LIFE ON THE WEB: Jane magazine is closing with the August issue and Conde Nast Publications will shut down the Web site Aug. 20, but another company Web site for young women has endured far beyond its magazine’s lifetime. YM.com, the digital home of the teen magazine bought and shuttered by Conde Nast in 2004, is seldom remembered, except, perhaps, by its ardent online community, and by the individuals who post on teenvogue.com and have battled it since last winter.
If the YM posters are, as they claim, teenage girls, their memory of the magazine may be foggy. Remaining YM subscribers were moved to the Teen Vogue database, the main impetus for Conde Nast’s purchase. (WWD is also owned by Conde Nast). Although the properties’ corporate connection is unknown or irrelevant to each community, magazine brand identity is peculiarly strong for posters. Teen Vogue’s members, a YM poster explained, are “rich girls mostly who don’t give a blank about anyone but themselves and their credit cards.” One poster, describing herself as a “proud Teen Voguer” didn’t exactly dispel the stereotypes by claiming, “the YMers don’t have a heart, they are jealous of us because we have style, and they do not.” Yet another taunted in May: “Which magazine is still printing?”
The first teenvogue.com invasions — for the uninitiated, invasions are Web community disruptions — appear to have begun on YM.com late last year, and persisted through last month. The chosen tactics were summed up by a poster: “Basically all we do is act like psycho stalker sex crazed rapist-murderers or really stupid girls or people who eat too much and start fights and type annoying and get on the general YM’s nerves.”
In planning one such invasion, poster “Luv_Thakoon” proved that brand name-dropping didn’t end with her handle, promising to pose as “a girl who would die if Abercrombie didn’t exist and shops there all the time and thinks shes [sic] sooo original.” But it would be hasty to assume that YM.com members are girl-next-door types bullied by brutal fashionistas. Postings suggest that, in an early round of war, YMers counter-invaded the Teen Vogue forums with post after post of pornography, since deleted by administrators.
Irresistible comparisons to “Mean Girls” aside, this miniature online drama highlights the issue of seeding an online community around a magazine brand: It can create self-sustaining traffic, but these girls have minds of their own. (Notably, Cosmogirl and Seventeen don’t have online message boards.)
A spokeswoman for CondeNet, which operates YM.com, said the invasions represented “a very small portion of the activity on the boards, but the dialogue is harmless. The girls are just having fun and engaging in some friendly competition.” The boards are regularly moderated, she said, but “we also need to give the girls leeway to say what they want to say.”
Teen Vogue’s spokeswoman said, “We do monitor our forums and while we don’t always agree with the opinions or ideas expressed, we feel strongly that our online participants should be able to express themselves freely.”
Several deleted posts and banned usernames later, each side of the digital catfight began tentatively discussing a truce in mid-June, though logistics were confusing. Thehelpfulgardener.com’s Japanese Gardening Forums, neutral ground, were suggested to host discussions. That day, “usuck” belied the acrimony of her own username by proclaiming love for each forum and declaring happily: “All this treaty/war/invading/strategies thing is really making [my] summer less boring. Even if you are insulting us.” Still, it could yet turn into a multifront war: Earlier this year, Teen Voguers debated invading Men.style.com, another CondeNet property said to be “mean.” Gentlemen, ready your arms. — Irin Carmon
EXITS AT MARIE CLAIRE: Three more staffers have left or are leaving Marie Claire, just as Joanna Coles begins her second year as editor in chief. Deputy beauty editor Genevieve Monsma departed the Hearst monthly this summer to join former beauty director Didi Gluck at Shape. Associate editor Kelly Marages also is leaving to join Shape. In addition, deputy editor Julia Savacool is departing. Sources said she would join Fitness.
The exits follow the abrupt departure of senior fashion editor Eric Nicholson. A spokeswoman confirmed his departure; sources close to the building said he was asked to leave the magazine. Gawker.com reported that his exit came partly because of a WWD Memo Pad item on July 11. The item reprinted Nicholson’s comments on Jane Pratt’s Sirius satellite radio show that working at Marie Claire was “definitely bigger and different. I wouldn’t say better.” The spokeswoman declined to specify if remarks had anything to do with his exit. In March, creative director Paul Martinez left Marie Claire for Men’s Journal (later replaced by Suzanne Sykes), and senior editor Carrie Sloan departed to edit Tango. — I.C. and Stephanie D. Smith