Before I begin working on my final project, I wanted to analyze two websites that work to achieve similar goals to myself. If you’re a bonafide true crime fanatic, these sites are probably familiar to you.
Started in 1999, The DOE Network (named for Jane/John Doe, the name given to an unidentified victim) was founded with the goal of “assisting investigating agencies in bringing closure to national and international cold cases concerning Missing & Unidentified Persons. It is our mission to give the nameless back their names and return the missing to their families.” It is a volunteer organization with a fascinating history. It is very thorough; you can choose to view the unidentified case files in chronological order or by geographic location, and the missing case files by chronological order, location and alphabetically by name. You can also submit new cases and case updates if someone you know has gone missing.
The process for identifying someone or trying to make a match is very complex, there are strict rules and multiple checkpoints throughout the process so nothing is submitted to law enforcement without merit. In an interview with National Public Radio in 2008, founder Todd Matthews did state that law enforcement agents can get annoyed when they receive an influx of information on cases. However, The DOE Network produces impressive results. As of October 2016, The DOE Network has assisted in solving 73 cases.
The site also links to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, the North American Missing Persons Network and Project EDAN in the case that The DOE Network is not able to help people with their cases.
The new media elements on the site that are the most effective are the viewer counter, the above links to sites/projects with similar goals to The DOE Network, their comprehensive “Contact” page and the overall site design. It is very easy to navigate and is truly a wealth of information. The DOE Network also has Facebook and Twitter pages. The Twitter page is very basic and could be more interactive (half the tweets are just links to the Facebook) but the Facebook page is managed very well.
I hope to echo the effectiveness and organization of The DOE Network with my final project and maybe create Facebook and Twitter pages. The main thing I will doing differently is that The DOE Network focuses on nameless and missing people, and I want my site to be about helping out even if the name of victim is known.
In Reference to Murder is a blog and index site that describes itself as a “…reference site for writers, readers and fans of mystery and crime fiction…” with “…over 3,000 links on a wide variety of topics that I hope will be useful for information, research, news and entertainment.” While the purpose of the site is mainly for entertainment, creation of content and education, there is also a lot of statistics/facts/research that can be helpful to both a writer and a civilian investigator. For example, it has a “True Crime” section that links to The DOE Network, has information about how people can help solve cold cases and statistics on crime from places with the Bureau of Justice and the FBI.
The site has a very basic page layout and is not extremely organized – each page is just a list of links with short descriptions and many of the links lead to the same page, so you have to scroll to find the section you are interested in. When I clicked on “Statistics,” it led me to the “True Crime” section and I had to scroll to the bottom of the page to find what I was looking for. There are also no visuals and the text is very plain. The same font is used throughout the exception of the title on the home page. Overall, the website could use a major facelift. It has so much to offer, but guests could easily get bored looking through it.
It is also connected to a blog that has a very outdated and ineffective design. It looks like a 14-year-old’s first blog and even though the posts are recent, it looks like no one has touched it since 2009. The blog does link to the Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest accounts of the blog’s creator and has an email newsletter you can sign up for. However, there are no social accounts specifically for the site and its content.
All of the resources on this website are extremely helpful and I will be incorporating many of them on my own site, so I am thankful for such a large database. However, I hope to make my site more interactive and visually appealing. I also do not plan on linking my personal social accounts on my site or including any information for people intending to write fiction.
Do you know of any sites similar to these? Please comment.