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OUTeverywhere (also known simply as OUT and formerly OUTintheUK) is a website providing an online lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, chiefly in the UK, although it has members worldwide. The site provides member profiles with picture galleries, private messages, discussion boards and online chat. The community also organises offline events, such as coffee or cocktail outings, sporting events and day trips.
Founding and growthEdit
The website was created in 1995 when the founder, Jason Finch, wanted a way of keeping in touch with his friends, prior to instant messaging. The membership then increased due to word of mouth in conjunction with a small amount of advertising and PR.
Initially the site was for gay men only. In 2003 OUTforWomen was launched. At first the two sites were run separately. Eventually the sites started to integrate. Initially integration was limited, but eventually a decision was made to allow full integration between the two sites.
In May 2005 the site was relaunched under the OUTeverywhere name. The relaunch involved a major redesign of the website, as well as full integration between male and female members. The relaunch also indicated a change of ethos moving the website from an online community to a real life organisation operating both online and offline. Part of this change in ethos was to be achieved by calling the site "Up and Doing". However, the relaunch eventually proceeded with the name "OUTeverywhere" after complaints from long-standing members.
Before the relaunch of the site, it was claimed on the front page that as many as 30,000 members had signed up over the period in which it had been in existence, though exact current member numbers are confidential and therefore subject to speculation. Members are often internally known as "OUTers". The "online" counter shown on login displays up to 700 users online at peak times, and the welcome screen on the website reports that members organised over 5,000 different social meets through the website last year, which range from large-scale formally organised events, to casual one on one drinks-with-friends in local pubs. There are four or five mega parties a year. Most recently a party was held in Manchester, under the title Moonlighting in Manchester, the next party is scheduled for Nottingham with the title Mega Midlands. And finally there is a Glasgow party in November,
OUT also provides staff time and helps co-ordinate various in-house LGBT projects, such as Silence Is Not Golden (SING), providing homophobic and hate-crimes advice in conjunction with UK police websites, as well as offering information, via an SMS service, on how to report hate crimes via those websites. Since its launch, the SING project has seen publicity from both the police as well as other charitable organisations, such as Schools Out, The Rainbow Network, Bully Online, Pink News and the BBC.
In late November 2006 the management of the site formalised and posted a set of "house rules" governing members' behaviour bringing it in line with some other sites that clearly state what is appropriate conduct and what is not. The rules are interpreted by online moderators who can ban or suspend members accused of "mean spiritedness".
OUT differs in a number of ways from some other mainstream gay profile and dating websites. When the site was first launched, it made a point of its non-exploitative, non-commercial nature, functioning as a member-supported community. When OUTeverywhere relaunched as a commercial organisation syndicated advertisements were introduced. Paid members can, however, specify the nature and level of advertisements displayed.
OUTintheUK consciously steers away from an emphasis on sex by not allowing nude profile photos and stopping members openly soliciting for sex. Light hearted sexual banter is tolerated within the forums.
Diverse offline group events are a core feature of the community, making it feel like more of a community than many internet sites. Examples are murder mystery weekends, cheese rolling gatherings and camping trips.
OUTeverywhere (then called OutInTheUK) achieved publicity (including the Sun, the Times, BBC news online) when two of its members decided to organise an event to throw sausages at magician David Blaine, whilst he was suspended without food in a perspex box by Tower Bridge.
In 2006, OUT produced a "newsletter" called "ThisIsGay" using postings from its forums to represent the idea that it covered a whole spectrum of interests. However, after objections from members that it had homophobic undertones and a mention of the newsletter in The Daily Star  the last newsletter was "pulled" from publication.
The speed of feature development is a concern to some members: "groups" which were to be "the cornerstone of the new site" launched in May 2005 remain absent in April 2008. At the time of the relaunch other popular features, including the list of the most recently active discussions, were removed. Some of these were reinstated, but much is made by the site owner of how the site is "intended to be used" and not how its users themselves want to use it.Template:Or
The re-launch of the site was not received well by many long-standing members. It was felt by many that the ethos and design of the site that had originally brought them there had been lost and that the more 'engineered' direction the site was being taken in was not what they had signed up to and paid a membership fee for. Template:Or
The ban on nude photos included William Blake's Glad Day painting, which caused disbelief amongst some members. The site owner justified the ban by saying a pornographic photo could be Photoshopped with a filter to produce a similar painted effect.Template:Or