Hosts and Hosting

The WELL is divided into forum areas we call conferences, each with many conversational threads called topics. Each conference is overseen by volunteers from the WELL who are charged with keeping conversations moving and helping ensure that users follow The WELL’s community guidelines.

What is Hosting?

Hosting in the conversational sense is online innkeeping — a large part of what makes a sense of context and “place” worth coming back to again and again. Designating an informed, opinionated and outgoing conference host who is focused on encouraging interaction with a light touch, without censorship of ideas or language, is part of the magic of The WELL.

Hosts of Featured Conferences are community members who stimulate participation; and deal with the fascinating people issues that arise in this medium, just as they would in social situations such as hanging out in a village square, corner bar, classroom or a group of travel companions.

How can I give Hosting a try?

Anyone with a standard membership at The WELL may set up a Private or Independent Conference to experience hosting first-hand. Generally, though, you will find that posting within an existing conference tends to generate more traffic, unless you have a ready-made group to join your Private or Independent Conference. Posting will also help you gain experience with group conversation dynamics in this environment.

The WELL Host Manual has both social and technical lore for managing online conferences, and a good definition of hosting in Section Two.

In addition, we strongly urge you to participate in several conferences with different hosts, and watch how they handle situations. The craft of hosting has evolved on The WELL by the exchange of information and observation since 1985. Come to The WELL Hosts Conference to discuss the techniques and philosophies, as our mutual knowledge of this skill increases.


The WELL Hosts’ Manual
Online Moderator Guidelines and Community-Building Tips