Haven for the Human Amoeba
Haven for the Human Amoeba (HHA) is a Yahoo group for asexuals that was founded on October 12, 2000. It is one of the original online asexual communities, predating the AVEN forum by over a year. The group is structured such that emails to the group are viewable by all the group members, but it is not possible to have comments organized into threads as is done in a forum. There was also a chatroom. Activity only picked up in Haven for the Human Amoeba in August of 2001, and it was at this time that a member of the group, in hopes of starting an asexual web-ring, contacted David Jay, who had by this time created the main page for AVEN. As of December of 2010, Haven for the Human Amoeba had over 600 members and still experiences sporadic activity.
Discussion in HHA focused on defining asexuality and laying the structure of the asexual community. Discussion oscillated between three philosophical approaches:
- Antisexuals considered life without sex to be morally superior. They sought to define asexuality as an enlightened state that all should aspire to, and attempted to build a community focused on prosthelytizing the evils of sex. This community drew fewer distinctions between asexuality and celibacy, sometimes implying that asexuality was a state achievable by everyone but easier for some.
- Hard-line Asexuals advocated a rigid definition of asexuality, arguing that the term applied only to individuals who experience no sexual attraction, arousal, or romantic desire. They sought to create a community focused on verification and visibility, in which people would be tested through an online survey to verify their asexuality and then placed on an email list to coordinate visibility work.
- Queer Asexuals advocated a focus on support and social movement building. Consisting primarily of activists from LGBT and queer movements, this group saw asexuality as a flexible identity that individuals should define for themselves, a "tool" not a "label." Led by David Jay, they sought to create a community focused on creating a supportive space where asexual people could explore themselves and eventually self-organize around visibility and education work.
Transition to AVEN
In the summer of 2002, a year after discovering the HHA, David Jay moved AVEN to the domain name http://www.asexuality.org and established the AVEN forums. (Previously the site had been registered on David Jay's student web space at http://djay.web.wesleyan.edu.) AVEN offered three core advantages over the Haven for the Human Amoeba:
- As an email list, HHA allowed for a single thread of discussion. As it became more active, HHA became a confusing mesh of overlapping email threads. AVEN allowed for multiple threads of conversation, allowing the community to maintain multiple conversations simultaneously.
- AVEN's core philosophy made it a stronger supportive space than HHA. The welcome area was designed and carefully moderated to instill new members with a culture of celebration, openness and acceptance.
- Because of its domain name, AVEN quickly surpassed HHA in google search rankings.
After the AVEN forums were launched, HHA members who agreed with AVEN's philosophy migrated to the AVEN forums. In a matter of months AVEN outgrew HHA, hitting 100 members in October of 2002, 3 months after its launch.