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The Exponential Growth of WebmasterWorld in 2002

managing the explosive growth we've seen this year.



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

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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)


5:04 pm on Aug 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

a) Pre-moderation: I think there should be some pre-moderation on the topics posted, not in the threads.

c) Members only: People who are really interested would be able to participate.

e) Banners: I do not like the idea, unless there is no other choice.

I do not like the idea of paying a subscribers fee, because you may loose some people who are fundamental to the forums rich content. I am mostly learning and hopefully contributing a little bit. You may implement the subscriber’s fee to new members, but then again, a lot of interesting people, new to the forum, but with the knowledge to contribute may lose interest. May be you can implement an economic contribution system (right now I am starting a business, however, as soon as I am able, I will be happy to contribute). :)


5:58 pm on Aug 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm a newbie at all of this but WW has opened my eyes to a lot of things that I had no idea of before. I lurked here for a couple of weeks before I joined but what made me join was that I saw that people took the time to reply to questions from newbies, even if it was to just refer them to the answer in another thread.

If (A) had been in place when I joined I may never have posted due to the intimidation factor which has been discussed before. But this may be appropriate for a few "select" forums - G...LE

(B) I cannot agree with this form because it opens up too many possibilites of a new member never getting heard. Also one of the great things about this board is that personal attacks are not allowed this opens the door to those attacks IMHO.

(C) I have no problem with this but do you want to restrict access completely to members? I and many others lurked for a period of time before we came to to the realization that this was not another one of "those" boards filled with people who trying to promote themselves and stomp on the man next door.

(D)This will probably be the best model that will let you supplement what you are turning away to keep this COMMUNITY running. But I think that TallTroll proposed a modified model that would be best if implemented correctly.

As far as fees are concerned it is not a matter of "would you pay ?" but "how much do you have to pay with ?". I'm just starting out so I know I wouldn't be able to afford $100/mnth but I could and would be able to pay a nominal yearly fee.

....as soon as I post this I'm hitting the donate button...I encourage those who can to do the same


6:37 pm on Aug 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator skibum is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I think Choster makes a good point. If you are on top of your game or maybe donate lots of time to things like ODP, why would you want to pay to hand out free advice after donating your time to a lot of other online projects (or a lot fo time to one)?

To avoid that might lead to free membership if you volunteer at ODP or Zeal. Actually there could be some synergy there. Kinda like an AAA card. Join or volunteer at one organization & get some perks at another. The forums here would benefit from ODP and general SE/Webmaster expertise and there would be an incentive to join the ODP without really paying the editors. This forum and the one from ODPers compliment each other pretty well already.

Of course WebmasterWorld could receive no preferential treatment in the ODP but its already well listed anyway.


6:51 pm on Aug 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The facts are simple, one cannot run a high volume website for free forever, nor should they. Bandwidth is not free. I think a annual membership fee would be equitable for WW.

Thanks WW


10:35 pm on Aug 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

To be honest I think we are all asking a lot of Brett to expect him to run this for free.

I think we all agreee that this sourse of information is priceless and we all take it for granted. What we all forget when we log on is someone is having to pay for this, manage this and do brett'ish things to it (I ran out of things to add) I think we juat have to go along with what ever is decided. If we need to pay we need to pay. Just now WebmasterWorld is free for us but is certainly not free to run and operate.

There has to be a point where free for us is asking to much of someoen else.


11:37 pm on Aug 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

mack, your on the money here!

This forum is the life blood of many and in many different ways. Brett envisioned an idea that captured so many qualified and experience people and from so many walks of life.

It is very rare to find such a professional resource that offers so much residual values from so many professions without monetary gains. Knowledge doesn't need to cost alot but there is always a price.

The harsh reality ... next years traffic will likely doubled, or triple again or more. Word-of-Mouth and search engine referrals produce this result.

Totally free is unsustainable, and worst yet is "burn out".

Where would all the members and newbies be if... WebmasterWorld folded because it became too must of a chore, no more fun. Brett and all the adminstrator and moderators are no less deserving.

Fun doesn't need to make a living but when all the fun is gone out of it, and work is all that's left... no one works for very long for free.


1:06 am on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I say again, option D will kill these forums stone dead. I can guarantee 99% of people will go straight to SEF. No one is prepared to pay for information on the net. Ask Danny Sullivan how many people subscribe to his site then look at how many people access WebmasterWorld. I would guess 1:1000.

What's the problem with banner advertising?


1:27 am on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm all for c), and I see e) as a viable solution for granting some income to WebmasterWorld. They could work well together.


1:32 am on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

ask for tiered donations, then put a list of donors for all to see. Maybe put a star or something next to their username based on the amount they donated. Market the donation aspect more and see what happens first before before making any other changes.


1:47 am on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Brett, Thanks for such a great resource for us budding webmasters. If I get as great advice as I hope for, you can expect a donation here.

When I first seen the link to here (Found on Google) and the name WebmasterWorld, I had a vision of a magazine. This is a great name for a webmaster mag. Is it already being done? If not, there's your income. With the right content, I'd subscribe. As a note, I don't do email newsletters and I think not alot of others do also. So, whatya think? I have only several terabytes of content ideas swimming around in my head and you could start off with a small publication to subscribers from this site alone. No fancy magazine needed, you could put it together cheaply but nicely at Office Depot or even at home. And you could enlist the help from us for articles and illustrations free, with only references that we could use for resumes and such.

I could go on and on but thats me. I was personality type tested as a visionary inventor or something like that.


2:07 am on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I like sonnys idea, a "gold star" next to the user profile with the word supporter, or such, would encourage donations with a little "positive peer pressure". A sticky mail "donations support this board" plea at certain post levels might also help.

I would rather not see a solution that makes the board more exclusive, as often new users bring considerable experience, or an inexperienced question can shed light on something not considered.


2:10 am on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

WW is a great place and of course it would be ok to pay for it. But...

Maybe I'm an odd isolated case but I don't live in the US and I have no credit card (and I don't want one).

It's really not a point of money. I don't care about money anyway. It's a point of "easy to handle for me".

Sell BestBBS, display ads, make the donation thing, make parts of WW for members only or start a initiative to let the community write a book and sell this book. The informations are here anyway, why don't collect, print and sell them (with help and agreement of the posters of course).

However, do what ever you can to keep this great plays alive!


6:26 am on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Just hoes to show the quality of this site. Can you imagine this thread on any other forum site.

"Pay, what do you mean pay!"

Dont think we have had one post in this thread where a person has said they would refuse to pay.


12:52 pm on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Has anyone added up the votes? At a quick glance it looks like a huge majority have selected "D". This gives Brett the option of doing almost anything at this point.
Just think about it, now if we get bored we can log out and try to hack our way back in.


2:05 pm on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

a) Doing this for all new threads would probably be an administrative nightmare. Maybe it becomes more realistic, when it is made the default just for new members, and the mods can set them to be auto-approved after a suitable number of good contributions. There may be ways to "sell" this as a service for the new members, instead of a restriction (helping them to find a thread that already answers their question, or the forum where their question is placed best).

b) This board is to a large part about knowledge. Voting about the value of knowledge items isn't a very useful concept in my book. Such an approach might also have a negative impact on some of the social interaction between members, mods, and admins. The resolution of such problems is mostly being done quietly behind the scenes at the moment. Pulling parts of that to the front stage doesn't seem a desireable thing to do.

c) I can see this working if balanced correctly. As already mentioned, it shouldn't affect all content, so that new and truly interested visitors as well as search engine spiders will see enough to get hooked. Things that might be made accessible to the general public include:
- The threads highlighted on the home page (possibly extended to several pages).
- The threads listed in the board library.
- The threads listed in each forums library.
- Maybe every thread over a certain age, through the search function.
- The thread list of each forum. Unregistered visitors either simply won't see any links there, or they may only access a limited number of posts in each thread.

Yes, requiring membership for full read access will put up some initial psychological barrier for new visitors. But if the goal is to improve the information density and reduce the work load on the mods, then a carefully balanced distinction between private and public information may help a lot in reaching that goal. The title of this thread talks about exponential growth. I don't think that growth in itself is necessarily a good goal. Keeping (or even improving on) the current quality may require to restrict growth in one way or another.

This same balance should also reduce the negative impact of hiding most of the content from the search engines. I don't have the numbers, but if googlebot already only crawls a subset of the pages here, then it might actually be a good idea to make sure that those pages she does crawl are packed with information, and "library worthy". This might end up to both reduce the server load due to crawling activities, as well as improve the search experience for people finding this site through the engines. Those effects can then be finetuned by adding more or fewer threads to the library lists.

d) "Hey, I paid for this, you can't edit my post!" Even if it is only a nominal fee, complaints like this are bound to happen. There's also the point made by Choster, that some members tend to primarily answer questions insted of asking them, which may not be a priviledge they are ready to pay for. Over time, I have come to profit a lot from other peoples answers as well, even if I didn't ask the questions myself, so I would not have a problem paying a nominal fee *now*. But when I first registered, I did so to answer a question I just happened to know the answer for, and it is pretty safe to assume that I wouldn't have paid for doing this *then*. There's a theoretical possibility to have some members pay, and allow others for free (using whatever criteria), but I don't really like the thought of such a two-class solution.

Even if the technical operation of the site is relatively cheap, I'm sure that Bretts time costs money too. I have no idea whether the current donation mechanism covers any significant part of that. However, I understand this thread to be about administrative issues, so it may not be the right place to speculate about the best funding options.


4:42 pm on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, C is fine, so is D, and I don't see how a few reputable hosting or utility banners (e) would upset anyone either. So long as we're not talking about some cr*ppy rotation scheme, there would be a lot of 'assumed' quality sticking to a banner on WW. So that's nailed my colours firmly to the mast then, eh?


4:53 pm on Aug 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A version of the pre-approved threads model would be an automated screen in select fora like Google where duplication and redundancy are worst. When a person tries to start a new thread an intermediate screen would appear saying "Have you searched our Google knowledge base for 'what is www2?' Do that search here before you post." (Taking a clue from Google's attempt to catch spelling errors automatically.)

This screen would require no moderator involvement, and it could be set to appear only for people, say, below the level of full member.


7:11 am on Aug 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

From my own experience with running a publication on the web, I think it would be wise to maintain a members only policy for the forums that contain anything related to affiliation and SEO.

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

I think you will find your membership numbers to sharply decrease if you are going to asl a subscription fee for all forums, but if you would apply this to 'premium content' such as the affiliate stuff, SEO and Google technicalities --and perhaps also including the reports that get written by members, this would surely work and I for one would certainly subscribe.

The site is worth a general subscription, but I think that's missing the point here, unless you want to end up with a small club of people who have realised in the past that this is valuable--while simultaneously depriving newcomers the ability to make out for themselves if this is valuable or not...

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


7:34 am on Aug 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I hate subscription services. That said, I still think they deserve payout for their work.

If I like something, I find a way to help it. :)

Just make it easy for people to donate.


1:59 pm on Aug 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

For what it's worth, I think a subscription based service would kill the well rounded community that exists here though I would gladly buy a subscription if need be.

In rethinking this though, with all the magazines subscriptions I've had over the years (at $25 - $70 year) I've never once been provided such focused content - interactive at that. And I think nothing of dropping $35 - $75 on a book if I think it will help me. My initial reation may be based on the fact that the majority of the web is free. But what I often forget is that the majority of the web doesn't nearly provide what I get from WebmasterWorld! Not one other website I can think of.

I'd suggest that if you do decide to go for a subscription base membership then advertise WebmasterWorld and/or allow us to talk it up. Maybe provide incentives for members to get others to sign up. The problem with paid membership is that it's hard to know what you're going to get for your money so I say let anyone view current posts but not be allowed to search or post or view profiles. In addition, get some folks to write articles/reviews about WebmasterWorld for some trade magazines.

As for other traffic limiting schemas, whatever you decide - I'll support it. Thanks for asking.


6:58 pm on Aug 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

subscription services rarely work and you could stop the flow of new users to webmasterworld. It's the users that make a forum like webmasterworld work so well, and to stop the flow could be dangerous. I would personally vote for a membership only system, but feel if any of the four points were implemented it would harm webmasterworld.


3:21 am on Aug 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

(d) subscription fee--obviously worth it.


6:29 pm on Aug 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

(d), but I think Danny Sullivan's idea is great (free up to a certain amount of use/info, then require membership), and I agree with Alby that authenticated SE reps like GoogleGuy should have their subscriptions waived.


7:19 pm on Aug 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It depends upon the definition of "..some stresses on the system..."

If it means, too much user load for not enough money to maintain the forums. Then I would suggest targeted (non-x10 or Worlds Largest Casino) banner ads with the option to donate to remove the ads.

My only apprehension becomes heavy addiction to banner-ad revenue. Resulting in a fundamental shift in WebmasterWorld.com priorities.


2:22 pm on Aug 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Thank you everyone for the input. This has been both educating and enjoyable to read.


I fed all the input into the mcp here and have come up with The Plan. I know everyone is going to like the plan (code name: Project Camelot) because it addresses 95% of everyones major concerns.

How is that possible given the wide range of opinions? After reading all the replies here, it just sorta came to me.

We will revisit this thread to see if I've accomplished that goal about Jan 1 of 2003. And don't try to drag it out of me before then ;-)


3:24 pm on Aug 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

You could make the site show the first 10 messages of a topic to anyone, but to see the rest or reply requires membership. That way you're still providing value to non-members (potential new members)


3:37 pm on Aug 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Please review my site forum, where webmasters can post their site url's (robots not allowed) then senior members can view and post idea's to that webmaster.

note: Only the orginal webmaster and members of a certain level can view the post or by invitation from the webmaster (seen your post in the affiliate marketing forum can you help me.)

Of course the webmaster has to pay brett and the senior members do it out of the goodness of the hearts.



6:28 pm on Aug 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Couple of concerns people issued in this thread were:

a) using current content behind closed doors.

We would not do that. Anything posted in public would remain in public, and anything posted in private (except my own personal stuff), would remain private.

b) several suggested semi public/private threads.

I just don't see that working. I wouldn't want to post in a thread that could go public or viceversa.

Either way, we have the plan, and it will work. If everything goes according to "plan", no major changes or disruptions in the current system should occurr.


11:55 pm on Aug 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

you shouldn't notice any major changes to the site

Oh man oh man...famous last words :)


11:56 pm on Aug 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

Brett, what is the plan?. or is it that you are keeping it close to your chest!. Whatever the plan, you could outline and optionally encourage additional feedback. I like what you said that there are no major disruptions.
This 216 message thread spans 8 pages: 216

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