And I guess the other problem was how do you pay for it all. Some online communities assumed local businesses would sponsor each area. I believe the goal for VirualTown was for example there would be a financial building where you could share investment tips and it would be sponsored by a local bank or what have you.
Other sites tried to surround the content with small ads and banners.
The companies that made billions took that further when they realized the content users were posting was filled with personal data that could be harvested and monetized by selling it to third parties to be used in targeted advertising.