What will the SDMB look like two years from now?

Oh, and to add something constructive:

Perhaps the SDMB will become one of the first of the vaunted “micro-payment” sites on the Web that content providers are hoping like hell they can ram down the public’s throat. In a few years, we may think nothing of paying $5 for a year’s subscription–or $0.02 for access to each article on a newspaper’s web site.

Wow, now take off those rosey spectacles and give us your worse case scenario. :rolleyes:

The SDMB in two years will have a photo as a logo. It will be of the moderators rolling in heaps of dollar bills. Bermuda will be visible in the background, and a solid gold helicopter.

Zotti did mumble something about Custom Titles. I could spring for another ten bucks for “Elder God.”

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh QED R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

Yes, but how much does that growth mean, exactly? I’d say that the rate of members who stay longer than a few months/posts, who actually contribute anything whatever worthwhile to the board, is probably a lot less than the strict growth rate, possibly even into the negatives. And how does any non-mod know the growth rate, anyway?

Besides, even if everyone’s worst case scenario does come true, considering that the choice was having the CR shut this place down because of the $1700+/month it takes to run it, and the subscription (the only viable option the admins and mods found in their years of consideration and research), the death of the board was inevitable, and this method at least gives the SDMB a shot at survival. At the very least, it gives it an extra year and a longer time frame for the hopelessly addicted, and admins, to figure out other options and publicize it, whether another form of payment/access or another board where as many of the community as possible can gather again.

I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Two years? It’s going to be a useless wasteland in 6 months!

I’ve seen the rise and fall of a lot of online communities over the decades. A lot. (I remember when Usenet was fun, polite-ish and spam-free!)

The SDMB is going to enter a death spiral and it won’t be pretty. The factors:

  1. People like me are going away. (So maybe you’re applauding my leaving, but the phrase is “like me”.) The people who think nothing of throwing $5 wherever they please are going to stay. I am not like that. In fact, I don’t like such people, most of all because they “look down” at other people who just use their money differently. I have $5, I make different choices than you. That doesn’t make me your inferior, got that? It’s the attitude about such things that matters. (There have been some quite offensive posts made about this made in nearly all threads on this topic. I find the “donate to others” threads also offensive.)

Frankly, I don’t want to “commune” with such people.

  1. Hardly anyone new is going to sign up. The number of new members is going to be very, very tiny. The SDMB is not the only such site on the Net. People will just go elsewhere.

  2. As I said, it’s a death spiral: Fewer interesting posts, fewer people coming by, even fewer posts, etc. Then all you have left is a small clique of fairly snobby people. And the spiral continues down and down and down. I can ensure you that the most controversial topic on the SDMB by late August/September is going to be “I paid $5 for this? Can I get a partial refund?”

The CR will then find itself in a quandry. It will have to seriously drop the rate for newbies well below $5 which is going to royally tick off the regulars who have already paid more (and let’s not forget the ones who paid $14.95 in the meantime). This will be a very bad marketing hole that has no good exit strategy.

(Note also that $5 is a magic value for paying by credit cards. Going lower means more profit to the card companies, and drastically less money to the CR.)


The CR has mismanaged the financing of the SDMB from at least the time I arrived. No ads, minimal SD products (which I would buy if they had anything good), they pretty much ignored the 30th anniversary, and on and on. I quickly concluded there was a PHB at the helm and I knew this was going to happen.

They could have easily been making money on this, but they decided to kill it instead. (Make no mistake, the PHB will be happier with it dead.) After the “dot bomb”, the myth developed that no “free” service can make money. Google, etc. would beg to differ.


The single most important asset of the SDMB are the mods. Keeping a MB “cleaned up” makes all the difference to me. Unfortunately, the CR doesn’t understand and appreciate this important asset. It’s not about servers and bandwidth, it’s about the mods. The CR has gotten a lot of valuable work from them for free, and it’s all going to be wasted over lesser matters.


About other successful pay sites: One site mentioned around here lately is locally based and actually part of my kids clique-of-geeks. One of my kids has been friends with a founder from way back. So their friends are also subscribers, etc. I have known some of the early joiners (besides my own 2) since they were in kindergarten! Once they reached college, it spread out of a wide area and made links with similar groups of people. I.e., I know the who/what/why of it all pretty darn good. There is a huge pre-existing Real Life Network behind the thing.

The SDMB isn’t at all like that. In my town, there hasn’t been a successful dopefest ever. This other MB can get a hundred people together on the opposite side of the country in a week. They’ll all be able to talk about “Oh, you know Matt B. from X do you? He used to go out with my a friend of my sister.” The SDMB will never work like that.

a lot of people say the lack of new posters like it’s a bad thing. I think the survival rate on new posters that become valued members is in the single digits. I certainly won’t miss all the socks, trolls, and newbie drive-bys. Anyone one that lurks for a while and then test posts for a month ought to know if it’s for them. And if it is for them, they’ll probably stick around and become part of the community.

Referrals probably already account for a big chunk of the ones that become part of the community, and that should continue albeit at a slower rate.

The SDMB will be different in 2 years, but I for one think it will be a positive difference. The lowest common denominator is going to go up a few notches.

I really don’t know…on the one hand, I’d like to take that account at face value. Only option, intensive research and exploration, so forth.

On the other hand…the Reader is a business, and I’ve worked in and observed how decisions get made in businesses large and small. And my cynical side has very little–perhaps too little, to be sure–difficulty believing the “research” involved consisted of a chain of managerial command stating: “Explore all the options. All options other than subscription will be dismissed.” Only not quite as forthrightly as that–usually that sort of thing is more a matter of implicit understanding. The actual delay in finally going ahead with subscription plan is–again, according to that inner cynic–more a matter of the length of simple managerial inertia combined with losing attempts to fight it.

But that’s just my take. For all I know, truly superior minds worked in perfect non-political harmony to reach the decision. Also, many people have bridges to sell.

Anyway: Little Nemo rocks. Tumbleweeds, man, tumbleweeds.

Not to imply or say anything about you personally, but I’ve actually gotten more of a sense of “attitude” from many of the people who are leaving, a sort of “ha ha, I’m smarter than you because I’m not wasting my time in this developing hellhole. Pretty soon, no one will be left but the morons who are paying five bucks to stay, and they can’t possibly sustain anything more interesting than mental masturbation.”

Well, then, I’m glad I have a year to find these places that are just as good…

I didn’t know that the SDMB had been around for 30 years! Wow! :smiley:

And I’m not 100% sure how doing it would’ve improved the message board’s standing anyway. MAYBE in conjunction with one of the other things you mentioned, but certainly not alone…

I’m afraid I don’t understand the purpose of this anecdote. Are you saying that the SDMB wouldn’t be dying if we were all part of a clique based in a particular city/state? Well, yeah, I suppose it wouldn’t. So what’s the point?

:rolleyes: Wow. What a snobbish attitude. Unfounded assumptions of other’s motivation, followed by broad-brush typecasting and rejection. Remind me, who’s the one being superior here?

Maybe the people who are paying $5 are doing it because they believe it’s worth it. Personally I believe from past membership I owe $5, even if I never read or post another word.

Time will tell. You don’t know, neither do I.

If they wanted to kill they could have achieved it a lot easier. Find a techie, order to pull the plug on the server. SDMB gone, end of story.

I don’t understand what point you’re trying to make here. How don’t they ‘understand and appreciate’? What should they do to demonstrate they do? In what ways is their work going to be wasted?

And the problem being??? I wasn’t aware that the purpose of the SDMB was to build a massed, real-life community. Dopefests happen sometimes someplaces. All well and good, but it’s not what the SDMB is here for.

      • Well I went ahead and coughed up the $5, because this is the only general-interest forums I really visit much… -but all this talk of “who’s staying/who’s going” made me notice that some people use the forums much differently than I do. I have been here since the AOL board and I only have about 3700 posts total. I usually only skim the GQ and IMHO boards–yet there are people who don’t post much on those boards, yet in just a few months rack up thousands of posts.
        Sometimes in just two or three months.
        About what?
        I don’t know–but that many posts that fast sounds like a chat room, not a forum.
        It’d be interesting to have a pay-per-post arrangement, like, five or ten cents per post.
        On the one hand, it would discourage new people–but on the other, I can see it being a highly effective pointless-post filter.
        Or at least, a lousy-but-profitable-pointless-post filter.
        Pointless posts can be fun certainly, Lord knows I’ve made a few myself, but that is much of what slows the board down and makes the admins work.
        So give the first one or maybe two months free as it is, but after that–if someone won’t pay a nickel to say something, then really, it wasn’t worth saying. -And I have no idea if the software could do that, I’d guess probably not as-is, but I’m just dreaming anyway.
  • And for what it’s worth, if I was ever in a “clique” I didn’t know it, and I don’t get half the “inside” jokes either.
    As I’ve seen it, it was mostly the wimmens who “cliqued”.
    ~

Good point. I’m always noticing for the first time recent members who out of nowhere have thousands of posts, yet I can’t recall ever reading one of them.

There’s more than a few threads in MPSIMS that are little more than jabber, not even qualifying as small talk. Kind of explains why I don’t spend much time there and how I can miss those thousands of posts. I don’t imagine I’m missing much. :slight_smile:

What might be a good idea would be a SD Chat Room, same membership as the boards. It wouldn’t be archived, so no post-padding rubbish. A good 50% of MPSIMS would be better suited to it.

What you bring up seems to be a major factor in each individual’s perception of value of the SDMB.

Yeah, it I were looking for an alternative site to have MPSIMS-style discourse, there would be plenty of other places I could go. But that’s not what I’m looking for … what I want in a message board is the interchange of ideas–and the focused high-level discussion–that the SDMB offers. I’m not aware of anything similar elsewhere on the Net (and I’ve looked around).

That’s a little pessimistic. I’m betting the SDMB gets around 2000-2500 charter members. All of these charter members can re-up next year for about $7.50. So for the foreseeable future, this place is going to be in the four digits in membership. For comparison, places like the Unaboard move and shake with less than 500 members.

I think you’ve created a false dichotomy. There’s no “us” or “them” at all. Very few charter members have poo-pooed those who aren’t staying … probably no more than 20 total. Surely, those 20 or so don’t represent the board at-large?

Also – the assumption that people who’d pay five dollars for the SDMB are frivolous spenders is a false assumption.

I also think this is likely. However, due to the large number of initial signees, the SDMB can withstand getting few new members for quite a while. While new members are great, it seems to me that this place will have more than enough charter members to keep things freash and interesting amongst themselves for quite a while.

Don’t foget, though, that new folks can shop free for 30 days. If this doesn’t help spur some level of board growth, the trial period can be increased to 60 or 90 days – or even 120 days – as needed.

I’m banking on my estimate of 2000+ charter members. In my mind, a “small clique” would be <100 members, so IMHO, it would take several years for the SDMB to dwindle to that amount. Again, with the Unaboard’s 450 or so members as an example, the SDMB will have more than enough members to keep things lively for quite a while.

Lengthening the trial period for new posters is the logical counter to this. Another would be to offer reduced-rate 6-month subscriptions for, say, $8.95.

In short, I think the SDMB will be OK. And things can be tweaked if needed to promote overall “board health”.

Gotta agree with furt on this one. This place is gonna go after it makes the Reader a few quid.