What will the SDMB look like two years from now?

Your predictions please.

Will it be a thriving board full of interesting threads and light-speed hamsters? New posters joining all the time pumping vital energy into the discussions?

Will it be a redundant and boring place where the same old posters debate the same old things? Will it eventually come down to who’s willing to stay the longest just for pride?

I’ve just this second seen a post which seems to suggest that subscriptions doom message boards.
I’d like to think this board will be something special in 2 years (more special than it is now). I like to think the fact that so many existing dopers are willing to pay the small fee at the drop of a hat will mean that in 2 years we will be a closer community.
But Let’s just wait and see shall we. Even if it is doomed they MUST have thought long and hard about this decision. They had to do something, who are we to spend 2 minutes thinking about it and then debating it.

We are the people who make this message board work, and last time I checked, were encouraged to heartily debate any topic.

Now that you have brought it up, I have been suprised that many dopers seem to want to put down those who have reasons not to join. Shutting down a logical discussion because you disagree with others is not something I have seen often on this message board, and I see no reason it should change simply because we are discussing the value of the board itself.


Isn’t that what it is already? Between the overkilled subjects of Bush, gay marriage, abortion, gun control, and SUVs, and the insanely long joke threads, this place exactly what you have described.

I don’t think that things will change that much. It will definitely get smaller, but it will also become (probably) more respectful, since nobody wants to get the gate after paying. Also, this place has a pretty good reputation, and I think that people will be willing to pay after a taste. If they don’t want to, it’ll either die or the Reader will have to try something else. We’ll see, I guess.

In answer to the specific question in the op : Somewhere inbetween. New people will join. The same old topics will be discussed. LIFE will give us new topics to discuss (and we will discuss them better than the majority of other boards)

Anything could happen. With less members there may be less need to re-discuss a topic. (as it is, people want to be part of a topic, but are intimidated by the huge threads where it has already been discussed, so they re-open it. Is that really so bad? especially as there will now be ammunition to answer it quickly)

This thread is better suited for In My Humble Opinion. I’ll move it for you.

Cajun Man
for the SDMB

Interesting point that I had not considered Lobsang. I remember one of my first thread starts only lasted one reply, because someone linked a thread that had just appeared a few days before. I had not yet learned to search first and ask questions later. I guess this would cut down on repeat threads. If I may pose a question to you personally: Are you worried about the lack of people joining at all?

Do you mean new people paying to join? or existing people paying?
It will be a shame if the fee stops new people from sticking around. The place is about fighting ignorance. To do that it needs to affect new people, which will be hindered if they have to pay.

I have no doubt that initially most existing people will pay the fee and consider it worth paying. So I don’t worry about that.

I met a poster from an antique board
Who said: A vast and postless website
Stands on the net. At the top of the page,
Is posted a sticky, in black and white,
Which tells of a plan to make a profit
By asking posters to pay a small fee.
And on this sticky these words appear:
“My name is Ed Zotti, Mod of Mods:
Look upon my works, Teeming Millionths, and subscribe!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

This board could dwindle down to 5 elitist circle jerkers, and TSD won’t care, as long as the money is coming in. It saddens me to think that all of you think you are valued by TSD, and you are, at least what sits in your back pocket or purse.
Don’t ban me, communists quiet opposition. :smiley:

Little Nemo, you just joined my pantheon of personal gods.

All I can say is, there had better be flying cars, dammit …

I, too, fear that the board will stagnate from lack of new blood. Right now, for those of us that are already here, $4.95 is not too much to ask to continue for another year. If I were a newbie, however, and had not savored the SDMB experience, I would think long and hard before plunking down $15.

It really saddens me. It’s not that I don’t want to pay. I’d GLADLY donate FAR more that 5$ a year to see that this continues to be a resource and a haven available to all.

I realy hope this change doesn’t greatly affect the influx of new blood to the board, but I can’t help but feel that even this token fee will result in us losing (or not attracting) at least a few god people.

Life goes on :frowning:

Oooh, a place to share my predictions. Here we go:

When we go pay, there’ll be a wave of signups as the loyal addicts enlist on the first day. Me included, of course.

As the “trial” wears on, there’ll be a gradual trickle of people giving in and paying.

Once the last day comes up, there’ll be a last spurt of signups from some of the people posting defiant “I’ll find another board! The Internet should be free!” posts.

As the first couple months go on, there’ll be quite a few signups from people who’ve gone out wandering and haven’t found their niche. Me? I read a couple other boards, but they can’t meet all my needs. I can talk about anything here. Even my opinions on pube-shaving.

After 6 months, we’ll probably have all the Old Dopers we’re going to have, though we may get back a few here and there.

I think most of our new members will come from referrals and that’s to the good. No better new Dopers than Friends of Dopers.

What’ll it look like? Probably about the same, but it’ll probably run better.

I am very pessimistic about the change. I think that if the planeed charging method remains in place the board will be looking like the Martian landscape within the next two years.
I’ll be staying around in the hopes that I am wrong.

I used to ‘belong’ to a group of people who chatted (real-time) every night. Two different groups, actually, at different times. At first it was great - we were all very close (there were anywhere between 20 and 100 ‘regulars’), enjoyed talking to each other on almost any subject, had chat meets - does any of this sound familiar? But like most other chat groups I’ve heard of, eventually we went through some spectacular flameouts and died off.

The groups might have survived, but we didn’t allow for one important ingredient - new people. Eventually all the old topics wore down, the opinions on any given subject were already expressed, and those who didn’t drift away due to sheer boredom were turned off by the petty jealousies and fights started by people who just had nothing better to say.

(I’m getting to the point; please bear with me.)

The only difference I have noticed between the SDMB and my old chat rooms is that those conversations happened in real time. I have witnessed every other sort of interaction here that I observed there. Sure, there are moderators here, but their main function is to take care of inappropriate behavior, not to serve as the SDMB Welcome Wagon.

Those of you who have built relationships here, whether newbie or oldster, may not realize just how unfriendly the SDMB can be right now to someone just starting out on the boards. Unless a concerted effort is made to change that immediately, I fear that new thoughts and perspectives will become a rarity on these boards.

Depends on the section:

GQ will die first. 90% of the questions there can be found by Googling, and any doper will do so. What we will lose are finding out the things that we never would have though to ask until some newbie 18 year old does, and the interesting discussion on things we thought we already did know.

Then GD. The elections will keep it afloat, but we already know what all the regulars think about politics and religion, and there’s not much more to say.

Those are the places I come here for; when they’re dead, I’ll go. I give them 12-18 months.

IMHO and MPSIMS will take a while to change; those who post there now are mostly freinds chatting, and there’s always stuff to chat about. But there are lots of other places to chat on the internet, and as people drift away for whatever reasons, they will not be replaced.
The frustrating part of this is that the route they chose is going to make it hard to ever go back. They could have tried pledge drives (works for Andrew Sullivan, and he gets moretraffic than the SDMB), and if it didn’t work, they could just stop. Put up banner ads, and see what happens with that. Put some forums (IMHO and MPSIMS, say) behind the veil and leave the rest out there and see if that works; if not then make this move.

But in putting the whole shebang behind the money wall, there’s no going back. If two years from now it’s obvious that the boards aren’t as interesting, The Reader isn’t going to just give up on a revenue stream that they will by then be accustomed to. They’ll add bells and whistles (Avatars! Who–ee!), but the numbers will keep sliding until it’s not profitable anymore, then they’ll kill it.

This has to have been the plan for a long time. The goal was never just to make the boards pay for themselves: pledges and ads could have done that, and that was steadfastly refused. The reason, ISTM was that they were developing a brand name; the goal was to make the boards into a source of profit. Which is fine, except that it’s only going to be a profit-making enterprise for several years and then it’ll be gone.
“Lone and level sands?”

Yeah, that’s about right.


This board has always had a big turnover rate. There are constantly people dropping off the board but this is offest by the larger numbers signing on. The net result has been steady growth.

But a subscription charge, even a nominal one, will end that growth. Most of us who are already here will subscribe and remain here, although the already existing departure rate will certainly increase. But far more serious will be the arrival rate. I project at least a 90% decline in new members and I’m probably being optimistic. The reality is that there are so many alternatives available on the internet, most potential customers will automatically pass by any pay site without even considering whether it’s worth the cost. If you combine the increased departure rate with the greatly decreased arrival rate, it’s clear what the results will be.

My prediction is that there’ll be something like a 25% drop in board activity when the subcription costs kick in. Then we’ll see a lesser gradual decline for the next year. The big plunge will be thirteen months from now when people have to decide if they should pay to renew a subscription on a declining board. After that, the board might be around 5% of our current activity. Another year of decline from that level should finish it off. By that point the board will have gotten so quiet that it will no longer be an attractive alternative to other boards that are free. People will figure if they’re going to hang out on a board that’s only getting ten or twenty new posts a day, why pay for it? The Chicago Reader will not be generating any real money by then and will decide to pull the plug.

“Old Dopers” … not bad. Sounds like Lovecraftian “Old Ones”. That’s what we should have on our names instead of “Charter Member” – “Elder God”.