The Wolf Web is an online community designed for NCSU students to congregate,
communicate, and generally vegetate. Our site has many features to keep students
entertained. The Calendar informs students of upcoming events. The Book Exchange
allows students to bypass the bookstore in order to save money on textbooks. The
Ride Exchange matches up students to carpool when traveling. The new School Tool
provides students with everything they need to select classes for upcoming semesters.
The Photo Gallery displays images from other students and also allows students
to create their own gallery. And finally the Message Boards allow students to
voice their opinions about everything from the latest basketball recruits to
important world events.
A brief history lesson
Ahh... memories. The Wolf Web was conceived on April 1, 2000 at 1:51 PM EST by me, Jake Morgan (CrazyJ). Like a lot of things in our lives, it was created by accident. After unintentionally misrepresenting my skillset in a job interview, I figured I may as well learn the intricacies of relational database development. I read a few articles, wrote a little bit of code, and The Wolf Web was born. But not as "The Wolf Web". It was entitled "NCSU Forum" and was only accessible via ncsu.2y.net, which still works to this day. It existed as a simple one section message board for me and my friends. We mostly used it to exchange information about keg parties. It sure beat the call-all-your-friends-at-9pm-on-friday approach that we had become so accustomed to!
During April and May of 2000 we grew to around 80 users. We were getting almost 100 posts a day! All was going well. Then summer rolled around. Traffic grinded to a halt. One or two posts a week at most. This didn't phase the growth of functionality. I added the calendar and photo gallery for entertainment to lure users. As the summer came neared the end and the fall 2000 semester crepped up, we developed the master plan.
Me, Joe Akinc (Joe), and several other veteran users congregated to figure out how the hell we were going to expand the user base of the site with a budget of under $50. First of all, a domain name was absolutely neccessary. After tossing up every conceivable combination of State, Wolf, Web, Wolves, Pack, etc, we came up with The Wolf Web accessible at www.thewolfweb.com. I really wish we could have had wolfweb.com. You have no idea how many people have told me they ended up there while looking for The Wolf Web. Anyways, the name problem was solved. Everything was ready for the users. Now we needed an advertising medium that would catch the attention of NCSU students. The Free Expression Tunnel was the answer. About 10 of us covered the tunnel in paint on September 18, 2000. I remember hardly getting a wink of sleep that night. I was excited and worried at the same time. Would people come to the site? Would they like it? Would they register? Would the server hold up? When I woke up and ran to the computer I couldn't believe my eyes. 50 users online! The most we had ever had before was 6! The server wasn't even breaking a sweat. Everything came into sync after the first painting. We painted several more times after that and every time more and more people would come. We were finally on the move.
The next months were dedicated to expanding the feature set to accomodate more users. Joe developed an interactive book exchange. I expanded the message board to have multiple sections (imagine it with only one section!). A front page was added as the default page in place of the message boards. With this came the weather reports, the jokes, the polls, and user submitted stories. Many performance optimizations also were made. The site seemed more of a final product. I also registered the domain name brentroad.com for advertising purposes. Around the end of 2000, we had a worthy portal for NCSU students.
The beginning of 2001 was slow in terms of new feature development. Joe revised the book exchange, the photo gallery was reworked, but nothing major. The astounding change was the community that we created. The user base grew and as it grew, many of the students united. The monthly gatherings at Ruckus were a big hit, wolf web parties were thrown, people were coming together. I was thoroughly surprised. I couldn't believe the progress we were making while I wasn't even doing jack! The word-of-mouth phenomenon had hit us! We made a big impact in the 2001 student government elections. Everything was going well. I was scared as hell that the summer would fuck it all up.
The first few weeks of the summer of 2001 were kinda slow, but after that things started rolling again. We experienced the college-student-stuck-in-a-cubicle-with-a-T1-internet-connection phenomenon. This is when there are a bunch of college students working at their summer jobs with nothing better to do than surf the web. By the end of summer we were almost up to the traffic volume that we had encountered during the school year. We made a lot progress adding features also. A private message system was added along with many minor refinements. As we looked forward to the beginning of the fall 2001 semester, we were planning on a customary advertising campaign.
The advertising campaign we launched was anything but customary. We had the idea to latch on to one of the most publicized events of the year, the infamous Brent Road Block Party. We were now a valid media outlet being brentroad.com. We blitzed campus with flyers promoting the block party along with our website. We promised webcams, live coverage, etc. We had newspapers of all sorts wanting interviews and actually publishing interviews. We had articles in The Technician, The News and Observer, and even The Daily Tar Heel! We had to deliver the coverage that we promised. Everything worked out in the end. We had over 500 users at one time pounding on the site trying to get the latest image of the scene on Brent Road. The Ad Blitz was a success. Over a thousand new users signed up during the period we promoted the Brent Road Block Party.
The fall of 2001 also brought along new features. The ride exchange was added just in time for the holidays. Soon after the ride exchange was completed the work on School Tool was started. School Tool required more work than anything I had ever encountered. Along with basic programming it required extensive data mining to gather the neccessary data from the web pages of NCSU. We launched School Tool around the first of January 2002. It succeeded as we had thought. School Tool is the feature on The Wolf Web that attracts the broadest audience. Around the same time Joe created a charting module that displayed pretty pie, bar, and line charts. This is used to enhance statistics along with several other parts of the site.
Over the years The Wolf Web has morphed into a beast that I never could have imagined. The community created, although turbulent at times, is one of the most tightly knit on the Internet. The Wolf Web has successfully provided thousands of hours of entertainment for thousands of students of NCSU.
Why we do it
We have been asked this question hundreds of times but have yet to come up with a
reasonable answer. We don't make any money. We have yet to be offically recognized
for doing anything beneficial. We are constantly harrassed by disgruntled users. I
guess it is just too much fun!