Any thoughts on keeping GQ free?

As a fan and GQ junkie going back to the AOL days, I must ask that posting to GQ remain a free service. I think that GQ represents the backbone of these boards, is in most keeping with the spirit of the Straight Dope, and most likely what draws in the majority of the other forum regulars. Free participation in GQ would allow long time lurkers, but infrequent posters, the ability to comment on the areas of which they have first hand knowledge or experience. As just one example, I wonder if folks like Bad Astronomer are going to want to pay $5 then $15 dollars to answer the occasional questions about space? There’s lot’s of folks like him - a very specialized area of knowledge that most consider to be an authority in that area. However, you don’t see them pounding away in the other forums everyday, so I wonder if they’ll want to stick around. The SDMB has been very fortunate to have these individuals here.

Personally, I think GQ will be hit the hardest by the sub system, and I would ask that you consider at least keeping that forum free. I know that threads on this topic are everywhere, and even the subject of keeping GQ free has been bandied about, but I think the subject rates a thread, and hopefully a response from the admins.

So, admins/mods, any thoughts?

I argued long, hard, and loud for keeping GQ, the Comments, and ATMB free. However, I was overruled. So it has been considered. In fact, I believe that I’ve been talking about it in mod email for at least a couple of years.

Wow - a 4 minute response from an admin at 8am on a Sunday morning! That’s impressive. Of course, it’s not the best response I could have hoped for…

Anyway, thanks, Lynn. Hopefully in the not too distant future, the powers that be will heed your advice, and hopefully you’ll continue to advocate a free GQ.

Having a free GQ is something that seems to have widespread support. I think it’s a good idea too.
I didn’t realise that discussions making this a" pay to post" forum had been going on so long. I wish I’d known sooner, I wouldn’t have become so attached to this site. :slight_smile:


I suspect the downside of a free GQ would be an increase in wrong-forum posts. Guests who don’t want to pony up the $15 might post any old thing in GQ, since that’s the only place they can post. The threat of banning would have little effect on them, it’s not like they have much invested here.

But why would they bother?

Agreed that, should GQ remain free, there will probably be an small uptick in not-on-topic threads posted accidentally; however, I can’t see it being a large uptick. After all, if a guest poster cares about whatever it is that he wants to post, why would he post it in an inappropriate place? There are still plenty of other message boards to go to for complaining or discussions or what-have-you. If a guest poster doesn’t care about whatever it is that he wants to post, then he’s just trolling anyway.

In any case, add me to the list of people who think that keeping GQ and CCC free is a good idea. Seems to me that, in the long run, the value af attracting new members by offering what is the SDMB’s unique content for free outweighs the potential loss incurred through people taking advantage of the freebee without signing up.

Perhaps a small unannounced experiment would be in order? I suggest keeping all forums open only to members (as is th plan now) for, say, four months. After that, open up GQ and CCC to allow Guest members to post for another four months. I’m betting that more new members sign up in the latter four months, with only a minimal additional strain on the server.

This was discussed, as Lynn says, at great length. On the one hand, allowing guests to post indefinitely in GQ will certainly means lots of misplaced posts and will mean the end of “forums” as a useful definition. On the other hand, we do want and need the newbies who often come in through GQ.

The compromise solution is that guests can post for 30 days. Thus, a person who comes with a question, can post it… and has 30 day to post to responses, and generally to hang around and decide whether to pay up. We thus think we have the best of both approaches: we’re minimizing wrong-forum posting, and we’re allowing newbies to come over and post a question or two or three… for a month.

Yes, zut, future experimentation is possible. If we find that a decision or direction is not going as anticipated, we can certainly experiment… later. However, it would be extremely premature to think about such experimentation now. Let us get the damn system up and rolling first, OK?

C K Dexter Haven - The issue isn’t people who want to post questions, it’s the huge number of casual specialists who drive by and occasionally answer questions on subject within their expertise.

As you say, anyone can ask a question. Literally. The unique quality of the SD is that, until now, an awful lot of good quality people have been willing to provide answers.

But they sure as hell aren’t going to pay to answer.

I’m with Lynn, this is surely a mistake. Thankfully it can be rectified quite painlessly through the coding.
I would respectfully suggest putting a sticky in the GQ forum explaining to all those casual experts that this is an experimental period and that the posting situation in that forum will be reviewed in 30/60 days - and to thank everyone for their contributions to date.

That way, the Board may not lose, in one fell swoop, the entirity of several years accumulation of experts willing to give their time for free.

I vote for GQ remaining free as well, for the newbies and the 5-post-a-year types.