Maybe (I’ll believe that when I see the receipts) but that’s not the same thing as “running the site”.
Right, because people with “Administrator” in their handle rarely have anything to do with running a website.
A handle’s only as good as the person cranking it - Ed doesn’t do Tuba’s job. Or - I forget his name, Frank? Fred? Phil? The old tech guy.
Like I said, the lack of all those merged accounts is my evidence.
Seriously, I’ve lost count of the number of managers at my clients who insisted on having sa privileges when they had no clue about how to actual be a sysadmin. But it’s the highest level of privilege, so they had to have it, right?
If it’s a sticking point, I’ll certainly agree that Ed is not involved in a material way with the day-to-day operations of the site. It would seem that he’s likely involved as the contact for Discourse billing and will help with admin tasks when they are urgent. But based on what we can tell, it’s unlikely that he’s logging in every day or checking on the site himself to make sure it’s running. But within the Sun-Times organization, I would have to guess he’s the one person who actually advocates for the site to continue operating. If Ed says he doesn’t care if it keeps going, I’m guessing the site would be shut down pretty quickly. If the site is not able to demonstrate positive revenue either directly or through marketing benefits to other Sun-Times products, there’s no reason for the bean counters at Sun-Times to keep it running. Someone must be advocating for this money-losing site to keep going, and I’d have to guess that Ed is a big part of that.
I think this is the best summary of the circumstances. My (limited) research into the past monetization efforts, and just a casual perusal of the multiple threads here in ATMB regarding efforts to donate and/or find someone to actually fix certain ongoing tech issues since TubaDiva passed shows that there has been a certain laxness in attention at the top - to bypass a discussion of all that with a ‘big idea fix’ seemed like a Helicopter parent jumping back in and saying we’re all going to be a family again when they seemed out of touch with the existing problems.
Having said that, the fuming anger at the possible issues raised in said OP was excessive, and got in the way of those trying to get to the nitty gritty of the problems. And TPTB wanting to be cagey in the $ figures, along with how why certain methods of fundraising were selected didn’t help. Which is why at least 2 threads were spun off to discuss the details more amongst ourselves. Sadly, some of the posters kept making it seem very, very personal in the original thread.
So yes. There is a reason for high feeling. There is in ANY ATMB thread, but we’re still expected to be civil. And several users failed that - possibly to the harm of all.
As far as I can tell, there was one post that was insulting and vitriolic, in a 272-post thread, and it attracted immediate attention from a moderator (and a whole ongoing pit thread). Maybe I missed a couple more and upwards of 1% of the posts in that thread were vitriolic. That’s worthy of being appalled and sickened and astounded and perplexed? There are any number of currently-active threads that went off the rails faster and more vituperatively and people aren’t bringing out the smelling salts and closing the drapes.
I’m more inclined to believe that S-T has just ignored us up to now, because I’m familiar with how weird corners of big corporations work.
This site doesn’t have to be money-losing, is something people have repeatedly been saying, and their numbers look legit.
What hero worship? People were thanking Ed for the work he’s done over the last twenty years to keep this message board up and running. Which he has done, if maybe not up to your standards.
I didn’t see the thread as vitriolic or whatever else you saw. I saw someone asking for opinions and then rejecting any opinions that were offered. That gets old after a while. Some of us have requested the option to donate/subscribe/help support the site for a very long time, over and over. Once again this has fallen on deaf ears. I guess some of us got cranky. Sorry about that. But…are we ever going to get a real way to help support the site? Or is it just going to drop dead because no one wants to take our money?
I think that ship sailed long ago.
Here in ATMB, I’ll just politely disagree with that, he’s been more hindrance than help for years now. Not seeing that, is exactly what I mean by hero worship.
Do you know how many people on GiraffeBoard are actively there and not here specifically because of Ed’s mismanagement? Including one of the best mods we’ve ever had.
The thread was getting quite rude long before that post. I remember angry talk about how Ed was just trying to get us to pay his salary and didn’t actually care about the board, for instance. The post you are talking about was just the worst of the lot, almost as if it was just trying to top the others.
Also, in what world does calling someone cancer not count as a Warnable insult? Come on! If I were Ed, and I saw a mod do that, I would think the mod was just doing the bare minimum because he hated me, too.
It seems pretty clear that me that Cecil came in to try and work on saving the board, while also (understandably) wanting to contribute again. Nothing about it suggests it came from a bad place, so everyone getting so angry makes no sense to me.
It’s not even like he shot down ideas. So saying he wasn’t taking advice doesn’t make sense, either. Heck, he was already talking about getting paid memberships for the forum back up and running in the OP, and getting a proper tech admin.
He also made it quite clear that the decision isn’t ultimately up to him. He is just a hired gun. He’s not the top of the food chain. And it seems they are the ones who reject the idea of actual donations. It seemed pretty clear that Cecil’s idea was a way to allow donations in all but name.
If it’s making money, it’s just barely doing so. That’s fine for a hobby site, but a corporation doesn’t care about making pocket change. And in addition to the hosting fees, there’s also the corporate overhead like the accountants who have to manage the billing, budget meetings where expenses are viewed line-by-line, time spent discussing which budget items are continued versus cut, etc. And one factor is the time that the employees spend here on admin issues computed against their salary. If Ed spends a few hours a week here, that’s a few hours of salary spent on the SDMB which would need to be recovered from revenue from the SDMB. If we’re just generating a few dollars over hosting expenses, that’s not enough to balance against paid employees spending their time on-the-clock time here or dealing with the overhead of running the site.
One aspect that might benefit the Sun-Times is that I would imagine that the percentage of newspaper readers here is higher than in the general public. Perhaps they could look at the topics which are actively discussed to get ideas for stories that would be good to put in their papers. If we newspaper-readers think topic X is interesting, then likely the readers of the Sun-Times papers will also find topic X interesting.
Active?Just Numerous polls about top 40 songs and tv reruns by What Exit that’s about it.
Oh and the shits and giggle rooms snarking about the sdmb because your active members have nothing else to do.
What employee time? Make one or a few of the mods admins, and exactly zero regular employee hours will be spent on managing the site.
The corporate overhead was already accounted for, in the numbers people were coming up with. That’s why it was $6000 not $3600.
Ed Zotti isn’t the technical administrator. He hasn’t been doing things like merging usernames or adjusting Discourse settings because he doesn’t have the technical know-how to do things like that. And there have been efforts to get someone who does have that know-how the permissions to be able to do so, but that decision is unfortunately not entirely in his hands.
He is, however, the person who sets rules for the board, and resolves disagreements between moderators, and chooses who the new moderators will be. In that sense, yes, he is in charge of the board. If you don’t like using the term “administrator” for that role, OK, fine, call him the manager, or something, instead. But whatever you call it, it’s definitely a role that is necessary for someone to serve. Zotti served that role originally, in fact, for the entire period of time that the board was growing. Later, it was @TubaDiva. Now, it’s Zotti again.
I think the poster who got mod noted was way out of line, but I think most of the thread was fine. Ed was not talking in a private meeting with potential business partners, he brought a business idea to the forum. After I retired from the military I started my own real estate company with several investors and have grown it to be fairly successful, when it comes to business if someone pitches me an idea I think I owe it to the person to give them my honest assessment.
Like I mentioned in my last post in the thread, I think what has some of us concerned is the conflation of what we view as two separate issues.
One is Ed’s business idea to resume writing the Cecil Adams column. My understanding is the column had fallen in to hiatus largely because it was no longer being carried in many papers and (presumably) the money just wasn’t there. The other is “long term support of the message board.”
I think most of us have pretty positive feelings toward Ed and his stewardship of the Straight Dope column, Cecil Adams nom de plume. I know at one time I used to really look forward to reading the column regularly. I’d be happy to see Ed writing the column again, and if the old business models with the free newspapers and such aren’t there anymore, I think it’s reasonable to look at a new idea.
My frank opinion was that I didn’t see his idea being that good. I’m not a content creator, but I follow and support several. There’s a guy who does great storm chase videos and photography who built up a fan base on YouTube, but when YouTube’s monetization formula changed it went from providing him with a (paltry) living, to not being viable for his time. So he switched to Patreon and I support him on there. He had multiple “goals” listed in his Patreon, where at certain amounts of support and fundraising, he could upgrade his equipment, do more videos etc. He hit all of those goals. I don’t know how much money he makes he has 1300 Patrons, paying between $1 and $5 monthly, considering he does weather videos seasonally and his goal was to replace around $30k a year in YouTube money, I think he is at least making more that. There’s other people I know who have made good money on Patreon.
I also could have been plain wrong, and maybe the $30/yr board room was a good idea and going to give Ed the sort of return he was looking for; but given my limited knowledge of content creation support systems these days I think the idea seemed cumbersome and priced “weirdly.” The most successful content creators I see harvest a lot of money with small monthly recurring payments, the annual lump sum idea I think has several disadvantages. One of the nice things about a small monthly payment is it’s low mental investment to sign up for, and easy to just “set and forget”, so a lot of those people once they subscribe will basically never unsubscribe.
I also think Patreon has better tools associated with it than this message board to monetize, interact with the Patrons etc.
I don’t think we owed Ed sycophancy, I felt I owed him my honest opinion on his business proposal, which is what I gave. I viewed it akin to a friend asking me what I think of his business idea, I’d give a friend my honest opinion, and that’s what I gave Ed.
No, even if my view is wrong and Ed is causing problems, my view doesn’t constitute hero worship.
So what? There are people on any message board who wouldn’t be happy on a different message board. The people who are here on the SDMB are apparently okay with this board. The people who are on the Giraffe board are apparently okay with that board. And some people are okay with both or neither.
As for what this board would be like without Ed Zotti’s involvement, I think it’s pretty clear the board would not exist. So even if he is mismanaging things (which I personally doubt), I feel the board existing under his mismanagement is a better alternative to it not existing at all.
I’m not sure that a corporation would be willing to have volunteers be admins because liability arising out of privacy concerns. It’s not so much an issue for a hobby site, but admins have access to personal information that some users have chosen to not make public on the site, such as email addresses or payment info. Corporate employees have signed documents saying they will keep customer data private, but volunteer admins won’t necessarily be bound by such contracts. If a rogue volunteer admin publishes everyone’s email addresses or uses a member’s credit card info the company could be liable for damages. Certainly the same risk exist with regular employee admins, but that’s a risk that the company is willing to take because of the productivity the employees bring. The company might be willing to have volunteer admins if it meant the site would generate huge returns, but otherwise it’s not worth the risk.
The payment info should all be third-party in a well-run setup, anyway. All that the site should know is whether someone is or isn’t paid up.
And the email address, at least, should be visible to the mods.
But anyway, nothing precludes the (one or more) mods who become admins from having the same sort of binding privacy contract with S-T without needing to be paid.