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The Exponential Growth of WebmasterWorld in 2002
managing the explosive growth we've seen this year.
Brett_Tabke




msg:510726
 3:28 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

We've seen our traffic increase 3 fold in both uniques and pvs since the start of the year. There are some stresses on the system we are discussing how to approach.

a) Pre-moderation. All threads would require moderator approval before public posting.
b) Voting and public moderation. There would be a system where posts could be voted on by users. You would be able to set your own "twit list" level where messages below that level would not be included.
c) Members only. All members would have to log in.
d) Subscribers only. All members would pay a subscription fee.

Which one would you vote for and why? (one vote only please)

 

richlowe




msg:510786
 7:25 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

My vote would be a strong (c).

a- Don't like moderation and really enjoy the current environment.

b- Not enthusiastic about this at all.

d- Hate this. This board thrives because it's a free exchange of information. I believe it will shrivel and die if a paid model is chosen.

Suggestions about banner ads - Really hate this.

Richard Lowe

oilman




msg:510787
 7:27 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

>> 2 seconds if you have standard templates.

a very good point wardbekker - even crossed my mind as I was typing that.

Of course there's always room for improvement but my point was more that, at this present time, the admin system is not the problem even though there may be some streamlining that could happen.

I think the general problem for Brett is that managing a community of this size is a full time job no matter what tools you have at your disposal and if he's spending all his time on this and turning away paying SEO jobs or consulting work etc....well you get the picture.

I don't believe that there is a way for Brett to step back from the system without destroying it. Pre-moderation is will simply not work and paid subscription could do a number on our membership base.

So if we can't create breathing room for Brett then maybe we need to create some revenue. I like the subscription idea but there are issues there as well. What I'd really like to see is text ads.

NFFC




msg:510788
 7:29 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

>I'd really like to see is text ads.

Me too, but only a few per page. Two at the top and eight down the side is too much imho :)

msr986




msg:510789
 7:42 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I was just over at the "Google Update" thread.

This inspired me to think of the perfect solution!

PPP (Pay Per Post)! :)

skibum




msg:510790
 7:43 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'd vote for C

Then problem with (D) is only a few hundred of us would pay and it will stop any expansion right in it's tracks. That would kill WebmasterWorld.

I agree with that. Would it help to put out a figure needed? Cash is probably just part of the problem, time has got to be a big constraint regardless of donations or membership fees. How do you get any other work done Brett?

Would it be worth it to setup an affiliate link to Amazon or some other merchant and ask memebers to buy through that link when shopping there?

Everyone voting for D or who can afford to should click that donate button now!

Maybe this:

# go away
User-agent: *
Disallow: /

would curb growth for a while. There are plenty of non-SE links that point here so it wouldn't kill growth.

alex_h




msg:510791
 8:00 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

How about sponsership? My clients and I make a lot of money off this information from this site. While my not throwing a few bucks in the money drie was sheer laziness, I could probably be convinced to do a corporate sponsership program. I would think that myself and others that run significant business in part from information here (150k+ businesses) would probably be willing to sponser portions of the site.

If those sponserships included text links, you'd probably get a nice reaction from people that know they need incoming links from good PR sites like this one.

I would suggest getting 2 sponsers for the Google forums, 1 for Yahoo, 1 for MSN, etc., and see what happens. You might be able to make enough money to make it worth your while, or at least to cover the costs of hiring someone to run the details you hate. If you were able to take 20-40 hours of your time on this site away and put it on someone, would that help?

Alex

liquidstar




msg:510792
 8:08 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

My vote would be "C" maybe because I'm cheap. That being said, I wouldn't mind shelling out about $25 US to support the site every year. The other options I really don't like at all.

glengara




msg:510793
 8:12 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

C preferably, to keep the membership we have, D reluctantly, for the same reason.

Not so strangely I suppose, this discussion reminds me of others I've read on the problems afflicting DMOZ.

ukgimp




msg:510794
 8:28 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Prefer the idea of C but would do D in a flash.

I would hope that the forums could still be read for free to encourage new users.

2p's worth

muesli




msg:510795
 8:36 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

hi brett,

i'd opt for a variantion of D plus E (ads).

my 2-cents:

a) pre-moderation
probably not feasable. would like this for new members (such as myself) though ;-)

b) voting
eg. epionions.com and all their clones use a system where reviews/posts are judged (not reviewers, well - indirectly yes) as "helpful", "less helpful", etc. this would enable much better selection of content here. now there are just 2 ways: order by date and full text search. (order by rating could be a subscriber-only option.)

c) members only
honestly, that would kill the boards. the reason to register wouldn't be visible anymore, not even to search engines (!). or am i getting sth wrong here?

d) pay site (entirely)
that would kill you, too. count the members who would pay, multiply it by a possible monthly fee. won't be too much. within half a year your content will be poor (far fewer contributors) and new subscription numbers will be poor (content not indexable - no SE traffic).

===

D) is an interesting option though: you could try to build up premium boards and leave the existing ones free. eg. site reviews for SEO (i know you don't like them): in combination with B (rating) you could let in all members with a very high rating for free (so you get site reviewers) and all others pay. by that you would shift the site towards a C2C consulting service. a similar approach would be a "ask experts" service.

E) is the best (advertising): your audience is a very interesting target group - why no give advertisers the opportunity to reach them? keywords: permission marketing (email), text ads, keyword ads (site search), etc.

btw: sth. you could easily make "subscriber-only" would be sticky mail.

muesli

coconutz




msg:510796
 8:36 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Prefer C, but not opposed to D.

nutsandbolts




msg:510797
 8:41 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Small yearly/monthly payments which gives subscribers access to exclusive knowledge bases and advanced search tools for the site.

And the automatic banning of anyone who types "my 2 cents" ;) hehehe...

vmcknight




msg:510798
 8:52 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I like the suggestion of text ads. It may seem low-key, but the Google-type ads are the only ones I buy from.

You could also be more assertive about requesting donations - post how much things cost, how many hours you work on the site, etc.

The subscription model would be good if we were all from North America/Western Europe. But trying to manage hundreds or thousands of subscribers from all over the world would involve handling mail, foreign checks, and currency conversion, not to mention whatever system you need to keep up with members' status, bill them, remind them, and cut them off.

4eyes




msg:510799
 8:54 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I favour a split C-D system.

All the forums on SEO type topics in a paid members area.

The other forums out in the open for everybody.

I'd be happy to pay a reasonable fee, c.the cost of good meal out - I have learned enough here to justify that many times over.

chinook




msg:510800
 9:05 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I can see it now, quarterly PBS style pledge campaigns. We interrupt this programming to bring you an important message (presenter then goes on and on and on). Coffee mugs with highly attractive webmasterworld.com emblazoned on them, free with your $25 donation. Duffle bags with....etc

But actually if from time to time the donation thing was pushed, it could probably help a whole lot.

crash




msg:510801
 9:17 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I thought you had to be a member to post?? Oy! So much for my observational skills!

I think posts waiting on mod approval will kill the board. Make it way to slow not to mention the strain on mods.

Paying is tricky to do successfully, what happens when someone that pays needs to be banned?

If it's not a matter of money, go the 'member' route.
If it's a matter of time, while you have a great group of mods already perhaps recruit more. I'm sure you can all put yer heads together and come up with some current members that would/could fulfill the obligation and follow the forum rules.

just my 2c while waiting for a phone call ;)

nancyb




msg:510802
 9:22 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

C or D. Preferably C since I'm broke until goo.....

Somehow, I'd come up with the $'s if I had to. This is a great board!

I'm also willing to help with the work if there is any job that needs a grunt :)

Macguru




msg:510803
 9:25 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I just dont get the point of people here hesitating between (c) and (d). Both of these revenue models will stop at least 99% of new members to susbcribe. WebmasterWorld would become some private club for (sorry) senile, irrelevant and rambling vets chatting about old war days. Within a year, this kind of club would be ignored and forgotten by the net community. This means RIP on short term.

Some people here suggest 'impovements' for hosting and moderation. As far as I know, both moderation and hosting are not fees. This board has been builded and maintained by pulling the elastic for very long now. It needs a revenue model.

This revenue model MUST meet the desires and objectives of more experienced professionals members and also provide some way to get new blood. (Stats shows a couple geniuses just got acces to the web today...)

We must keep this board open and friendly to new members.
We could offer more services to members willing to pay.

Having to vote between preset options, sounds like the last call... I hope we have enough time to discuss the right decision.

korkus2000




msg:510804
 9:27 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I have to totally agree with macguru.

skibum




msg:510805
 9:33 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Is C a revenue model? I interpreted D to be paid subscriptions, while C just meant that one would have to register (but not pay anything) before being able to dive into the content here.

jatar_k




msg:510806
 9:35 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I must agree with Macguru as well.

You could keep the present setup for unpaid users and offer incentives/extras for payment.

I have been following this thread all day and I am surprised by how many people say they would pay if they had to. Maybe if more people had already paid, for a service they obviously put value on, this issue wouldn't be a problem.

andrey_sea




msg:510807
 9:39 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

(c) - strongly preffer this option

If you were to go with (d) I think many people would simply leave, I for one will.

Brad




msg:510808
 9:40 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

>a) Pre-moderation. All threads would require moderator approval before public posting.

You will fry all your moderators in a week.

>b) Voting and public moderation. ...

For reasons previously stated by others, no. Sometimes a boner question sparks the most interesting threads. This would also heavily favor native English-speakers only.

>c) Members only. All members would have to log in.

Yes, reluctantly, I think it is time for this. I hate to say it since I lurked for months before posting. There is the danger of this contrubuting to stagnation. I think this will not solve the money question. Brett cannot continue to devote the time for free and pay for servers.

>d) Subscribers only. All members would pay a subscription fee.

Several things worry me:

1. Perhaps pay for posting privaleges. This might be a middle ground between totally open and eliminating all registered lurkers. You would still eliminate a lot of posters with good technical information who will not share info if they have to pay just to post once or twice.

2. One of the strengths of WebmasterWorld is the posters from the developing world bring a totally different perspective to the forum. It would be our loss if those voices were cut off. If payment is required (and the day will come,) it should be multi tiered to make it affordable to those from the developing world. IMO.

3. Stagnation. Who do you want here? Professionals? Small-time pros or corporate webmasters? Semi pro's? The level you set the prices at will determine this. But are those price levels going to be the same for the SEO's or the web designers? They may have a very different criteria.

The amateur and content web are already being left behind, they will drop even further behind if they have to pay to even read. I am not sure it is healthy to loose touch with the amateur and content elements of the web. It is a hidden cost that must be factored into the thinking.

F) Pay Per Post Bidding on Google Dance Threads. ;)

[edited by: Brad at 9:49 pm (utc) on Aug. 22, 2002]

Macguru




msg:510809
 9:49 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>Is C a revenue model?

You are right skibum (c) is not a revenue model. I was dreaming too much about my original "F" model where paying members had no banners.

But (c) is still a good way to kill 90% of new subscriptions...

jdMorgan




msg:510810
 9:52 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Wow! - Busy thread!

Coming in rather late, I'd like to second rjohara's ideas on reducing the load rather than taking
exclusionary steps...

Make the site search link bigger and bold, and add some nice link text to attract new users to it.

Add a "Click here before posting" link for newcomers - This should load a page with FAQ links and
a link to paynt's welcome post.

Expand on the "Google Knowledge Base" idea: After analyzing the subjects of the majority of
repetitive posts, put a list out here, and let's get some volunteers to search the archives and
come up with some "white papers" to create FAQ pages on the top ten most-popular subjects... "Why
am I PR0/banned from Google - I was only crawled yesterday?", "How can I ban this or that using
.htaccess, etc."

A little highly-targeted work to gather, organize, and make this info very-easily-accessible would
reduce the repetitive-subject posts quite a bit, I think.

Jim

olwen




msg:510811
 9:58 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'd have a problem with D because I'm just not making anything at the moment although I might in the long term. C would be fine by me, but I can see that there is a need for some income.

Macguru




msg:510812
 10:01 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

You could keep the present setup for unpaid users and offer incentives/extras for payment.

Jatar_k, personally, I would prune out a couple of forums/options already available to members.

Got profile access and StikyMail options in the crosshairs of a long range rifle scope...

[edited by: Macguru at 10:07 pm (utc) on Aug. 22, 2002]

lavapies




msg:510813
 10:06 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think the members only option is a good one. At least that way you will filter threads that are either posted without good cause or by one hit wonders.

Having said that, I would be willing to pay a nominal fee for subscription, but I could see many valuable contributors leaving if such a senario was enforced.

At least try c) before d) .. could be a phased transition. I mean c) could have the desired effect without any need to impose d). If you try c) and it doesn't work, then think about d) again!

That's the newbie's 2 cents worth anyway(or tuppence as we say in the UK) :-)

Fiver




msg:510814
 10:07 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Since so many of us would be willing to pay, but it's a problem if everyone *has* to pay, why not place an 'optional payment' button on the page. Let us direct deposit a few bucks to a paypal account every once in a while when feeling generous (or feeling rich from the money we know we only made because of what we learned here!) -- it might add up.

chowcat




msg:510815
 10:11 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think the beauty about webmaster world is that despite the amount of members that now belong to the site, it still has that small, comfy, cosy, personal feel to it. Banging loads of ads all over the place will just commercialise it and rob the quality site of its appeal,

At the same time I agree that charging for membership is totally fair and justified, but would at the same time lead to a drop in contributions and new members joining and sharing their knowledge.

Can you not try and get a sponsorhip deal from someone that doesn't require their branding splashed all over the place but instead benefits from the wealth of knowledge and advice thrown about the forum.

dvduval




msg:510816
 10:12 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm curious how much work you are putting on yourself, Brett. As any company grows, it is important to hire people to help. I'll bet there are some people here who would volunteer to help you. You didn't really reveal the limiting factor.
1) Is it money for hosting?
2) or is it time?
3) or server load?

In any case, it seems important that you build a part of your site that is dedicated to making money--not necessarilly the forums. Here are a couple of ideas:
1) Sell consulting time - for $75/hour someone will view your site and discuss it with you on the phone. You get half and the consultant gets half.
2) Have a section devoted to web building tools such as WPG, Dreamweaver, and other software. Charge these companies a small fee to place their ad.
3) Build a section devoted to webmasters for hire. You could split it into sections by expertise - PHP, ASP, multimedia, etc. Charge for the listing. A well done Yahoo-like directory would be a benefit to many people and would also help your site continue to grow.

In any case, best wishes,
David

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