What's the planned future direction of the SDMB board by the Chicago Reader & Cecil?

Just curious. It’s been a while since I remember any discussion on the state of the board fiscally & hardware-wise. Any plans? Let sleeping boards lie? What?

West. Definitely West.

That’s rather alarming news. :slight_smile:

Damn. I wanted to go northeast.

Well, if I said we were Going South, that would suggest the demise of the Board.

I may have to look into Northeast. :slight_smile:

Are you kidding me. What, you got no sense of humor? Goin’ South. It includes maybe my favorite funny movie line of all time.

“I’ll never forget you, Hermione. You was the first woman I didn’t have to pay for.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, when I was a young boy I dreamed of being a baseball. But tonight I say we must move forward, not backward, upward, but forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!”

Saturday’s Dilbert somehow seems appropriate:

I didn’t make the connection. Which admin or mod is our PHB ?

Nah, it was a loose connections, it had more to do with the upgrading the servers and the being overrun by trolls.
The pointy hair boss did not have a line anyway. I was not thinking about him.


There’s no news to share with you at this time. You should assume that we’re going to be here and doing some sort of business unless and until we tell you otherwise.

I’m going to essay a serious but speculative answer. This is in no way founded on anything that any Reader or SDMB staff have had to say privately, simply observation of the board for nearly seven years and the handful of public comments that have been made.

First, the value of the SDMB to the Reader is predominantly as a public service and free publicity for the paper. Anyone running an alternative newspaper like the Reader is an odd mixture of public-spirited idealist and hard-headed businessman, by definition. Without the first, one loses touch with the sensibilities of one’s clientele (and probably never would have started or continued such an enterprise in the first place); without the second, the enterprise goes broke early on.

So I see the SDMB as something the Reader is pleased to do as a public service, up to a point. But it grew way beyond the discuss-Cecil’s-columns element that was its obvious origin. And we reached that point two years ago, when the Reader switched to paid memberships.

In terms of publicity, the SDMB is an asset. I’ll lay strong odds that for the majority of members here, you know the names of three alternative weeklies: the Village Voice (prototype for the entire industry), your local indy. paper (and perhaps those in cities you used to live in, if you’ve moved around), and … the Chicago Reader. Even if you read Cecil’s column in the Tulsa or Charlottesville weekly, you know he works for the Reader and they sponsor the website.

I don’t know Reader bookkeeping, but I’ve seen comments to the effect that the SDMB has always run at a net loss for the Reader, and that the membership fees reduce but do not eliminate that deficit. This is important to remember, because it affects policy significantly.

IMO, The Reader will always be reactive to the board. It will, for example, repair or replace hardware or software that is going glitchy (see Jerry’s recent announcements). As the board follows Gresham’s Law, and expands to fill the resources available, with consequent slowdowns, it will continue to react to them and add resources.

It will upgrade the vBulletin software after release, usually well after release, when (hopefully) all the bugs have been identified and corrected. This will occur when there’s a temporal coincidence of (a) the new release is out, used, tested, and corrected, (b) the Reader can afford it, and © Jerry and his team have the time to install, tweak, and implement the new release. It will implement no-cost features of the software upgrade if and when they seem valuable to the membership and minimal-to-no drain on server resources.

It will go beyond these two actions rarely and only when Ed and Jerry (and perhaps Tuba?) have good arguments for an addition that will be accepted by Reader management. Not often at all.

As noted above, that’s purely my third party speculation on how the Reader interfaces with the board economically and financially. I personally am grateful they consider it worth continuing, at any level. And it’s not intended to imply any criticism, but purely what I see as an objective, realistic look at how they operate as a business, with a lot of possibly invalid inferences from things they have said into things they did not say.

But North by Northwest would be much more . . . suspenseful, I suppose.

I think you mean Say’s Law which is often misquoted as “Supply creates demand”. Gresham’s Law is the one about bad money driving out good (ignorance fought - apparently Copernicus actually said it waaay earlier - cool).

As long as this is being discussed, it’s actually closer to a generalization of Parkinson’s Law:

“The demand upon a resource always expands to match the supply of the resource.”

Rowrrbazzle has it in one – it was indeed Parkinson’s Law which I meant. Is there some sort of principle that says someone wanting to sound erudite by quoting a Law of this sort will always reference the wrong Law? Kind of a Meta-Gaudere’s Law? :o

Dear Polycarp,

Thank you for your very informative response regarding the progress and future of the Straight Hope Message Board.

Messy Paint

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. :smiley:

Seriously though, I think most of us assume the board will be here for the foreseeable future- as Polycarp says, it’s a PR boon for the folks at the Chicago Reader, and although we’ll probably never get the specifics relating to what it costs (partly because, as was mentioned in a previous thread, half the board would say “You’re paying $3.14 for a reversible widget regulator? My brother knows this guy at Widget Hut who can get them at cost for $0.75 each, provided you can read Cyrillic and don’t mind a few bullet holes in the packaging”), I know enough to suspect that the boards here have bought Cecil into the lives of considerably more people than any of us can ever really begin to appreciate, and that it’s in the Chicago Reader’s interests to keep them going- in some form or another- for quite some time yet.

Oh god I hope that pun was intentional.

I hope Polycarp is right, I hope that The Reader keeps on keepin’ on. If his assessment of the for-pay method reducing but not eliminating the negative costs to The Reader, I wonder ( and, i know I risk stoning by saying this but it sure beats flaming…heh. small joke ) if increasing the Annual Tithing to $ 20.00 would balance the books.

I’m just saying…

Cartooniverse, who has found things on The Straight Dope that cannot be measured by ruler or abacus. :slight_smile: One cannot quantify illumination.