So, how about we put our heads together and figure out a way to make some money off this thing! I have a few ideas just off the top of my head that I’d like some input on. Also, feel free to add your own suggestions.
Note: This thread hasn’t been in any way endorsed by the SDMB administration, and I have no idea if they’ll be particularly interested in these suggestions. But it can’t hurt.
Also note: The point of this thread is to suggest specific ways the Straight Dope site could be used as a source of revenue. If you just want to complain about the board administration, start a Pit thread.
Idea 1: Soliciting contributions
It seems to work for Wikipedia. My question is: If the board admins told us “We need to make $X to keep the board going” how much would you personally be willing to contribute? I could see myself donating $50 a year or so to keep the board afloat. (Maybe more when I have a better paying job.) Also, would your level of donation depend on whether the money were designated for a specific purpose (e.g., new server)?
Idea 2: More merchandise
This seems to be a big source of income for webcomics. Right now, the Dope only appears to be selling books, plus one t-shirt and one coffee mug. What if they added a bunch of different t-shirt options, maybe sweatshirts too. They could feature Slug cartoons, SDMB catchphrases and inside jokes, the “Fighting Ignorance” motto, etc. What kind of designs would you want to see, and how much would you be willing to pay for them? For a good quality t-shirt with a slogan I find funny, I could see myself paying up to $20 or so. For a nice hooded sweatshirt, maybe closer to $40.
Idea 3: Free Advertising for the Dope
Would you be willing to provide free advertising for the Straight Dope on your website, blog, etc. as away to attract new members and presumably increase ad revenue? Or to design a flyer or something promoting the dope that people could print off and post in at their local library or community center or whatever? Would you be willing to post such a flyer? What about turing some of the more popular or interesting columns into youtube videos (i.e., you film yourself answering the question in a reasonably engaging way), and then a tag at the end saying “For more answers on whatever it is you want to know, go to www.straightdope.com” Depending on the question, the video could include animated diagrams, cool chemistry-lab style demos, whatever.
Of course, any member-created ads ought to get official approval from the Straight Dope before you post them, since you’re using their trademark and all.
Idea 4: Straight Dope Marketplace
If there were a forum for SDMB members to sell their artistic and literary creations, cool inventions, whatever, would you shop there? Would you have things you’d be interested in selling? (Presumably you’d either have to pay a fee to advertise or a commission on every sale, so the board could make some money off of it.)
Got any ideas you want to add?