Depends on the merch. A lot! Merch goes beyond income and generates interest…when it’s done properly. (Hint, it’s not THAT hard, shitty bands do it successfully, all the time!)
But having seen the hideous merch this board previously married itself to, (and remained committed to, even as the membership begged for something, anything, else!), I remain highly sceptical that any such income stream is even a possibility for this board.
It’s the low hanging fruit, yet somehow, still out of their grasp.
I said I’d do both, but I think we need to stop thinking of selling merchandise as a stand-alone fundraising option. Until we get more members/guests, it’s basically the equivalent of a bake sale. lt’s not that merchandise is a bad idea. It’s a pretty good idea–but for PR.
I’m happy to buy a membership, and to gift a few to others if they wish. I wouldn’t pay for mugs and shirts simply because I need to keep my participation here on the down low, in case I decide to post honest things about my co-workers or family.
The pay-to-post disaster was in the early 2000s (I can’t remember the exact year.) That’s eternity in Internet years. Are we so sure that the average Internet user is still so violently opposed to paid subscriptions - particularly when subscribers don’t get advertising like non-subscribers?
I joined in 2015, so all the drama with Ed Zotti is before my time. But I can tell you, if that discussion is going to be censored, I’m not contributing financially.
So far as I’m concerned, the sole asset here is the contributing membership. I come here because of the generally adult level of conversation, and the immense knowledge base and willingness of members to dedicate time and effort in fighting ignorance - whether it’s on General Relativity or a mundane plumbing question - @DavidNRockies just saved me an immense amount of effort and expense by immediately pointing me in the right direction.
I’m open to any method of contributing financially, and I would gladly do so. But only if there’s complete transparency about how the Board is run and where the money’s going. I would have to be confident that any money is going entirely to run the message board - which could certainly include stipends for administrators, even moderators, but not peripheral stuff that is of no relevance to me like subsidizing Ed or Ed’s column.
Perhaps the site can monetize that in some way - if they set up a Patreon-like system where people can donate to other members for helpful and well thought out posts, with the site taking a cut of the amount (maybe 20%?), it would incentivize members to provide better content, and also provide a minor lifeline for the site. I know that there are quite a few members on this site I would gladly send beer money to, if such a system was in place.
The site could even put indicators next to each post showing how much in donations it has drawn in, as to give the creators of that post another incentive in the form of an artificial ego boost, but that may be veering too much into gimmicky gamification.
My worry with this system, however, is that there will be plenty of leechers sitting on the sidelines, just absorbing the good content, but not compensating the posters in return.
I wouldn’t think of it as a charitable donation as it isn’t. It is closer to crowd funding to keep the SDMB from being a cost to the Corporate Owner. Who I believe is the 4th Corporate Owner in the last 15 years.
This board is hosted at Discourse.org which has various pricing tiers. There’s a $100 standard plan and a $300 business plan. They also have an enterprise plan for high volume users where pricing would be negotiated. It’s likely that the SDMB is on the $300/mo plan.
Does the Chicago Sun Times Corporation achieve a profit or loss from owning the SDMB? i know not every internet play by media companies works out. Sometimes they will keep a loss leader around for other big picture reasons.
Are the Corporate overlords threatening to shut it down?
I do pay for a New York Times subscription. And various other apps. But it seems dishonest to suggest “supporting the SDMB” isn’t paying the Chicago Sun Times Corporation.
The corporate overlords have been threatening to shut it down for as long as I can remember. I don’t know how close they’ve actually come to doing it, but the specter has always hung over our heads. I don’t think the Sun Times makes any kind of profit off the board at this point, which is why they keep trying to axe it.
I’m not sure anyone suggested that, at least anyone on the staff. I know I made it clear above it is not a charitable donation at all.
Speaking as a poster, we’ve been worried about the SDMB keeping the lights on for over a decade. Every time the Corporate ownership changes things are at risk. The SDMB is basically part of the Newspaper industry and to say the last decade has been rough on the newspaper industry is an understatement.