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  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    Adverts are fine, but I have to admit I'd block them. You probably also need to remember that although the revenue is generated through the main site, a portion (I haven't a clue how much) will be generated by forum users. No forum visits, less income from the main site.

    I've also been wondering what the point of comments are in news stories. For example, a lot of the comments in the news articles are pretty much duplicates of forum discussions. I know there is the note that comments sections are not forums, but they are to some extent. Why not direct everyone to the forum to discuss news.

    I cannot see monetising the market place will work, unless done on an honesty box method. But then it might as well be a donations model instead.

  • Bosstone100Bosstone100 Member Posts: 1,431
    I'd block ads too.
  • William_TownsleyWilliam_Townsley Member Posts: 880
    It would depend where the ads are placed. And how much subscription would be. If the subscription is a good reasonable price I would be down for that. Rather than ads placed through out the fourms 
  • William_TownsleyWilliam_Townsley Member Posts: 880
    Also hit guests with adverts 
  • SumoLegoSumoLego Member Posts: 15,229
    Stay connected with Lego community while living in a country without any Lego product

    Just talk to other adults who don't think Lego addictions are weird
    Texas isn't technically a separate country anymore, although it may feel that way to you.

    The Lego addiction isn't weird.  But there is no denying that we are definitely weird adults.

    I can't imagine that there isn't a very real benefit for Vanilla Forums to maintain the forum.  1 million monthly hits isn't something to sneeze at.  I'm sure there is a host interested in that type of traffic.

    Also, I would probably get kicked off of Eurobricks in 12 hours for making my usual comments.  

    And I wouldn't have the opportunity to miss the weekly raffle... and to be fed my hat every week in the Fantasy Football League...
  • FauchFauch Member Posts: 2,679
    Aleydita said:

    2) Display adverts and ask for a small annual fee for a no-ad service. Casual users will be happy to put up with the ads but plenty will be happy to pay to support BS, while others will pay just to get rid of the ads. It needs to be small enough not to be a burden but enough to justify asking. For example, 50 users paying £20/year is £1k. It soon adds up.
    yeah, you'll definitely never reach 6000$ a year this way.
  • KantSpellKantSpell Member Posts: 22
    I think the best idea is advertising. Then users don't need to pay but the cost is covered.
  • BumblepantsBumblepants Member Posts: 7,634
    SumoLego said:
    Stay connected with Lego community while living in a country without any Lego product

    Just talk to other adults who don't think Lego addictions are weird
    Texas isn't technically a separate country anymore, although it may feel that way to you.

    The Lego addiction isn't weird.  But there is no denying that we are definitely weird adults.

    I can't imagine that there isn't a very real benefit for Vanilla Forums to maintain the forum.  1 million monthly hits isn't something to sneeze at.  I'm sure there is a host interested in that type of traffic.

    Also, I would probably get kicked off of Eurobricks in 12 hours for making my usual comments.  

    And I wouldn't have the opportunity to miss the weekly raffle... and to be fed my hat every week in the Fantasy Football League...
    Guess I wasn't clear, but when I joined the forum in 2012 I was living in Cameroon and was there until mid 2014.
  • AndorAndor Member Posts: 252
    I'm on the ads and donations boat.  My money couldn't go to a better place.  Thanks for creating something so great Huw.
  • DedgeckoDedgecko Member Posts: 798
    sorry Huw, ads will be blocked since they are  notoriously safe one day, and maliciously invasive the next.

    I'd pitch in a few bucks a month, $5-6.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego Member Posts: 15,229
    Guess I wasn't clear, but when I joined the forum in 2012 I was living in Cameroon and was there until mid 2014.
    That was my attempt at making a cute joke about Texans.  

    I can only imagine the bargain bid at the Walmart in Douala....
  • Pumpkin_3CK5Pumpkin_3CK5 Member Posts: 805
    Ads. =D
  • xwingpilotxwingpilot Member Posts: 799
    edited October 2015
    LEGO related adverts at the top of the page would be okay. I'd rather see an option to be a paid-up member (with some sort of benefit like a discount with an advertiser) than more intrusive or unrelated adverts. Other forums have both unintrusive relevant adverts and optional paid-up membership and it works well. All forum members (paid-up or not) have the same forum privileges so there's not a lower class of forum member if that makes sense.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton Member Posts: 2,967
    Whatever happens, I hope the existing forum content, user accounts, inbox messages and other settings will be preserved. It would suck to have to start again from scratch!
  • plasmodiumplasmodium Member Posts: 1,956
    SumoLego said:
    Guess I wasn't clear, but when I joined the forum in 2012 I was living in Cameroon and was there until mid 2014.
    That was my attempt at making a cute joke about Texans.  

    I can only imagine the bargain bid at the Walmart in Douala....
    There isn't one. I've been there. ;-) There is a surprisingly large (ie, approximately 2) ex-Cameroon population here.
    That said, the toy section of BAMAG in Bangui was always a hoot, though. They had a whole shelf of the original B-Wing set for about 50,000cfa...

    I would second the ads but pay a subscription to get rid of them. That way you can view the forum if you don't want to pay (and still generate ad revenue) or pay to not see them. Especially if it was something you could buy for a month or so at a time - I'm not sure (as a poor student) that I could really justify a monthly fee, but if, every now and then I could chuck in £5 or whatever for the odd month of ad-free browsing, I would.
  • legogallegogal Member Posts: 754
    Huw, could you figure out how many folks post and then divide the cost of hosting the site by that many users? If it came out to 5US or so, maybe the posters could pay that amount per year, and we all could pass on the ads. If you need more than 5US per year from each posting member, then maybe add some ads. Hummmm....
  • Stvoyager04Stvoyager04 Member Posts: 120
    I don't particularly want to see ads but if it keeps the forum alive so be it.

    One observation though, there seems to be a number of people suggesting ads, but are then admitting they have adblock - surely this completely defeats the point of suggesting ads?
  • VenunderVenunder Member Posts: 2,659
    I would definitely say this.
    Do not charge subscriptions.

    Fund the Forum by adverts to non-members. 
    A/ it makes spammers, lurkers and netbots help to pay for the forum.
    B/ It may encourage non members to join properly.

    If that does not cover the costs, only then allow members to see the adverts.
  • kiki180703kiki180703 Member Posts: 1,063
    Nooo! The forum can't close! If it does, I won't be able to read @SumoLego funny posts or @Pitfall69 memes! Btw, I second the ads.
  • wayneggwaynegg Member Posts: 394
    Dedgecko said:
    sorry Huw, ads will be blocked since they are  notoriously safe one day, and maliciously invasive the next.

    I'd pitch in a few bucks a month, $5-6.
    I could do this as well. With 950,000 hits a month how many years would one month of $5 per person payments cover even if you lost even as much as 50% of the members?
  • L3goL3go Member Posts: 32
    Hi all, it's been a while since I have posted but am always on reading. 

    I like this forum as its clean and simple.

    Personally, I am not a big add fan but am would be happy to pay a subscription to the forum. 

    Perhaps a happy medium would be two tier subscriptions, a free add supported version and a paid no add version for the people who do not want to see adds. 

    This would be a win win for everyone and provide two streams of income.

  • PhoneboothPhonebooth Member Posts: 1,430
    Here's a few ideas:

    1) Pay to post, especially the marketplace ebay spam links.  % of the final sold price

    2) What's my [set, collection] worth.  Monetize the communities collective knowledge in providing pricing/valuations.  Surely people would donate £5 to have a group of experts provide a realistic evaluation.  

    If you want a large amount of cash, subscriptions to the 'predictions' thread could probably allow you to retire. 

  • BumblepantsBumblepants Member Posts: 7,634
    Pay to post would probably keep lurkers from deciding to participate and reduce value of forum. Say a user who rarely joins the banter finds a new polybag or great deal, if he/she has to pay to share the info most likely they will choose not to
  • CoyotelilyCoyotelily Member Posts: 661
    I agree with most of the comments above, I've laughed, lived, met new friends, bought discounted sets , got involved with fairy bricks, spread the word on deals I found, sold some of my collection and have always enjoyed looking at other peoples lego housing, ideas, and more, I'd be happy to pay, but would to see lego support you even more -thanks 
  • khmellymelkhmellymel Member Posts: 1,313
    I'm no fan of ads or subscriptions... but if thats what it takes I'd gladly do it.  In costume, singing and dancing, shouting from rooftops, whatever.
  • LegoboyLegoboy Member Posts: 8,827
    ^ Exactly that.  Not very constructive perhaps but I'd go along with whatever.  That said, I'd have a hell of a lot more money if the forum shut.  ;)
  • GalactusGalactus Member Posts: 260
    I don't mind advertisements that much and I'd gladly pay for a subscription to use an ad-free forum.
  • snowhitiesnowhitie Member Posts: 3,078
    Saw this message yesterday but wanted to sit down in front a computer to answer.

    I love this forum and Brickset and the forum are part of the reason I am an AFOL. It's a lovely community who is always ready to help each other out. I've looke at other forums (LEGO and other) but never felt as 'at home' as this place.

    I get inspiration from the MOC-threads and things like 'nice part usage'. If I am stuck, have a question, this is the first place I look.

    The bendybadger raffle is a lot of fun and looking forward to participate in SirKev's one next year as well. I definitly had a great time reading through all the posts on the one from a year and half ago.

    I come and read a couple of times a day and being an AFOL for only a little over a year there are still some topics I haven't all read, so like @paul_merton said I would be said to see all the info on here gone. I enjoy the way people joke with each other and the feeling that you get to know people.

    I am not in the best health, this is also for me much better than a local LUG since I am not able to go out very much. (although that might change after an operation in the new year, but that's beside the point).

    It's great that people tip each other on good deals, interesting news info and just general discusion about this great hobby.

    Now, that's my litany about why I don't want the forum to leave, now about possible solutions.

    1. Ads, I really don't mind them since I've got adblocker, and quite a lot of people seem to have it too, so don't know how much revenue that would give.

    2. Pay-wall, like other people said, I think the forum would get smaller, I definitly be willing to pay now, but when I just started I think it was good that everything was free, I might not have stuck around. Free reading, pay for posting, I think like @Bumblepants said, people might not be willing to pay to share deals if it is free to read but not to post. So think that is definitely not a good idea in my opinion.

    3. Donations, I think that might be a good way to go. My husband is on a train forum where they work like that. Every month they set a 'target' that they need to get and ussually after a couple of days they get there. I think most people would end up dontating after a couple of months on the forum and that way everybody can contribute what they think Brickset means to them.

    4. Marketplace charges,I think if you really start charging for transactions then you'd have to make things more official and that might take a lot of work. Again, maybe you could just ask people when they do a sale to add a donation as well. I mean, I think most people would be willing to donate something when they do a sale, since it's cheaper then BRicklink, even if it's only a pound or something. Also buyers might be willing to donate one as well because they might do a better deal here than anywhere else, and just to show their appreciation. Trading/purchasing with/for other people on the forum also gives you a chance to chat a bit more one-on-one so you get to know people better, which is a nice side-effect.

    5. Organise a raffle or contest. Like the raffles for charity,there could be a yearly raffle for the good cause of Brickset.

    6. Self-hosting or a different forum might be cheaper, but like said above then we might loose the treasure of info on here.

    7. I don't remember who suggested it, but I definitely think maybe getting more affiliate links in the forum as well. And maybe there are more opportunities? I know there is no link for [email protected] in Belgium, but maybe you can have an affiliate link to other sites ( etc), but not sure how feasible that is since there are a lot of countries about.

    anyway, those are my musings, I hope there is a solution possible!
  • BumblepantsBumblepants Member Posts: 7,634
    edited October 2015
    Perhaps affiliate links affixed to the top of the forum page would help as well? or atop the Shopping sections? Or what if there was a prompt for when someone is posting a deal for amazon or another site that helps them know how to post the link in a way that supports brickset? This would help those of us who spend the majority of our time on these pages and not the mainsite.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego Member Posts: 15,229
    I would amend my comments to include a pay for no ads option.
  • Ian_SIan_S Member Posts: 71

    I'd agree that reducing the hosting cost in the first instance seems only sensible.  Ad's or sponsorship are both ideas I'd be fine with in principle, however I'd hate to see the mods put in a position where they might feel the need to step in because of the advertisers.  I'm not saying it would happen here as moderation has always been very light touch, but I've seen the issue on other boards and let's be honest we've had some pretty "robust" discussions here on companies that may well want to advertise on this forum in the past (naming no names)!

    Some kind of subscription (relatively small and annual) would be fine but I do think it would be a significant barrier to entry for new members which would be a pity.  Making some of the busier categories paid only perhaps? 

    Giving some additional visual status to paid members often works quite well I find, not only is it a surprisingly compelling way of driving subscriptions but it also helps to bubble-up contributions from more committed members.  I'm not saying drive-by contributions aren't ever valuable, but those engaged enough to pay usually correlates with quality of the contribution.

    Perhaps making more of the link between the parent site and the forums?  I often see duplicate discussions on articles and here as others have mentioned.  Perhaps each article gets a forum post and that's embedded below the fold of the article.  I realise there's a bit of site redesign required to achieve that, would there be a loss to drive-by commenters?

    Monetising the market place makes sense, why not take a fee if others are making money on your dime as it were.  Though of course you add the overhead of policing other categories for rogue market place postings (some people will always try to dodge a fee!).  Though I wonder if it'd be fair for marketplace users to subsidise the forum for everyone else?

    I've no problem with skimlinks, but skimwords always feels a bit "spammy" when I see it used.

    Whatever you do though Huw, please don't start charging for posts by the character!

    Anyway that's just my £1.27's worth.

  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    edited October 2015
    BooTheMightyHamster said:
    ...  Patreon ... 
    I'm not a fan of ads, but it wouldn't drive me away. But I think Boo is right to suggest Patreon. Definitely worth looking at regardless, as I suspect that there are quite a few here who would be happy to contribute to the running of the main site and the forum on a regular basis. 
  • SalamalexSalamalex Member Posts: 297
    Ads would be ok if need be.
    I use Patreon to support a webcomic artist.  People can pay any any amount, but for more than $5/month, she produces 'extra stuff' that only we can see.  It costs me about £3 a month, and she has a monthly income of around $2000.  It's not a subscription model - everyone can still use the website irrespective of whether they contribute or not, but the people who want to help, can.

    Might be worth looking at.

    Or have a couple of yearly donation drives like Wikipedia do.  Make an evening of it like the Fairybricks raffle, with various milestones to meet along the way.  Invite Lego celebs to participate / a random donor gets to meet Huw / largest donation gets to stroke Kev's beard / people could donate a couple of prizes for random donors etc.
    Stroke Kev's beard?????????? What madness is this?  Next there'll be a suggestion that we can walk on the mosaic!
  • SalamalexSalamalex Member Posts: 297
    Although , of course that might generate a lot of income.  I've been reading this forum for a while - only posted a couple of times but have done a lot of 'liking'.  I like the fact that there are no ads on this forum so I would happily stump up some sort of subscription.  

    As other people have said though I probably wouldn't have said that before spending some time reading and posting so how about a free trial period before asking for a subscription.
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Member Posts: 4,027
    Can people kindly stop pimping me out! Any requests need to be made through the appropriate channels. Please contact @caperberry and he can offer information on rates etc.

  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    For the skimwords, do you get paid by click or paid by sale? Hopefully the former, as the sites I am being sent to bear little resemblance to the word I click on. 7 in a row have taken me to the rakuten toys homepage - and they have nothing similar to the skimwords term that sent me there so wouldn't lead to a sale (not that I'd buy from a reseller on rakuten anyway).
  • ChubblesChubbles Member Posts: 459
    What about an auction type fundraiser?  Maybe we could get people to donate some stuff and use the proceeds to fund the site?  
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    Before we all go too much further, there seem to have been a number of issues accessing the forum of late. Maybe real statistics will disprove this. If they hold up, though, is the demand for money possibly connected? Will cash solve the problem, or have we simply outgrown the provider?
  • TarDomoTarDomo Member Posts: 515
    Ads are such annoying, but maybe ok for non-members. I think a big part of people would leave if you had to pay for using the forum. In Finland you can start a free forum but I think they might be very slow when too many people are browsing them and they are pretty simple too.
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Member Posts: 1,376
    I bet if you'd have charged two bits for every hit on this thread you'd have enough to pay for the next four years.
  • FauchFauch Member Posts: 2,679
    Huw said:
    When the forum was established back in 2012 I signed up on the Vanilla small community plan for $50 a month. That provided everything we needed and included 50,000 page views a month.

    Now, 3 years on Vanilla has noticed that we are exceeding that by a factor of 10 or so (peak page views this year have been about 950,000 a month) and want me to start paying more. The same factor more. 
    could a limit on posting decrease that number? after all, a noticeable amount of the posts are off-topic if not pure spam.
  • TheBigLegoskiTheBigLegoski Member Posts: 1,437
    I don't see the problem with ads, the ones on the main Brickset site are never intrusive and they may even be interesting as they usually are connected to our hobby: Lego! Yes I run 'Adblock Plus' on my computer, like quite a few other bricksettters, but I have it turned off on Brickset. Just a matter of selecting where you do, and on which websites you don't want to have it blocking ads, and you even have the option to select which ones you do and which you don't want to see, if that should matter to you.

    As @brickedin suggested; asking TLG for sponsorship seems like a fantastic idea to me.

    I prefer ads any day over all the other suggestions to generate extra revenue. Also all other suggestions mean a whole lot of work administering it all. Subscription fees do not only generate revenue but bring all sorts of extra administrative as well as fiscal matters which Huw will have to deal with. The same is true with marketplace fees when members sell and buy Lego from one another. Plus how will you decide how much to charge for subscriptions, and how will you enforce charging marketplace fees. Also plenty of members will never, or hardly ever, use the marketplace section to sell or buy. Or only want to trade sets with each other. Or out of sheer generosity offer to sell at cost-level not making any profit, or even give them away such as @bendybadger. I have only once bought a C3PO polybag here via the forum, which  @iso3200 who bought a bunch of extra ones, was kind enough to offer to other members at no extra charge.

    Having said that I am also perfectly fine with other bricksetters selling Lego via the forum with the intend of making a profit. Although I have no experience myself with this, I am inclined to think the deals people make here will usually be beneficial to both parties, since it will be cheaper for the buyer, and the seller does not need to charge fees to be paid to ebay or bricklink etc. Also the marketplace section I believe is (and I hope it remains that way) a trustworthy environment where people do not need to worry they will get scammed and cheated out of their money, and/or buy 'fake' Lego or copycat brands etc. after all this is a SLOF! (Strictly Lego Only forum)

    It is my opinion that the forum should not become a monetised/commercial or financial enterprise, but remain a open welcoming social platform with no threshold where Lego fans can meet. A place where people can read and comment freely without discouragement because subscription fees, which in the long run might even result in the death of this forum.

    First and foremost it only makes sense to move the forum to another host that is cheaper, even if that means that all if not most past topics and comments will be erased when those can't or won't be transferred, and the forum is continued elsewhere with a blank slate.

    As I already said, I do not mind making donations if that helps keep the forum alive.
  • LegoboyLegoboy Member Posts: 8,827
    I can confirm kev's beard is soft to the touch and has given pleasure to the few lucky enough to stroke it. Those donating over £200 will also be allowed to insert pieces of Lego into it
    Stroke it? I reckon its value lies in a lucky dip.  See what rarities can be found within.

    If I'm ever hungry I know where to go.
  • princedravenprincedraven Member Posts: 3,764
    I have to admit, I think if the forum becomes subscription based it is doomed.
    The nature of our 'hobby' is that people tend to go through waves of interest.
    I was a Brickish member, but during one of my periods of time where money was low and other life activities took priority I let the subscription lapse, and inevitably have failed to re-subscribe.
    Also, one of the factors that is always brought up as to why Brickset is so great is that you are not bombarded with Adverts etc.

    I would suggest looking long and hard at self hosting or a cheaper alternative to the existing host prior to charging or spamming the site with Ads.  It would be such a shame for Brickset to loose its unique selling points.

  • playwellplaywell Member Posts: 2,309
    I think the first thing to do is to really think about what you or the members want the forum to be and where you see it in the future. Do you want a large open community who goal is to be the best and to grow or do you want a smaller forum for the more hard core fans. Do you want the forum to become more integrated with the main site? 

    Once you know what you want to forum to be and where you want it to go you can then start to plan for reaching that goal and to work out how to finance it. A more integrated forum could lead to more traffic on the main site and you could think more about if the whole brickset site pays for itself rather than each part, also more integration might mean bring the forum in house which could reduce costs.

    A forum that is actively looking to be the best and to grow and improve would have to be funded in a sustainable way. Advertising revenue should increase as the membership increases so this could be the way to go.

    A smaller forum could be achieved by adding a membership fee which would add an income and reduce costs by having less members and posts.

    Or you could do both and have a free site with a paid membership to access some parts of the forum, this could work well for some topics. If you had to pay to see the shopping topics it might mean less deals copied to hotdeals and more time for members to get the offers. It might also help the market place with people no longer coming on the forum only to sell and would be better than trying to change a fee for each sale. It could also work well for the members only topics, it could work more like a lug and maybe you could try and get offers for events like brick where member can get a reduced rate if we all book together.

  • TheBigLegoskiTheBigLegoski Member Posts: 1,437
    Great point: trying to integrate the forum more into the main website. Increasing traffic to the main site with an 'in house forum' will drive up its ranking and value and the advertisement revenue and affiliated marketing income.

    Though I wonder if and how that all works from a technical standpoint? I am not tech savvy, but how dis/similar are 'common' websites and forums in terms of architecture and programmer language? etc.
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