How would you prefer to support the SDMB?

So would I. I don’t understand why the option of owning and running the site ourselves is always being ruled out. The cost is peanuts, and we keep hearing how the Sun-Times doesn’t care about it anyway.

And IMHO the first priority should be, not convoluted funding schemes like Patreon, but simply partnering with a reputable payment processor so that paying subscription fees and donating optional amounts could be as easy as just entering a credit card number.

Speaking from experience, this is cheap compared to cancer.

Also, people aren’t cancers.

It doesn’t have to be Cafe Press. Any reasonable quick print place will do.

15 years ago we had the opportunity to become Substack, with fantastic long and short form writing from a plethora of authors like Scylla and, well, the many contributors to the If LOTR had been written by someone else thread, a treasure trove of brilliant writing which the current Board, myself included of course, could not match. Substack is aggressively seeking writers and it looks as if the model could succeed… at least it’s succeeding in the game to raise venture capital money, which is a critical step nowadays to starting a tech business.

But that ship has passed.

The SDMB did have a very small window to become Reddit, but the executives in charge of this site were more concerned with their small daily newspaper and never even thought to focus on the message board. Their entire backgrounds were wrong.

So that ship passed as well.

Another thing they didn’t try is to integrate the SDMB into the online newspaper. What, nobody could create another subforum called “Sun Times Articles” and direct comments to that? Limit article comments to 250 characters, and if you want to say more you can do so at the SDMB. But I don’t even think this idea was close to being explored. Seems rather natural though, for a newspaper to extend engagement among paying customers by drawing them into long-form discussions on the message board owned by the same paper, but what do I know?

Anyway, that’s likely another ship, to be honest.

And as for now? Shit, I don’t know, but the most obvious idea is to mine the content, repackage it, and then monetize the repackaged content. For example, go to that LOTR thread. Grab 50 of the best posts. Get an artist (or artists) to draw artistic representations of the posts. Make a book out of this. Or a Patreon. Or something. Rinse, wash, repeat.

I mean, I figure newspaper publishers can handle publishing a book… right?

Also, God gave you eyes: Plagiarize. Likes, smilies, upvoting, and more works on successful sites. Integrate them here and ignore the gnashing of teeth and rending of clothing. Just make this place easier and friendlier to use for people accustomed to easy and friendly interfaces. Is that too much to ask?

Honestly, I’m not sure if I would stay if we implemented upvotes. I’m here to get away from that stuff.

But I’m just one person.

Pssst. Check out the sister thread. -Looks around warily- We’ve been using the ‘like’ word as well. All joking aside, yeah, we’d love to have your opinions as well. Current discussions have also included -gasp- updating the forum names to something less esoteric and other heresies.

Is this PBS? NPR? we gonna do pledge drives?

I love this board, it is a lot of fun and interesting. but it is a commercial enterprise of the Chicago Sun Times Corporation.

My impression is that that many users think this is some kind of private independent internet thing.

So just get that out of your mind.

More traffic equals more revenue. More ads. Paid subscriptions would decimate the membership.

A private club of old farts ranting about Trump is not going to be commercially viable. And somebody has to pay for the servers.

If it was optional, I don’t think it would. We’ve had optional membership in the past and I thought it worked pretty well. Am I wrong?

Used to be you paid a subscription, you saw no ads, got to be a member instead of a guest and could edit your own title.

It didn’t really interfere with people who wanted to post for free.

I think the uproar was having to pay to post at all.

+1000

I have so many coffee mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads, keychains, demitasse spoons… don’t we all?

Would happily pay a membership fee even if it were voluntary and carried no perks.

The key to merch is to make it clever enough to bring in outside money. We’d need to mine the site for funny/wise/poignant quotes and then make them available on a print-to-order site like cafe press. I don’t think merch as a way to get money from the membership is more than one-time funding drive.

I have no problem with going back to optional membership. I can’t afford it right now, but buy one any time I can. It’s also great to have the option to buy one for somebody else on the board - part donation part Christmas present, sort of thing.

As for getting a younger membership, I think we’d have to do it on purpose. Like ask ourselves, “What are the kids googling this week?” and then start a thread on that topic. Blech!

I cant think of anything that would accomplish an influx of young readers which wouldn’t also accomplish an influx of trolls.

Not interested in merchandise, would pay for membership (but oppose making it mandatory), and would really like an option to just donate anonymously whenever.

I like the optional Patreon type model. Freemium and tiers that might get you more stuff.

There’s a podcast I really like. One year I bought a t-shirt and some other junk. Haven’t bought any merch since. Signed up immediately for their Patreon premium subscription at $5/month. I get some early podcasts and special videos, which I don’t think I’ve looked at once.

For me, I’d prefer to sign up for a monthly fee knowing the $$$ go to where ever. The odd merch purchase isn’t a great revenue stream to plan on unless you have really large scale.

YMMV

I was thinking that instead of $30 for some sort of column advisory board, Ed should have just asked $100/person for a 12-person business advisory council and give them 1 year to develop a business plan to monetize the SDMB.

Because if you’re going to ask us to pay a fee so those paying can work to improve an internet column, you may as well go whole hog and ask us to pay even more to completely reinvent the site - mission statement, financial structure, marketing and branding, more.

That would be a project I would be interested in!

If there’s anything left in a year for a council to advise.

Eh, if that’s the case, no time to waste!

I have every confidence that there are a few very highly qualified members here who are perfect for these roles.

We have been answering questions and solving problems for others for decades – why not shine some of that light inward?

This.

I’m broke; so whether I would buy a membership depends on my finances at the moment and how much it cost. I’m not going to buy merchandise in any case because I’ve got way too much stuff in my house already.

Didn’t vote.

snopes message board died before 2020. (That may not affect your point, though.)

I am aware of them. I am also aware that those ads bring in revenue. It is like the honor snack bar at work-Sure, you could take those Harvest Grain Sun Chips without dropping the coins in the box when nobody is looking, but if it happens too often the snack bar goes away. I don’t believe in supporting workarounds that might threaten (even in a small way) the existence of this website.

Nice moral lecture, but beside the point I was making.

Kent_Clark was talking as though ads were an inevitability for non-subscribers. I was responding to that.

He clarified later, although I must admit, if ad blockers block anything else here, I haven’t exactly missed it.