Type of site
|Created by||Gibby Miller|
|Launched||August 9th, 1999|
Makeoutclub.com is widely considered the first niche-audience social network. Launched in 1999 by web designer Gibby Miller, and preceding Friendster, Myspace, and Facebook, Makeoutclub (or MOC) was vital to the early development of profile-based communities, introducing features and concepts (such as photo/interests-based user profiles) which helped to forge what was later coined "Social Networking". Today, MOC maintains its grassroots and underground appeal, with over 100,000 dedicated members between 13-30 in the independent music, tech, and fashion space.     
Makeoutclub was founded as a music/subculture social networking site at the turn of the century, providing an online community for youth with similar style and musical tastes, stating on their website: "...for indierockers, hardcore kids, record collectors, artists, bloggers, and hopeless romantics." MOC was not built as a business, but as an earnest and passionate attempt to bridge the distance between like-minded individuals when the internet was populated with early adopters. Makeoutclub was among the first social networking sites whose members experienced first-hand the stigma associated with meeting others online.  Makeoutclub features user profiles, image galleries, message boards, blogs, private mail, and (for several years) music and entertainment news. Despite the site's name, Makeoutclub's owner insisted in the years of the site's infancy that it is was not a dating site, but a place to make friends. This assertion has been challenged many times over.
Notes and Facts
Over the last nearly 15 years, Makeoutclub has been featured in Time Magazine, The Face UK, Spin Magazine, Rolling Stone, and myriads of other publications, as well as several television spots across MTV2, G4 Tech TV, Much Music, and more. Makeoutclub was the focal point and inspiration of Andy Greenwald's book about youth and the "emo" movement: "Nothing Feels Good".
In 2003 the Olympia, Washington based indie band "Dub Narcotic Soundsystem" recorded a song inspired by Makeoutclub and its users entitled "Handclappin", of which two versions on the EP were named after MOC users "PetrolBee" and "MeganClash" (petrolbzz/megaclash versions)
Miller often referred to Makeoutclub as a "network" where people could meet one another, though the term drew ire from Makeoutclub members and online blogs at the time. Today, the term "social network" has now become commonplace.
Origin and Versions
(1999) Beta: A beta version of Makeoutclub (abbreviated as MOC) was launched in August, 1999 by web designer Gibby Miller while attending Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, MA. This version was designed as "Makeoutclub" but was hosted privately, the URL given to friends to "leak" for testing purposes before launch. Users submitted a "profile" via email to the Miller and the admins of the site, who then hand-coded the users information into a small profile box that appeared on numbered pages, 10 users per page, divided by "Girls" and "Boys. After word caught on, and the amount of profile submissions grew unmanageable, Miller launched an automated 1.0 version of the site at the Makeoutclub.com URL in July 2000.
(2000) 1.0: Version 1.0 was the "release" version of MOC that featured automated submissions, allowing a queue of prospective members to form, which admins approved on a daily basis. This was done to weed out spam and fake profiles. Version 1 was developed by Paul Stewart, who was living in the same art space as Gibby at the time. Inspired by the power of independent community networks, Paul later went on to found Arck Interactive - a boutique development agency focused on creating custom social and community sites.
(2001) 2.0: Version 2.0 was a bug-fixing and security upgrade, which offered additional features like HTML in profiles and colored usernames.
(2004) 3.0: Version 3.0 added a new design, additional bug fixes, and security upgrades.
(2007) 4.0: Version 4.0 was an entirely new platform, and offered users their own individual profile pages with comments, blogs, and the ability to add and display friends. Users could now add multiple images to a gallery, send private messages to one another, and block others users. This version also introduced multiple forums.
(2008) 5.0: Verstion 5.0 improved upon 4.0 adding private galleries, the ability to "wink" others users, post "shoutouts", create "crush lists" (secret friends lists that reveal the crush connection if two users "crush one another), and search for users in your area (along with user vicinity recommendation).
(2012) 6.0: Version 6.0 went live the evening of April 19th, 2012 as a nod to the "old school", returning to its original color scheme and aesthetic design. The site now requires applications for approval (like the original platform did), and is now entirely private, requiring login to read the forums or to browse profiles.
(2014) 7.0: Version 7.0 went live on Saturday, February 22nd with an entirely new responsive design and feature set, once again making the site publicly accessible, and restoring archives of old posts and site history as far back as 2002 for the community to enjoy.
Makeoutclub currently has over 130,000 registered users, with new members joining daily. The site is updated, administered, moderated, and maintained by a group of friends and volunteers, which has rotated throughout the years. On remaining a niche presence in the constantly evolving Social Networking space, Miller says: "Our goals haven't changed in  years, we are just keeping up with the times. Now more than ever deep niche communities online deserve the tools and technology the online audience have come to expect. This is a great time for MOC to flourish. Plus, we are geeks and can't help innovating.”
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