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Gaia Online is a anime-themed social networking, gaming and discussion forum site.
Gaia Online was launched on February 18th, 2003 by Studio XD employees Derek Liu (Also known on the site by his username: lanzer), Josh Gainsbrugh, Long Vo. In an interview on the Big Boards discussion forum site, Liu revealed that the site was initially an anime linklist before it developed into a community based around social gaming and discussion forums.
On June 18th, 2007, Gaia Online won the Webaware Community award. On December 28th, the official Gaia Online Facebook page was launched, which accumulated upwards of 545,000 likes in the next five years.
On October 28th, 2009, the /r/gaiaonline subreddit was created. On January 6th, 2011, the site won the Mashable Best Website User Experience Award. As of October 2013, the @GaiaOnline Twitter feed has received more than 16,200 followers.
Members of the site’s community are known as Gaians and each is represented on the site by a avatar that can be customized with different skin tones, facial characteristics, hair style, gender, race and clothing. Players can interact with their avatars in Gaia Towns, some of which have been created for paid sponsors. The site contains a variety of different sub forums, including boards for general discussion, news, lifestyle, role-playing, entertainment, games and art. Users receive “Gaia Gold” that can be used to purchase items on the site by posting and replying on the message boards, browsing the site and playing games. “Gaia Cash” is a virtual currency introduced in 2007 that can be purchased with real money. Users can buy items with both gold and cash at virtual shops on the site and can trade among each other in a virtual marketplace. Gaia Online holds site-wide annual events for users to play special games and receive unique items.
The site hosts several Flash games that users can play to acquire gold and items. The browser-based MMORPG zOMG allows Gaia Online users to battle monsters and complete quests. The breakout game Smashblox features boards that must be cleared of blocks by players to advance to the next level. The site also features several mini-games, including virtual fishing, a lottery, casino games and pinball.
New CEO Controversy
Sometime early 2013, Gaia Online decided to hire a new CEO, Gary Schofield. Since then, Schofield has been met with negative feedback from users and staff, quickly gaining a reputation to prioritize income above the Gaia community.
Negative feedback started during the summer of 2013, when the Cash Shop promoted an item known as “Flynn’s Booty”, an item which gave users a large amount of Gaia Gold (in-game currency), which had to be bought using Gaia Cash (game currency bought with money). The release of the item resulted in a large inflation in the virtual marketplace, making it difficult to impossible for players to keep up with the over-inflated item prices. Next came the announcement for “Club Verge” (shown below), a guild where users would be invited to if they exceeded 9999 Gaia Cash worth of purchases (which is equal to $100); giving them access to the “Verge Shop”, an exclusive shop selling items of higher value than that of the normal cash shop. These releases were met with large amounts of negative feedback from the Gaia community, and has led users to tie everything back up to Schofield. Since then, the community has regarded him with an intense dislike, calling him “the cancer of Gaia Online” and other hateful comments.
Anonymous reviews for Schofield can also be found on Glassdoor.com, a job and career site where employees can anonymously dish on the pros and cons of their companies. In these reviews, Schofield is mostly met with negative reviews from former site staff (shown below), giving him a CEO approval rating of below 25%.
“Our former CEO was great! Now, nothing. The users of the site are just a cash cow to be sucked for as much money as possible before things fall apart. The manager now doesn’t even care.”
“Currently managed by money-hungry suits and incompetent yes-men. An entirely different company, literally almost an entirely new staff with little regard for its clients, even less for adequately compensating new, underpaid staff.”
“Gary is taking your money. He doesn’t listen to ideas and has his own set. I’m just hoping he leaves while there’s still a community left to work with.”
“New Ceo and Management taking what was once a great company to work for and reducing it down to sales targets. – I’m not optimistic about the outlook for this company.”
Rules of the Internet
Rules of the Internet is a list of protocols and conventions, originally written to serve as a guide for those who identified themselves with the Internet group Anonymous. In 2007, 4chan’s founder Christopher Poole, better known as moot, was asked about the rules during a question-and-answer session at ROFLcon, where he claimed that they were invented on Gaia Online.
Loli-Chan is the nickname given to an anonymous camgirl from Florida who gained notoriety on 4chan sometime in 2006 at the age of 13. By her own account, Loli began making friends on the Internet via Gaia Online in 2005, and subsequently began experimenting with cybersex through Yahoo! Messenger and trading nude photos of herself for Gaia Gold.
The YouTube celebrity Boxxy joined GaiaOnline in 2006 and referenced the website in her original video “FOAR 4DD1 FRUM BOXXY” (shown below).
Idiot Nerd Girl
Idiot Nerd Girl is an advice animal image macro series featuring a photo of a teenage girl wearing thick rimmed glasses with the word “NERD” written on the palm of her left hand. On May 8th, 2010, an unedited version of the photo was posted on the Gaia Online Forums (shown below).
On April 22nd, 2007, the tech news blog Giga Om reported that Gaia Online averaged one million posts per day. On September 11th, 2008, the Internet news blog Virtual World News published an article revealing that the site was receiving more than seven million monthly users. According to a list of Internet Forums on Wikipedia, Gaia Online has accumulated the most posts of any Internet forum with over 2.145 billion.
Wayback Machine – Virtual Greats Snoop Dogg and Incredible Hulk Goods Launch in Gaia
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