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Forum Service Outage


downzy

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8 hours ago, NightmareAtTheBraineHotel said:

At most, they might be getting a slight nudge to do the right thing and help finance a forum that they supposedly enjoy viewing and being a part of

While I don't want to put words in your mouth or assume something you're not saying, I will say that becoming a Club Member isn't anymore right as not joining is anymore wrong.

I don't begrudge anyone for not upgrading their accounts.  There is no expectation on my part nor should there be any obligation on anyone to become a Club Member.  For someone people they see value in it.  For others they don't.  Neither are right, neither are wrong.

This is why I don't like the charity or go-fund-me model.  The forum use to operate that way with the previous owner not being too subtle about needing donations to keep the forum open.  I've done everything I could to avoid that model as I think there's a better way.  We can scale up or down both the hosting needs/costs and features/access of the forum depending on the finances of the forum at any given time.  That's what I've been trying to manage and balance the last couple of days.  It's been very humbling and appreciative to see how many people have reached out and offered to help.  Even more astounding is the number of folks who have chose to pay it forward and buy a membership for another member, whether it be someone they have known for awhile, admired, or to those who have expressed an interest but are having financial difficulties at the moment.  It's a great community full of great and wonderful people.  That's all I've ever wanted for this place and os it's heartening to see people come through for not just me and the forum, but for one another.  

8 hours ago, NightmareAtTheBraineHotel said:

Assuming most fans have $75 per month for internet access, it's not a stretch to think that most could afford making a one time donation to support a forum and band that they love. And keep in mind, many are currently receiving stimulus money from the government. Even if some of these same people are currently out of work, or opting not to go to work because they're in fear of the virus, that $15 is definitely well spent, especially considering the amount of free time that they might currently have to work with.

I don't think we can assume anything about people's financial situations.  There are members here from all over the world where dollars are very hard to come by.  They come to this forum for either entertainment, distraction, or community.  I feel terrible that things have changed by which some, through no fault of their own, will be shut out during show hours.  Perhaps that will change at some point, and maybe soon.  I really don't love the idea of there being two tiers for members here.  But the last thing anyone should be spending their money on if they're financially struggling is a GNR fan forum, no matter how important it is to them.  I can absolutely afford to take a hit.  The issue for me is whether the hit is worth it considering how little the band has been offering the hardcore fans for the past couple of years.  But I want to reiterate that I sincerely do not want anyone sending me money if they're in a position where money is hard to come by.  Both myself and the forum will be okay.  

8 hours ago, NightmareAtTheBraineHotel said:

maybe you could consider raising the membership prices of those who can afford to pay to $20 or $25 to help offset those unable to contribute. It would be similar to that of our current healthcare system in the US. And it's still a great deal and reasonable enough for those that can afford to pay more.

I appreciate your thought and I think your heart is in the right place.  But ultimately we're not going to change the membership fee.  It's $15 for a lifetime membership that comes with some extras that non-members get.  It's just not my place to start charging people more based on my perception of what they can afford (or not afford).  

8 hours ago, NightmareAtTheBraineHotel said:

Anyway, thanks again for the reply. Even if I'm bored to death of this band, and disagree that a reworked 20 year old B-side is a reason for optimism, I might make a donation myself sometime soon just to show my community spirit. Take care all & stay safe!!

Appreciate the thoughts and well-wishes.  Again, I would encourage yourself or others to only buy an upgraded account if you see value in it.  The forum will be okay.  There have been many in the last 48 hours who have bought themselves and others memberships to the point where I believe the increased costs will be covered.  The forum might even turn a small profit (which would either be used to finance future shortfalls or perhaps we'll start doing prizes again if there's enough money near the end of the year).  

Again, thanks for the discussion.  

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1 hour ago, DownUnderScott said:

Just a suggestion, but what about inviting some serious members to become shareholders? With you being the majority to retain ownership? 
 

I appreciate all that you do to keep this place going and certainly understand your reasons for outages.

I have just joined with the membership, and I have also paid for another via PayPal as you suggested above. I’ll let you decide who to give it to.

Thanks for your kind words and much appreciation for joining the Members Club.

As for your idea, I'm not sure it's necessary at this point.  It's not as though the forum loses hundreds of dollars every single month.  Most months it costs me a case of beer or something like that.  On the rare occasion it's in the several hundreds of dollars, but that only happens once, maybe twice a year.  I think in 2018 the forum netted just over $200 for the year and has run in the red ever since, but not beyond what I find objectionable or in any way crippling.  I do find this place entertaining and enjoy the community we have here.  I know others hate it, but whatever.  They have their own safe spaces they can burrow themselves into.  To each their own. 

My issue this time around was the nature of the spike in traffic all over a band that at the time didn't seem likely to do anything worth the attention.  I'm not sure who would be really be interested in becoming an equity owner of a forum that rarely generates a profit and whenever a profit is generated it's given away to members via prizes, giveaways, and drinks at pre-parties.  There's no financial upside to owning this place if your commitment is to the forum and the community.  I have still yet to repay myself the initial costs of buying the place and don't ever expect to.  Again, thanks for the idea but I think both myself and the forum will be fine for the time being.  

4 minutes ago, double talkin jive mfkr said:

hold on guys the site might go lights out! 

The site isn't going lights out. 

Not sure where you got that idea.  

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@downzy I run a large UK based VW forum and we have seen such times recently, albeit with significantly less volatile spikes. What resource is actually running out? CPU, RAM? Surely not bandwidth?  

The answer to me here, would be conditional advertisements. Guests get various adverts throughout the site, Members perhaps get what they see now + a footer ad, and Club Members get a single banner ad. I'm sure I'm trying to teach you how to suck eggs and you're more than capable (should you choose) to do this. But please do feel to drop me a PM if you want a convo around what I do. 

Apologies if you've already covered this in your posts - didn't have time this morning to go back through the whole thread. 

Good luck whatever you decide to do. IF, and I'm sure it's a BIG IF, you do decide to sell, I'd be very interested. Likewise becoming a partner if you want to explore that option.

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I see your points in shutting the forum down. But at the same time, it doesn't make sense, because exactly these moments, when people wanna discuss something, are the reason we have this forum and that people turn up here. If it's shut down, it's totally useless.

Edited by blackmore
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1 hour ago, blackmore said:

I see your points in shutting the forum down. But at the same time, it doesn't make sense, because exactly these moments, when people wanna discuss something, are the reason we have this forum and that people turn up here. If it's shut down, it's totally useless.

I like how it’s open to club members on show days.  for one it made me the long time lurker come out of my shell and join.  I know people will bitch that it costs to much to join or whatnot, but it’s only fair to do what helps keep the forum running. Hell, I’ll even donate a few member ships when I get paid. 

Edited by AppetiteForDestruction
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4 hours ago, invisible_rose said:

@downzy I run a large UK based VW forum and we have seen such times recently, albeit with significantly less volatile spikes. What resource is actually running out? CPU, RAM? Surely not bandwidth?  

The answer to me here, would be conditional advertisements. Guests get various adverts throughout the site, Members perhaps get what they see now + a footer ad, and Club Members get a single banner ad. I'm sure I'm trying to teach you how to suck eggs and you're more than capable (should you choose) to do this. But please do feel to drop me a PM if you want a convo around what I do. 

Apologies if you've already covered this in your posts - didn't have time this morning to go back through the whole thread. 

Good luck whatever you decide to do. IF, and I'm sure it's a BIG IF, you do decide to sell, I'd be very interested. Likewise becoming a partner if you want to explore that option.

Our hosting provider charges based on the number of visitors, not on visitor participation.  This is why significantly smaller but more active forums can pay lower hosting costs than us.  They just don't have the same volume of visitors as us, even if they are more active.

Conditional advertisements is a tough bet.  It might work, but it would likely require a lot of upfront and potentially back end work.  I actually working in the advertising industry for full time employment.  It's not a simple thing to go after digital advertisers and the technical requirements for imposing certain ads for certain member groups is likely beyond my expertise.

Appreciate the ideas coming from everyone.  

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1 hour ago, blackmore said:

I see your points in shutting the forum down. But at the same time, it doesn't make sense, because exactly these moments, when people wanna discuss something, are the reason we have this forum and that people turn up here. If it's shut down, it's totally useless.

I agree that it doesn't make any sense to shut things down when something actually happens.  And we have avoided that issue for years.  

When GNR played their first show back on April 1, 2016, the hosting costs for that month and the next four months was $1400 a month.  We kept the forum open despite the costs because the sustained traffic generated the kinds of revenues needed to pay such exorbitant operating costs.  I've footed the bill numerous times when revenues came no where near monthly hosting costs because I felt it was worth keeping the forum open to everyone considering what the band was doing at the time.  

What changed this year is that it initially appeared the band was not going to do anything worth everyone's attention that would result in slightly larger revenues but significantly higher costs.  You reach a point where being out $300+ because the band can't be bothered to give the hardcore faithful anything new gets really old.  The solution ultimately isn't to completely close down during those busy but boring times, but to limit access to those who have helped financially supported this place through Club Memberships.  It's not ideal as I don't like the idea of walling off the forum to those who can't afford the one-time fee.  But it's not exactly fair for me to keep paying exorbitant hosting costs whenever situations like this occur.  

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Ever think of doing some custom T-shirt’s or anything. Just something mygnrforum related and just do like 50 shirts
 

also maybe if anyone is free on showdays when you close the forum you can do a twitch stream for discussion. Direct everyone there to talk and have Bezos pay the hosting cost. Revenue from that would probably be insignificant but people could still chat and you guys could respond to comments

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49 minutes ago, downzy said:

I agree that it doesn't make any sense to shut things down when something actually happens.  And we have avoided that issue for years.  

When GNR played their first show back on April 1, 2016, the hosting costs for that month and the next four months was $1400 a month.  We kept the forum open despite the costs because the sustained traffic generated the kinds of revenues needed to pay such exorbitant operating costs.  I've footed the bill numerous times when revenues came no where near monthly hosting costs because I felt it was worth keeping the forum open to everyone considering what the band was doing at the time.  

What changed this year is that it initially appeared the band was not going to do anything worth everyone's attention that would result in slightly larger revenues but significantly higher costs.  You reach a point where being out $300+ because the band can't be bothered to give the hardcore faithful anything new gets really old.  The solution ultimately isn't to completely close down during those busy but boring times, but to limit access to those who have helped financially supported this place through Club Memberships.  It's not ideal as I don't like the idea of walling off the forum to those who can't afford the one-time fee.  But it's not exactly fair for me to keep paying exorbitant hosting costs whenever situations like this occur.  

From a financial point understandable, no question. 

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46 minutes ago, jonah said:

Ever think of doing some custom T-shirt’s or anything. Just something mygnrforum related and just do like 50 shirts
 

also maybe if anyone is free on showdays when you close the forum you can do a twitch stream for discussion. Direct everyone there to talk and have Bezos pay the hosting cost. Revenue from that would probably be insignificant but people could still chat and you guys could respond to comments

We actually have done shirts in the past - I was the one doing the shipping on those. It was a fun idea and we had a few options with forum inside jokes on the back. However, the number of shirts that had to be shipped internationally and the cost of international shipping, combined with the time and labor of having to fill out customs declarations, rent a PO Box (As I wasn’t comfortable shipping stuff out with my personal address due to the number of nut jobs around in GN’R land) - it was quite a lot of hassle for a very small revenue. 

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9 minutes ago, Powerage5 said:

We actually have done shirts in the past - I was the one doing the shipping on those. It was a fun idea and we had a few options with forum inside jokes on the back. However, the number of shirts that had to be shipped internationally and the cost of international shipping, combined with the time and labor of having to fill out customs declarations, rent a PO Box (As I wasn’t comfortable shipping stuff out with my personal address due to the number of nut jobs around in GN’R land) - it was quite a lot of hassle for a very small revenue. 

I’d look into just doing something with a service like tee-spring if that’s your concern. They’ll handle international shipping and all of that. Your profit margin may be less than doing a big print run and handling yourselves, but the headache won’t be there 

Edited by guitarpatch
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1 minute ago, guitarpatch said:

I’d look into just doing something with a service like tee-spring if that’s your concern. They’ll handle international shipping and all of that. Your profit margin may be less than doing a big run and handling yourselves, but the headache won’t be there 

I was just going to mention that. TeeSpring or TeePublic are awesome for things like this. 

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18 minutes ago, guitarpatch said:

I’d look into just doing something with a service like tee-spring if that’s your concern. They’ll handle international shipping and all of that. Your profit margin may be less than doing a big print run and handling yourselves, but the headache won’t be there 

Those sorts of decisions would have to be left to @downzy - personally I’d love to see us do another run of shirts at some point, but since that all relates to the finances that’s up to him. 

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3 minutes ago, Powerage5 said:

Those sorts of decisions would have to be left to @downzy - personally I’d love to see us do another run of shirts at some point, but since that all relates to the finances that’s up to him. 

Sure. Just throwing it out there. I don’t think there’s any upfront cost with those services. They just take their cost of the shirt that’s sold and whatever the profit is goes to the creator. 

Most YouTube creators use them to help with revenue. I’m sure there’s enough creativity around here to get a few ideas that doesn’t infringe on licensing if that’s the direction Downzy wants to go 

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3 hours ago, downzy said:

Our hosting provider charges based on the number of visitors, not on visitor participation.  This is why significantly smaller but more active forums can pay lower hosting costs than us.  They just don't have the same volume of visitors as us, even if they are more active.

Conditional advertisements is a tough bet.  It might work, but it would likely require a lot of upfront and potentially back end work.  I actually working in the advertising industry for full time employment.  It's not a simple thing to go after digital advertisers and the technical requirements for imposing certain ads for certain member groups is likely beyond my expertise.

Appreciate the ideas coming from everyone.  

Can all be done with Adsense and IPS config dude. It's pretty straight forward once you get your head around the concept. Mull it over and if you decide you'd like to kick on, drop me a message and I'd be glad to help.  

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I've been a Club Member for a good while now. It is excellent value for money. It being a lifetime membership is a very good deal for members... it may, however, make raising funds a bit difficult over the longer term? Sooner or later everyone who's interested in becoming a member will have the membership and that ends that source of income.

I wonder, then, if creating an annual membership would be an option? I know that it would create yet another membership tier, and you're probably not keen on that, but I would be happy to pay 10 - 20 dollars per year to support the site and others might be as well. I know that I am not the most active poster. I tend to be more of a lurker. This site has offered me so much, though, over the years. The members here are extremely knowledgeable. And the times I watched shows with other members have been excellent fun. I am definitely fond of this site and would gladly support it on a more regular basis.

As it wouldn't be mandatory nobody would be excluded from the site. There'd be the free membership, the Club Member option and whatever this would be. Something to suit every pocket.

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21 minutes ago, Kittiara said:

I've been a Club Member for a good while now. It is excellent value for money. It being a lifetime membership is a very good deal for members... it may, however, make raising funds a bit difficult over the longer term? Sooner or later everyone who's interested in becoming a member will have the membership and that ends that source of income.

I wonder, then, if creating an annual membership would be an option? I know that it would create yet another membership tier, and you're probably not keen on that, but I would be happy to pay 10 - 20 dollars per year to support the site and others might be as well. I know that I am not the most active poster. I tend to be more of a lurker. This site has offered me so much, though, over the years. The members here are extremely knowledgeable. And the times I watched shows with other members have been excellent fun. I am definitely fond of this site and would gladly support it on a more regular basis.

As it wouldn't be mandatory nobody would be excluded from the site. There'd be the free membership, the Club Member option and whatever this would be. Something to suit every pocket.

Yes, yes, yes. It's as if you read my mind!

Downzy - thanks again for your response, but I do agree w/ Kittiara that a monthly membership option (which maybe could be paid annually if members so desired) would be a great resolution to some of these issues that are being discussed. I would think that for $5 per month, this forum could run in an optimal state and then some. Hell, you can barely buy a Starbucks coffee anymore for $5, so I wouldn't think that there would be too much pushback from anyone claiming that such a fee would cause a hardship. And maybe for $75 to $100 annually, members could opt for a VIP member status, or something similar. Maybe create a VIP lounge subsection that is restricted to the VIP members only? First in line for pre-sales, toss in a t-shirt annually, etc. Maybe give the VIP class an opportunity to contribute to a forum blog, or something?

Anyway, there are numerous possibilities that could work that wouldn't involve you ever having to pay several hundred dollars per month out of pocket again, even if it is for one month out of the year! Honestly that seems totally unnecessary that any one person would have to take on that financial burden with a community of this size. $15 for a lifetime pass is very generous of you, but as Kittiara pointed out, it doesn't seem sustainable long-term. And if there are those that don't like the idea, as you said, there are other options for them that exist!

At least give it some thought!

Kittiara, great idea!!

Take care and stay safe, everyone!!

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5 hours ago, jonah said:

Ever think of doing some custom T-shirt’s or anything. Just something mygnrforum related and just do like 50 shirts

We did that back before I became owner.  The previous owner had zero money coming because the forum wasn't adhering to Google's adsense policies.  He was shelling out over $500 a month to keep the forum running (though he had financial help from a few members) and thought t-shirts were the solution.  So the forum ran polls and came up with two slogans for the back.  I never really understood either.  The shirts barely paid for themselves and didn't contribute much to costs of running the forum. 

Some have mentioned using a service like Teespring.  That might be an option but based on the lackluster demand for the first run of shirts seven years ago I'm not sure it would generate all that much revenue.  Might be a fun thing to do regardless.  So the staff and I will kick around the idea.  Would depend heavily on a cool design.  Perhaps if someone from the forum has any cool ideas they could send some my way.  

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1 hour ago, Kittiara said:

Sooner or later everyone who's interested in becoming a member will have the membership and that ends that source of income.

Yes, that's true.  But the forum doesn't need much revenue to cover most of the costs.  It's only in the rare occasion where traffic spikes and then falls off precipitously (like what happens at the first leg of every tour) because there's nothing new to discuss and those sticking around are here just to voice their frustration and disappointment (which, again, is understandable).

The problem can be solved either by increasing revenues or keeping costs in check.  For me, limiting access to the forum during concert hours to Club Members does both.  It reduces traffic from visitors and non-club members, provides a benefit for those who became a Club Member, and provides incentive to others who wish to participate in the discussion while the show is ongoing.  For those who don't see the value or don't think it's worth it, the forum will be open to them after the show and when traffic starts to subside.  It kind of kills two birds with one stone.

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