Why are ChicWIT and WorldWIT Shutting Down?

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, March 23, 2007 at 10:16 AM with 8 comments

How would you expect a widely-popular email mailing list with thousands of subscribers, where people would post requests for information on a wide variety of personal and business topics, to shut down? Not to mention that it was shutting down altogether, without any justification other than the fact that the owner was “moving on.” Then take this confusion and multiply it by dozens of cities around the world, and you are wondering, as I am, why the ChicWIT mailing list and its "owner" WorldWIT are really shutting down.

WorldWIT, by their own description, was "the free, friendly online and offline resource for women in business and technology." That being said, men were never excluded from joining their mailing lists or participating in their events. In Chicago, the “chapter” was called ChicWIT, and the name refers to the first four letters of the city, not women. Its most outward function was its email mailing list, where at last count had over 6,000 subscribers. It was an eclectic list of requests, everything from requests for Thai restaurants to pet psychics and everything in between. It was a moderated list, and it required things like event tickets be sold at face value and it would not promote events for other organizations. ChicWIT’s own events were every few months, from paid topical events to open socials.

On Wednesday, March 21 someone posted to the list that they read that the mailing list would cease to operate on Friday, March 23, two days later. Upon further review, this message was posted on the WorldWIT Web site’s home page, on the right under the heading of “What’s New.” The reason given was “WorldWIT founder Liz Ryan’s demanding speaking and training schedule prevented her from taking the self-funded WorldWIT to the next level.”

Where we all wish Liz Ryan the best, why just shut it down? I had no idea that she was the sole owner and was footing the bill herself. Why didn’t she remove all transparency and reach out to the community and ask for help – either to fund it, or to sell it? And I intentionally use the word community, as she had truly created a virtual community of people, and their connection was the several-a-day email messages, as well as the events. I emailed Liz Ryan yesterday to ask why, and as of this post I have not received a reply.

The ChicWIT list was a tremendous resource for me. I can trace most of the connections I made here in Chicago over the past 3 years to that mailing list, whether directly or indirectly. It was a resource not only for specific questions I wanted an opinion of from the community, but to keep a pulse on what others were looking for and thinking of. For a professional “organization” its demise is anything but.

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