I’m sure Ed will have more to say, but here’s a bit of history. I did assume most everyone knew this.
Any personal comment is just that, personal; I do not speak for Cecil, Ed, or the Reader on this matter.
The Straight Dope Message Board was born when we were featured on AOL. When we left AOL in 1999, the board was such a popular feature that we wanted to find a way to continue in cyberspace.
At that point the Reader had a rudimentary website, but was still contemplating online options and had not committed to anything. The SDMB as a separate entity was going to simply be something that ran in the Reader’s placeholder online; an “interesting experiment in cyberspace” was what it was called at the time. We didn’t know if people would still be interested enough to hang around and contribute, but we thought it was worth a try.
The SDMB has proven to be pretty successful, to our delight.
Since then, the Reader has invested over 100K to keeping this going, even as it expanded its own online options.
We have never made them a profit and have not even covered our expenses, though we have had occasional little bits of ad revenue.
The SDMB has grown into quite a community and of course we want to see it continue if at all possible. The Reader is entitled to recoup some of what it has spent on us.
Technically, the board resides on the Reader server, uses the Reader’s hardware. and software, is administered by the Reader tech staff. We share the Reader’s online resources with all the other Reader functions, including online classified ads and personals.
Legally, the SDMB is the property of the Chicago Reader. But the board really belongs to you; it’s the community that makes it what it is. Where we’re going from there, can’t say for sure. It’s really up to our members. If you don’t support us, the Reader will draw the appropriate conclusion, I’m sure.
The Reader does not consider us a profit center (which is a good thing; we’d be shut down in an instant if they did, Donald Trump would fire us all in a heartbeat), but I’m sure they would like to see us earn a little. The Reader is neither a nonprofit nor a charity, it’s a business. We cost them money every blessed minute.
Unless and until you hear otherwise, we do expect to be open for business today and tomorrow and the day after that, as we have been nearly every day since we first opened on our own in 1999. And with any luck and support from our friends, today and tomorrow and the day after that will be pretty much the same as we’ve been and maybe even better.
Hope this answers your question.
your humble TubaDiva