Two questions I couldn't find answers to in the stickys/FAQs

Hi, new guest here (well, obviously). I’ve got two questions and I think this is the right place to ask. Firstly, why do I have to pay a fee to become a full-time member? I don’t mind, it just perplexes me that it is an annual thing. My account at SA only cost $9.99 and just once, versus SDs’ $14.99 yearly payment. What exactly am I paying for?

Secondly, what qualifies as “spam”? I’m only asking because quite a lot of the responses in GQs seem to border on spam/needless posts. Like, um… for example let’s say that a user was asking a question about his/her dogs problem with biting and how to stop it. And then another user replied with “Your dog keeps biting because humans are tasty! :D,” or something in kind. You get the idea. It seems that people are often posting things that are completly unnecessary and irrelevant to the OP, just to get a laugh. How the heck does that not count as spam?

What you get for your money is us. Whether or not that is of value to you is a question only you can answer. Read the forums, ask around, see if you would be a good fit.

As for “spam”…“useless” posts and spam aren’t the same thing. If you are trying to sell something or drum up hits on your site, that’s spam. The rest is just noise, and if you look around, you’ll see that we have the best signal/noise ratio around.

For your free guest membership, you get to post for a month. Pay up, and you can continue posting for a year. You also get access to the board search engine when you pay, and your location (if you entered one) and post count will show on your posts. Plus, you’ll be a part of helping this place continue to exist.

Spam is not accepted here, but joke posts are. It’s generally preferred, though, if you hold off on the joke posts until a question has gotten a few serious answers. Our purpose is fighting ignorance, but there’s nothing wrong with a laugh or two along the way.

You get to participate instead of lurking,

The board has always had an unique group of people. The board is an off shoot of people getting to ask Cecil questions online and the column being put on the Internet. AOL was the host at first and they offered a discount monthly membership to the boards online. Many people like I, wouldn’t deal with AOL, and the board was moved to a server in their office. I believe it shared space with the newspaper’s office server. Cecil is popular and the boards required more and better equipment very badly. Regulars to the board offered to send money and components to keep this message board around. The Straight Dope stance was it was a commercial enterprise and couldn’t accept the equipment or money. The server gets more traffic all the time and last year the Straight Dope Message Board went to a monthly fee to pay for it’s up keep.

Spaming at one point came down to new accounts being opened and product pitches being pasted to all forums and all threads. The poor moderators who are volunteers couldn’t fix the threads fast enough . That’s also one of the reasons that a person gets to register only once in a life time. You have to reactivate your old account if you come back.

I think that was a good short summary. Any additions?

This is as much an educational experience as it is fun for many of us. We like to learn and help others learn as well. If a person shows themself as earnest, honest and endearing, they’ll go far.

This is the first place I come when I have every-day life-situation questions. Sometimes it’s quite helpful to get other people’s takes on issues you’re sitting on. When I recently lost my cat and subsequently adopted another, you could just feel the cat-people’s joy in the posts, it’s palpable.

You start connecting user names to personalities. You seek out posts by people you respect and like (sight unseen) and hope that you can share your knowledge of whatever with them to their benefit.

Even with a smack-down here and there, this is a great place to hang out, make friends and first and foremost…abolish ignorance. THAT’S a rampant situation.

If you feel that most posts are needless and wasteful, you are in the wrong place.

What they said. I couldn’t say it better myself.

There’s lots of subscription places in cyberspace; only you can decide if any place you visit is worth the admission fee. We think what we offer is worthwihile. We hope you agree.

What is “SA?”

Pretty sure it’s Something Awful (which, oddly, I’ve never really been to, but learned about on these very boards…). The $ amount and one-time payment fits: