ck UI.

it sort of feels like if burning man suddenly started sporting corporate logos.

can we please just have a little place on the planet that isn't designed to sell stuff all the friggin time?



i just posted this reply to a discussion thread at a crafty vixens bay area; the moderator says she will flag all non-crafts listings. to which I said:
this is a general cry re new tribes and NOT at our moderator. i feel your pain! here is my perspective:
i never listed local political stuff as discussion topics but did feel that they were appropriate to put as "listings" in any local tribes so folks could be aware of them--same way I like seeing other folks' misc listings as long as they popped up in listings rather than as discussion topics.
it is the commingling of discussions, listings and events that is maddening to me. If I am not permitted to post off-topic listings that may be of interest, if I lose the ability to communicate outside of my friends list, I'll surely just withdraw from tribe altogether.

Harvey Normal

Hmmm, I can understand what people are saying about tribe. I just joined, love it, but can see the energy behind it.

As i see it, the CEO is not going to read these comments. I would say its an invasion of space with a banal robotic corp. culture, but hey, the original people SOLD it to him I believe, or handed the reigns over, so who is really to 'blame' here?

And really, is the texting real communication? Are most people only seeing the world through cyber eyes? What about analog communication - through personal meetings? I see tribe as just helping me meet some people first as an intro, then see them. Thats the REAL communication.

Right, I am 36, but if I was 22 now, I would probably just be the same as all others at the same age - mobile phone, MSN texting, emailing. I hear people used to spend HOURS on tribe. Wow! What about meeting them.

Tribe is only a point along the way, not the end. So if tribe changes, find another medium.

Look, the original tribe people dont feel like you guys. They sold it or made money & its going to do what it does, and they are alright with it. They are complaining on forums like this.

Go out & meet people! Go do things that doesnt involve looking at a mobile phone on a train every day! Fer godsakes this isnt the end of the world. But it can be his end if you move away from tribe. I'll stick with it, then leave after a while if it doesnt fulfill my needs.

Tribe maybe a 'real' community, but the real one is the intimacy and connection of 'real' humans.

My worldview


Thanks for screwing up a good thing. This was such a good networking tool. Now I am ashamed to even ask new friends to sign up so they can participate with our tribe.

We will be switching to ZAAD or another similar sight soon.

TRIBE is not cool any longer!



I'm surprised how many folks are suggesting Zaadz, it is not much better, their TOU is rather holier than thou...
"I recognize that Zaadz is creating an online sanctuary for personal development and I commit to co-creating this sacred space by honoring the Terms of Use."
they have been booting ppl off Zaadz for little apparent reason (probably profile content issues) and without notice, and even lying about it in public forums, insisting they left voluntarily.
They started a discussion group on tribe.net to promote their new network, but then deleted posts that were critical of it for the above stated reasons. check the link below.

Even though the Zaadz management doesn't seem to have a profit motive, they are too wrapped up in maintaining the purity and sanctity of their lofty ideals to allow freedom of speech, and screw that...



I've been a die-hard TRIBE user and promoter. the recent changes are CRAP. Take it back to our community- or the community will leave. I've had several of my friends join up to my myspace account (over 40 in the last 2 weeks) and I despise myspace- but you know what- It's actually getting to be BETTER than tribe... SOON you will just be ALONE. Why do you think you can just come in and IMPROVE tribe without really understaning WHAT it is that makes it special?? The peeps- LIKE ME. Please revert tribe now.

I actually know of another site going up in a couple of weeks- with peeps who care- so- I'll be sending MY PEEPS- and I have a LOT over there.

This all disgusts me.

If you were smart- you'd listen.



A corporate giant screws up again. There is a concept called social responsibility that should apply to inentities such as corporations. The action is carried out by those that run the corporation. The changes made to tribe to make it a profit-generating group where the primary purpose is the increase in profit margin each month will kill the concept of tribe. The period of adjustment that this CEO expects to occur will change the fabric of tribe and turn it into a group of consumers in the eyes of these owners. Eventually a different market will emerge through more advanced technology taking over the original idea of tribe and NEW TRIBE will fall. As Joni Mitchell once said, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot." Good luck, NEW TRIBE. I will not be one of your mice you use in a maze.



It is dead, but won't lie down.

The powers that be killed it and did not care or listen when the people spoke up.

some of the users of tribe are trying to start over...


is underconstruction but should be what tribe was when they are done.

Mark Brooks

Hi, Mark Brooks from Online Personals Watch here. It's been a long while since I took a peak at Tribe.net. Doesn't looks so bad, but hey, I can't remember what it looked like before. I was surprised to see the online colleges included in the sign up process, but hey, Tribe ahs to make money somehow.

What questions would you like to ask Jan if I request another interview with him? Please add comments to http://onlinepersonalswatch.typepad.com/news/2005/05/online_personal.html and I'll review and ping him to see if he's up for another interview.

Mark Brooks

Penguin (Censored)

Yay, Mark asked for questions he should ask if given the chance to interview Jan again.

I would like to know if he's had a chance to read the input left here and what he has to say about it. Do our comments garner any priorities? Do they help him understand the degree to which his base is upset? Will he not listen so much to his underlings and use his own intelligence to see what an affect the new TOU and look of Tribe are doing to their core? What does he plan on doing about the TOU? Would he be willing to re examine the new TOU and either go back to the last one or create a way that members can subscribe to a version of Tribe that is not censored?


I think you should ask him how much rope he plans to use to hang himself. Tribe is already swinging. Strange fruit, eh, Jan?

Fernando Ardenghi

Mr. Brooks:

Perhaps you could ask the same questions as the first interview:

"Mr. Jan Gullett, nearly A YEAR as CEO: How will Tribe.net make (a good amount of) money? (More than other possible business like real state, etc)"

"which is the successful working business model for Tribe.net?"

Kindest Regards,

Fernando Ardenghi.
Buenos Aires.
[email protected]

Satan of Tribe

Tribe is heavily dominated by people from San Francisco. Everybody got their freak on. Burning Man, etc., yawn.

It is infested with trolls, many of whom have the temerity to use their real identities to do their trolling. There is hardly an active tribe with any kind of debate or controversy that is not dominated by childish, illogical trollish argument.

It is a harmful drug and is undermining the youth of our nation.


Tribe was down today; a re-design was promised. Now, toward end of day Thursday 9.21, this note is up:

"A letter to the community from the employees of Tribe.net

It's a new day for Tribe.net.

Thanks to recent management changes, we, the employees, are taking back the site and are happy to announce some real improvements (based upon the tons of feedback you've given us).

Here's what's changing with today's release:

Really, it's orange. Really.

For starters, we're going back to the original logo (last seen over 2 years ago), and eradicating the blinding red that went into place with our previous management. It is now safe to open your eyes.

More bubbles. Not!

Secondly, we've reduced the formerly huge masthead navigation down to a more appropriate size. Our brand is, and should be, secondary to the community and the content.

We've also made it easier to navigate the site. All of your stuff (personal messages, tribes, account settings, etc...) is now a click away from every page on Tribe.

Likewise, it's easier to browse and post to tribe.net via the masthead.

And yes, the bubbles are gone.

"I want a pony!"

How do you design a single useful home page experience for a diverse community that wants completely different things from tribe.net?

Easy--you don't. You let your users do it.

Just as with your profiles, you can now add/remove stuff from your homepage. And yes, you can finally customize the layout of your homepage by dragging and dropping items on the page.

Create groups of your friends and tribes, and add your favorite RSS feed(s).

So, what's next?

Y'know, we don't exactly know yet. But we are looking forward to being around a long time, and making sure we listen to our users.

If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, keep an eye out for our upcoming Tribe REBOOT party announcement, and come have a drink with us.

In the meantime, get started using your new customizable home page, and let us know what you think!

Your Happy Tribe Team"

(end quote from site)

I think this is the most interesting thing to have happened to Tribe in about a year!!

David Kaye

The most interesting thing, at least, until they hire yet another loser CEO and spin off the company to somebody else. Can you say, "Bad news"? I knew you could.

What is this with founders of companies abandoning their companies to the hands of jerk-off CEOs anyway? Set up something, make a quick buck, and leave? That's NO way to run a business as Marc Pincus is finding out.

a lost tribe user

Well, since the site is now down, I guess only time will tell if this is a "new and improved" version of Tribe or just a re-hash of the mess that tribe became.

Rob the Wop

The unfortunate thing about managers in high positions is that, the higher the level of management- the less responsibility they have for mistakes. When Jan originally joined Tribe, he railroaded the existing strucuture, uncaringly ignored the member base (he obviously knew better), and implemented his own utterly biased interface. He will never have to pay for his massive, ego driven failure. I have no doubt his golden parachute is far, far more than my annual salary- and I do pretty good for myself.

In short, Jan, if the door hits you in the ass on the way out- you are moving too slow. Good riddens, you egotistical jackass. I can now rejoin to enjoy the enlightened and intelligent individualists whose social circles and collective creativeness you will never have the ability to understand.

Josh Broyles

I'm surprised by Mr. Kaye's comment above (we are realtime friends). 'Sell high, buy low' David... y'know?

More irony is that I only stumbled on this blog just now... while I was trying to figure out why Tribe.net seems to be down. I'll bet $1 it's conservative hackers trying to undermine last-minute buzz that could somehow affect the election (yes...they ARE that desperate.)

The decline of Tribe was predictable, but it's hardly a surprise that Pincus would rescue it rather than simply duplicate his earlier efforts from scratch. Tribe began to suck when it started to look more and more like Friendster. Friendster works for the people who use it, but those people don't need 2 Friendsters any more than people who use Tribe need 2 Friendsters. If they did, they'd all be on Myspace anyway with blonde streaks in their hair, lying about listening to techno.

I can only imagine what Gullet's people were thinking when they threw fertilizer at the ventilator back in January...

Gullet: 'How will we compete with Friendster?'

Staff: 'By increasingly using Friendter's own formula and hoping A)that people who like Friendster will come to prefer it, in spite of the fact that it's a half-assed version of Friendster and B) that established Tribe.net users will somehow not notice, even though, if they wanted to be on something more Friendster-like, they would already be on Friendster.'

Gullet: 'Brilliant! The fact that I hired all you geniuses proves that I'm an even bigger genius!'

free online dating

ive not visited tribe yet, but have certainly heard of it. I think it sounds like a good website

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