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  1. #21

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Vicky,

    I'd pay just to read the Forums, let alone post in 'em!

    For that matter, how's that for an idea? Since the lurkers aren't likely to pony up cash for reading rights anyway, how about you leave POSTING privileges in the hands of subscribers, and transients/lurkers get to read for free? This way, GM still seems like the wealth of info it always has been, while restricting the ability for one-offs and spammers to post nonsense.

    The only downside I see to this is that newbies-in-peril (that is, those with imminent mead issues going on) won't be able to get timely feedback or help. This, in turn, limits the appeal GM has always had with such folk (and thereby limits traffic). Is it possible, I wonder, to restrict posting rights, for certain people, to some parts of the Forums, while allowing it in others? If so, you can maintain the Troubleshooting Your Mead section for the Desperate Unknowns, who might not even need to register, and the rest of the Forums for us junkies serious practitioners of this wonderful craft.

    Just some thoughts.

    -David

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    The OC
    Posts
    7,874

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Another thing that I think will come of the subscription is that diskspace issues (like uploading photos, avatars, etc.), bandwidth issues, and other back-end and front end issues will be a bit easier to deal with because of . . . funding . . . and the latitude to increase storage, throughput, etc. I think a number of other logistical issues will fall into place. Right now we're kind of in a knee jerk "react to painful stimulus" mode due to the obvious need to scramble for cash and pay the rent yadda yadda yadda which take priority over proactive measures for the site.

    I say "we" as in gotmead.com, as mentioned before I do what I can, but Vicky is the poobah of the site, I just slip in with some strategies and modeling ideas from time to time. So I'm down for the subscription fee to keep the site up and running, and provide some additional funding currently not available for upgrades, etc.

    One thing to keep in mind is that the subscription would not give latitude to email the hell out of Vicky, myself or any other moderators/friends of the forums for advice, recipies, etc. Seems when people pay out, they infer that they have a right to begin demanding services for their cash. This is not an incorrect supposition, however in this case the service is access to the site and it's full compliment of resources for the querying meadmaker as opposed to a Meadmaker Customer Support Center and Technical Support Center.

    Who knows, maybe I'll sell an hour worth of mead "technical support" for a fee that would go straight to support the site if people want to go that route.

    Possibilities abound!

    UPDATE:

    Hey Bronxie,

    Vicky and I talked about doing what you're talking about, and we have a cobbled together approach that would basically give subscribers the ability to post, and non-subscribers the ability to read certain parts of the forum, but not all.

    Premium members would be admitted to Oskaar's Meadmakers Lounge and House of Debuauchery . . . although the price would be steeeeeeeeeeeep! LOL

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  3. #23

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Quote Originally Posted by Oskaar
    Premium members would be admitted to Oskaar's Meadmakers Lounge and House of Debuauchery . . . although the price would be steeeeeeeeeeeep! LOL
    Ooooo,

    I'd risk a nosebleed for that!

    -David

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 1996
    Location
    Youngsville, NC
    Posts
    1,617

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Guys, y'all are great. I *really* appreciate the support.

    So, I'm thinking setting up a couple of boards free, the rest paid. Newbees get 30 days free posting, then have to pony up or not. Current users get an email that invites them to convert to the paid model, or revert to unpaid status (and limited access) after 30 days. That gives the the newbees the 'desperate help me' time they need for some hand-holding (and hopefully lets them see that the place is worth paying a bit for), and gives the current account holders a grace period to adjust (and get their payments in if they choose to 'jine up').

    Like Oskaar says, payment would be for *access to the forums*, not unlimited access to me or any of the experts who dole out advice here. It would not entitle anyone to anything more than posting and searching rights, period. Expectations of guarantees, tech support or other 'rights' would not be there. If such is *offered*, that is up to the person offering. However, it will not be *expected*.

    I'm looking at a subscription program now, with hopes of getting it working soon. What I haven't decided is what a year of access is worth. Wrathe had suggested $15/yr. That's *way* less than a month of internet access (broadband). And it seems like a *whole year* of GM could be worth a month of spotty, no-support, not-as-good-as-it-should-be cable/DSL access.

    What do y'all think? And what *is* the average price of a month of access online? I pay around $40/mo for Sprint DSL. Oskaar mentioned today when we were on the phone that he pays around $30/mo for his access. I know prices vary around the world, but never really researched it.

    What seems fair/reasonable? $15 a year seems a tad low to me, but I'm interested in your input, since y'all would be the payees and all.

    Vicky - too tired to gin up a poll right now, heading to bed, g'night all

    P.S. Oskaar, *what* am I gonna do with you (heading off to create a "Oskaar's Meadmakers Lounge and House of Debuauchery" and start interviewing redheads to staff it)
    Wassail!

    Vicky Rowe
    Owner & Webmistress, Gotmead.com
    Executive Director, American Mead Makers Association
    http://www.mead-makers.org
    Making Mead since 1995

  5. #25

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Quote Originally Posted by Oskaar
    Premium members would be admitted to Oskaar's Meadmakers Lounge and House of Debuauchery . . . although the price would be steeeeeeeeeeeep! LOL
    Let me guess... not being interested in robbing the cradle, you won't take the firstborn mead. Probably looking for the seventh child (mead) in it's seventh year... weighing a minimum of 40 pounds (without carboy), and a box of Cuban Cigars OR a Wild Little Redhead up front.

    I figured it should be low enough as to not give pause for someone on the edge of poverty... as a number of members seem to be students or just barely able to afford the hobby, chances are you'll get way more than twice as many subscribers at $10 than you will at $20. Yes it may seem low as a content provider but for people just joining the community who haven't become part of the family yet $20 might give them pause, I still think the best bet is $15 per year (one time charge) or $10 a year if you sign up for an automatically reoccurring charge. This way the cost conscious might think $15 might be a little high, and agree to fund you perpetually at $10. As a wise man once said - when you live in the desert it is better to have a small but constant water supply over your lifetime, than all the water delivered at your birth. Yes some of us are fanatics, we'd be willing to pay $20 or $50 (wait I did that already)... but I think you'll get a lot more subscribers if you kept it under a dollar a month and would help you limit the anxiety of "will they resubscribe?".

    Wrathwilde

  6. #26

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    We're paying...heck, I'm not even sure, right now...$40..? Maybe? I don't know.

    I think that that's apples and oranges, anyway. Internet access vs. GM access? That's like the price of a widescreen TV vs. the price of nitro pills: paying for Internet is close-to-vital, and real important to us all, and keeps us in touch with friends and family, and blah-blah-blah...but I needs me my Gotmead.com!!!! I can go to my (tax supported) local library for Internet access again if I have to (just like I did for months near the beginning of my GM obsession enthusiasm Shhhh!). But not have access to my Daily Recommended Dose of Sardonicism/Sarcasm/Puns/Fellowship!!!

    No way! Not the kid!

    -David

  7. Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    How do you like that?
    I don't log in and keep an eye on the forums for just a couple of days.....and now I see some grumbling!
    Vicky, do what you have to do in order to keep the site going, PLEASE!!!!
    If that means clicking on ads, fine! If that means a monthly or annual subscription, that's fine too!
    This site is unique and we, new and old-time mazers alike should do all we can to keep it going! There is a wealth of information here that I became dependent on and am willing to pay in order to support my "habbit" and I guess many others will too.
    All I need to know is the address where to send the check.

    Cheers,
    Brewbear - off to sleep off the many beers ingested in preparation for the Super Bowl

  8. #28

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Of course Vicky on a time spent on the forum basis you'll be making out. My logged on time stands at 13 days and 21 hours after almost a year. So from my $50 dollar donation... I've paid you $.15 per hour access to the forum... in Kentucky that'd put you solidly in the middle class. NC not so much. Looking at people who signed up in january of last year, only one of them surpassed 20 hours logged in time for the year, so at $10 you'd be looking at a the average person paying more than $.50 an hour logged in time. I don't know if it would be reasonable to ask the average casual user to pay any more than that.

    Just a thought when broken down into statistics, although I'm sure you could sift the data deeper than my one year spot check. Say average hours logged in per year for people with more than 10 posts... to find out what the per hour cost would average out to from $10. As this would be the base most likely to subscribe.

    Again, just a thought to take into consideration.

    Wrathwilde

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Apr 1996
    Location
    Youngsville, NC
    Posts
    1,617

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Thanks Wrathe. That is helpful. I'll dig around a bit....
    Wassail!

    Vicky Rowe
    Owner & Webmistress, Gotmead.com
    Executive Director, American Mead Makers Association
    http://www.mead-makers.org
    Making Mead since 1995

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    908

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    I still say I would be willing to pay $50 a year for this kind of information and support. For new lurkers, $15 sounds like something they would be willing to fork out until they know whether Mead is for them. So, it brings back the whole graduated fees debate for services rendered. More money = access to monthly news letter, Oskaar's secret recipe of the month (and tip on picking up redheads), monthly online brewing class, Podcasts, Blog writing, Christmas card from Vicky etc. etc.

    Angus
    Chan fhíach cuírm gun a còmhradh

    A feast is no use without good talk.

  11. #31

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    I'm a "less is more" kind of guy, when it comes to things like grand plans. I think that a sliding scale of Services vs. Membership Fees Paid is a great goal to shoot for, but it would take a fair amount of planning and a lot of maintenance to keep up -- and Vicky would then have to scramble each month to make sure she's got enough new quality content for the upper eschelon of Members, because now that they're paying for it, they're darn well gonna want it.

    This is like a favorite clubhouse or meadhall right now, with a lot of good people who get together and have a very good time: we excercise our brains and funnybones, and we improve our brewing skills. It's comfy and informal in the extreme, and we'd all want to maintain that in any new format GM may take on. But that's not the way it will evolve in a Subscription format. Those of us who love it here will keep our good intensions, but once money starts to change hands, good intensions, by their very nature, must become business deals.

    Once Vicky starts charging for access, she has to run it like a business, because people are going to want something for the money -- especially new people, who it will always be vital to attract. The more complicated the Subscription service is, the more complicated the content provided will end up being. It will be a job keeping it straight -- maybe a big one. Is Vicky going to do it all? Oh, many of us can and will commit to helping out with Maintenance stuff and special content, be it databse work, new essays, new recipes, stories, or (as in my case) comics. But these things will only be contributed as we can provide them, not necessarily when Vicky needs them. That leaves her to fill in the gaps. And it's the nature of the beast that these gaps will simply grow. Thoughts to the contrary are of the wishful kind, and really shouldn't be included in this discussion.

    The bare facts:

    * GM costs money to maintain
    * It isn't solvent at this time
    * It has rabid fans -- but only one real worker
    * It's a big site, and getting bigger all the time
    * It needs improvement in some areas (chatroom, etc.), not just maintenance
    * Vicky is nearly burned-out trying to keep it all together

    Each of these facts need to be addressed, in order of urgency. By my way of thinking, the money issue and the burn-out factor are aspects of the same problem, and solving one will likely solve the other. To that end, revenue must start coming in. Subscriptions are a start, but are not probably the whole answer; meaning, continued focus on the GM storefront and ad sales is critical. And that's a lot of work for one person.

    I don't have a real model to propose for all this, outside of a partially free/partially paid Forum (with maybe a few other things tossed in as perks for the paying), but I urge Vicky and anyone else intending to volunteer time and/or creative content to a future GM to think long and hard about how to keep things simple. You can't run until you can walk, afterall, and you can't even walk until you're out of the hole.

    -David

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Apr 1996
    Location
    Youngsville, NC
    Posts
    1,617

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Good points, all, David.

    The main, and most pressing issue here, is cashflow. The bare fact is that GM will go offline, likely permanently, if I can't raise some cash for maintaining it, and that within the next month. My personal budget runs at a deficit most months *without* the cost of GM, and we fall a little further behind each month. GM has become a luxury I can't devote time *or* money to because if I do without it supporting itself, I'll lose my house (can't maintain a website without a home or internet....LOL). I'm not trying to be dramatic, just stating the situation as it is.

    I don't *want* to lose GM. It's my baby. I've worked on this site for over 8 years now, taking it from a 1-page list of sites about mead to the over 1500-page monster it has become. I've been through 8 layout changes, and hope that this incarnation will be the final form, so I can concentrate on expanding the content of it. It is my crowning achievement as both a web designer and as my personal project. I love GM and want to see it continue for as long as possible.

    I think that in order to build a future program of how GM will be run, whether that is cost or no-cost, I need to keep an eye to maximizing exposure for the meaderies, honey suppliers and brew shops that advertize here, making sure that info is up-to-date and accurate, and regular additions to content. Many, *many* people pay for a yearly subscription to the AHA (myself included), and that's $40. I personally feel I get my money's worth. I suspect others do too.

    To that end, I feel that creating a wrapped forum integrates the site into a common view, where now the forum and site are separate, and that makes my job twice as hard, because I have to approach them as separate sites.

    I know not everyone wants that, and if you feel you'll need to abandon GM because I have to integrate to make my work more efficient, then you'll do what you have to. I can't stop that, nor would I want to, thats the nature of the internet. But as Oskaar says, many sites are going to this approach. For me, that lets me give my advertisers (and if *they* pay, that's less I'll need to charge for *users* to pay) the visibility they need to feel their ads are performing.

    Thats enough from me right now, my family is waiting for me to actually get off the computer and spend time with them this particular Sunday. I'll leave you with this:

    Is GM worth a little financial investment or not? I've invested 8 years of my life and countless money and rarely get to make mead myself, because I work here. Is it worth the reading to you to put in some cash for the info here?

    You decide......

    Vicky - going to ride my horse with my daughter, who is *so* understanding that I work 20 hours a day, 7 days a week
    Wassail!

    Vicky Rowe
    Owner & Webmistress, Gotmead.com
    Executive Director, American Mead Makers Association
    http://www.mead-makers.org
    Making Mead since 1995

  13. #33

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Okay, so it's crunch time then.

    I propose that Vicky turns GM into a paid Subscription site within a week or two, and then worries about what we'll be getting for the fee, as well as any content or format changes that are on the drawing board afterword. If GM goes down because of money issues, then, as Vicky says, there's a really good chance it will never get up again.

    Additionally, GM is a business, yes? How about getting some investers together? People who will put some $$$ into the pot now, in exchange for a deferment on the payback and profit until GM is actually in the black. That might take a long time, but everyone would understand this up front. Vicky's still the boss, but she would have silent (as in no management, creative, or executive authority) partners. There are investment models for this, I'm sure. We don't need a board of directors or anything if we all agree to this (in writing, and in advance). This would push the wolves back from the door for a month or two, until the subscription service, ads, and storefront are running.

    Vicky, is GM incorporated? If not, do you want to go that route, stay the course as it already is, or are there perhaps other business models you'd consider?

    -David

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    The OC
    Posts
    7,874

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Hey Bronxie,

    One of the things I was making clear is that developing premium content would be something that is definately not included in then initial subscription offering. I think Vicky right now just needs to keep from operating in the red and taking an ass-kickin over the site.

    Premium memberships would be something for down the road as you indicated, but right now the deal is that for a reasonable access fee, subscribers get access to the complete array of forums along with the rest of Gotmead.com, and the ability to post. Nothing more or less. It's not reasonable to offer any kind of premium services at this point because they just aren't developed or available. The subscription would state up front as Vicky and I stated below that this gives you all the forums, and the ability to post. It in no way, shape or form gives you priority support or mead technical support on anything other than what we have now. Post a question, and if someone has an answer they will post it.

    That will be stated in the subscription FAQ, up-front and notoriously so that it is clear in no uncertain terms.

    So to me, the inital subscription does not mean premium services, content or anything else until such a time as a business plan, content plan and staffing plan make sense. Which at this time they don't.

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  15. Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Thought I'd throw in a newbee viewpoint: I have no problem paying for Gotmead. I probably won't be able to afford the high-level price, at least not right away, as I start college in the fall, but I'd definitely be able to toss in the base level subscription. This website is such an invaluable resource to anyone making mead that it is worth paying to help keep it going.

  16. #36

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Aside from the discussion on subscription fees and access, the point Vickie is making is that she needs help, right now!

    Let's not wait to decide on the specifics -- any one who can, try and shoot a "pre-subscription" fee her way.

    And oh yeah, there's a great e-book that's well worth the $10 bucks. Click on the banner for St. Winston's Mead.
    <><><><><><><><><><>
    <><><><><><><><>
    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    The OC
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    7,874

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Dan,

    You hit the nail on the head as always. It's an immediate need to keep the site funded. Grand designs, services and all that are grossly premature. It's pretty simple, the site needs support and those of us who can, need to move on it quickly.

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    908

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    I would like to second Dan's recommendation of Miriam's book. It is a wonderful story, beautifully illustrated now, and well worth the $10. Plus, the entire $10 goes straight to GM without the need for postage. Even if you have already read it, buy it and read it again.

    Angus
    Chan fhíach cuírm gun a còmhradh

    A feast is no use without good talk.

  19. Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Like brewbear said, I didn't check in for a few days and then there's all this!

    My opinion:

    I can and will click on ad links here. Already done. But I don't think that the site can develop "critical mass" by depending on us to click on links.

    The general populous is used to forums being free on the internet. So I think that a good compromise is "pay to post" on the board. That will allow anyone to read, but you have to be a member to participate. But think about how many of us would do that and will that be enough revenue? If you count the regulars, I don't see it as being a large number. <20 or so?

    Another idea. Scale back to minimize your time involvement in the site? From a high level - Cash flow is the immediate problem, but once over that hurdle, if you cut your time needed for site maintenance by half, then there's that much more time to spend on other customers, which will pull in more $$$. Your ambition with this site is well admired. I think that if you can get the board integrated, then there is not much left to do?

    What section of the site uses the most bandwidth? And how much of the cost of the site is bandwidth?

    What about having one of us compile an e-book of recipes? $10 or $15 for that and I already know a couple people who would be inclined to buy it.

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Apr 1996
    Location
    Youngsville, NC
    Posts
    1,617

    Default Re: New Forum Address -View the Forum *and* the Site

    Actually, clicking on links doesn't bring in cash. I sell ads to relevant people, i.e. meaderies, brew shops, honey providers and the like. The hope is that you'll notice the ads, and if they offer something that interests you, you'll click. That will bring more advertisers (hopefully), since I'll then be able to point to good return for them in my stats.

    The ads that bring in cash (less indirectly) are the ones for the Gear, which is Cafe Press stuff. I make around 10% on the items in the Gear shop. Google does bring in cash, but I'll admit not enough for me to keep it. I'd rather give it up, and give y'all more relevant stuff that you might want than wait for Google to cough up the penny a click or so that they give out.

    So, by all means, if you see an ad that offers something you want, then click. Please *don't* do it just to increase my stats, that would dishonest to my advertisers, and I'd rather lose everything than be dishonest, honor is something you can't buy.

    Thanks for the support, it means a lot. And let me know what sort of items *will* interest you, and I'll contact companies that offer those sorts of products.

    Wassail!

    Vicky Rowe
    Owner & Webmistress, Gotmead.com
    Executive Director, American Mead Makers Association
    http://www.mead-makers.org
    Making Mead since 1995

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