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WELL tools for the people

The WELL, a members-only online community, revamps its Web site and plans to make available its once proprietary graphical interface called WELL Engaged to consumers.

The WELL, a members-only online community, has revamped its Web site and plans to make available its once proprietary graphical interface called WELL Engaged to consumers.

The WELL began as a virtual meeting place for people with a variety of interests, including women's issues, art, literature, and music. Since its debut, the service has been said to serve an "intelligent community" of 10,000 subscribers, about half of which live in California.

WELL Engaged was designed to make conversational communities on The WELL and the Web easier and more accessible to new users. The software works with standard browsers and does not require plug-ins or additional applications.

The WELL will also announce a new pricing rate of $10 per month, down from $15. Members will also find it easier to either participate in one of 260 existing conferences or create their own with the implementation of WELL Engaged.

WELL conferences are conducted on a command-and-text-based system called PicoSpan, which is for technosavvy users. WELL Engaged was built upon PicoSpan, but is much easier to use.

The software will be available to Web sites that want to create communities to Web readers as well. The Wall Street Journal and Howard Rheingold's Electric Minds have already implemented WELL Engaged.

The redesigned site will include more information about the service, graphics, and sections like "Cool post of the day."