By Elizabeth Kasper
The operators of two new Web sites are seeking to bring members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints together online – and not just to date.
Chris and Cory Waldal launched one of the new networking sites, ruLDS2.com, in early February. The brothers want to create a MySpace.com-type Web site for LDS people of all ages to find friends and support in a safe online environment.
“We envisioned LDS people of all kinds getting together [on our site],” Chris said. “We also wanted to create a safe place for people to go on the Web.”
The idea for the site came when Chris” wife wanted to find a group of LDS people online to go mountain biking with and had no success.
The site offers forums, games, chat rooms and groups and “isn”t just a dating site,” Chris said. The creators plan to add more features in the coming months, including a section for musicians to publicize their bands, a family history tab and a dating section that will be separate from the main page.
The Waldals said the site is moderated more strictly than other Web sites of its kind. Before anything a member writes is posted, the site administrators review it for decency.
The site is special because it has features for everyone, the brothers said.
“There are support groups for people to join, [including] groups for overcoming addictions and diseases like cancer,” he said. “That”s the potential we think this site has – it can strengthen people of any age. Anyone can find themselves a part of the community.”
Both Waldals emphasized that people not of the LDS faith are welcome to join.
Nathan Call, a BYU business graduate, also recently created a family- and group-themed Web site, MyEpistles.com. When his parents left on a mission, they discovered they weren”t sure who to send their letters home to and didn”t want to leave anyone out. Call created MyEpistles.com as a way of making his parents” letters available to anyone who joined the family”s group on the site. Users can also make comments and send letters back.
“The site is perfectly suited to family groups,” Call said. “It”s great for any group of people who are broken apart geographically – even a study or military group.”
MyEpistles.com, like ruLDS2.com, is controlled to a greater extent than MySpace and Facebook. New visitors to the Web site must be invited to join groups and no one can see the material that groups post unless they are a member of that group.
“[This site has] been such a blessing for our family,” said Azuredee Jenson, Call”s cousin and an avid user of the site. “We lost touch with each other and now we are communicating and remembering stories from our childhood. It”s changed our family.”
While MyEpistles.com has the capacity to host numerous groups, Call doesn”t anticipate trying to expand the site to a national or global level.
“I have no intention of creating another MySpace,” he said. “The niche we have just doesn”t work that way.”
The site has a 30-day trial option, where a user can set up an account and a group and try the site for 30 days for free. After thirty days, a group membership costs about $30.