Only Connect.

The WELL is in its fourth decade as a cherished watering hole for articulate and playful thinkers from all walks of life. We have no advertising, no data mining, and no anonymous posting.

Why is conversation so treasured on The WELL? Why did members of this community band together to buy the site in 2012? Check out the story of The WELL.

Sound good? Then join us!

No advertising? Really?

Yes, really. Our conferences are ad-free. The WELL is entirely user-supported, which means we don’t have to serve you ads to make money. It also means that what you talk about on The WELL will stay there–if you post about your new pair of running shoes in the fitness conference, you won’t suddenly see ads for other fitness equipment the next time you visit a different social media site. Plus, our posts aren’t spider-able so they won’t show up in web searches.

Come on, everyone sells data. I’m sure you’re doing it too.

Nope. We collect almost no personal data from our users, and what we do collect, we don’t sell. A wise man once said “if you’re not paying for the product, you’re the product.” On The WELL, the product is the great content that our members create, not the members themselves. We won’t sell you out to some massive aggregator of online data. Here, you don’t just Own Your Own Words, you own your identity, too.

What’s wrong with anonymous posting?

Nothing, I guess, if you’re not interested in building community. Requiring our users to register with their real names means every user knows who every other user is. It cuts down on drive-by posting and helps build real connections between people.

I’ve been a member of The WELL since 1991, and have found friends, inspiration, companionship, and more practical assistance than I can ever fully acknowledge. The WELL’s culture of intelligence, compassion, neighborliness, and occasional cascades of puns is a world unlike any other place online. One of the first, it’s still one of the best.

Jane Hirshfield