The WELL is slightly older than I am.
It's been around for almost 3 decades..
It's been through a lot. It's spawned a number of great minds. It's been managed (and mismanaged) over several decades, and survived. Members are currently donating $1k a piece to buy the community back from Salon.
Think about this. If a community (in an era with 0.1% internet penetration) can survive for almost 3 decades, how long do you think your community will last?
Online communities aren't the trendy thing. They're not the quickest thing. But they are something that you can create now, slowly build and nature, and they will continue to pay off for decades. They shouldn't be never be used solely to accomplish a short-term goal.
They're a long-term approach. They take time to develop but can last indefinitely.
You can choose to be in the business of building stronger relationships between customers because you know that it pays off through repeat purchases, higher retention rates, reduced costs, innovation etc...You know it becomes a sustainable competitive advantage for your organization.
Another thought, every action and decision you take can have ramifications for decades.
I hope the WELL survives. It's not just an important piece of history, it also proves how a strong sense of community can see a community through any number of obstacles.