View Full Version : OKCTalk Roundup



Patrick
08-16-2006, 07:07 PM
Okay guys, we haven't had any new Premium Members in awhile. Remember, that this site doesn't pay for itself. Please, please give some thoughts to becoming a Premium Member. This is a member-supported site.

Thanks in advance for your help.

AgeSage
08-16-2006, 07:43 PM
I just tried to sign up but could not do it using a credit card. Maybe that's why no one has signed up.

Patrick
08-16-2006, 10:54 PM
I just tried it and it worked. You go to Premium Membership at the top of the main page. Under cost, click the drop down menu and select $47. Click Order. Click "Order Using Paypal." Note, you don't have to have a Paypal account. Once it goes to the Paypal page, scroll to the bottom and click on Don't have a PayPal account? var myText = 'Click here';var myid = 'myAllTextSubmitID'; var myname = 'new_user_button.x';document.write(''); document.write(myText); document.write(' (http://www.okctalk.com/#)'); Click here (https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr#). Then just enter your information and click Continue Checkout.

If you prefer to pay by mail, send me a PM and I'll send you the mailing address.

writerranger
08-16-2006, 11:57 PM
Serious question, and I ask with all due respect, because I love this board:

Why do you need almost fifty dollars per year in "memberships" for a community forum? There are thousands of forums all over the Internet, on every subject imaginable with traffic that dwarfs this board and they do not ask for a dime. Why? They run it because they want to contribute to their hobby, interest, community, etc. Forum software, bandwidth, storage, all of this is not exactly expensive these days. A few donations and the costs are met. Throw in Google ads and costs plus are met. The difference here is that OKCTalk is running on a profit model. Complete with the annoying words which suddenly become links. For example, "Chesapeake also has spent millions of dollars for a dozenplus office buildings and retail centers." Click on the "money" and it goes to: http://www.clickok.info/money/million-dollars.php The clickok.info domain is another URLJet hosted for-profit spam-page. I don't quite understand it. So, really Patrick, it's not supported only by Premium Memberships, but by a multitude of "clickable" profit centers. It's a bit misleading. So, why the, "We're a member-supported site," and all of that? Why does that translate into a need for almost $50 a year per member?

I love OKCTalk, but frankly, have never believed in the "pay-to-play" model in, especially, community forums.

Drive the traffic and Google ads would pay the expenses. But with your model, you drive traffic away. I have resisted the expenditure when I know that thousands of forums operate without the need for $50 a year from those who participate. I would be happy to make a contribution - in the donation amount of my choosing - toward the negligible expenses, but you don't offer even that option. It's either "Premium" (at almost $50 a year) - or not. A caste system on a community forum doesn't make logical sense.

Please accept this in the spirit I intend. I love this place, but there's more going on than meets the eye and, I am afraid, the owners (Todd, URLJet, etc.) are not being completely upfront with participants in that the "Premium Memberships" of $50 per member, per year, is not really necessary to keep the board afloat - only to make it profitable, and that's two different things entirely.

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Todd
08-17-2006, 08:29 AM
Excellent pointís writerranger! Your comments are welcome and no offense is taken. You are not the first to raise such questions and I'm certain you won't be the last.

I would like to point out first that Patrick or any of the mods for that matter are directed to post messages in regards to soliciting Premium Memberships. They do it I assume because they have not seen any new Premium Members recently.

I think this is an excellent dialogue to learn what others think and what you would do different I'm always open to hearing ideas. Many of these issues hinge on what one's definition of profit is, and what are legit expenses, etc, etc.

I can certainly provide tax returns that would dispel your notion of "profit". I traded emails with a guy who runs another Oklahoma based forum that roasted me in his emails on how evil I was for taking money for something I could provide completely free (using his company of course). You might do a search for all I know they may be posted in a thread similar to this one.

You are correct OKCTalk is a for profit site. In fact, I took all the profits we had saved up for several months and purchased an Ipod and t-shirts for the last contest we had. Of course here we go with that dang definition of profits again. Do we include my time spent as labor? Maybe some of you old timers can shed some light on what happen to the original forum run by the city. Iíve been told it became such a drain to keep it monitored that it was closed down. Maybe we should try an experiment and remove all the ads...every last one. Then every time I get an invoice from a vendor post it on the site and then beg and plead until each invoice is paid. Iím not certain but I donít think weíve had a Premium Member in 3-4 weeks and I can tell you $47 would not even come close to paying this months bills for the site. In fact, our Google Adwords bill alone this month was $326 and was just debited from my personal account because the OKCTalk account did not have enough to cover it and it dang nearly overdrew our household account. Since my wife is a teacher and loses a paycheck in August it makes a tight month around here. Iím not bitchin about it I just donít want people to think Iím driving my Lexus around with their membership dues.

I would like to see these other huge forums you mentioned and study how they make it happen. I think it would be totally awesome for OKCTalk to grow so big that it requires a paid staff to keep it moving forward with fresh features, forum events, etc. I just read not to long ago that the Newsok.com site has over 400,000 members. I bet they run that with an all volunteer staff....not. You can also subscribe to the online version of the paper for an additional $4.95 per month. Why are they charging? No news print to buy, they own the servers plus they get 5 times more traffic in one day than we get all month they should be able to clean up with ads AND give the online paper away for free shouldnít they? I've read many case studies on this exact issue and there are as many questions as there are answers. I certainly do not have all the right answers.

keving
08-17-2006, 08:37 AM
writerranger: kudos given to the post

I wonder if all those click-thru links and sponsor ads disappear if you sign up for the premium membership. I might almost be worth it if you don't see any advertisments or sponsor links.

hipsterdoofus
08-17-2006, 10:22 AM
writerranger, I work in the IT field and have wondered the same thing, thanks for wording it so well. I understand its not to be meant offensively, as neither are my questions in the same vein.

I appreciate the services of this site, however, the only ones I use are the basic message board functions, specifically this particular section of the board. writerranger is correct in saying that there are a lot of boards out there that are free, or give extra benefit to premium members. No offense at all, but it just seems that if the benefits are decent, you shouldn't have to drum up the premium members. Again, I appreciate the benefits of the board but sometimes wish it were orgranized a bit differently as far as the profit model.

metro
08-17-2006, 11:19 AM
I can speak to the fact that Todd, is not in this to make a quick buck. I've met him on several occasions and he does not drive a Lexus, and is a very humble guy that is really dedicated to this site and improving the quality of life in Oklahoma City, his niche just happens to be cyberspace for OKC. If you can afford to help out and believe in this site, I'd encourage you.

hipsterdoofus
08-17-2006, 11:28 AM
I never assumed that people were in this to make money, please don't misunderstand me on that...just wonder if a different model could be used.

soonerliberal
08-17-2006, 12:01 PM
I would gladly donate to the site, but the $47 for one year personally seems too steep for me. I don't need another email account and don't need to see the forums, but would be willing to donate some money of my choice to help keep the site running. I don't think I am alone here. If the premium memberships were at a smaller cost, or if there was the ability to give something other than $47 or $0, I would gladly participate.

Just a comparison: I can buy CNN pipeline for $36 a year and have 4 cable news channel streams playing live all day long if I wanted.

Doug Loudenback
08-17-2006, 12:47 PM
Writerraner and others, I'll add these comments for what they are worth.

When was it, Todd (and Patrick and Keith), a year (2?) or so ago, that I went ape **** crazy over a very simiilar topic. After getting a better grip, and after blow-gun web darts were being fired every which way but loose (by all concerned - and, trust me, writerranger, your polite query pales in comparison - that discourse which I allude to was hardly polite by any involved), The (one and only) Downtown Guy did an internet "intervention" and, as a result, cooler heads prevailed all the way around.

I am firmly persuaded that neither Todd nor anyone else makes money off of this forum that he's hosting but that he nonetheless does so for 2 reasons. I think that Todd is doing so because: (1) he likes to do so and gets (deserved) ego-gratification for doing so (he never said that, but, if he doesn't, he's into internet masocism big-time), and (2) he sees it as a good public service for the Okc community at large. But, though I don't have any knowledge (and don't want any) as to what the costs of maintaining and upgrading, etc., are, or of what pittances might be received from "clicks" on ads, I do not doubt that the cost of maintenance and improvement (software, etc. ... a much better version of the site's software is in place today compared to a year or so ago) is insignificant and that it costs more than a hobby which, after all, benefits you and me. Todd has not been content with maintaining "staus quo" (and keeping costs relatively static) but has persisted in making this forum a better place to be, and, from that attitude, we are all the beneficiaries.

So, some forum members contribute to just keep this place going since we think that it's worth a few dollars doing so (a carton of my Benson & Hedges Deluxe Ultra Light regular cigarettes costs $44 at my local vendor ... and I smoke (sad to say) about 3 packs a day).

That said, many members don't contribute to defray the expense. So it's up to the rest of us who do to subsidize the freight. I'm more than glad to help do that ... not everyone has the ability to make even a small contribtion, and that's not a problem ... it's a pleasure doing so to think that I'm helping keeping this place on-line and as it continues to improve upon itself, and all for the betterment of the Okc community, including you and me.

End of speech. I like this place. I don't think that Todd should have the responsibility of shouldering the expense load. I think it's fair enough for those of us who can do so to help with the same. I've met Todd, the owner, and Patrick and Keith. They are all cool guys and aren't trying to gouge or make profits on anyone here.

By analogy, when I take on a pro-bono case, while I'm willing in that context to dontate my time, I'm not willing to pay the associated expenses out of my pocket. I think that's pretty much a fair analogy here.

Patrick
08-19-2006, 12:20 AM
For what it's worth, for all but a 6 month period, this site has actually operated at a loss, even with the Yahoo ads. I personally, think it would be nice if Todd didn't have to shell out $150 a month or whatever the cost is now for server expenses and the like.

When we were looking for a new server a few years back to cut costs, the best we could find with good service was $99 a month. Since that time, we've had to pay additional fees for extra bandwidth.

That price doesn't even begin to include the software licenses for the V-bulletin software, the web programmer that we hire, art design and layout, server back up, equipment upgrades, etc.

A few months back, I sat down without the help of Todd and formed my own estimated budget for the site. We were looking at around $250 a month for expenses.

And that doesn't include the advertising expenses Todd mentioned above. We've tried to spend some money on advertising (Google key words), contests, etc. to try to attract more members to the site.

All total, you're looking at $300 a month.

That's a pretty large chunk of change. I think the least we can do to thank Todd for his time invested in this site is to try to stop the bleeding from his end of the spectrum.

Truth be told, Todd hates to beg people for money. That's why I usually do it. Because I know the money isn't coming in, and I know money is tight for him. So I try to solicit Premium Memberships from time to time to help defray some of the bleeding, so to speak!

As Doug said, we don't mind donating 20+ hours of our time a week to run the site. But, it would be nice to get some help off-setting the costs of the expenses I've mentioned above.

Thanks to all of you who have contributed to OKCTalk and kept the site afloat.

Lauri101
08-19-2006, 06:23 AM
Guess I'll chime in with a little support!

As a Union President for a federal employees union, I get the question "why should I pay dues - you have to represent me anyway?". My answer is always - "What would you do if we weren't here?"

As Patrick pointed out, it's about the support. Frankly, access to the "VIP" section is not worth my $47, however, access to this site itself certainly is.

The days of free internet are rapidly drawing to a close. Information technology, while not cheap, is still a wonderful bargain when you look at the bang for your buck.

Less than $4 a month? Heck, I spend more than that at Amazon.com!

PUGalicious
08-19-2006, 06:24 AM
Well said, Doug and Patrick.

Todd
08-19-2006, 06:55 AM
Those are all great suggestions.

I have always thought there should be more membership options available but vBulletin is really limited on how it handles subscriptions and payment methods. There is a great piece of software available (http://www.amember.com/ (http://www.amember.com/)) to handle more options and payment mehtods but as usual its just more money. Since we only add one or two Premium Members a month it was just hard to justify the $139 price tag for the software plus $40 for the vBulletin plug-in.

The Old Downtown Guy
08-19-2006, 08:03 AM
Perhaps posting some version of financial operating statement showing the expenses and income from various sources each quarter would be advantageous to improving financial support for the site. It might give people the financial information they need to make decisions about contributing to the operating budget and foster a sense of ownership to being a members. Also, rather than classifying the paid membership as "Premium Members" I would suggest just calling them "Paid Members" or "Contributing Members". I'm also not sure whether having a VIP section is a good idea. There doesn't seem to be much activity there and its presence adds the preception of stratification by class that doesn't best serve open public discourse.

A listing could also be included reflecting the volunteer hours contributed to the site. I for one really appreciate the hours that the volunteers spend working on the site and don't mind making my small financial contribution to help defray the operating expenses.

SoonerDave
08-19-2006, 08:31 AM
Todd et al

Have you looked into the possibility of any open-source bulletin board software that, for the purposes of a community forum, might be available for use in this environment under the GNU public license for either no or minimalist license fee? Or even non open-source items that are available free/low cost?

The following link contains a listing of both commercial and free bulletin board packages; one that comes to mind is the Beehive forum which is based on PHP and MySql (among others):

http://www.thinkofit.com/webconf/forumsoft.htm

Switching to this type of bulletin board software might mitigate some of your licensing expense.

-SoonerDave (putting his developer geek hat on for a second).

keving
08-19-2006, 08:56 AM
I agree, there are so many free open-source forum packages available now that I don't know why anyone would pay for one.

One popular one that comes to mind is phpBB. I'm a member of 5 different forums and 3 of them use phpBB. The only two that don't are OKCTalk and Geocaching (I'm not really sure what they use).

On another note... does OKCTalk run on a dedicated server or shared server? I'm guessing that because of the high monthly cost that it is probably a dedicated server.

writerranger
08-19-2006, 11:27 AM
All of these dollar costs (as quoted) as "expenses" are way out of line with what it costs to have a forum up and running. I wish I could chime in with support for the "Premium Membership" model, but I simply can't. As I said, I love OKCTalk, but it simply doesn't cost that much.

Patrick, with all due respect, Todd has already said that the forum is being run for profit. It's not simply a case of wanting to run the board - at cost - for community-support purposes. The words that automatically become links go to URLJet (OKCTalk) hosted spam-pages. It's not all about just meeting expenses - it's about OKCTalk making money for the owners. With that admission, I cannot support the pleas for support at almost $50 bucks a year. We live in an Internet age where profitable sites are not requesting memberships, but offer free content with these other things making the money. Lauri101 said, "The days of free Internet are rapidly drawing to a close." Actually, it's the other way around. Sites that were based on the membership/subscription model are fast disappearing as the age of the "Free Internet" explodes.

Todd, and again with all due respect, I also don't understand the one membership option somehow being the fault of the forum software. Your memberships are processed by PayPal!

With all that said, please understand that, with me, it's really a matter of principle. It's a for-profit site with Yahoo Ads, these linked ads to the spam pages, etc. (and lots of other ventures under the same umbrella) yet it's being presented as a community-service site that thrives on membership support - and the need for these "Premium Memberships."

I can't say that without saying something about the volunteers that put in their time to support the site....all of you are great. You are to be commended and you ALL do a superb job. But that's really a separate issue. Keep up the good work!

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Todd
08-19-2006, 11:33 AM
The Old Downtown Guy,

Those are some great ideas and for the most part can be implemented fairly easy. Changing the name of the membership levels is easy and so is removing the access gates to the Premium Member only forums.

One of the reasons some of the forums are Premium Members only is not so much for financial reasons as it is for censorship reasons. Board Room to the Bedroom in particular contains subject matter, that to say the least can be a turn off to the casual surfer. In the last year Iíve probably had at least 5 members want their account closed based on that forum alone. It belongs in another thread but maybe its time we take a new direction and remove Board Room to the Bedroom for good.

The other forum which would concern me is the Nose Bleed Section. As many of you who know me and have spent time with me can attest I deplore censorship. For some time...what I like to call the "dark period". We had a rash of hot debates and topics that went off the chart in terms of convictions. I let those threads and posts stand uncensored but it cost the site about 15 good members. Some closed their accounts others emailed me with their disgust for running such a depressing site. So I made the decision to remove the forum from the publicís eye and make it Premium Member only. Iím open for suggestions on how best to open this forum up.

I can easily throw up a monthly or quarterly financial statement along with simple donation buttons next to each expense and let anybody that wants to contribute do so. I assume we would need to set some type of minimum donation threshold that would bump members up to Contributing Member status? If we all agree something more along the lines of $19.95 is better thatís fine too. Iíve seen forums that have a page that will list all the Contributing Members and their contributions. I can do that also.

SoonerDave and Keving,

PhpBB is a good open source platform. Iíve loaded it for some of my clients but have never really spent any time getting familiar with it. Most all my clients use VB and thatís where my experience is so I would be reluctant to change at this point. The license fee for VB is only $85 per year not free but not too bad IMHO.

Todd
08-19-2006, 11:39 AM
writerranger,

I believe in my post I said vBulletin is limited on how it handles subscriptions and payment methods. I can certainly throw up a 1,000 variations of paypal buttons each with a different donation amount. VBulletin, however, has an automated system that will automatically upgrade a member and handle all the expiration dates through the software. Once again we're talking time here. I don't particularly want to refer to my spreadsheet on a daily basis and see who has paid and who to remove, etc, etc. I'm also sure new members would appreciate being upgraded immediately and not have to wait for me to manually upgrade their account; vBulletin can do all that but only within its limits.

Todd
08-19-2006, 11:45 AM
writerranger,

You started a great discussion and one where I think we are all trying to be constructive. So give us some solutions.

What do you believe "reasonable" expenses should be?

What would be your operating model?

You may have some ideas none of us have considered.

keving
08-19-2006, 12:19 PM
I know you posed this question to writerranger but I would like to answer these questions as well.


What do you believe "reasonable" expenses should be?Reasonable expenses all depends on how you have the site setup. Are the $99 + extra bandwidth hosting costs for a dedicated server or shared server?


What would be your operating model?I would go with something like the public radio model. You don't have to pay if you don't want to, however, if you enjoy the service then please donate what you feel is acceptable. Have different levels (ie, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum). Up to a certain dollar amount is bronze, then up to a higher amount is silver and so on.

Don't just give them the option of $47 or nothing. The individual amounts might be smaller but the total of them might be more than you are getting now.

Side note: Earlier I said that I belong to 5 forums and 3 of them use phpBB. Well, I didn't know at that point what Geocaching uses but do now. It's Invision Power Board. They charge for a premium service as well. For the price of $30 a year (auto renew or non auto renew) or $3 a month (auto renew), you get an additional 8 features. I have not yet signed up for their premium service because I am still new to geocaching and not sure if it is something I want to do.

writerranger
08-19-2006, 01:02 PM
writerranger,

I believe in my post I said vBulletin is limited on how it handles subscriptions and payment methods. I can certainly throw up a 1,000 variations of paypal buttons each with a different donation amount. VBulletin, however, has an automated system that will automatically upgrade a member and handle all the expiration dates through the software. Once again we're talking time here. I don't particularly want to refer to my spreadsheet on a daily basis and see who has paid and who to remove, etc, etc. I'm also sure new members would appreciate being upgraded immediately and not have to wait for me to manually upgrade their account; vBulletin can do all that but only within its limits.

You wouldn't have to if you didn't have a "caste system" for memberships. I would propose eliminating the whole membership model altogether. Allowing people to donate whenever they want, for whatever amount they want would probably bring you more money than the present system. I don't know that obviously, it's just a guess. And, of course, you have the other money-making links and so forth. With all the other for-profit enterprises under the URLJet umbrella, there's an argument that could be made to make OKCTalk a true community site, run for the discussion of the betterment of the community -- rather than the longterm goal of profit. To me, that's the solution. I'm sorry I didn't spell that out sooner. I assumed my criticism of the current model left that as the viable option. I honestly think allowing the members to decide how much they want to contribute, and how often, makes the most sense for a site with this theme. If this were a gaming site or something with a commercial theme it would all be different. But, this board is for the discussion of Oklahoma City and the costs involved don't have to be high in any way. Boards are run covering every subject imaginable for minimal costs. Costs that donations would easily cover.

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SoonerDave
08-19-2006, 01:28 PM
Todd,

Maybe I can toss a different perspective in here on the price issue. I'm a *huge* OU football fan, and I frequent one of the bigger OU bulletin boards during football season. They have a premium access site to get what is called "insider" access, but I'm not interested in paying for it (and I gladly do without it). The University of Oklahoma opened up a thing called the "OZone" which requires you to pay for the privilege of getting certain types of streamed media content, particularly archived game audio and some video, all of which is neat, but simply doesn't meet my "value" measure to justify a monthly (or yearly) subscription fee.

That brings me back to OKCTalk. I think this is an awesome community service; an electronic town hall, if you will. To that end, I don't think a "town hall" would enjoy increased or value-added particpation from a "members only" corkboard, and thus I extend that opinion to say that a "premium" place to talk here doesn't add $47 in annual value. Does that make sense? I don't think I'm expressing it quite right, but maybe at some way at least a shadow of my point might be getting across. That $50 range is an area in which the sufficiency of intangible value becomes incrementally more difficult to reconcile. Tiered or ad-hoc support opportunities I think would be very beneficial, at least for a trial.

I appreciate the problem you face, because I'm a developer both privately and professionally, so I know it's easy on the outside-looking-in to oversimplify the cost realities.

Thanks for listening ...hope I made some sense.

-SoonerDave

Todd
08-19-2006, 03:01 PM
Writerranger,

Excellent points indeed. Having a one tier membership system would certainly be much easier to maintain.

How do other Premium Members feel about a single class system after having forked over $47 for benefits new members now get for free? Once I flip the switch it will be dang near impossible to revert back to the current system.

How does everyone feel I should address the Bedroom to the Boardroom and The Nose Bleed forums? PersonallyÖIíve been contemplating whether or not the Bedroom to the Boardroom is where we want to go.

Way back in the beginning we had a donation graph that kept track of all donations and if we had met our goals. I can dig that up and bring it back if you all think it would be useful.

BricktownGuy
08-19-2006, 03:17 PM
Todd, could you explain what Google Adwords exactly is??

Are all the expenses OKCTalk is currently making, all needed or could some be delayed til the site is more popular??

From what I can recall, the only "premium member" services I use reguarly are the extra PM storage capacity and the option to create new threads.

Do we have any Corporate Sponsorships?

Bare in mind no matter what you do.... someone will always be unhappy.

Todd
08-19-2006, 03:51 PM
Google Adwords is how I promote the site. I bid on high traffic keywords that are related to Oklahoma and Oklahoma City. When someone searches Google and a number of other affiliated engines such as AOL, OKCTalk appears on the sponsored results page. When someone clicks on our ad we get billed for the bid price of that particular keyword. A lot of people are under the misconception that you can throw a site on the net and boom the rush is on. Building traffic and membership is a slow and obviously painful process. One of my catch phrases is ďOKCTalk is Oklahoma Cityís best kept secretĒ. Other than word-of-mouth and Google we do not advertise. Why? Radio and billboards would be a minimum $1,000, and T.V. is way out of our league. I think we all want this place to keep growing to become something special and unique, but relying on word-of-mouth alone is not going to get the word out to any meaningful numbers. After the last bill from Google I pulled our Adwords campaign for now. So I guess I am answering your question with a question. How do we get the site more popular without advertising it or promoting it?

Not a single business or corporation is currently an advertiser or sponsor.

Todd
08-19-2006, 03:55 PM
SoonerDave,

Your explanation makes perfect sense. ROI, I think is an appropriate acronym.

BricktownGuy
08-19-2006, 06:13 PM
Todd:

I understand the Google Adwords, and I can understand why we would need it to increase awareness of our site. Makes sense.

I was just asking in general if there were things we could hold off at the moment, wasn't stating advertising in particular.

Is there any way of getting at least a few corporate sponsors?

Lauri101
08-19-2006, 06:24 PM
How do other Premium Members feel about a single class system after having forked over $47 for benefits new members now get for free? Once I flip the switch it will be dang near impossible to revert back to the current system.

Yeah, it'd irritate me a bit, but I'd get over it. Perhaps you could come up with an "super supporter" graphic for recognition?:wink:


How does everyone feel I should address the Bedroom to the Boardroom and The Nose Bleed forums? PersonallyÖIíve been contemplating whether or not the Bedroom to the Boardroom is where we want to go.


The Nose Bleed should remain, but keep it open with a continued caveat to enter at own risk. As far as the Bedroom to Boardroom - I haven't found anything in there at present that is that entertaining or significant, but was there a good reason for it initially?

IMNSHO, if people leave because they are offended, then perhaps they need to grow a little skin or just grow up. Sure, I've seen tons of comments in here that have pissed me off, but I'm still hanging. Part of the charm of this board is the diversity and the slice of humankind in evidence. And the information-sharing about OK is the best!

Patrick
08-19-2006, 07:21 PM
Patrick, with all due respect, Todd has already said that the forum is being run for profit. It's not simply a case of wanting to run the board - at cost - for community-support purposes.

writerranger, with all due repsect, I see the financial spreadsheet for this site from time to time, and I know exactly how much money we're taking in and spending. I'm part of the staff here at OKCTalk and I can see th ebooks whenever I want. Yes, the site is set up on a profit model, but in the 2+ years that this site has been in existence, it's lost money every month (with the exception of the 6 months after the July 2005 fundraiser when we raised enough to carry us 6 months). And we're not just talking about losing $5 here and there. We're currently losing about $250 a month on this site. If you call that profits, you're obviously smoking something.

If you think Todd is making a killing off this site, explain to me why his wife has to work a second job in retail just to fund this venture. Explain to me why he has to settle for water with a lemon everytime we have mod meetings.

I know Todd well, and I know at this point, he'd just like to break even. Every businessman sets his dreams high, and I think all of the staff at OKCTalk would love for the site to grow, to where we can hire paid moderators and the like. Todd told me from the beginning he'd love to be selling enough ads to compensate us mods for our time. But, truth is, he's not even breaking even at this point.

At the beginning of the year I through together the budget for the site, and the annual budget added up to about $350 a month.

This is the budget we came up with:
Per Month:

1. Server expenses with server backup ($99 plus $25 for extra bandwidth plus $25 for nightly server backup) = $150.

And yes, we are running on a dedicated server. If you've ever run a website before, you'll understand that with the bandwidth we carry here, this site would be much slower and would be down far more often if we were on a shared server. Pain in the butt if you ask me.

2. Software upgrades for V-Bulletin, Photo Gallery Software, etc. $25 a Month.

3. Web design and layout: $25

4. Web programmer expenses: $50

5. Advertising and prizes for promotions: Anywhere from $100 on up to $300 (our bill this month for Google Ad words was actually approx. $300....Todd mentioned it).

That total gives you approx. $350-550 a month.

All the time Todd gives, and all the time the mods give is completely free.

At the present time, we're lucky to take in $100 a month off ad words, if we're lucky. Usually it's more like $50.

There, that puts everything on the table.

aintaokie
08-19-2006, 07:56 PM
I can't afford $47 right now and I'm not a bum so delete me from the member list. Thanks

Karried
08-19-2006, 08:19 PM
I posted this earlier and then deleted it, but then decided to add it after all.. I figure Todd can most definitely handle himself and I don't want to muddy the waters, but it does bother me when people assume that he is in this just for the money.. cuz trust me, the money just isn't there!


It's a voluntary option to pay a membership if you feel compelled to help support the site.

If you don't then don't.

We won't talk about you too much in the VIP lounge ( just a little - ha,ha - teasing).

Really though - many people support the site for personal reasons. If you don't feel as if you are inclined to help then don't pay.

I never really question the amount it takes to run the site, I spend a lot of time here and get much enjoyment from the discussions, so for me, it doesn't really matter if it is for profit or not.

Many of us have paid the membership as a way to assist in supporting the site and to show appreciation for the countless hours spent maintaining this site. And a few of us spend a lot of time moderating and maintaining this site because we love it and we love having a place to discuss OKC.. but it's your call, if you want to help, we would love to have you on board.

writerranger
08-19-2006, 08:36 PM
If you think Todd is making a killing off this site, explain to me why his wife has to work a second job in retail just to fund this venture. Explain to me why he has to settle for water with a lemon everytime we have mod meetings.

Patrick,

Todd has water with lemon as opposed to something else because he can't afford it? Is that what you're trying to say? I think you may be getting a bit dramatic, Patrick. Seriously. I can tell I am the bad guy here. The animosity was dripping. Maybe you didn't intend it, maybe you did.

1. Never did I say Todd is making a "killing" off the site.

2. The word "model" does not mean that things are working as they should. I didn't say he was making money at all!

3. I think it's the model that's wrong.

4. If Todd wants to run the board to where he's losing money - that's Todd's prerogative. However, all some of us are saying is that there are less expensive ways to run a community forum that wouldn't require asking for "premium Memberships" of almost $50 a year. It's done all the time. But, to struggle financially using the profit model is Todd's business.

5. I think asking people to give WHAT they want, WHEN they want would be a better model. But, hey, it looks like I have already stirred up enough trouble and anxiety.

I suppose I've said all I know to say on the subject.
I'll bow out. I just felt it important to express what I think may be what a lot of people feel - but don't stay around long enough to put into words.

-------------

writerranger
08-19-2006, 08:48 PM
Many of us have paid the membership as a way to assist in supporting the site and to show appreciation for the countless hours spent maintaining this site. And a few of us spend a lot of time moderating and maintaining this site because we love it and we love having a place to discuss OKC.. but it's your call, if you want to help, we would love to have you on board.

And frankly, that right there is why I oppose the "caste system" Membership/Premium model. Contributing and participating on the forum isn't enough. That's not "helping" the board. Without cash you're a "member" - but you're not really a "member." Only the $47 brings you "on board."

Sorry, I said I was finished, but that couldn't be left unanswered - just a perfect example of what's wrong with this system.

-----

BricktownGuy
08-20-2006, 03:47 AM
I think you still are a member, cause you are allowed to participate on a large part of the board.

I became a Premium member for 2 reasons only. I wanted to help out financially and because I wanted to have a larger PM storage capacity, thats it.


After the last bill from Google I pulled our Adwords campaign for now.

Seems to be Todd is trying to trim costs. After seeing the breakdown of expenses Patrick gave, I think the expenses are justifiable.

Using the breakdown Patrick gave, please feel free to tell us where some money could be saved. Running on a dedicated server is the only option, cause I am sure if the site was slow or down, that would be a problem to many.

With all due respect, please give detailed ways to "fix the system".

Todd
08-20-2006, 04:34 AM
Everybody breath...

Personally I welcome the discussion writerranger and appreciate your candor on the subject along with everyone else who is participating. I think there is a better way and it may well be a voluntary model with a one class membership system.

Maybe I'm reading to much into the post but it seems most of the debate and questions stem from what are justifiable expenses. As we all know justifiable expenses will always be open to one's own interpretation. Even with posting the sites balance sheet we'll always have people questioning items. Somebody will always know a cheaper vendor or wonder why that upgrade or programming expense is needed. Pleasing 100% is not going to happen now or ever.

mranderson
08-20-2006, 11:25 AM
One thing to remember is the fact we have grown a great deal in the past few months. We are rapidly approaching the 2,300 registered member mark. With that many people, the data base increases, therefore increases expenses.

I know Todd would rather do this without advertising, however, it cost a lot of money to operate, so, there is no choice... Except one.

Buy a premium membership. Look at it this way. For those who are active, divide that cost by 365, and see what you spend per day. I bet that beer, cup of coffee, soft drink, candy bar, or cigerette cost you more... And those are things the body can either do without completely or can be reduced by one.

Just think about that. Personally, I am glad I spent that money. I look at it as a small investment to communicate with some people I call friends, some that are VERY close friends, and, above all... My hobby.

sweetdaisy
08-20-2006, 04:33 PM
Mr. Anderson, didn't you purchase a "lifetime" membership? I thought I read somewhere that you are a lifetime member for $100?

Mods, is that type of membership still available?

mranderson
08-20-2006, 04:47 PM
In a roundabout way, yes. I donated to the fund raiser last year, and then was told I had a lifetime membership.

sweetdaisy
08-20-2006, 06:36 PM
Gotcha. thanks for the info.

Out of curiosity, how many other members have lifetime memberships, Mods? Do you think this type of membership makes sense if we need money so badly?

Karried
08-20-2006, 06:52 PM
we spend a lot of time moderating and maintaining this site because we love it and we love having a place to discuss OKC.. but it's your call, if you want to help, we would love to have you on board.



Without cash you're a "member" - but you're not really a "member." Only the $47 brings you "on board."


Whoa! Where did I say 'cash' would bring you 'on board??' if you would like to volunteer to help maintain or moderate the site, that would help as well, if you can't or don't want to donate, it would be a way to help support the board.

I've never given it a thought, if someone is a Premium Member or not - it doesn't matter to me at all.

And Patrick's reference to Lemon Water was a small inside joke... sigh.. sometimes, message boards are a hard way to communicate.

keving
08-20-2006, 07:03 PM
if you would like to volunteer to help maintain or moderate the site, that would help as well, if you can't or don't want to donate, it would be a way to help support the board.
What volunteer opportunities are there?

Karried
08-20-2006, 09:23 PM
Hey Keving, thanks for asking! Please send a PM to Todd or the other mods and we can discuss it ..

Patrick
08-21-2006, 05:31 PM
And Patrick's reference to Lemon Water was a small inside joke... sigh.. sometimes, message boards are a hard way to communicate.

Yes, I was being sarcastic. But, at the same time, I was trying to point out that Todd is not in this to make money, and he's anything but wealthy.

At the last mod meeting we discussed getting non-profit status for this site. But, after we looked into it more, all of the red tape involved in getting non-profit status is an absolute headache.

So, yes, the site is under an LLC, which would be considered a "profit model." But, every dime spent on Premium Memberships goes right back into the site.

My point wasn't to ruffle feathers here. writerranger, we value your presence here as much as almost anyone else, whether you donate or not. But, we also appreciate those who are able to help us out with the costs of running this board.

Are there cheaper ways to run this board? I suppose. But, if we resort to that, people would be so fed up with the low quality of service provided here, the site would probably die.

Todd
08-23-2006, 05:13 AM
This thread has been an eye opener with some great ideas. I sincerely appreciate everyone for their input.

I now believe it is time for a change and my goal is to make it happen in the next 5-7 days.

I will be changing the site to a one class system and incorporating new member titles based on non-financial issues such as post count, etc.

Anyone that registers with the new system will have an ALL ACCESS pass to the site. I will be consulting with the mods and a few long time members to formulate a donation model and information page. I still believe it is important to show appreciation to those who have contributed financially to the site and those who donate in the future with a small "badge" in your user profile showing your support. Please feel free to post or PM me your concerns or ideas.

I sincerely do want OKCTalk to blossom and be a unique place to openly communicate about our great city and state. I believe these changes can only help in that regard.

writerranger
08-23-2006, 05:34 PM
Todd,

I think you have made some good changes to the site. I really do. As soon as the donation buttons go up - I'll be one of the first to give.

Good luck!

----

Patrick
08-23-2006, 08:09 PM
We're going to do away with the Premium Member system altogether, because I think it's giving peopl the wrong idea. Instead, we're going to go with a non-profit Contributor model, where you can "donate" to offset the costs of operating this site. How does that sound?

Saberman
08-24-2006, 12:57 PM
This maybe stupid, hope you'll bear with me.

Why can't you go out and find advertisers, or sponsers, locally and have them also promote the site to bring more people into the system.

Can't say as I've found another site out there that is OKC Metro exclusive, that dose not have alot of knuckleheads on it. I think this site is great.

Local stuff - - Local People

Patrick
08-24-2006, 05:21 PM
This maybe stupid, hope you'll bear with me.

Why can't you go out and find advertisers, or sponsers, locally and have them also promote the site to bring more people into the system.

Can't say as I've found another site out there that is OKC Metro exclusive, that dose not have alot of knuckleheads on it. I think this site is great.

Local stuff - - Local People

Trust me, we've tried this. We even hired a marketing director for awhile to try to seek advertisers to the site. Simply, this site isn't a proven market and the page views aren't enough to warrant many companies to advertise. We're still keeping an open mind about it though, and would be open to an advertising-supported site if the site grew large enough.