A modest proposal for the Straight Dope

Unless there is a big misunderstanding here, membership is being raised and then you pay even more to do Ed’s research for him. So all he has to do is comes on here and openly state that membership money only goes to board expenses, and none trickles into his side project. I still think his plan seems to be a poorly thought out , but as long as his money comes from the people that pay extra to do research for him, and not membership fees, I would be absolutely fine with that.

I think the more room between the column and the board, the better.

Does the site get any revenue from people actually clicking on ads? If so, we could have a click day once a month and really run up some revenue

On other hand, the ad rates seem so low that we could just jettison the whole idea of ads, like we are with coffee mugs and t-shirts. Not worth the effort.

And some people seem to read a lot. @Guinastasia tops the chart, having apparently read 7.7 thousand posts this week. If an ad were to show every twenty posts, generating $0.01083 per ad, she alone would generate $16 per month for the board.

Take a look at the top 35 guests, you will see they read a combined total of ~527,910 posts in the last month.

Table A, '35 most well read guest dopers'
Username Posts read since May 14 (in thousands)
The_Other_Waldo_Pepper 31
BippityBoppityBoo 28.2
Guinastasia 24.8
Mikkel 23.5
MrAtoz 19.6
carrps 18.17
Folly 17.2
Chingon 16.8
scudsucker 16.2
Cassie_Beth 15.84
BigT 14.2
gnoitall 14.2
hogarth 13.9
Senegoid 13.6
bernardch 13.6
keeganst94 13.5
Vimp 13.4
thorny_locust 13.1
Cesium 13
digs 12.8
ZonexandScout 12.7
MrDibble 12.7
beandog 12.6
slash2k 12.6
TriPolar 12.5
emu2swan 12.3
Stanislaus 12.3
Folacin 12.2
TokyoBayer 12.1
MrStrangeloop 11.9
nightshadea 11.6
Riemann 11.5
Reindeer_Flotilla 11.5
D_Anaconia 11.4
k9bfriender 11.4
Total: 527.91

Even if everybody more well read than BigT were to get a subscription, just going from BigT to k9bfriender you still have 332,440 posts read per month. Assuming an ad is shown every twenty posts, and the board generates $0.01083 per ad shown, that’s worth $180/mo. Add $33.33 for the twenty guests who we assumed would buy subscriptions, then add $83.33 for an estimated 50 charter members. We’re already at $296.66, with a goal of $300, before counting people who are already members.

TL:DR, the message board should be able to get by on the old business model of subscriptions at $20/yr, charter subscriptions at $10/yr, and ads for everyone else.


Nobody has mentioned it yet, but there used to be an option called “Friend of Cecil” where one could give any amount to the SDMB for no reward whatsoever. I think the return of such an option would be infinitely better than ‘click the ads’ day.


I think fake clicks can get you in trouble with the ad services. They have metrics which detect that and the site can be penalized. Click if something interests you, but clicking on everything just for the ad revenue can be counter productive.

It may be a custom addendum that covers increased usage, but if the 800k/mo is unusually high traffic (eg: JohnT’s nahemployment topic, which he managed to get placed on Alexa rankings), Discourse has this FAQ:

What happens if I go over the plan limits?

Your site will never stop working! We understand your site can get a lot of visitors quickly for any number of reasons, and success is something to celebrate! If your site exceeds plan limits for several months in a row, we will contact you to discuss flexible upgrade options.


The SimilarWeb report for the SDMB says that the data is estimated. Perhaps they capture a subset of data somehow and then extrapolate from there to get the full report.

Ok, but… it’s not your message board is it? You can start your own, you know. It’s been done before, several times. I’ve heard Discourse has economical plans.

When I go to McDonalds, I don’t insist that my purchase go to french fries and only french fries, whether or not I’m a Vegan. If I subscribe to a Substack, I don’t insist that the author spend X days per month on writing articles. Modern market economies present take it or leave it offers.

If the SDMB is ever purchased by a consumer’s cooperative, we can put these things up for a vote. But even then, 49% will lose a few of the ballots. I predict there would be even greater contentiousness under such a scenario.

Money is fungible. Posting and reading here is free, unless you want to pay for it. We’ve backed out a lot of the key numbers (not all). You of course have a right to ask for a full accounting from SunCoast Media, Twitter, or McDonalds. If they are a public company they will refer you to their annual report and thank you for your interest.

I believe Similarweb uses estimates and can’t be assumed accurate, my cursory research has found their estimates are sometimes off by as much as 90%.

So it’s like…

No, the message board doesn’t belong to anyone posting in this thread that we know of, including the OP. But the OP says that he’s putting the idea in front of the members, so the members are giving their opinion. Supposedly, since the decision hasn’t been made, the way it’s structured is open for comment and negotiation.

Dude, I had no idea. Can you send me a link where I can see this?

So, unaware of Reddit are we? That place where millions of young people world wide read long and involved posts and threads can get literally thousands of responses within hours, many of which employ many many words, all of which need to be read to be replied to? Maybe the actual problem is that people don’t read what YOU want them to?

I don’t actually think a business is entitled to my money either–they can make a good case for why I should give one business my money rather than another but I’m about 142% certain the business who high handedly demands my money without first demonstrating its superiority and applicability to my needs is going to have to fuck off with empty hands.

As for the merch question, I’m fairly likely to buy a t-shirt (you should see my collection of Bernie shirts, every one made in America by union labor and cost about thirty bucks apiece) but I doubt there’s a way I’d be persuaded to pony up for a subscription–not to the boards (Remember pay to post, y’all? Because I do) and definitely not to pay L’il Ed to continue his self indulgent charade of multiple consciousnesses, especially since the decades old columns are pretty cringe at best and massively unnecessary in today’s instant access to the wisdom of the world. If I order a t-shirt, at least I have a t-shirt to show for it and I won’t feel anally violated every time I put it on.

Basically, L’il Ed, far as I can see you’ve been a cancer on this community for just about forever and whatever benefit you might once have brought to the table has been massively overshadowed by previous forays into attempted manipulation of the good will of a community you’re at best tangentially involved in. The Barn House, Pay to Post, the Great Cunt Flap–all just a large pile of seagull shit left behind for the actual members of the community to deal with as best they may. FFS, you can’t be bothered to make one of the mods an admin so they can fix problems with the board as they arise, let alone stick around long enough to use your own admin permissions.

I can’t speak for anyone but myself but I would never even consider paying a slim dime to bail you out in exchange for some crowd sourced columns you’d then claim to have written. Whatever good will you might have had with me has been destroyed multiple times over by your previous high handed edicts and all I’m seeing here is just more of the same–this time with a bonus cash grab. Quite frankly, the effrontery of this newest attempt is the biggest laugh I’ve gotten from anything “Cecil” has written in decades.

I might be persuaded to support the board but not without complete transparency regarding how much is actually needed to keep it functioning. I’ll not be holding my breath waiting for it though.

Everybody must get stoned!

And there’s the problem - making a crappy e-book is easy. Making an edited and corrected e-book takes a human exerting time and effort, and the usually involves money at some point.

Look, I get that you are opposed to this new proposal. I don’t know why you’re so worked up about it. If you just want the message board you can still read for free. Or get a membership. Don’t want to help re-launch the column? Then don’t pony up for that level.

I’d be happy to subscribe. Point me to the link for signing up and I’m there.


Moderator Note

Dial it WAY back. This is ATMB, not the Pit.

I’m trying to think about what keeps me choosing to waste my time here as opposed to many other ways I can waste my time.

Sometimes it is good questions. Sometimes it is good answers to something I initially didn’t think was a good question. Sometimes it having some discussion make me question what I thought I “knew”. The active membership not being too large is a plus since the result is that at least a few names become real people, some to be believed some to start eye rolling before reading, some to just skip over. Of course many who leave no impression at all but enough that do that it feels like a community.

Material by “Cecil” who frankly couldn’t be arsed to be part of this community for many a moon, was the initial hook but at this point has zero level of attraction. Keeping the SDMB name alive is of no value to me.

Pushing me away is the decreasing amount of quality conversation here vs more who are only interested in confirmation of what they think they know and offended at having those presumptions even questioned. But there’s still enough of what’s good to keep me around. Not by a wide margin though.

I suspect that many others are like me, no longer giving a rat’s ass about “Cecil” per se. If this board died tomorrow odds are GB would get an influx of those who never visited before and conversations would continue. Or not. Some would finally quit what has become just habitual.

Really. I’d WAG that a special Cecil serving subforum would be what kills the long dying beast.

Sad to say, you may be right. I’ve found out what I need to find out. Closing this thread.