Nine years. It's a long time for anything really - a dog, a pie, a relationship, but even more so when you're talking about the web. If I was the kind of guy who did research, I'd put together a list of famous websites that AKPCEP.com predates, but I'm not. I imagine it's quite a few.
In those nine years, the web hasn't really changed. The people on the net have changed, maybe the demographic has changed slightly away from the geek and towards your mom and pop, but I think it's been a few major game-changers that have shifted people away from the traditional "online community" as we used to know it.
With the advent of Facebook, people are now more interested in hanging out online with people they already know offline. MySpace is where you can find new music, and post pictures of your high-contrast cleavage if you feel inclined. Twitter has shown that the fast-food mentality can also apply to web pages, and a few newsworthy instances of mob mentality have given it some kind of legitimacy. Compare Twitter with the Chat Board on the right hand side of AKPCEP.com and the only difference is that the chat board lets you post more than 140 characters. Oh and it doesn't have millions of users.
Mainly though, I think people have just become less inclined to talk with people about things, and more talking at people about themselves. Status updates, tweets, blog postings tend to be by and large self-aggrandising, narcissistic affairs. There's no real dialogue beyond "LOL" after that.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of luddite, I heartily accept and welcome the net's maturing into a platform where everyone has a voice, not just the select few who've learned Perl or PHP and can make a website. It's just a shame that 99.9% of people using that voice have nothing to say.
On top of that, life gets in the way. AKPCEP.com's trusted and loyal membership has been dwindling slowly since it's heyday as people grow up, get married, have kids or indeed find something more interesting to do, and more power to them.
Add to this my own inherent laziness and it's not hard to see why AKPCEP.com's days were always numbered. I had this fantasy that I would build it, and they would come, and I could be a silent onlooker reading hundreds of quality posts every day. It turns out it doesn't really work like that and the absentee landlord isn't much of a recommendation for a site that's supposed to be built on interactivity.
The site still gets plenty of traffic, but very little actual contribution. If it was an online shop, the conversion rate would be a fraction of a percent, and it would be taken out back and shot.
So why shut down? The site doesn't cost me anything to run, as it's just sat on my VPS using a minimal amount of resources. The question should be - why keep it up? It just serves to remind me of the good times when the place was rammed with enough people to keep it ticking over nicely, people made friends and enemies, people created stuff and shared it. Now it's just a lonely, empty shell. A bit like a supermarket in a zombie movie. It's quite depressing.
I don't know when I'm going to pull the plug, sometime fairly soon I think. I'd like to thank everyone who's used the site over the years, from the people who've racked up thousands of posts, to those who only posted once. I think this site has left a legacy - one of the things I'm most proud of is that we've had at least one marriage and at least one baby from people meeting here. That makes me proud, and I think also an uncle.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.