The site features cold case disappearances and unidentified decedents, in hopes to create awareness for such cases and to generate potential leads. Those documented have occurred during or before the year 2013. Case files are created for both unidentified and missing persons, detailing physical estimations of the subjects as well as circumstances of the disappearance, sightings and recovery of the unidentified subjects. Images of the missing and unidentified, including forensic facial reconstructions, tattoos, and age progressions are also available for cases. Cases of murder conviction without a body are also listed, although their cases have been solved, as the victim could possibly remain unidentified. The site provides an online form for visitors to submit potential matches between missing and unidentified persons, which are subsequently reviewed by volunteers prior to submission to authorities. After the form is completed by a reader, 16 members of the Doe Network's administrative panel evaluate the importance of the possible match and whether or not to submit it to investigators handling the case. The Web site also works alongside other databases, such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and the NCIC. The Doe Network features worldwide cases and is also presented in various languages.
Since the launch of the Doe Network, over 600 people have volunteered. Members are selected after applications are submitted and background information is confirmed. A core team organizes information that is published on the Web site, compiling approved information received from other members.
The Doe Network was created in 1999 by Jennifer Marra of Michigan as a Web site database for international long-term missing persons and unidentified victims. Marra turned control of the site over to Helene Wahlstrom of Sweden in 2001. Wahlstrom then joined forces with the Cold Cases Yahoo! group headed by Todd Matthews of Tennessee, thereby creating the volunteer group aimed at finding potential matches between missing persons and unidentified victims. Matthews had assisted in the identification of Barbara Ann Hackmann Taylor, previously nicknamed as "Tent Girl," in 1998, which had inspired him to create a website to help solve similar cases. Matthews also co-founded a different organization, known as Project EDAN (Everyone Deserves a Name), which consists of a group of forensic artists.
Since the start of the Web site, many have acknowledged the importance of such an organization. The Doe Network lists 81 successful identity resolutions assisted by its volunteers; 36 occurred within the first five years of the group's formation. Resolved cases include Deanna Criswell, found in 1987 and identified in 2015, Samantha Bonnell, and Dorothy Gay Howard, found in 1954 and identified in 2009. Criswell was identified after family members came upon the case file of the unidentified teen and later submitted a possible connection between the two. Samantha Bonnell's mother recognized a reconstruction created by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children on the file of her daughter. Various other cases have been solved in a similar way, often when loved ones or those investigating the disappearance of a missing individual discover a case file on the website that details a case similar to their missing companion or family member.